Have you heard of the axe kick? It is a savage weapon that is rarely seen in modern Muay Thai that, if done correctly, has the power to knock your opponent out cold and send them crashing down onto the canvas. It is an invaluable part of every fighter’s tool kit, and this article is going to break down what it is, and how you can do it before giving you a few ideas on how you can use it to cut down your opponents.
What Is An Axe Kick?
The axe kick is a powerful and devastating strike that is highly underutilized in modern Muay Thai. Most of the sport’s practitioners have never seen this destructive weapon used in a Thai Boxing ring, and those who have seen it in action often assume that it has been borrowed from other martial arts such as Taekwondo or Karate. Though those striking disciplines have developed their versions of this kick independently, the axe kick was a weapon that was also developed in Muay Boran, Muay Thai’s ancient predecessor.
An axe kick is executed when a fighter lifts their straightened leg high overhead before slamming the heel of their foot down onto their opponent’s temple, neck, or collarbone. When it is done correctly, their heel looks like the head of an axe being raised high before it slices down, cleaving chunks of wood in two. The way that the heel comes down from overhead makes it incredibly difficult to defend as the heel is lifted above the guard, striking in a downward arc as opposed to most other Muay Thai weapons that are delivered with a straight or upward trajectory.
How To Throw An Axe Kick.
You can throw a Muay Thai axe kick from either your front or rear leg and both are highly valuable weapons in your kicking arsenal. The lead foot variation tends to be faster due to the fact that your front foot is closer to your opponent, while many people find their rear-footed axe kick to be stronger, making it more likely to injure or knock out their opponent. Check out a quick demonstration of the axe kick from the video above above.
You begin by lifting your kicking leg from the floor, keeping your leg straight as you lift it overhead whilst also pulling it across the front of your body. This means that if you are kicking with your left leg, it will rise outside of your right shoulder, and your right leg will pass outside of your left. Once your kick is high up over your opponent’s guard you pull your straightened leg back down on top of their head or into their collarbone. Your leg will descend straight down the middle of your body so that if you were to miss your opponent your foot would land back in its starting position.
How To Set Up Your Axe Kick:
- Fake A Roundhouse Kick—The initial movements of a roundhouse kick and an axe kick share similarities. To set up the axe kick from your lead leg, initiate a series of lead roundhouse kicks targeting your opponent’s ribs until they instinctively raise their guard. Once they’re committed to blocking, seamlessly transition to the axe kick. This tactic leaves them vulnerable, balancing on one leg and unable to evade. The key lies in tricking your opponent into expecting a strike to the side of their ribcage. This anticipation opens their guard, presenting the ideal moment to execute a decisive knockout blow to the head.
- Fake A Teep—The lead axe kick, like the teep, is most effective when your opponent is moving forward to close the distance between you. You can set up your front-legged axe kick by using your lead teep early in the fight to keep your opponent at a distance. If you are having a lot of success with the push kick your opponent will start to anticipate it, lowering their guard to catch your foot when they see you lift your front leg. Once you see them doing this then it’s time to unleash your axe kick, catching them while their hands are busy trying to grab a push kick that isn’t coming.
- Off A 1-2 Straight Combination—Using a jab–cross combination to cover your opponents’ eyes can conceal your rear-legged axe kick making it easier to land. Your axe kick requires more range than your rear cross so when you throw your 1-2, aim to miss, coming up short so that you can hold your glove a few inches in front of their eyes, blocking their vision. By the time you lower your glove, your foot will already be traveling upwards, giving them less time to react before your heel comes crashing down.
Tips For Developing a Knockout Axe Kick:
You should have a decent level of hip and leg flexibility before attempting this kick. Focus both on static and dynamic stretching in your warmup by utilizing stationary stretches and controlled movements that target the same joints and muscle groups that you will use when throwing this kick. Check out the above video demonstrating three simple dynamic hamstring stretches you can use before throwing these kicks in training.
Unlike the roundhouse kick which uses hip rotation to generate power, the majority of an axe kick’s force comes from the hamstrings. If you want your axe kick to send your opponent crashing unconscious to the canvas then consider adding strength-building exercises such as Romanian deadlifts, hamstring curls, squats, kettlebell swings, and good mornings to your training plan.
You’re going to need the perfect mix of strength, flexibility, and immaculate technique if you want your axe kicks to chop your opponent down to the canvas. It’s not a weapon that you can sharpen overnight but if you practice regularly and use the information in this article, then it won’t be long before you’re cutting down your enemies like the Muay Boran masters of centuries past.
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