The Low Kick: Dangerous to Your Attacker or to You?

The Low Kick: Dangerous to Your Attacker or to You?

Tony Largo on Left

Tony Largo on Left

Reader Adrián from Spain sent me a link to this interview with Ray Longo, who is Chris Weidman’s trainer. Adrián asked me to write about the low kick. I think in the aftermath of Anderson Silva’s leg getting broken by Chris Weidman’s knee check, martial artists may be reconsidering the wisdom of kicking.

I have previously written on the Thai kick, the oblique kick, the low kick, and the low straight kick.

First of all, I don’t believe in kicking above the waist. Kicking always involves a certain element of risk, because you are compromising your foundation. You’re just not as stable on one foot as you are on two feet. The higher you raise your kicking leg, the greater the instability, not to mention vulnerability to a counterkick to your support leg or groin, or a single leg takedown.

You must keep in mind that conditions in the dojo are unlike those on the street: In real life you probably won’t be warmed up and stretched out, you probably won’t be in pants as loose as your gi or the sweatpants you train in, you may be wearing shoes or sandals that make kicking more challenging.

Consider the risk factor. As I’ve said many times, you just can’t go to the ground. If you fall on the street as the result of slipping during a kick, or a grabbed kick, there won’t be a referee to break things up until you can get back on your feet. There won’t be anyone to stop onlookers or your opponent’s gang buddies from stomping you while you’re down.

You must also take account of the fact that dojo floors are never covered with snow, ice, rain, oil spots, etc. If you are on the street Tai Chi Kickunder these conditions, then kicking is out.

But in view of Anderson Silva breaking his leg with a low shin kick, does that mean you should avoid kicking? No. Many professional MMA fighters, including Chris Weidman in his first fight against Silva, have either no leg kick defenses or poor leg kick defenses. It is my guess that few guys you will encounter on the street will have good leg kick defenses.

Breaking your leg on a blocked kick is a rarity. Typically the result of a knee-block is pain on your shin at the spot of contact.

By the way, Roy Longo explains well the knee counter to the kick. You aim your knee into the kick and tray to make contact with the part of the shin below the kneecap.

I believe that the advantages of low kicks outweigh the minimal risks. Low kicking enables you to strike from a safe distance outside of his punching range. A low kick is hard to grab or block. Anyone reaching down to try to block or grab a low kick leaves himself open to blows to the head. Low kicks can be used to check an advancing opponent. Kicks to the knee and groin can be fight-enders.

Even if you don’t do the low Thai shin kick like the one Silva disastrously used against Weidman, you can still use the straight direct kick (like kicking a football) and the front push kick don’t run the risk of breaking your shin. Low straight kicks are also easy to blend with weapons.

Fighter is Dropped by Low Kick

Fighter is Dropped by Low Kick

In a drill from GM Maranga, start with your left foot forward. Step forward with your right foot, kicking with your right foot, delivering a straight kick at knee level. At the completion of the kick, set your right foot down. Block and/or strike with the stick. Repeat the process, stepping forward with the left foot, kicking as you do so. Plant the left foot and strike with the stick. Practice moving across the room, alternately kicking with each foot as you step forward. This is an easy way of incorporating kicks into your footwork and striking.


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