The low kick (also known as leg kick) is one of the most effective weapons in the Muay Thai arsenal. It can be delivered swiftly and complements combo attacks very well. Low kicks are also favored by competitors in kickboxing and mixed martial arts for its effectiveness to inflict pain.
In 1988, Thai fighter Changpuek Kiatsongrit took part in a historical match-up against American kickboxer Rick Roufus. Changpuek was stripped of the devastating elbow strikes of Muay Thai in a special limited-rule kickboxing fight. Despite the handicap, he demonstrated the power of the Muay Thai low kick to a worldwide audience, ending the bout with a technical knockout by low kicks in the fifth round.
Low kick has since spread across the kickboxing world with many kickboxers adopting it as a signature move or more regularly featured in their fighting style. Some of the notable low kick exponents in kickboxing history include Rob Kaman aka Mr Low Kick, the late great Ramon Dekkers, Kozo Takeda and Liam Harrison.
Why are Low Kicks So Effective?
Low kicks may be less acutely devastating compared to elbow strikes, liver shots, hook punches and high kicks which can end the fight instantly. However, low kickers can gradually tear down an opponent by debilitating the quadriceps with each kick. Low kicks can target the inner thighs which can disrupt an attack, but are more often thrown to the side of the quads (IT band) to deliver more damage and inflict more pain. With consistency, power and accuracy, low kicks can finish fights by technical knockout.
How to Train Muay Thai Low Kicks
Now that we have gone over some background of the low kick, let’s get technical and cover how we can level up on the technique. The secret is no secret. The key to improving Muay Thai low kicks is to level up power and accuracy through drilling. Here are some of the ways and equipments to train the Muay Thai low kick:
Muay Thai Heavy Bag
Full-length heavy bags (banana bags) are the best equipment when it comes to training low kicks on your own. Having a banana bag installed at home provides you with easy access to train on days away from the gym or fit in an extra session. TIP: Adding a resistance band can help to increase the difficulty of training and achieve faster results.
Low Kick Pad
The low kick pad is the main specialized equipment used in padwork that focuses on low kick combinations. A trainer typically holds the low kick pad on the side of his leg with one hand while the free hand holds a boxing mitt. This allows for training punch-low kick combinations in padwork.
Muay Thai Kick Pads
Besides the heavy bags, kick pads are the most commonly used equipment in Muay Thai training. Padwork is an important element in Muay Thai where a trainer gets to shape and sharpen the style of a fighter. Kick pads are ideal for working all of Muay Thai techniques except the low kick as they are not ergonomic for this purpose.
Quad Low Kick Pad
This unique equipment is designed by the product team at YOKKAO by combining the best worlds of the standard kick pads and the low kick pad. It provides the trainer with hands-free mobility and action. The dual-strap system facilitates both left- and right-handed usage, while freeing up the hands for a complete low kick combination workout.
Sparring is a great way to help put techniques into practice against a partner, and helps to bridge the gap between training and actual competitive fighting. Practitioners get to experience and understand the space in order to throw low kicks, building accuracy in the process.
High-Intensity Interval Training
Besides perfecting the technique, a key factor of effective low kicks is power. Other than heavy bag training and padwork, high-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is one of the best ways to achieve more powerful strikes. Some simple HIIT exercises include sprinting, burpees, and lunges.