As a Muay Thai practitioner, you should never run out of ways to strive for improvement.
One of the most widely used strikes in the “Art of the Eight Limbs” is, of course, the low kick, also known as the leg kick. Utilized in many different ways, the low kick is a crucial strike to learn for any budding Muay Thai fighter, yet even experienced fighters will seek to improve their technique.
The damage which a seasoned low kick can inflict on an opponent can vary. From knocking them off balance to completely impairing their movement, rendering them unable to continue, this strike effectively targets the lower part of a fighter’s body. It is aimed at a number of different points of the leg, including the inside, outside, and even the sciatic nerve (which runs from the lower back through the buttocks and lower legs).
You may have watched Muay Thai legend Buakaw Banchamek batter a banana tree with the help of some brutal low kicks. Before you think of spoiling the supply of everyone’s favorite yellow fruit, why not try these tips for developing low kicks:
Technique Comes First
You must first master the technique of a good leg kick. The power will come afterward.
In order to throw the perfect leg kick, you must first understand how important it is to control each necessary part of your body. Not just your legs.
Study the theory behind the kick. If you are truly committed to improving your technique, read everything you can get your hands on. Watching the greats in action is easy to do. Open YouTube and look up instructional videos.
With every new nugget of information, you should put it into practice. Everything from body positioning to how to best follow through a target.
In order to throw the perfect low kick, you will also need to master the following:
Stability is the foundation of your technique. As such, it is crucial to your ability to throwing a leg kick. It is also extremely important in the event that your kick is checked. You should maintain balance throughout the whole movement, being able to rotate smoothly into the kick and back again to your stance. Maintaining balance will allow you to control all of your force and power and direct it into your target. Staying balanced ensures efficient movement, allowing to fully utilize your momentum.
It is important that you are loose when throwing your kick. You do not want to be tense, as this will impact on the fluidity of your movement. Always breathe, as this will keep you loose and explosive. When throwing your kick – much like you would when throwing a punch – remember to exhale. This will tighten your core muscles and make the impact greater.
If you are stiff and awkward, you will need to work on this. Consistent stretching and running should help you loosen up and become more flexible.
Build up Your Legs
This is pretty self-explanatory. You are throwing leg kicks, after all.
It is not just the leg you use to strike with which should be strong enough to deliver an impactful low kick. Your supporting leg must also be strong enough to give you the foundation you need to work off.
In order to build your legs up, you can start by stretching. Then, you can move on to more intensive exercises.
The best way to build up the muscles in your legs, and condition them for kicks, is to run. You should be mixing up long-range runs with sprints, ideally. Sprint interval training can be a great way to get fast results. Yes, that pun was intentional.
There is a reason why you see so many Nak Muays and boxers skipping. It is a fantastic way to get those legs working. It is also easy to do. Simply get yourself a rope and skip to your heart’s content.
These are a very impactful way of building your leg muscles and becoming more explosive. You can add these into your gym routine with ease. You should notice the results after a couple of weeks.
Build up Your Core Muscles
These will be very important to your performance. There are a number of different exercises that can help you build up your core muscles.
Lunges and Squats
Lunges and squats are an excellent way to target muscles which can improve the power of your kicks. They target core muscles, but also your quads, glutes, and calves, which can turn you from an average kicker to a machine.
Another proven way of tightening up your core muscles is to employ planks into your workout routine.
Planks will help you build up your muscles, and improve your balance as a result. This is important for giving you more control over each muscle in your body. Your low kicks will certainly improve as a result.
From here, there is no better way to practice your low kicks – with everything you have studied and learned, than with drills. You want to make your technique as precise as possible and repetition will drill this into your brain. Your muscle memory will log each movement in, much like a computer, making your movements faster and more impactful. Learn how to throw the low kick from different angles and familiarize yourself with the timing of the strike.
Always seek the advice of your trainer and sparring partners, and be willing to consider any advice which comes your way.
The Heavy Bag
The heavy bag will be your friend. You may not be its best friend – given that you will be inflicting your best shots against it day in day out – but that’s life.
Use the bag to sharpen your technique the same way a butcher will sharpen their blades against their trusted metal.
Nope, it is not time to stop reading.
Rest cannot be understated. In order to recover, you need to ensure you are allowing your body enough time to rest itself.
Your eight hours of sleep every night are just as important than any technique you will learn in a book or in the gym. Just make sure you have earned it!