Kicks are a deadly and vital weapon in your Muay Thai arsenal.
A good Thai boxer should be able to throw a wide range of kicks with speed, power, accuracy and consistency.
The ability to break through guards, and avoid catches to land solid kicks will make you a formidable opponent in any gym.
So, if you want to improve your Muay Thai striking, these are the four types of kick you need to master.
Teep / Push kick
The teep (or push-kick as it is also known) is a forward thrown kick, in which you aim to plant the ball of your foot onto your opponent, and apply force to push them backwards.
Video from Tiger Muay Thai
The teep can be thrown to the legs, body, or even the head – which has been known to result in knock-outs)
The teep can be used offensively to create space for follow up strikes, or simply aggress and push your opponent off balance. It can also be used defensively to interrupt a combo and give yourself some time and space to regroup and counter.
The body teep is a staple Muay Thai strike and one that you should be using regularly – especially as a defensive tool to disrupt your opponent’s balance.
By landing the ball of your feet on your opponents thigh and thrusting it with force, you can throw your opponent way off balance – ideal for setting up a combination.
Video from Muay Boran Academy
High teeps are a little trickier to pull off, as they require much more speed, flexibility and accuracy to pull them off effectively. It’s not a strike you would use all the time, but it can hugely disorientate your opponent and even lead to a knockout with proper technique.
Low round kick or low kick
Probably the most well-known and devastating Muay Thai strike is the low kick.
The kick is thrown in a chop like motion, with the intention of landing the top part of the shin across the thigh of your opponent.
Video from FightTips
When thrown correctly, low kicks can cause serious damage to your opponent’s legs, and even fell them.
Some people compare the force of a low kick, to that of a baseball bat being swung.
It’s a relatively simple kick, and can be delivered quickly – making it lethal at all times.
Low kick mistakes to avoid
Don’t land your foot onto your opponent – it’s light and fragile, therefore won’t do much damage to your opponent. Also, if your opponent blocks with their shin, or you catch their knee, your foot will get seriously hurt, maybe even broken if you aren’t wearing shin guards.
Don’t look down – it’s tempting to look at the area you intend to strike, but doing so will give your opponent an indication of your next move, and hamper you from seeing any punches coming your way. Always maintain eye contact with your opponent.
Mid round kick
The mid-level round kick is a roundhouse kick thrown to the ribs of your opponent.
It follows the same technique as the low kick, but is thrown at a higher target.
Video from Warrior Collective
To deliver correctly, place your lead foot at 45 degrees across your opponent, turn the hips over, pivot on your lead foot, and drive the heavy part of your shin into your opponent’s ribs.
As with the low kick; avoid landing your foot, or even the lower-shin on your opponent.
High round kick
The Muay Thai high kick is another variation of the roundhouse kick – where the kick is aimed for the head.
The high kick is more of an advanced move than the low and mid kicks, because it requires a lot more flexibility and accuracy – plus it can leave you in a very exposed position if you don’t land it properly.
The high kick is an ideal knockout blow, with the intention of catching the opponent’s jaw with force.
Unlike, the low and mid kick, you can connect with the foot and lower shin here, because a high kick will not be blocked with a shin or knee – meaning less risk of damaging the foot.
How to train kicks
The only way to perfect your Muay Thai kicks is to train, train, train… and then train some more.
The more kicks you throw, the better your kicks will become – as long as you are sticking to the techniques you’ve been taught, and regularly train with better fighters than yourself.
You can train kick in the following ways…
If you’re training alone, bag work is an excellent way to sharpen up your kicking technique.
Working with a good heavy bag will provide a good amount of resistance to your kicks, but also the bag should move a little, which allows you to practice hitting a moving target.
You can throw a mixture of punches, knees and elbows amongst your kicks to replicate a fight situation.
Or you can throw repeated kicks in drills to focus solely on honing your kick skills.
Kicking a solid bag (like a banana bag) will also condition your shins for fighting.
When you’re at the gym, or at home with a training partner, pad work is another staple kick training method.
You and your partner can mix up general pad work with kick drills to diversify your training.
Video from Sumalee Boxing Gym
When holding pads for your partner, don’t forget to tuck the pads into your body when holding for kicks, and brace yourself for impact to provide a realistic and firm striking surface.
A good pair of kick pads should be fairly solid, so will condition the shins well too.
Sparring is the ultimate test for your kicks, and the only way that you will really learn how to strike an opponent (whilst they are striking back!)
So, sparring in a controlled manner with gloves, shin guards and mouth guard should be a part of your overall training routine.
Always remember to stick to proper technique at all times, and never resort to swinging wildly in frustration when under fire.
Muay Thai kicks
Hopefully the above has given you a good grounding in the basis of Muay Thai kicks and some good ideas on training.
Fitness and flexibility are key to effective kicking, so you should also be throwing in regular stretching and cardio into your routine.