While it can be said that leg strikes are one of the most “basic” strikes, they are foundational strikes for a reason: they’re effective.
Mastering leg strikes can also give you a (pun definitely intended) leg up on certain opponents. For instance, if you’re dealing with someone focused more on ground game, you’ll notice that he’ll often set his lead leg lower to the ground and farther in front of him. This gives you – if you’ve perfected your strikes – a slight advantage of access to that leg.
Along with this, low leg strikes can also set up other strikes, namely head strikes.
Here we’re going to run through some of my best leg striking tips and video series, so you’ll never miss an opportunity to use leg strikes to their full advantage.
Leg Striking Tips
1. Focus on Balance
If anything can potentially cause a well-aimed leg kick to go sideways, it’s lack of balance. Because of this, before you even begin to add power to your kicks, be sure to include ample amounts of balance training in your regime, including a heavy focus on core and oblique work. Working with asymmetrical weight and single-leg lifts, as well as coordination drills and drills involving ball-catching and box jumps will strengthen the tiny muscles and ligaments surrounding your larger muscles referred to as stabilizer muscles. These help stabilize your body and keep you in alignment during larger movements (such as rotating through a low kick with a lot of power).
Having excellent balance allows you to take full advantage of your own momentum and torque, without worrying about stumbling or slipping.
Many roundhouse-style leg kicks and side leg kicks require speed, otherwise you risk that leg being caught and ending up on the ground. Work with a bag and on speed drills with a partner to start adding speed until you retain the ability to “snap” a kick in to your opponent quickly and efficiently. Having a partner to train is the best for this, so your target can be moving.
Don’t forget that breath is power, even when you’re striking with your legs. If you’re a beginner, there can be a tendency to hold your breath, so focus on exhaling each time you throw a strike. This will lend you power, and well as focus in order to retain balance. Not to mention, you also run less risk of becoming prematurely winded.
Leg strikes are versatile in that you can theoretically strike from the leading or rear leg. However, your leading leg is often used as a defensive and pivoting leg, while rotating through and kicking with your rear leg lends extra power.
Typically, you’ll want to keep your leading stance slightly bent and springy; on solid footing, but primed to move. Calf exercises, as well as core work can aid in giving you the power and agility to keep your legs light in movement, but strong in power.
As you can see in the above video, stance and foot placement can make all of the different in how powerful your kick is. Number one to focus on is your angle post-step-in and staying on the ball of your foot, as you’ll see results in a stronger pivot.
You’ll also notice that the rotation of my hips is key as well, allowing your kick to land within the surface area of the shin, while also increasing momentum for more impact.
5. Countering and Blocking Kicks
As great as your offensive strikes are, you obviously need the balance of good defensive tactics against leg kicks. Below I walk you through how to check a leg kick, where to place your weight, and the importance of foot angling and hip rotation. I’ll also walk you through a counterstrike that can directly follow your check.
Advanced Footwork Drills and Other Tips
In the videos below I’ll give you more tips for striking and countering, along with a series of advanced footwork drills to prime you for landing explosive, powerful leg strikes.
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