The switch kick is one of the most effective attacks used in Muay Thai. When done correctly, the kick lands with lots of power and opens up other attacks. It’s also a fast attack that often lands before your opponent realizes what is going on.
Many Muay Thai fighters use the switch kick often during their fights, and the same holds for mixed martial artists. Georges St-Pierre won the UFC’s welterweight title by dropping Matt Hughes with a switch kick.
The switch kick helps to solve the problem of rear kicks not being effective due to your opponent’s stance. For example, rear kicks to the body are ineffective when you’re fighting out of an orthodox stance, and your opponent is also in an orthodox stance. The kick will most likely hit your opponent on their back since their body is turned away from the direction it’s coming from.
Switching and turning your lead leg into your rear leg for a second allows you to fire off a more effective attack.
That’s the main concept behind the technique. You quickly switch stances, putting yourself into position to throw more effective kicks. The different looks the switch gives you opens up your opponent’s defense as they find themselves constantly having to adjust to your switching.
Mastering The Switch Kick
As is the case with most kicks, the key to generating maximum power with your switch kick is throwing your hips and shoulders into it. Before diving into pointers that will help improve the effectiveness of your switch kicks, let’s take a look at how to execute the technique correctly.
The Switch Kick
Here’s what a properly executed switch kick looks like:
- Start in a conventional Muay Thai stance. Shift your weight backward, so your rear foot carries most of your weight. That way, your front foot is light on the ground, making your switch smoother.
- Skip into your switch, bringing your rear foot forward and your front foot backward. Your feet should be a little closer than they are in your normal fighting stance, and you should be on the balls of both feet.
- Immediately after switching your feet, explode with your rear foot (formerly front foot) while rotating your hips and swinging the arm on the side you kicked from downward and your other arm upward. This helps to generate maximum power for the kick. You should be on the balls of your lead foot (after the switch) the entire time.
Stick to these Muay Thai fundamentals, and the switch kick can be one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal.
Now, let’s go over some pointers that will make your technique more effective against resisting opponents:
- Switch your feet quickly. Doing it slowly gives your opponent a chance to defend against your attack since the switch telegraphs your intent.
- Switch your feet often as feints. That way, your opponent can’t tell if you’re feinting or setting them up for a kick.
- Do not leave the ground when you switch. That also telegraphs the technique. Instead, stay level, making it harder for your opponent to notice the switch.
- Push off the balls of your lead foot after executing the switch. Driving through the balls of your feet helps to generate power and makes it easier to rotate your hips.
- Engage your hips. Thrust with your hips while throwing the kick. This leads to a more powerful kick.
- Swing your hands when throwing the kick. Your rear hand (lead hand before the switch) should come downwards, while your front hand goes upwards. It doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a noticeable difference in the power the kick lands with.
- Kick through your opponent when performing a switch kick. Visualize your leg going through their body and cutting it in half when throwing the kick. Your body should do a full 360-degree spin every time you miss your kick. If you don’t, you’re probably not following through on your kicks.
- Use switch kicks to counter. The switch kick is a great way to counter various attacks executed with your opponent’s power hand. For example, it’s an excellent counter for overhand right hands when both fighters use an orthodox stance. Any attacks thrown with that hand opens your opponent up to a switch kick to the body.
- Once you’ve landed a few switch kicks, use them to set up other attacks. Switch kicks are powerful attacks, so most opponents will react to feints that involve switching once you’ve landed a few kicks.
- Learn how to fight out of both the orthodox and southpaw stances. That’s one of the keys to mastering the technique. It’s difficult to have an effective switch kick when you struggle with executing techniques as you are using the opposite of your normal stance. The more comfortable you are with both stances, the more powerful your switch kicks will be.
Switch Kick Tricks
Now that you know how to perform a powerful switch kick, let’s take a look at how you can incorporate it into your game:
- The Double Switch: This technique works best after you’ve already established your lead body kick. Once your opponent starts dropping their hands to protect against the kick, switch twice and throw a straight right hand followed by a left hook. You’d be surprised how effective that little trick is. Try it out on your sparring partners. You can also throw a kick to the body after the double switch.
- Switch To A Teep/Push Kick: This works best when you’ve already had some success with your switch kick. Once your opponent starts blocking them, mix things up by throwing a teep with your lead leg after the switch.
- Switch To An Inside Leg Kick: Here is another variation you can use once your opponent starts expecting your switch kicks. Aim for the inside of their thighs right after the switch. When done correctly, you can knock your opponent off their feet with the technique.
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