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Question for MMA Guys (Kicks)

Hey guys,
Anyone else struggle with their kicks in Muay Thai class? It seems like it always takes me at least a couple of rounds to warm my hips up to the point where I can start to get some good power behind my kicks.

I think part of the problem is the hip flexors are tight from my deadlifting the day before, so I’m thinking of moving my DL’s to the beginning of the week and moving squats to the end of the week.

Was just curious if (aside from more time working on kicks) if there’s any drills or stretches you guys know to help loosen the hips up?

Thanks,
Dan

Depends on your kicking technique.

You will find alot of traditional Muay Thai guys frown at the way MMAers kick or guys who haven’t kicked from a young age, kick. Even TKD and Karate guys sometimes have a hard time adjusting to the kicking style of Muay Thai.

In most martial arts, the hip flexors are used to some extent but no where near the amount as in Muay Thai.

The leg could be one solid piece from the hip to toe for all they care, the power is completely generated from the hips.

You’re neural firing patterns may be wrong and your technique may need adjusting.

Sure, deadlifting will affect it slightly but not as much as to hamper movement.

Muay Thai kicking technique is much more difficult to master but once masters will prove devastating. Even supposedly good kickers in the UFC and Pride don’t do it right.

If you want to see an example of perfect Muay Thai kicking technique, check out Buakows Hammering of Masato and everyone else in the comp in 2005. Buakow’s technique is near perfect I believe only matched by Yodacha Sityodong something like 115 fights undefeated and 5 times kings cup champion who I have seen kick a guy through his gloves and with shin pads on because the guy wouldn’t accept the fight any other way and knocked him out into fairy land. Those guys don’t deadlift at all yet possess tremendous hip flexor/extensor power.

It’s about neural and motor firing patterns and movement technique more than motor output.

You kick as if your swinging your leg rather than “kicking” ie with the knee and the hip.

One reason MMA kicks are different from Muay Thai kicks is not from poor technique, but rather modfied technique. You can’t fully torque your hips in MMA like you can in Muay Thai, unless you want to risk getting taken down more easily…

Just want to echo that it is modified technique. I think they could get away with throwing it properly sometimes and they just dont, and a lot of guys thus get lazy and just don’t know proper form.

Where I train they teach us both and make sure you sprinkle your opponent with both variations to keep him guessing.

I know when kicking high I throw it a little more Shidokan style (think Cro-Cop) cause its a little safer to me, not as much power from the hip as a FULL thai kick but its faster and not sloppy.

As far as stretching for kicking:

  1. Get a foam roller and use it more than you masturbate. Your IT band, your glutes, hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, quads, anything that feels tight and everything that doesn’t. You may need to get a little more aggressive and use a tennis ball there are articles on the site about that so warm up that search function. If you can’t find it re-post and I’ll find it for you.

  2. Try this stretch from Joe Defranco: [i]"Dirty Trick #1: This dirty trick works so well it gives me chills! Well, not really but it’s damn effective.

Have you ever noticed that the day after you’ve performed a lot of jumping that your hip flexors were sore? I’ve personally pulled hip flexor muscles while testing my vertical jump. What I eventually figured out was that the rapid, full body extension that followed the rapid descent into the jump was tearing them up. After further analysis, one could conclude that if these muscles were getting torn up, that meant that they were probably resisting the height of the jump.

Hopefully we’re all well aware that static stretching isn’t recommended before any explosive activity. Static stretching your hip flexors before testing your vertical jump is the exception to the rule! You see, since the hip flexors aren’t prime movers in jumping and they tend to resist our jump, the goal is to weaken them and put them to “sleep” before jumping. Static stretching accomplishes these goals. Static stretching your hip flexors will create less friction during your jump. Less hip flexor friction during your jump equals higher vertical jump heights!

Below is one of my favorite hip flexor stretches, but go ahead and choose your favorite and perform 2 sets of 20-30 seconds on each side.

NOTE: The hip flexor stretch pictured below is a great stretch to perform before squatting as well. It will help you get deeper into your squats as well as prevent getting pulled forward during squatting. Give it a try! " [/i]

Link to Picture: defrancostraining.com/articles/archive/articles_dirty-tricks.htm

  1. A dynamic stretch I used to do in track were figure 8’s. Stand next to something stable and the leg not next to the wall swing from inside out (like a crescent kick if you know ka-ra-te, lol) when you’re about to cross your body’s line again make it do the same behind you creating an 8 shape.
    Keep doing that till you progressively make bigger 8’s, when your knee can hit your chest you’re getting flexible (ok a little too flexible, hah).

I do birddogs, firehydrants, groiners, mountain climbers and leg swing variations to help open up my hips prior to heavy kicking practice.

Ive done kyokushin for a number of years so i did’nt have quite so much difficulty switching to a muay thai style kicks. i think the risk lies in time of execution and confidence, many muay thai guys ive sparred are so concerned about being taken down they shorten the technique too maximise speed, then again i spar mainly HW who’s kick speed look practically geriatric compared to LW thai guys like Bakaw

^^What he said too.

The best I have done to open up my hips is daily practice of Scott Sonnons Intu-Flow dynamic joint mobility and then practice different kentic chais from his Body Flow program as a dynamic warm up before Muay Thai and 1-2 more times during the week to stay mobile.

It has really changed the way I move and has opened up my hips and allows me to use a rotational hip snap to deliver my kicks rather than having to kick with my legs.

It would be great for your BJJ too. I was first turned on this material from Steve Maxwell at a mobility workshop.

Wow, great responses guys. Yes, part of the problem is my technique. I hadn’t kicked in years so when I first started, I was scolded a lot for not utilizing my hips properly because I was just looking to get as much power behind the kick as possible.

I’m slowly starting to get more of a turn into the kicks but have to admit it still feels a bit awkward.

Definitely going to do some extra foam roller work and the leg swings make a lot of sense, too.

Thanks again guys…I’ll let you know how things go in my class over the weekend.

How is the MMA kick different from the Muay Thai kick? I have trained MT before and the kick is powerful, but I think the MMA style kick would probably be safer to use.

[quote]spaghetti wstrn wrote:
How is the MMA kick different from the Muay Thai kick? I have trained MT before and the kick is powerful, but I think the MMA style kick would probably be safer to use. [/quote]

It really depends on what you are going for, and how “tight” your angles are on the kick. Really good MT guys show incredibly little of the kick before it lands, and set it up well. As such, it is a lot harder to counter.

[quote]spaghetti wstrn wrote:
How is the MMA kick different from the Muay Thai kick? I have trained MT before and the kick is powerful, but I think the MMA style kick would probably be safer to use. [/quote]

A muay thai kick is almost like a straight leg kick, with all of the power coming from the hip flexors. Requires a little bit more flexibility, and I can’t do it even near correctly, but it is devastating when done properly.

However, it opens the hips up to a shot, leading to an easy takedown. An MMA kick is more “safe” in terms of exposure.

I’ll be the first to admit that my kicks are weak as shit, but I’ve never been taken down while recovering from a kick.

My hip flexors used to be tight. Started doing joint traction work. (Read “The Band Man” by Dave Tate.) Life-changing stuff.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
My hip flexors used to be tight. Started doing joint traction work. (Read “The Band Man” by Dave Tate.) Life-changing stuff.[/quote]

Is that an article over on the Elite site? If it’s written by Tate, I’m sure it’s got a bunch of good stuff in it.

[quote]wressler125 wrote:
spaghetti wstrn wrote:
How is the MMA kick different from the Muay Thai kick? I have trained MT before and the kick is powerful, but I think the MMA style kick would probably be safer to use.

A muay thai kick is almost like a straight leg kick, with all of the power coming from the hip flexors. Requires a little bit more flexibility, and I can’t do it even near correctly, but it is devastating when done properly.

However, it opens the hips up to a shot, leading to an easy takedown. An MMA kick is more “safe” in terms of exposure.

I’ll be the first to admit that my kicks are weak as shit, but I’ve never been taken down while recovering from a kick.[/quote]

Ha! Sounds just like me. My kicks are super-weak but I can recover from them quickly and have a good sprawl, so that helps some.

[quote]Djwlfpack wrote:
CaliforniaLaw wrote:
My hip flexors used to be tight. Started doing joint traction work. (Read “The Band Man” by Dave Tate.) Life-changing stuff.

Is that an article over on the Elite site? If it’s written by Tate, I’m sure it’s got a bunch of good stuff in it.[/quote]

http://www.T-Nation.com/readTopic.do?id=1105903

I met Dick Hartzell when I played football and trained at his gym a few times, trust band traction is the best thing you can do for your joints. You’ll wonder why you ever suffered through sore shoulders and hips to begin with.

I think terminology is a bit different where I am because that is the first time I have heard “mma kick” so I do not quite know what it means. So I don’t know what it looks like.
The thai kick relies alot on a pivot. Since you pivot(on the ball of the foot) alot the hips open up at the end. Which leads to using your full weight in the kick. Obviously it puts you in a bad position at the end for a shoot. I do think it is the hardest MIDDLE kick you can throw. As for low kick and head kicks there is the Kyokushin style(or Dutch kick style or Shidokan or the MIrko style or whatever you want to call it). The execution is different in: You CAN plant your foot ahead of execution of the kick. In general when throwing a low kick it is a 45 degree angle. This isn’t a hard and fast rule since you can decide to pivot after the plant. Since you do not pivot as much as in a thai kick you make up for it by opening up the hips in the beginning. Force is generated by closing your hips. If you can’t kick hard it is because you can’t close your hips quick enough and take advantage of the leverage generated by your planted foot. Benefit of this style is that you can recover quick. Works well for high kicks also.
The problem with this style is it is much harder for people to get good quickly at compared to learning the thai style. It is more complicated. For adults I feel that the thai style is better for the majority of people. Better because they can kick harder and faster that way sooner.
The only people who I see having success with the Kyokushin style are people who have done Kyokushin for awhile, people who started as children. And I mean that they kick extremely hard that way. So hard as to render that “thai style is the best” argument moot for them. Like Mirko Crocop.
I think plenty of people gave good advice. My advice is to harden your shins. Can’t kick as hard as you should with soft shins.

That’s true, very true, however a proper MT stylist will be able to place their kicks at will without too much worry about getting taken down. Remember leg catching is part of Muay Thai too. As someone else alluded to, thrown properly Muay Thai Kicks are fired off without much signaling at all. MT kicks are always “chopping” down and this can’t occur if the hips are not used properly. It is the kicking up aspect of improper kicking technique that allows for an easier catch and then take down. With the MT kicking technique it is hard to grab a hold of the leg since the weight of the leg and the person is acting down.

An example of this would be Bas Rutens kicking against war path or Maurice against Coleman. Watch how their kicking is almost like it is chopping downwards. If not downwards then horizontally through their target.

This shifts the other persons bodyweight somewhat, makes it harder for them to shoot and throws off their base.
The point being, kicking upwards and improper technique is still more responsible for being caught (and shin and leg damage) than MT kicking per se.

Thrown with evil intent, proper technique, speed and timing, the proper MT kick is much harder to catch than the “modified” kick although I agree, in MMA you do need to occassionally modify.

[quote]humble wrote:
That’s true, very true, however a proper MT stylist will be able to place their kicks at will without too much worry about getting taken down. Remember leg catching is part of Muay Thai too.
[/quote]

Yea, but shots aren’t. If someone kicks me, I don’t have to “catch” their leg in order to take them down, I just have to step in and shoot or tackle… This is NOT a part of muay thai, at least to my knowledge. I’ll step into a kick if I think I can secure the torso or hips.

Definately. And another reason I don’t throw anything higher than a middle kick. Because I have problems with opening my hips up enough to throw a powerful kick without it coming upwards.

[quote]Wayland wrote:
I do birddogs, firehydrants, groiners, mountain climbers and leg swing variations to help open up my hips prior to heavy kicking practice.

Ive done kyokushin for a number of years so i did’nt have quite so much difficulty switching to a muay thai style kicks. i think the risk lies in time of execution and confidence, many muay thai guys ive sparred are so concerned about being taken down they shorten the technique too maximise speed, then again i spar mainly HW who’s kick speed look practically geriatric compared to LW thai guys like Bakaw[/quote]

where could i get a description of how to do these?

[quote]humble wrote:
That’s true, very true, however a proper MT stylist will be able to place their kicks at will without too much worry about getting taken down. Remember leg catching is part of Muay Thai too. As someone else alluded to, thrown properly Muay Thai Kicks are fired off without much signaling at all. MT kicks are always “chopping” down and this can’t occur if the hips are not used properly. It is the kicking up aspect of improper kicking technique that allows for an easier catch and then take down. With the MT kicking technique it is hard to grab a hold of the leg since the weight of the leg and the person is acting down.

An example of this would be Bas Rutens kicking against war path or Maurice against Coleman. Watch how their kicking is almost like it is chopping downwards. If not downwards then horizontally through their target.

This shifts the other persons bodyweight somewhat, makes it harder for them to shoot and throws off their base.
The point being, kicking upwards and improper technique is still more responsible for being caught (and shin and leg damage) than MT kicking per se.

Thrown with evil intent, proper technique, speed and timing, the proper MT kick is much harder to catch than the “modified” kick although I agree, in MMA you do need to occassionally modify.

[/quote]

You are right of course. I don’t really have anything to disagree with. Muay thai kicks chop down or at least horizontal. I would say a low kick thrown in any style(Thai or Kyokushin) you chop down. One can’t really catch a low kick, if they are trying(to catch a low kick) they are showing they do not know much about kicking.
A great Muay Thai fighter still gets their middle kick caught by other great Muay thai stylists. Kick catching is part of the sport. There is technique to it so if you are not experienced in catching kicks you will have a tough time catching the kicks. I will point out though that mma guys will try to shoot in on kicks(trying to catch and shoot)and not simply try to stand their and catch a kick. There is no benefit for them to do that, they will just get punched and elbowed for catching the kick. Though you don’t see many great Muay Thai guys in mma.
I think the thing is that if you don’t have great stand alone kicking you will eventually have to modify it for mma. If you are great at kicking you will have to less likely modify your actual kick. Mirko hasn’t modified his kicks for mma. He modified his approach in using them. He doesn’t use front kicks, he doesn’t use side kicks. He doen’t come in hard off a punch combination and throw a high kick(against Mike Bernardo for example).