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Arms Position When Kicking - What Works Best?


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We were practising kicks the other day and my trainer said something among the lines: "If you step outside/pivot on your standing foot enough there's no need to lower/straighten the kicking leg arm, it's better to keep your guard up when kicking than risking a counterhit".

What is your kicking leg hand/arm position in kicks? Does it changes with different kicks? Have you noticed different outcomes with different positions? 

 

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We were practising kicks the other day and my trainer said something among the lines: "If you step outside/pivot on your standing foot enough there's no need to lower/straighten the kicking leg arm, it's better to keep your guard up when kicking than risking a counterhit".

What is your kicking leg hand/arm position in kicks? Does it changes with different kicks? Have you noticed different outcomes with different positions? 

I've seen this, where the guard stays the same instead of extending the arm on the same side as the kicking leg. It kind of has an out-dated, old-thyme feel to it and no contemporary fighters do this; I've never had a trainer suggest it. Some trainers do want you to extend the arm straight out, so your hand is in the opponent's face, while others like the arm to kind of swing down to create more torque. The reason the arm extends is for power and being able to turn the hip over - it has a purpose.

Stepping outside your opponent's stance in order to kick is 100% something to focus on and that's how you get power and increase your chances of actually landing the kick. If you step outside, the odds of an opponent's punch hitting you simultaneously is also reduced - so the guard would be less important. 

Everyone is different. For a very long time I swung my arm down, but very recently I've experimented by imitating a trainer I saw who brings the arm across his chin first and then goes straight out. I get more power like this, no doubt. So I'm keeping with it for the time being. I've since noticed a couple of the kids at my gym do this same style, but most don't. If you're comfortable keeping your arms up while kicking, go for it. But it's not "correct" enough to convince 99% of the people I've ever seen to do it, and I've never once seen a fighter using it. The only person I can remember actually advising me to do this was a drunk man who wandered into the gym, took off his shirt and started hitting the bag and looking terrible. He did have some really impressive calf-muscles though :)

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Everyone is different. For a very long time I swung my arm down, but very recently I've experimented by imitating a trainer I saw who brings the arm across his chin first and then goes straight out. I get more power like this, no doubt. So I'm keeping with it for the time being. I've since noticed a couple of the kids at my gym do this same style, but most don't. If you're comfortable keeping your arms up while kicking, go for it. But it's not "correct" enough to convince 99% of the people I've ever seen to do it, and I've never once seen a fighter using it. The only person I can remember actually advising me to do this was a drunk man who wandered into the gym, took off his shirt and started hitting the bag and looking terrible. He did have some really impressive calf-muscles though :)

After coming to Master Toddy's I was taught to straighten the arm in front of me when I kick to 'blind' my opponent and protect myself, as dropping the arm down leaves you open. He HATES the arm swinging, but that's just his style. He just has to be different, haha. It took a long time for me to get used to it and to be able to get any power that way, but now it's second nature. This way, I focus on getting my power from turning my hips over as quickly as possible, which puts my of my body weight into the kick, and I find that swinging the arm in the opposite direction kind of works against that for me. 

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Thank you so much for your feedback!

 

@Sylvie do you have a reference for what you're practising now? The "across the chin and then straight out" thing?

 

Right now I'm working on crouched/stepped outside low kicks with my guard up and middle kicks (still with step outside) with the arm at guard level (like the pic emma posted).

I also noticed that without bringing the arm down I have to focus 100% on turning my hip and it's actually helping me a lot to learn the cinetic chain of the kick.

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Thank you so much for your feedback!

 

@Sylvie do you have a reference for what you're practising now? The "across the chin and then straight out" thing?

 

Right now I'm working on crouched/stepped outside low kicks with my guard up and middle kicks (still with step outside) with the arm at guard level (like the pic emma posted).

I also noticed that without bringing the arm down I have to focus 100% on turning my hip and it's actually helping me a lot to learn the cinetic chain of the kick.

So you mean "guard level," not keeping the arm actually against your face in guard position? That's more common - I was referring to people who actually don't move the arm at all and keep the fists both up, not extending the arm at all. That's the weird one. Keeping the arm straight in the extension rather than swinging "down" is common enough.

I need to make a video of what I'm doing. I'll try to write a reminder on my arm or something to do it at the gym and post it for you :)

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I think I saw it in the pad work vid you posted recently, it's like a full arch from your face and then back? It looks hard to do fast ;)

 

On the low kick I'm actually keeping the arms still in guard, but the step outside help enough with the movement.

Middle and high kicks are impossible without balancing with the arm extension, indeed, so I do the guard level extension.

 

If you have the time to vid something it would be cool, but no pressure, really. I'm just trying to figure things out, having more than one trainer is a mess... ;)

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This exact question is why I had a shoulder injury to begin with. I torqued my arm so hard to swing my hips and legs around I tore my labrum. Since then I have consulted a couple different people about the arm thing. My coach at the gym says I have to, and a martial artist of 20 plus years says I don't, and that it's better that I don't, as it's almost an unnecessary movement. Idk whose advice to follow per se, but I am absolutely paranoid that I'm going to do it again and every time I go to make that movement on either side I think I subconsciously just stop myself from completing the movement.

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This exact question is why I had a shoulder injury to begin with. I torqued my arm so hard to swing my hips and legs around I tore my labrum. Since then I have consulted a couple different people about the arm thing. My coach at the gym says I have to, and a martial artist of 20 plus years says I don't, and that it's better that I don't, as it's almost an unnecessary movement. Idk whose advice to follow per se, but I am absolutely paranoid that I'm going to do it again and every time I go to make that movement on either side I think I subconsciously just stop myself from completing the movement.

 

There is no "right" answer on this. These are all just different kicking techniques, and there is a ton of variability in Muay Thai. It's become very common to drive the hip forward with the whip of the arm. 5 years ago Sean Wright explained the torque of the arm really nicely to Sylvie, likening it to how a runner swings their arms when they run. But it should be lose and easy, like that, like a runner. One would not tear their labrum running, for instance. You can't really catch the audio, but you can see it here:

But yes, you can also generate torque by stepping across, or combining the two movements even. Or turning your stepping foot "out" to open and spring load the hip. But very differently old Boran fighters in the Muay Chaiya tradition, didn't even move their kicking arm at all, they just kept it in place by their face. This is how Kru Lek teaches the Chaiya kick in Bangkok now. It looks very "odd" to a modern eye, but it shows how much difference there can be in Muay Thai and it's history.

The decision on which technique needs, in the west, to be made probably using two criteria: what is most comfortable or expressive of explosiveness, stability, fluidity for me? and: where am I going to get the best instruction continuity from my teachers? In Thailand most of the time there isn't much correction at all. Everyone finds their way, mimicking others, adopting some things, discarding others.

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But yes, you can also generate torque by stepping across, or combining the two movements even. Or turning your stepping foot "out" to open and spring load the hip.

This (turning the foot out while also stepping out) is what I'm working on right now, while trying to stay light on the ball of the foot and pivoting.

Sooo many parts to a movement, it feels like learning to drive with a manual shift ;)

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This (turning the foot out while also stepping out) is what I'm working on right now, while trying to stay light on the ball of the foot and pivoting.

Sooo many parts to a movement, it feels like learning to drive with a manual shift ;)

 

Don't know if you've seen this, but this is the classic Bas Rutten video on generating power with the out-turned foot.

The Thai round kick is one of the most deceptively complicated techniques for westerns I think. Sylvie for years had serious trouble with it, despite lots and lots of kicking. It was never fluid or fast. But she eventually kicked herself to a powerful version through tons of work on the bag and pads. But then you see Thai kids kicking fluidly in almost no time. I think a lot of it has to do with the looseness and openness of the hips (culturally), and probably something to do with the Thai squat. But in the end there is no "Thai kick", there are thousands of Thai kicks. I've seen Thais open up and turn their standing foot very wide, sometimes even ending up with it pointed the other way. And I've seen Thais not turn or pivot on the foot at all and get great power.

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Don't know if you've seen this, but this is the classic Bas Rutten video on generating power with the out-turned foot.

The Thai round kick is one of the most deceptively complicated techniques for westerns I think. Sylvie for years had serious trouble with it, despite lots and lots of kicking. It was never fluid or fast. But she eventually kicked herself to a powerful version through tons of work on the bag and pads. But then you see Thai kids kicking fluidly in almost no time. I think a lot of it has to do with the looseness and openness of the hips (culturally), and probably something to do with the Thai squat. But in the end there is no "Thai kick", there are thousands of Thai kicks. I've seen Thais open up and turn their standing foot very wide, sometimes even ending up with it pointed the other way. And I've seen Thais not turn or pivot on the foot at all and get great power.

OMG that kick.  Thanks everyone; very interesting.

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