How to do a leg kick, aka shin kick. Part 5

This is the final part of this “How To Do a Leg Kick” Guide. Lets look at what your legs should be doing.
The support leg:

  • Keep your weight on the support leg. Many beginners make the mistake of leaning too far back when using the leg kick. This takes the weight off the support leg and destabilizes you. It also bleeds away the potential for power in your kick.
  • Don’t lock out the knee. The knee of your support leg should be bent and not locked out.  A straight leg makes it hard to generate power and stay in balance
  • Bend the knee in function of the distance. Try this, stand at your regular leg kicking distance in front of your partner. Now ask him to  step an inch or two towards you. If you now kick from that distance, it can be difficult to land your shin properly. However, by straightening out your support leg a bit, you increase the distance from your hip to the target and can land the kick again.
  • The opposite is also true. From the same starting point, ask your partner to step back the same distance. Using a regular leg kick, you’ll end up connecting with your foot or toes. Try again, but this time you bend the knee of your support leg a bit more than usual. It’ll make the path your kicking leg travels on more horizontal but you’ll be able to strike with the shin again.
  • This is a skill, not a given. Adjusting the supporting leg’s knee like this takes practice. Don’t think you can do it once and then use it in a fight. It’ll take a lot of practice but it makes for another layer of versatility to this technique.

The kicking leg:

This is a point of controversy for some people. Let’s take a look at some options.

  • Keep the leg straight. When you do it this way, you’re using the leg like you swing a baseball bat: The bat doesn’t bend at all, it just transfers the power from the body of it’s user.  This makes for a “stiff” and solid technique.
  • Bend the knee slightly. “Slightly” means about 15°-20° perhaps a bit more but certainly not 90°. This makes for more of a chopping effect and works well with a full hip turn that drives the leg through the target. The downside is that you stay in front of your opponent a little longer before retracting your leg.
  • In both cases, lock the knee joint on impact. If your knee bends when you land the kick, you bleed away its power. You’ll also stay in contact with the opponent’s leg a lot longer, giving him an opportunity to counter.
  • Snap the leg. ” Oooohhhh! Demeere said to snap the leg kick!!! OMG I can’t believe it, what a n00b!” Yes, yes, I know you shouldn’t snap from the knee with the leg kick. But I’m talking about something different here. Check out this highlight of Yodsanklai:

At 48 seconds, he leg kicks around his opponent’s raised left knee to the support leg. We don’t get the greatest angle but you can still see his striking leg goes from very bent to fully straightened on impact. That is the kind of snap I’m talking about. You can compare it to the opening of a button release switchblade: Take a look here at 26 seconds:

The knife opens and then snaps into lock. The snapping into a locked position is the critical part; there is no rebound or snapping back.  Yod’s leg kick did just that, snap-lock upon impact. This way of kicking works best with the half hip we covered before. It probably won’t do the same damage as a full hip turn with a straight or slightly bent kicking leg. On the other hand, take another look at Yod’s kick and tell me it doesn’t have any power in it…


Here we are now, five parts of the “How To Do a Leg Kick” guide and there’s still so much to say. As I said in the beginning, I don’t make any claims of this being the ultimate guide to the leg kick or anything like that.  These are just my thoughts on the technique; things I learned from my teachers, friends, other fighters, my own fights, experience, research and lots more. Hopefully you found a couple worthwhile things in this guide. If you did, feel free to pass the links along and spread the word.

I’m in the process of making an full book out of this guide. It will contain all of the things I haven’t covered yet: variations of the leg kick, timing, combinations, how to train it, self-defense, etc. The full version will be for sale and contain pretty much everything I know about the leg kick. No deadline just yet. I’m swamped at the moment with too many projects and other stuff going on. In the mean time, you might enjoy this post on “How to block a leg kick” or “Gokhan Saki’s leg kick

UPDATE: The Leg Kick: Your Ultimate Guide to Using The Leg Kick for Mixed Martial Arts is now available! Click the link to get the book or click this picture:

The Leg Kick for MMA


Have fun training!


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