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Do leg kicks really work on the street?

This guy finds out if low kicks really work on the streets of Hawai'i.
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Leg Kick Street Fight Feature

This story is a one small part of a big effort by to understand what works in martial arts. The process is to study what happens on the street, rather than what happens in the arena. If you enjoyed this look at real martial arts, check out the library on:
Martial Arts on The Street
Dojo Storms
Muay Thai

What is it with the legs? Jiu-jitsu practitioners traditionally ignored half the human body; mercifully, that has changed in a big way. There is as well an unfortunate attitude in some martial arts circles that strikes to the legs are likewise ineffective. This is summed up with an infamous line by a controversial judge, Cecil Peoples, who said, "Leg kicks certainly don't finish fights." 

In theory, properly placed leg kicks will also cause the thigh muscles to immediately stiffen up. The damage from low kicks degrades the leg’s weight-bearing capability, balance, and footwork, causing mobility to be increasingly compromised. Not only is the effectiveness of kicks and knees diminished, but punches and elbows are as well. With an injured lead leg, it becomes too difficult to “sit down” on punches, leaving, at best, the availability of flailing arm punches. Further, it can make it difficult to lift the leg to check subsequent kicks or even, as noted, to maneuver out of the way of strikes.

Set ups are a central and vital aspect of the successful application of martial arts technique, and here Low Kicks are blessed. By far the most common street attack is strikes with the hands, and in order to strike effectively, weight has to be set onto the lead leg, leaving it vulnerable.

However, will they work in the street? 

One great place to test that theory is Hawai'i. There is no place in the world with individuals who have a broader experience in martial arts. Seemingly everyone has training in boxing or kick boxing or MMA or jiu-jitsu or a large number of other martial arts, including some indigenous systems. And there is a tradition of fair, one-on-one mutual combat that inevitably leads to the refinement of technique.

Check out the video below to find out.


How to Defend Against Low Kicks

There is an odd imbalance in combat sports. It is relatively easy to learn how to strike, but hard to learn how to defend against them. And it is hard to learn how to do a double leg takedown, but relatively easy to learn how to defend against them. The good news about low kicks is that it is relatively hard to learn how to execute one effectively, but quite simple to learn a basic defense.

This is a good instructional, by the great T.J. Dillashaw.


About Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. This physical and mental discipline which includes kicking techniques that primarily focuses on the shin as a point of contact is known as “the art of the eight limbs” because it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient.

Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the twentieth century when practitioners defeated notable practitioners of other martial arts. One of the defining moments occurring in 1988 in the United States when Changpuek Kiatsongrit from Thailand came to Las Vegas to fight Rick Roufus in a special-rules match that would later be called “the fight that changed history.” Watch that video here.

About The Author

Jacob C. Stevens is a lifelong athlete and cerebral martial arts enthusiast who is also skilled in the art of linguistic manipulation. His published work, Afterthoughts and Handgrenades, can be found here…