Learning to Deliver the Most Powerful Muay Thai Roundhouse Kick
Strikes like the Muay Thai roundhouse kick are the reason this martial art has grown so popular today. As one of the most popularly used Muay Thai techniques, the roundhouse kick, when delivered flawlessly, can topple even the strongest opponent.
This, of course, is no simple task. Fighters must practice this technique “a lot” (indeed, this is a huge understatement) before developing a polished roundhouse kick. It may take months to even years.
Flexibility and power are the two most important factors to learning and executing Muay Thai roundhouse kicks. Many believe frequent stretching to be sufficient for developing flexibility. Wrong. Standard stretching alone won’t make you flexible enough for the Muay Thai roundhouse kick.
So, how do we develop the flexibility needed to deliver fast, powerful Muay Thai roundhouse kicks?
Stretch technically. This technique should extend to three most important muscle groups:
- Soft tissue (This is the group comprised of soft tissue including fascia and joint capsules.)
- Core, joint stabilizers and other muscles responsible for movement
- Neuromuscular (Increases pain tolerance, control [mind to muscle] and reflexes.)
Perform different exercises focusing on different parts of the body, especially the hips and joints. Also, because we need both flexibility and power, we use a method that lengthens muscles and builds strength simultaneously.
In time, we judge our flexibility based on how long we can hold the stretching position. The longer we last, the better off we are.
Though basic stretching lengthens muscles and can develop pain tolerance, it’s just not enough. Exercise specifically to develop both flexibility and power, and don’t live a day without practicing it.
Once our flexibility and power has had time to develop, we’re ready to learn one of the deadliest Muay Thai strikes: the roundhouse kick.
How to Deliver the Muay Thai Roundhouse Kick with Extreme Power
The key here is to go step by step:
This is important! Spend a minimum of 20-25 minutes on this. It should include basic mobility, rope jump, shadow boxing and heavy bag kicking. Try this dynamic warmup to get your body prepared for training.
To begin, we open up our post foot. Pivot at an angle of 45 degrees. It will help open our hips more broadly. Push up on the ball of the foot. This will charge the hips and add power to the impact of the kick, as well as aiding rotation. Keeping the foot flat deprives us of the power required as the spin will be lacking.
Turn the hips
Hips power the roundhouse kick; hip rotation is crucial to this kick. We turn our hips sharply, transferring the power from them to the kick for a bludgeoning impact. While doing so, our side arm comes down. This further aids in opening up the hips.
Hit with the shin
The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is delivered with the shin, whether the target is high or low. One leg is kept loose. It should be kept loose as if dead until fuelled with power from the hips, core and shoulders. Kick your opponent hard. Kick through your opponent; don’t relent after making contact.
Knee across. Chin behind. Arm up.
The knee should move across the section of the body you wish to hit, whether high, low or in the middle. It should be across the target, rather than blocking and posing an obstruction. This can only be achieved with regular practice. Keep your chin behind the shoulders. Keep your arm (opposite to the leg with which you are kicking) up and ready to protect your face.
What makes a professional a professional is that a professional does not quit after finally delivering one perfect kick. They practice again and again to polish and hone that kick, striking with full speed until it exudes perfection. They try to make it better each time is it thrown.
Take each step one at a time. Focus on the technique and keep practicing it all through each session. Once perfected, only then move on to the next. Period!
Lastly, do not make the following mistakes. These are detrimental to training and simply must be prohibited.
- Going too hard.
Tension in the legs just before kicking is going to drain you of the energy required to execute it. This tension weakens your kick as the muscles which have tightened up restrict motion and do not allow full rotation and power.
- Going too fast.
Allow ample time for learning the technique behind roundhouse kicks. Learning correct technique ensures that when the flexibility and power is developed, the kick will be there already. The time spent on learning also teaches body awareness and understanding. There is nothing better than feeling the power with which we kick an opponent. The feel of it is most satisfying. Contrary to what people say, going slow means you are learning well.
- Leg too stiff.
The best way to avoid this is to keep the body loose before striking. The looser the leg is, the powerful the kick will turn out to be.
- Not turning hips over.
This is extremely important in Muay Thai. This also happens to be the factor that differentiates the roundhouse kicks of Muay Thai from other martial arts. If we do not turn our hips, our kick will not have the impact it should. It will not derive the power from the core and shoulders and subsequently transfer it to the hips and then legs. Fighters with the deadliest kick know the importance of turning hips. It is this that fuels the legs to drive through the target.
About the Author: Rebecca Dawson
Rebecca Dawson is a fitness coach with a master’s degree from the University of Houston. Her passion revolves around encouraging others to rediscover their lifestyle and to inspire healthy living. Her keen interest in health shines through in her written work on healthy, active lifestyles. You can read her views on the use of tea tree oil soap, body cleaning wipes and sports-specific products.
Edited by Scott Blacklock