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Reader Question: Are Those Fast 50 Kicks on the Pads Practicing Bad Technique?


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A reader asks a good question:

"I had a random question for you/Sylvie to regarding roundhouse kicks, if you don't mind? I know there are variations and I've read your thoughts on the golden kick. My question was more related to some confusion on my part when I see trainers/fighters teaching that a roundhouse kick should involve turning over of the hip to strike through your opponent. That's all fine and how I've always practised/taught a roundhouse kick. The confusion part is when I then see those same fighters doing 20-30 continuous kicks on pads, at which point their kicks have very little hip rotation and become almost a slightly angled in straight up kick. Is this bad technique on their part. Or is it a deliberately modified kick so they are able to throw fast repetitive kicks?"

I'll be jumping in here later to answer this

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2 hours ago, Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu said:

My question was more related to some confusion on my part when I see trainers/fighters teaching that a roundhouse kick should involve turning over of the hip to strike through your opponent.

This is really an unfortunate misunderstanding that has pervaded the western teaching of the Thai kick. As mentioned in the question above The Golden Kick really answers much of this. As one can see from this video of Karuhat's kick, there is no "turn over the hip!" at least in the way that it is often overemphasized by western coaches.

This is how I answered a related question, as asked on Reddit:

Quote

 

Because lots of the western "turn your hips over" is a serious exaggeration of Thai technique, and actually "wrong" when compared with how lots of high level Thais kick.

The serious overturn by the west in imitation of the Thai kick often will put you out of position to continue striking (or defending). Usually the more used Thai kick, especially in the older era when the best fighters fought, is about making the kick much harder to see (hence, much more rising), and keeping yourself relatively square and your opponent in front of you. The exaggerated "turn your hip over!" really often will produce an out of position fighter, even in well known westerners.

The best Thais are able to turn or employ their hip, but in a very subtle way, a kind of internal dynamic, without rolling their hip over, as many outside Thailand are taught.

 

This is a really bad habit of western Muay Thai, and against high level fighters could be very exploitable. I have a fight in mind between a well-known western fighter (to remain nameless) who was absolutely undressed (vs another western fighter) in the most part due to his "picture perfect" overturn of the kick, leaving him out of position to defend himself (or follow up with strikes). Photos of this fighter for year have been appearing as a kind of Muay Thai porn, as if his kick was so "beautiful", when in fact this overturn is quite far from the real way high level fighters, especially from the Golden Age, usually kick.

That's the first part of the question. The 2nd part is really interesting! There is a LOT of sloppy technique in these 50 kick, 100 kick pad burns. And, at least by my lights, some of that is pretty terrible. Hand position goes to shit, heads float, even by some Thais in Thai gyms. You are always training something, right? But...there is an interesting component of how these kicks just kind of float or pop straight up. Sometimes the padman really will angle the pad down, so you are even just kicking up, into the pad. What's really interesting is how much this violates the westernized "Thai" Roundhouse kick. All you are doing is practicing kicking up sometimes. How can that be good? What's cool is that this is creating a groove for the first part of the Golden Kick. This upward motion is not the complete Thai Kick, which does involve a last second whipping over (but not "turning over the hip" as the west really likes, an internal dynamic of up and whip that isn't included in a lot of these 50 kick speed rounds. I think it's best if you do try to whip that kick a bit, and if the padman doesn't just point the pad downward, (and if your hand positions get correct, and your chin drops down, while we are at it). But, the upward movement itself, the core repetition, which from western eyes might be all wrong, from the Thai side is probably grooving the first movement of the Golden Kick, which is really cool. 

This is Karuhat's Kick, for those that haven't seen it. He kicks uniquely, but he does present a really beautiful and in some ways ideal form of the kick, in terms of the rise and the hidden, sudden whip:

 

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I suspect that the "turn your hip" as taught by western coaches is truly an "over-turn" situation. Western hips are by and large very inflexible and so the turn of the hip makes up for the relaxation of the kicking leg. If both the standing leg and kicking leg are tense, you get a punt. If you force a turn in the hip, you can at least whip the kicking leg a little bit. Yodkhunpon has criticized my kick so, so many times for turning too much. He laughs at me, his kind of quiet way, smiling to himself. "You do one, and then what? Finish already," he says. It's true. You do that much of a turn on your kick and you've fired your one shot, you're not ready to kick again. 

That said, turning your hip isn't "wrong." A strong, cut-you-down kick turns the hip. But it doesn't ONLY turn the hip. It kind of cuts through like a baseball bat, still loose in the hip and the kicking leg is more or less relaxed. If you're Samart, you'll flex the leg on impact, kind of giving it a stick-hitting-a-gong effect. Others don't do that. If you're Silapathai, you're going to kick 8 million times per minute anyway, so the kicks are just fast as.

Different techniques, all kicking. The purpose of the 50 kick drills though is to build stamina and power. They're not truly "this is how you should kick" drills anymore than a 30 second "burnout" of one-two punches on a bag teach proper punching form. A speedbag isn't about technique. It's about coordination. It's about speed. It's about rhythm. That's what 50 kick, or 500 kick repeats are all about. So says me, anyway.

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