It might seem easy to throw a low kick in Muay Thai, but they need just as much practice as any other strike.
It’s true that you don’t need as much flexibility to throw your shins at your opponent’s leg as you would to aim at their body and head, but without honing the proper technique, your leg kicks will be less effective or easily blocked.
Just like any Muay Thai move, there are hundreds of variations for speed, accuracy, and power. There are also multiple targets to aim for, including the calf and inside of the thigh.
But for this guide, we’ll focus on the classic Muay Thai rear-leg round kick. If both strikers are in an orthodox stance, that will be a right kick to a rival’s left thigh.
You’ll find out how to throw with maximum power, how to set it up, and how to defend if the shoe is on the other foot.
Throwing The Low Kick
Just like any punch, kick, knee, or elbow in the art of eight limbs, the low kick is only effective if the correct technique is used.
If you try to punt your opponent like a football, you won’t have much success.
Follow these steps to generate maximum torque and force, and dish out maximum damage.
- Step diagonally forward and out with your front leg and plant your foot into the mat. For maximum power, you can make a small jump forward.
- With your knee bent, pivot on your front foot, and turn your hips and shoulder as you start to strike with your rear leg.
- Arc your shin down onto your opponent’s thigh – think of swinging an ax in a chopping motion rather than swinging across like a baseball bat.
- Swing your rear arm back to help generate power and maintain balance.
- Aim with your knee – it should go past your target, and with your leg slightly bent, your shin should land in the perfect spot.
- As you kick, lower your stance slightly and move your head off the centerline to take it away from your opponent’s punches.
- Return to your stance.
- Maintain a tight defense throughout – your head and shoulder position should offer some protection on one side, and you should keep your opposite hand up, too.
When it comes to the connection, you need to bear two things in mind – the part of your leg that makes the impact, and the area of your rival’s thigh you strike.
You should aim for the nerves in the middle of their thigh. A few strikes there will leave them hobbing in short order.
With that said, it’s tough to have a perfect aim in the heat of battle, not least because your opponent is unlikely to be standing still. You can’t go too far wrong if you land anywhere below the hip and above the knee.
Even if you think you have your target acquired, your strike may go astray, away from a soft target.
That’s why it’s so important to connect with the correct part of your shin. If you land low down your leg toward your foot, or even with your instep, you may end up in more pain than your rival.
The sweet spot to cause maximum damage is the hard, middle part of your shin. It will also stay strong, even if your kick is checked or you accidentally hit a knee.
Setting Up The Low Kick
The key to causing damage with your low kicks is by setting them up properly.
Even a novice Muay Thai fighter can defend against a kick if they can see it coming, so you have to do something to make them a sitting duck.
One way is to disguise your leg attack with punches. If your opponent is focused on defending their head and body from punches, their legs will be wide open to be attacked.
You don’t even need to use a long combination. Even these single punches could be enough of a disguise.
- A stiff jab should make your rival put their hands up, which means they might not see a kick coming.
- A strong left hook that forces a rival to block will shift their weight to their lead leg, making it the perfect target. You’ll also move your hips one way, then another by striking off your left and right side, which can generate a lot of power.
- A cross is similar to the jab, but allows you to change levels more quickly. Because you turn your hip and shoulder to strike with your power hand, you’ll already be in a position to kick off the same side. It may not pack the same as above, but it will be much faster.
Your kicks will be most effective when your rival’s weight is on their lead leg, and there are a few ways you can ensure that is the case.
- Strike when your opponent steps forward. Try to time your shot after they’ve moved it and stand on it.
- Use a stiff arm to give them a little shove, displace their weight, and force them to stand on their front leg. The perfect opportunity could be as they try to check with that front leg. Your push will force them to plant their other foot on the mat, which will prime it for a thudding blow.
How To Check A Low Kick
Muay Thai can be a game of tit-for-tat. If you land a hard low kick, your opposite number may try to even things up with one of their own.
The easiest form of defense is to check – block their shin with your shin.
There’s no getting away from the fact this will hurt, but trust us, your opponent will feel it a lot more.
That pain will make them think twice about attacking in the same way again.
Here’s how to make a solid check:
- Maintain a stable base and strong posture. Plant your rear foot flat on the mat, stand tall, and squeeze your glutes to balance while you brace for impact.
- Turn your shin to face outward at an angle so you can meet the strike head-on.
- Keep your shin perpendicular to the ground, but flex your calf so your foot is parallel to the floor. This will help your leg absorb the impact without giving way.
- Maintain a solid guard up your body by using your arm. If your rival changes tack and aim higher, you want to be protected.
You may also like: