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  • Writer's pictureAmerican Karate Institute

Five Fundamental Mixed Martial Arts Kicks

Roundhouse Kick

The roundhouse, sometimes known as the swinging kick, is one of the first moves you’ll be taught in MMA training and one of the most prominent kicks you’ll see in mixed martial arts sparring and competition. And for good reason. Few strikes are more useful for minimizing an opponent’s offence, wearing them down, and even knocking them out.

There are many variations of this kick. Karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo, and Wushu all offer some variation of the strike, each with its own take on issues like stance, body movement, and the target of the kick. But most versions of the kick are thrown by swinging the leg in a semi-circle, using the rotation of the leg — and the rest of the body — to put significant power behind the strike.

In MMA, the roundhouse is generally thrown with the shin and is directed at the outer leg, the inner thigh, the ribs, or the head. Some of MMA’s most dramatic knockouts have come via a roundhouse to the head.

Push Kick

Known as the front thrust kick in Hapkido, the mireo chagi in Taekwondo, and the teep in Muay Thai, the push kick can be thrown from the front or back leg and involves lifting one leg almost straight in front of you, flexing your foot, pointing it toward your opponent and thrusting your hips to drive your leg forward and strike with the sole of your foot. In MMA training and competition, the push kick is most commonly used to gauge and control the range of a fight, but it can also be used as an offensive move. The power of a rear-leg push kick to the torso can knock the wind out of even the most seasoned MMA fighter. And a well-timed push kick to the head, while rare in MMA, can result in an incredible knockout.

Front Kick