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.
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!