In a previous article, we talked about the common use of Muay Thai in MMA matches. This week we will look at a major component of Muay Thai fighting: the roundhouse kick.
Most forms of martial arts have a kick called the roundhouse kick, and Muay Thai is no exception. Depending on your academy and specific style, this kick can look vastly different. For example, a Tae Kwon Do roundhouse kick will be “thrown” (executed) differently than you will see in Muay Thai.
This kick is not meant to be pretty – there is no razzle dazzle here – just a ton of weight and force being swung or “whipped” around a circular axis to maximize striking force and damage. Because this kick is simple but hard-hitting, it makes the Muay Thai roundhouse kick effective for sparring, an MMA match, or it could be used for self-defense in a street fight.
Basics of the Muay Thai Roundhouse Kick
We will assume a right-handed stance (left fist and foot in front) in the following directions.
In a Muay Thai ready stance, the feet are usually creating a 45 degree angle and about sholder width apart, similar to Western Boxing. Unlike Boxing, more weight is distributed to the rear leg. In both feet, contact with the floor is heavier in the ball of the foot, making you nimble and able to pivot to full weight on the ball of the foot. This will be important when executing the Muay Thai roundhouse kick, as the ball of the front foot creates the pivot point for your body.
Pivot the lead/left leg up onto the ball of the foot, opening the rear/right leg and hips up.
Beginning the Swing
Your hips and core muscles are doing all the work to pick up and swing the right/rear leg horizontal and up. The kick can strike calf, thigh, rib cage, arm, neck, or head. Whatever you are aiming for, imagine a perfect orbit around your body at that angle – your leg and foot should follow that path. Yo can bend the front leg a bit as needed to generate more torque and power. Your right hip should rotate fully around the left while you swing your leg and body.
You want to connect with your target with your shin just a bit above the right foot. The leg should come around you and impact your target like you are swinging a bat. Once you’ve made contact with maximum force, you want to draw the leg back the same way it was thrown – and do it quickly! The longer your leg hangs out, the longer you are off-balance and open to a counter – or worse, a hold which could turn into trouble.
The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is the mother of power kicks, but it’s certainly not the only effective kick. Using the roundhouse kick effectively can be tricky, just as wielding a heavy sword would have maximum striking power but require a slower set-up and execution. This is because of the commitment of transferring your weight towards your opponent and the time taken to throw it correctly. So a roundhouse kick must be used strategically.