Tips to Improve Your Kicking Power, Speed & Precision

Aug 23, 2023Martial Arts0 comments

Kicks are powerful weapons in any martial artist’s arsenal. Executing kicks properly requires ingraining key technical elements to optimize impact force, speed, and targeting. This comprehensive guide will provide tips and principles to help you improve your overall kicking technique and dynamics for greater effectiveness.

Whether you are new to kicking or an experienced striker, there are always opportunities to refine form and increase proficiency. To elevate your kicking game, we will examine proper stance, hip rotation, leg drive, combinations, footwork, targeting, speed generation, endurance, and mistake correction. Master these concepts through deliberate training to become a formidable kicker.

Adopt an Athletic Stance

A fighting stance serves as the foundation for any technique, including kicks. Without a solid base, your movement and power generation will be compromised. The key points for a balanced athletic stance are:

  • Feet shoulder-width apart: Stand with feet under your shoulders, not together or too wide. This width provides stability in all directions.
  • Distribute weight evenly: Your weight should be centred evenly over both legs, not leaning forward or back. Even distribution allows powering kicks from either side.
  • Slight knee bend: Maintain a soft bend in your knees for shock absorption and mobility. Do not lock your knees straight, which reduces athleticism.
  • Upright posture: Keep your torso and back straight with your chest lifted and head up. Hunching over constricts your power and balance.
  • Hands in guard position: Hold your hands up, protecting your head and face. Don’t casually drop them. The guard protects you when kicking.

Practice settling into this balanced athletic stance as your default neutral position. Moving, kicking, blocking, and striking should all initiate from this base. Ingrain this posture until it becomes second nature, even when fatigued. A strong foundation transfers into greater striking force.

Harness Hip Rotation

Rotating the hips is instrumental for generating kicking power. The hips act as the fulcrum point to whip the leg into the target with momentum. To harness hip torque:

  • Pivot hips over fully: Rotate your hips completely toward the target at the moment of impact. This propels the leg forcefully inward.
  • Time with leg extension: Coordinate your hip rotation to coincide with full leg extension for optimal synergy.
  • Lean slightly back: As you rotate your hips and kick, lean your upper body back slightly. This builds momentum for greater hip torque.
  • Engage deep muscles: Rotate from your core by twisting deep into the hips to engage your glutes and deep core muscles. Superficial hip rotation is weaker.
  • Maintain posture: Keep your posture upright through the rotation. Avoid leaning sideways or hunching over, which bleeds power.
  • Shift weight: Transfer weight onto your supporting leg to free the hips for full rotational range.

Explosively pivoting the hips during a kick channels strength from your core muscles into leg drive. Practice rotating your hips rapidly when kicking the bag or pads to engrain this dynamic power.

Drive Your Leg With Intent

For maximum impact, do not casually swing your leg toward the target. You need to dynamically drive your leg into the target with intention:

  • Thrust hips forward: Fire your hips forward along with driving your leg into the strike. This adds protective momentum.
  • Extend knee straight: Fully extend your knee at the moment of impact to penetrate the target for damage. A slightly bent knee reduces shock transfer.
  • Snap ankle back: Forcefully flex your ankle and point the toes down to further propel the leg outwards into the strike.
  • Strike with the shin: When executing low-round kicks, pivot to connect with the hardest part of your shin bone for greatest impact.
  • Whip leg directly inward: Drive your kick straight forward into the target for efficient energy transfer. Looping swings diffuse power.
  • Visualize penetrating through: Mentally imagine kicking all the way through the target, not just at the surface. This focuses intent.

Train to aggressively drive your leg into the target with coordinated hip drive, full knee extension, ankle snap, and mental intent to penetrate through. Kicking with conviction optimizes damage.

Maintain Proper Posture and Alignment

Correct posture and body alignment are vital for balance, torque generation, and power delivery during kicks. Pay attention to:

  • Head up: Keep your head upright and eyes on your target. Do not look down, which compromises balance and power.
  • Lifted chest: Maintain your chest lifted without hunching over or leaning forward. The upright posture allows full hip rotation.
  • Shoulder alignment: Keep shoulders aligned with your hips as you kick. Twisting your torso decreases connected power.
  • Planted standing leg: Root the sole of your standing foot into the ground like screwing it down. This anchors the stance.
  • Pointed standing foot: Point your standing foot in the same direction you are kicking for proper alignment.
  • Guard hand up: Keep the guard hand up on the same side you are kicking for protection.

Correct upright posture maintains structural alignment for maximum power linkage from your feet to the hips to the leg you are kicking with. Ingrain these postural habits.

Target Vital Areas

To fully utilize powerful kicks, you must target areas that cripple your opponent or remove them from the fight. Certain areas are more vulnerable and effective to strike:

  • Inner and outer thigh: Kicking the thighs helps destroy their mobility, limiting their movement.
  • Side of knee joint: Striking the medial side of the knee can hyperextend the joint or cause ligament tears.
  • Calf: Kicking the calf deadens the leg muscles and nerves, hampering balance and strength.
  • Ribs and spleen: Kicking to the floating ribs can disrupt breathing and damage internal organs.
  • Head: Hard shin kick contact to the head can result in knockouts or cuts. But head kicks are higher risk.

Analyze openings based on your opponent’s positioning and guard, then strategically target areas that will disrupt their structural integrity or stamina. Fight-ending damage requires accurate strike placement.

Set Up Your Kicks

Kicks thrown from a static neutral stance are relatively easy for an opponent to anticipate and defend against. Use set-ups to disguise your kicks:

  • Combo with punches: Throw punches first to break the opponent’s expectations and guard habits before kicking.
  • Feint strikes: Fake a punch or kick, causing the opponent to react, then capitalize on the opening with a kick.
  • Attack a leg first: Kick one of your opponent’s legs so they lift it reflexively, then target the supporting leg.
  • Kick after catching: When you catch your opponent’s kick, quickly kick the standing leg while their balance is compromised.
  • Attack from angles: Move offline before kicking to blindside your opponent from their peripheral vision.

Setting up kicks by distracting and breaking structure disguises your intentions, causing kicks to land undefended. Diversify attacks by integrating punches, feints, angles, and combinations.

Retract Your Leg Swiftly

Never leave your leg lingering extended after a kick. Strive to shoot it out and draw it back quickly:

  • Snapback: The instant your kick lands, energetically snap your leg back into guard. Do not leave extended.
  • Retract along trajectory: Bring your leg back along the same vector that it travelled forward. This is the quickest.
  • Hands stay up: Maintain your guard hand up as your leg retracts in case of counter strikes.
  • Weight shifts back: Transfer weight back onto your standing leg as you retract the kicking leg.
  • Regain stance rapidly: After kicking, swiftly resume your fighting stance, ready to defend. Never pause.

Fast retraction makes you less vulnerable to being countered, swept, or having your leg caught. After every kick, your immediate priority is to resume your guard and stance stability. Never remain frozen after kicking.

Increase Your Kicking Speed

Beyond raw power, developing speedy kicks is extremely advantageous by keeping opponents on the defensive. Two useful drills for increasing kick quickness are:

  • Slow Kick Explosives: Perform kicks slowly in a controlled manner, then explode with speed immediately after. Alternate slow and explosive.
  • Speed Kicking: Rapidly kick a heavy bag high, low, and mid-level while emphasizing fast recoil back into your stance.

Executing kicks slowly then explosively directly after engrains optimal muscle recruitment patterns for speed. Speed kicking develops your neuromuscular firing for faster execution over time through repetition. Integrate these drills to gain kick speed.

Build Kicking Endurance

Frequently throwing kicks demands conditioning your body for round after round endurance:

  • High rep kick sets: Do sets of 50, 75 or 100+ kicks using lighter resistance to build muscular endurance.
  • Include slower, long sessions: Incorporate some kicks at a slower tempo with extended sets which develops aerobic endurance.
  • Alternate legs: When doing sets of kicks, frequently switch which leg you are kicking with to build balanced leg endurance in both legs evenly.

Kicking heavily taxes your muscular strength, anaerobic capacity, and cardiovascular fitness. Using higher repetitions, slower tempos, and alternating legs will improve your kick endurance for lasting stamina.

Correct Common Kick Errors

These are frequent mistakes to be aware of when kicking:

  • Looking down or away – Your eyes should stay fixed on your target.
  • Hands dropping – Don’t compromise your guard. Keep hands up protecting your head.
  • Twisting torso – Maintain shoulders aligned with your hips for connected power.
  • Flailing leg – Avoid wild swinging. Drive your leg with precision into the target.
  • Overcommitted weight shift – Keep some weight planted on your standing leg for control.
  • Telegraphic wind up – Kick straight out without an exaggerated wind up which telegraphs.
  • Leg left extended – Always recoil your leg swiftly after impact. Do not leave lingering.

Identify any of these common flaws present in your kicks and consciously correct during practice sessions. Video record kicks to clearly spot issues needing improvement.

Improving Kick Power, Speed, and Accuracy

In conclusion, mastering kick execution and impact requires properly ingraining technique and biomechanical power principles. Adopting an athletic stance, explosively rotating your hips, aggressively driving your leg into targets, setting up combinations, increasing speed, building endurance, and correcting mistakes will maximize your kicking prowess. Integrate these essential points into your training to become a feared and dangerous kicker.

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Team Apex MMA Martial Arts Coach
Apex MMA is a specialist mixed martial arts gym focusing on Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Led by an experienced team of instructors, Apex MMA offers comprehensive training programs for students of all ages and skill levels. With Apex MMA's systematic teaching methods, passion for martial arts, and strong community relationships, you will gain the tools to succeed in the gym and beyond.
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