The Process Of Setting Up, Throwing, and Landing a Head Kick KO
It might be kind of sadistic, but I think one of the most beautiful things to see in Muay Thai is when a Thai boxer lands a flush head kick and drops his opponent.
Ok, that’s definitely sadistic, but you get where I’m coming from, right?
I mean, there is SO much skill that goes into landing a head kick it’s insane!
Besides having flexible hips and hamstrings, you also need solid high kick technique, impeccable timing, and the ability to draw your opponents guard down to open up your chance to land a head kick.
Now that might sound like a lot (because it is), but even if you have the flexibility, technique, and timing, the most important aspect of landing the head kick is the ability to set it up. Why? Because no one is going to just let you kick them in the head (duh). With that being said, setting up the head kick by getting your opponents hands down is critical in order for you to plant your shin across your opponent’s temple.
One of the most common ways to get your opponent’s guard to lower is by throwing hard strikes to his body and/or legs.
If you punish your opponent’s body with punches, knees and kicks, his natural reaction will be to protect his body by lowering his arms to cover his ribs. If you start hammering his legs with low kicks, you can see how he reacts to see if he lowers his arms to try and catch your kick.
Without properly setting up a head kick, your opponent can easily block, evade or even counter your kick attempt… which would suck!
In this video breakdown by my buddy Lawrence Kenshin, he shows us how legend Orono Wor Petchpun is able to setup the head kick by peppering his opponents body and forearms with roundhouses. Although this video is specifically breaking down the southpaw vs. orthodox matchup, this same type of setup can be used regardless of what stance you and your opponent are in.
Orono Wor Petchpun: High-Kick Setup
Another great way to set up a head kick is by “masking” it with other strikes. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by simply using a jab or cross and then following up with a high kick.
GLORY World Series champ, “Bazooka” Joseph Valtellini, is a master at this. He’s able to land head kicks in nearly every fight and has his fair share of KO wins because of his ability to “mask” or disguise his high kick. Not only that, but he’s also able to land these brutal head kick knockouts because of how often he attacks his opponents legs.
Check out another great video breakdown by Danny from Acumen Athletics. He’ll analyze the strategy and techniques Valtellini used during his fight against a tough opponent in Karim Ghajji. It’s a thing of beauty!
Kickboxing Breakdown: Frame, Push & Headkick (Valtellini vs Karim)
If you’re looking to improve the power, speed and technique in your kicks, then make sure you download these free 3 Killer Kicking Drills! Watch them now and start adding them into you’re trainings sessions immediately!
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- Sean "Muay Thai Guy" Fagan owns & operates the largest online Muay Thai community and the #1 training resource for nak muay of all levels.