How not to train the leg kick

I’m busy working on the leg kick book and came across this video below. It features an unknown genius who tries to train the leg kick on a hard object that has no ability to move upon impact. You can imagine the rest…

Let’s just say this isn’t the smartest thing to do…

I think we can safely say Jean-Claude Van Damme is to blame for this thing still going on. For those of you who didn’t see the movie, here’s the relevant scene:

The movie had a bunch more nonsense that no true muay Thai fighter would ever do, but the tree kicking scene spoke to the imagination of youngsters all over the world and started leading a life of its own. To be clear, there is no upside to train the leg kick this way, none at all.

You can still find videos of Thai’s kicking banana trees, but mostly, this is a training relic from the past. Nowadays, virtually all gyms use heavy bags, which are both more practical and versatile to train the leg kick on.

The worst offender I’ve seen was in this video here in which a fighter (or trainer, I don’t remember) tries to show off hitting a wooden pole:

Please don’t do that. Ever.

The only thing this does is damage joints, bones and ligaments in the long run. He mitigates some of it by rolling his arms and legs to take the brunt of the impact on the muscle as opposed to the bone, but his shoulders, hips and knees still take a beating.

When I started training some 30 years ago, I did a lot of this kind of stuff. My teacher was hardcore into body conditioning and we’d hit and kick wooden poles like this or concrete pillars. Let me put it this way: osteoarthritis sucks and this guy is heading straight towards it. If he’s unlucky, it will be there before he hits 40, with an ever decreasing quality of daily life from then on out.

If you want to train the leg kick effectively in a safe manner: kick the heavy bag and the kicking shield. Do so regularly and build up the power of the kick gradually. For most people, that is the safest way to condition the shins while you also develop good technique.

how not to train the leg kick

Damaging your shins, not a good idea..

 

Just a quick update on my leg kick book, this is the current chapter list:

Introduction.

Chapter 1: Fundamental principles.

Chapter 2: The weapon.

Chapter 3: The lead arm.

Chapter 4: The rear arm.

Chapter 5: The hips.

Chapter 6: The torso.

Chapter 7: The legs.

Chapter 8: Variations.

Chapter 9: Footwork.

Chapter 10: Conditioning.

Chapter 11: Drills.

Chapter 12: Combinations.

Chapter 13: How to defend against the leg kick.

Chapter 14: Basic tactics.

Chapter 15: Advanced strategies.

Chapter 16: Case studies.

Chapter 17: Troubleshooting your leg kick.

I have seven chapters left to finish, with 4 of those already half-written. Some chapters might still get lumped together or get deleted depending on how things go. Writing a book can be a bit weird like that sometimes. Once that’s done, I can shoot the pictures and if possible do some videos too, as a bonus.

If you want to be notified for the release, sign up for my notification list here. Don’t forget to click the link in the confirmation mail you’ll receive right after signing up, or you won’t be on the list.

 

The evolution of combat sports

Just recently, I watched the fight between one of my favorite boxers, Roy Jones Jr. and his opponent, Enzo Maccarinelli, which got me thinking about the evolution of combat sports. I always liked Jones a lot. In his prime, he was a master of the ring, dancing around his opponents as he pleased. Both his offense and defense was impressive but most of all, he seemed to land punches at will. He was arrogant and a showboat, but he had the skills to back it up so people didn’t mind as much as he always tried to give viewers a great show.

Here are some highlights of him at his best:

This video doesn’t do him justice though. Watch some of his full fight videos to get a better idea of just how impressive he was.

Then watch this video of his last fight…

Roy is still a great boxer, much better than most people who ever stepped into a boxing ring. But at almost 47 years old, he is becoming a shadow of his former self. When you watch his last few fights, you’ll see he is almost flat-footed compared to how he moved in his prime. He still hits fast and hard, but that’s not enough anymore against those younger opponents.

There are two points I want to make about this: [Read more…]

Gas station clerk uses MMA to stop robbers

This video of gas station clerk/MMA fighter Mayura Dissanyake using his MMA techniques to stop a couple robbers has been going the rounds and several people asked me to comment on it. I’ve also seen MMA enthusiasts go nuts over this video and claim it as ultimate proof of the superiority of MMA over anything else. I’ll cover that a little bit as well.

But first, take a look at the video:

As far as I can tell, his co-worker went to the bank and came back to the station when the robbers jumped him. That’s when Dissanyake came rushing to his aid and the fight to stop the robbers started. One of the robbers ends up on the ground and his buddy first drives away, then tries to come back but eventually takes off.

Some thoughts: [Read more…]

How to Be More Aggressive in Sparring

A while ago, I asked people on my Facebook Page if there was anything they were struggling with in their training so I could do a blog post about it. Here’s what Jonathan said:

I find it challenging to develop an attacking mentality – I tend to be quite passive in sparring. Any advice on how to develop that?

A great question and this “How to be more aggressive in sparring” article is my answer to it. Let’s start with some basics first.

how to be more aggressive in sparring

Sparring with one of my students.

 

Why are you passive during sparring?

There are a bunch of reasons why you might not feel like attacking your partner when you spar. It’s hard to say with certainty which one is the case with you as each person is different, but here are some of the most common reasons:

  • You’re scared. Getting punched in the face hurts and it can be scary if this is new to you. When it happens during a sparring session, many people tend to become passive and defensive to avoid receiving more of those punches. This is perfectly natural human behavior but it doesn’t help you get better. You need to work through the fear and conquer it.
  • He hits too hard. This is similar to the previous. Not only are you scared of getting hit because it hurts, you’re scared of getting injured because he hits really, really hard. Fear of injury is also a natural reaction, but you need to accept it at a gut level as martial arts and combat sports are contact sports. Injury is always a possibility, no matter how hard or soft you spar.
  • He counters everything you do. Even if he doesn’t hit you hard, if he hits you every time you make a move, it can be so frustrating you just stop attacking. Frankly, if this is the case then you’re mismatched. If your partner is so good that he lands every technique at will and avoids all of yours, there’s no upside to sparring him. In this case, I would suggest going slower or getting another partner.
  • Your defense sucks and you keep on getting tagged. This is a biggie. Look at a muay Thai or MMA match: in most cases, a fighter gets hit through the holes in his defense as opposed to inherent openings in a technique. E.g.: every time you throw a right punch, the right side of your body is open, nothing you can do about that. But you can keep your chin low, your other hand high and raise your shoulder to protect your chin. It’s usually these technical details that people make mistakes against and the opponent sees it. And then he uses those against you.
  • You don’t know what to do. Sparring can be overwhelming and make your brain freeze up to the point of almost paralyzing you. Especially if you are afraid, it can be extremely difficult to figure out something as basic as picking the right technique to throw next. Getting used to adrenal stress and having a strong grasp of the basics goes a long way to solve this.

These are some of the most common reasons that get in the way of being more aggressive when you spar.  Fortunately, there are solutions for these and I’ll give you a couple of them here below. Let’s take a look at those now. [Read more…]

Progressive Forward Pressure – Basic Striking Drill for Stand Up Fighting

A while ago I posted a video of the basic striking drill I teach for stand up fighting in combat sports. Every student in my class starts learning it as of his first class and it works well in teaching many things at the same time. In that first video, I showed the basic version along with a couple ways to add leg techniques and in the article I explained the reasoning behind the specific details. In this video, the focus is now on strategy and tactics. Now the goal is to generate forward pressure on the opponent, to take the fight to him and put him on the defensive.

Very often, beginning fighters launch into a long flurry of strikes when they do that. They just storm forward and throw one technique after the other in the hopes that one of them gets through. This tactic can and does work. However, it typically leaves you open to counters when fighting experienced opponents. It also costs a lot of energy and if it doesn’t yield results, you just blew away all that energy for nothing. I believe a fighter who is both well-trained and experienced has much better tools for this goal than just going berserk on his opponent.

Progressive forward pressure is one of those tools.

I’ll explain in more detail below, first take a look at the video.

Here are some pointers on how to make this work for you: [Read more…]