Just as the name suggests, the sport of mixed martial arts is an amalgamation of combat techniques, combined seamlessly to form one coherent and unique fighting style. Some say it is the purest form of fighting.
Combining various martial arts disciplines such as Muay Thai, boxing, BJJ, wrestling, judo, and the like, mixed martial arts naturally incorporates a plethora of different techniques on both the striking and grappling front. A major component of mixed martial arts bouts, however, is the striking aspect.
We took the time out to examine various striking martial arts, focusing particularly on kicking techniques, to determine what each martial arts discipline offers in this regard. We pay attention to techniques that are allowed within mixed martial arts’ unified rules and regulations, and analyze how effective each discipline’s kicking techniques are.
The more techniques you have in your repertoire, the better of a fighter you become. However, it’s all about how well you incorporate these styles into your game. Every technique should be represented masterfully in the cage.
Want to know which martial arts disciplines to practice to improve your striking skill set in the cage? We’ve come up with a short list of styles to try, if you want to upgrade your kicking arsenal.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five martial arts that feature the best kicking techniques.
1) Muay Thai
First up is the ancient Thai martial art of Muay Thai.
Muay Thai is one of the most effective and prolific bases for mixed martial arts because of the sheer power and force behind its striking techniques. Known as the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’, Muay Thai utilizes the body’s natural weapons — the fists, elbows, legs, and knees. Techniques are explosive and damaging, which makes Muay Thai incredibly effective in real-world fight scenarios.
Some of the most successful stars in mixed martial arts have used Muay Thai kicking techniques, the bigger names include former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, dynamic lightweight Edson Barboza, legend Anderson Silva, among others.
— Evolve MMA (@EvolveMMA) March 15, 2020
Muay Thai consists of flying knees, spinning back elbows, high round kicks, crushing leg kicks, and more. It’s one of the most effective styles for kicking in all of martial arts.
One of the most unique martial arts disciplines in existence, Capoeira, was developed in Brazil. It features a unique combination of effective offense techniques with elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. Known for its complex maneuvers, and wide variety of flashy kicks, Capoeira places great emphasis on free-flow movement and rhythm.
Not a lot of fighters use the Capoeira style, mainly because the degree of difficulty in technique execution is high, and the learning curve is very steep. If executed correctly and with the right timing, however, Capoeira techniques can do a good amount of damage and are very effective in fight situations.
Capoeira features a host of front kicks and straight kicks, each launched with great weight transfer and momentum. High spinning kicks and leg sweeps are also prominent.
One of the most popular mixed martial arts fighters to incorporate Capoeira into his game is former two-division UFC champion “The Notorious” Conor McGregor. McGregor famously used a plethora of spinning kicks in his first welterweight fight against Nate Diaz.
Another popular martial arts discipline is taekwondo. Taekwondo is a martial art that originated from Korea, and features a host of high kicks, jumping and spinning kicks, as well as rapid multiple kick combinations.
Some of mixed martial arts’ most prominent athletes and world champions either come from a taekwondo background, or have used taekwondo a lot in their respective styles — athletes like former middleweight king Anderson “The Spider” Silva, featherweight great Anthony “Showtime” Pettis, Benson Henderson, and more.
— Evolve MMA (@EvolveMMA) December 25, 2019
Basic taekwondo kicks include front kicks, side kicks, and the spinning side kick. Taekwondo is also characterized by a fighter’s loose movement, constantly bouncing on the balls of the feet and ready to unleash lightning-quick strikes at any moment.
Furthermore, taekwondo’s kicking techniques are exceptional, and both incredibly efficient and effective at the same time. Because the kicks focus on speed and power, it can be well utilized in real fight situations and competition.
Wushu is one of the most underrated striking martial arts disciplines. Wushu, also known as Chinese kung fu, originated in China and was developed for the military in the early 1900’s. In modern times, wushu has become an international sport, practiced by many nations.
Wushu kicks are characteristically complex, featuring a lot of compound movement. The techniques are certainly hard to master and takes years of practice. Because some of the techniques may be too complicated for real-world situations, they are seldom used in competition.
However, some professional martial artists today have used wushu as a strong base for mixed martial arts. Techniques such as the butterfly kick, the lotus kick, grinding wheel kick, and tornado kick aren’t used as much. But kicks like the wushu side kick and spinning wheel kick are simple enough to execute in actual competition.
Karate has made countless appearances in pop culture, with franchises like “The Karate Kid” becoming popular in the 80’s and 90’s. As a martial art, it is no doubt effective, and the techniques are widely used in mixed martial arts.
Karate is a Japanese martial arts discipline developed in the Ryukyu Kingdom in the 18th century. It features various striking techniques, including punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbows, palm, and heel strikes. Some modern versions of Karate also incorporate elements of grappling with throws and joint locks.
Basic techniques such as the Mawashi Geri (roundhouse kick) and the Ushiro Geri (back kick) are widely used in mixed martial arts competition by prominent figures such as former UFC middleweight champion Lyoto Machida, and top welterweight contender Stephen Thompson.
In addition, a lot of beginners in martial arts start with a version of Karate, and build their experience off this discipline.
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