Apr
13

How to block a leg kick

By

I watched the Matt Hughes vs Renzo Gracie fight and was probably just as surprised as the rest of the world: A wrestler and BJJ specialist in the cage but the fight is decided on leg kicks? How on earth could that happen?

I don’t really have a clue. It’s hard to believe the Gracie’s wouldn’t train to defend against leg kicks. I’m pretty sure they know about this technique and practice how to get past it. But still, Renzo never blocked Matt’s leg kicks, he just took them all in. If you look closely, you can actually tell when the pain starts setting in and it becomes difficult for him to use his leg much. After a few more kicks, he can hardly walk, let alone fight.

If it can happen to one of the greats like Renzo, it can happen to anybody: underestimating the power of leg kicks until it’s too late.

Matt Hughes lands another leg kick on Renzo Gracie.

Matt Hughes lands another leg kick on Renzo Gracie.

The weird thing is this: you can actually feel like you can handle it when you don’t block a couple of leg kicks and then suddenly, another one lands and it feels like your leg just got amputated. That’s the real power of leg kicks, the cumulative damage can suddenly cripple you when you thought you were still going strong.

After talking so much about how to do a leg kick, I figured it’s time I talked about how to block a leg kick. Here are some ideas you can use:

  • Regular block. In this one, you pick up the lead leg and turn it to the outside, toward the incoming kick. It can be painful to block shin on shin or shin on knee but it’s better than the alternative. Here’s an example:

  • Evasion. Pull the lead leg back quickly and then step right back in with a counter. This defense works well enough but if you don’t control it, you’ll have a hard time going forward again because you’ll be off balance as you do the evasion. It takes some work to get this right. See the previous clip for an example.
  • Yielding block. This one is similar to the previous but has more of an absorbing quality to it: Instead of trying to stop the kick cold, you let your blocking leg bend as your opponent lands his kick. Sort of like the bumper of a car crunching in when another car crashes into it. This is good against powerful kicks but the timing is hard. Check our Rob Kaman’s block at 2min.43, right before he fires a lead elbow.

  • Short block. The short block is a miniature version of the regular block. You pick up your knee a little bit and point it at the incoming kick. This makes sure his shin impacts on your knee and he gets hurt big time. This also the way your opponent can break his shin and fibula on your block, just like with Anderson Silva. Once again, the timing is difficult but the results are worth it. Here’s Ernesto Hoost doing this against Ray Sefo at 8min.15

There are even more ways to block a leg kick but these here are the most commonly used. If you practice a bit, you’ll be able to use them effectively in a short amount of time.

Have fun training!

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Categories : How-to guide

Comments

  1. Great post. This is something that all martial artists should practise. In my eyes, not learning leg kicks and how to block them is like not learning how to clinch a fist.

    It is so important but neglected so much.

  2. Great post. This is something that all martial artists should practise. In my eyes, not learning leg kicks and how to block them is like not learning how to clinch a fist.

    It is so important but neglected so much.

  3. Jon Law says:

    Very good post, clearly demonstrating both sides of the argument, why not blocking the kicks is bad (Hughes v Gracie) and why blocking is so important and how effective it can be.

    There is also the clip of the bloke getting a compound tib fib fracture when his leg kick was blocked. The block is a weapon in itself!

    • Wim says:

      Shogun vs. Machida also emphasized the point. I predict that the leg kick is going to make an amazing comeback in the Cage now… :-)

      • Jon Law says:

        I think the main reason fighters are reserved in using it is the worry of being taken down. There are fighters who still use it effectively but against the best ground fighters it can be ‘suicide’.

        Even Alves was reticent against GSP and he does like to use it.

        The nature of MMA, the variety of tactics, mean that it can be used against some but not other opponents. Makes the whole thing interesting.

        • Wim says:

          As with every technique, I think “it depends” is the closest thing to the truth. Loren once told me “there are no bad techniques, only inappropriate techniques”. Meaning, techniques used at the wrong time. IMO, it’s the same for the leg kick. It’s an incredible weapon but it needs to be used correctly. You can most certainly use it against a good ground fighter, but you absolutely have to set it up well. I think that’s the key for the leg kick in general but against grapplers, it’s even more crucial. Look at Hughes vs. Gracie, where a grappler pure sang lost his whole fight game because of leg kicks.

  4. Jon Law says:

    Very good post, clearly demonstrating both sides of the argument, why not blocking the kicks is bad (Hughes v Gracie) and why blocking is so important and how effective it can be.

    There is also the clip of the bloke getting a compound tib fib fracture when his leg kick was blocked. The block is a weapon in itself!

    • Wim says:

      Shogun vs. Machida also emphasized the point. I predict that the leg kick is going to make an amazing comeback in the Cage now… :-)

      • Jon Law says:

        I think the main reason fighters are reserved in using it is the worry of being taken down. There are fighters who still use it effectively but against the best ground fighters it can be ‘suicide’.

        Even Alves was reticent against GSP and he does like to use it.

        The nature of MMA, the variety of tactics, mean that it can be used against some but not other opponents. Makes the whole thing interesting.

        • Wim says:

          As with every technique, I think “it depends” is the closest thing to the truth. Loren once told me “there are no bad techniques, only inappropriate techniques”. Meaning, techniques used at the wrong time. IMO, it’s the same for the leg kick. It’s an incredible weapon but it needs to be used correctly. You can most certainly use it against a good ground fighter, but you absolutely have to set it up well. I think that’s the key for the leg kick in general but against grapplers, it’s even more crucial. Look at Hughes vs. Gracie, where a grappler pure sang lost his whole fight game because of leg kicks.

  5. JOE E. SMALL says:

    A FULLY SKILLED AUTHENTIC MUAY THAI FIGHTER WILL STEP IN AND RAM THERE KNEE CAP VERY UPPER SHIN AREA INTO AN OFFENSIVE INCOMMING KICK OR KNEE!!

    BEGINERS OR LAMMERS CANT AND REFUSE TO LEARN THIS CLASSIC OLD SCHOOL MUAY THAI OFFICAL TECHNIQUE!!

    ALL THE NON BELEAVERS CAN HOLLER AND POUT AS MUCH AS THEY WANT BUT I AM 100% CORRECT ..

    EVERY ONE SHOULD WATCH THE LUMPINEE STATDUM FIGHTERS AND SEE REAL MUAY THAI ..

    • Wim says:

      Joe,
      First of all, please stop writing in all caps. It’s the equivalent of shouting when you talk to somebody. I don’t want it here on my blog and will delete any further comments written like that.
      As for the knee block, yes, it’s a classic move. It is covered in part in the videos that show the regular and short block. Not completely, but most elements are there.
      I first learned it from Rob Kaman and liked it a lot. But it has drawbacks just like any other technique, so if you say you are “100% correct”, I’ll have to disagree: every technique has strengths and weaknesses in my opinion and experience.
      Finally, you’re coming off very aggressive here in your writing style (“beginners or lammers”) and I almost deleted your comment right away. Before you post again, please read the comments policy carefully.

      Have a great day,

      Wim

  6. […] you Rob Kaman!). Not only to do more damage to my opponent but also because I don’t want him to block my leg kick; that stuff […]

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