“The only time I set my sights low is when I’m ready to throw a low kick!”
There is nothing quite like a well conditioned shin perfectly driving into it’s target. You can take away a faster fighters movement, stop a heavy puncher from boxing, slow down a wrestlers drive and even completely finish a fight. I always tell my students, “If they cannot walk, they cannot fight and they cannot chase if you run!”
Lets begin by taking a look at Buakaw Banchamek giving out some punishment to a banana tree, the strategy of using low kicks to beat your opponent is often called “cutting down the tree” in Thailand. You know you don’t want shins of steel hitting you at that speed!
Here’s Buakaw again, this time dishing out some savage punishment on the inside of the ropes. He was the 1st person to win the K-1 Max tournament more than once, 1st in 2004 and again in 2006, he came a close 2nd in 2005!
If you have ever taken an undefended leg kick from someone who knows how to use it you will know the definition of pain. Just take this example of UFC fighter Forrest Griffin giving out a kick to Newby, the reporter who was working with him on that particular day, you can see Forest holds back but he still fractures Newby’s femur, ouch!
It’s certainly one thing to kick someone who doesn’t know any martial arts, especially while they are stood straight upright, but when Forrest fought “Rampage” Jackson for the Light-Heavyweight title in UFC 86, he showed just how effective those kicks can be against a skilled and aggressive opponent. In this fight Jackson landed only a handful leg kicks while Griffin threw them constantly. Many of them strong kicks which took their toll as the fight continued, here Forrest talks a little abut his strategy and experience winning the title.
Another low kick demolition between top level fighters was the match between Jose Aldo and Uriah Faber on WEC 48. Jose is an ex semi-pro football player (soccer for those of you over the pond from me) so there is little surprise at the power he has in those legs. His timing and aggression make him a dangerous foe indeed and if you take the approach of Faber and don’t defend those kicks intelligently you will be struggling to walk! More than one low kick knocked Faber down or spun him around, enjoy this highlight of the fight.
Still not convinced? I’m sure you are, but here’s a great highlight of his broader toolbox with low kick aplenty to make you wince!
Here’s a fighter that doesn’t just use leg kicks, he stops fights with them. Pat Barry is a fighter with elite level striking and you simply do not want a kick from him! In this video you can see his 1st 3 MMA fights, the video is under 1 minute, that alone tells a tale. Win or lose Pat is always exciting to watch and his opponents know he can do damage.
Here Pat shows his lighter side and lets 2 fans have a free leg kick each, what a guy!
Bas “El Guapo!” Rutten with his Dutch kick boxing has always had savage leg kicks and anyone who has used his training cds know how much he loves a good liver shot followed by a brutal low kick. This video of his come back fight against Ruben “Warpath” Villareal back in 2006 really highlights what you can do with a low kick or 2 . The fight started with both men exchanging boxing but the real significant shots came when Bas threw his 1st low kick and it thundered undefended into Ruben’s lead leg. Respect to Ruben for stepping in as a last minute replacement but you have to wonder why he would if his low kick defence wasn’t so great.
Next up is Marco “King of the Streets” Ruas, the winner of the UFC 7 tournament back in 1995. He was a brutal and devastating fighter, while his leg kicks did not finish his bouts they took the strength and fight out of his opponents. He was known for blasting with kicks from range before moving in with his boxing and then into his clinch and ground game, 1 good low kick would be all he needed to move in.
When your fight name is “Mr Low Kick” you know you are doing something right. Rob Kaman is considered by many to be one of the worlds best kick boxers ever and if you watch just a few of his fights you can see why. He amassed over 100 professional kickboxing matches all over the world and even had 1 mma match back in 1992 over in Japan. He stopped several opponents with leg kicks but every one of his limbs had knockout potential.
Andy Hug is always a personal favourite fighter of mine, he’s southpaw and with a traditional Karate background and was 1 of the original trail blazers who took karate into the ring. He didn’t stick to the traditional round house low kick either, he was a skilful fighter and even scored turning hook kicks to the leg. An amazing fighter who did many things in the world of martial arts he unfortunately left us far too young but will forever be known as the “Blue Eyed Samurai”.
How about a pro boxer vs a low kick artist?
Let me finish by sharing a match between accomplished Japanese fighter, Masato and American Professional boxer, Vince Phillips. It is said that “if you control the range, you control the fight”, and this is exactly what Masato was able to do, by moving and hitting he was relatively safe and still able to do damage. You have to admire Phillip’s heart, he tried to keep fighting but simply couldn’t walk by the end, he also broke his arm in this fight, apparently in the 1st round blocking a high kick.