Leg kicks are one of the basic techniques used in MMA, and they have many different uses. Leg kicks can be used as a range finder, to keep opponents away, to score points, to end fights, or to chip away at an opponent’s leg until it is too compromised to properly hold their weight.
Leg kicks are generally more powerful than strikes with the hands since the average person’s lower body is a lot stronger than their upper body.
The technique for throwing a leg kick is just like throwing a head kick. You swing your leg like a baseball bat, and you twist your hips and the rest of your body to generate more power as you follow through. The arm on the opposite side of the leg you throw the kick with should come up to protect your face as you execute the technique.
Leg kicks are wrongly viewed by some as an unsafe technique that can leave you in vulnerable positions, but that comes down to how well the move is executed. For example, UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya used leg kicks to pick Yoel Romero apart during their title showdown, and he managed to avoid taking any significant shots after he switched to the strategy about halfway into the first round of their 25-minute bout.
Here’s the deal.
A poorly executed leg kick leaves you vulnerable to a few strikes like a cross, and it leaves you open to getting your leg picked and used to take you down. A poorly-executed leg kick is also more likely to be checked.
“In other to set up a leg kick, you have to distract them,” MMA World Champion Siyar Bahadurzada explains. “It messes with their coordination. It messes with the plan in their head to counter you. Anytime you mess up someone’s coordination, they become hesitant and they cannot react the same way that they react if they are focused.”
Setting Up Your Leg Kicks
Here are some of the ways to make your leg kicks more effective by hiding them behind other attacks:
1) Jab, Leg Kick
Here’s one of the staple combinations of kickboxing and Muay Thai. It’s a simple combination that remains effective even at the highest levels of competition. It’s one of the basics you want to master early on.
The technique involves peppering your opponent’s face with a jab before following-up with a leg kick. Jabbing your opponent keeps their mind occupied on stopping your punch, so they are less likely to notice the follow-up leg kick in time to deflect it. It allows you to load up on your leg kicks, and it only takes a few to noticeably limit your opponent’s mobility.
2) Jab, Cross, Leg Kick
This technique uses the two most basic hand strikes to hide a powerful leg attack. Known as the 1-2, the jab, cross combination is one of the most commonly used combos in combat sports. It’s a great entry point for many striking techniques like the leg kick.
The 1-2 is enough to score points or rock an opponent, and it’s likely to put them in retreat mode. It puts their leg in the ideal position for you to target it with a hard kick.
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