Part 1: Kicking
Tae Kwon-Do, for many it calls the image of a fat “sensei” in an ill fitting dobuk teaching in his McDojo. Modern MMA has taught us that these techniques have no real application other than by a specialist few, the Anderson Silva’s and Lyoto Machida’s of this world.
Why then has there been a sudden resurgence in the classic styles in recent years? I drew inspiration for this article from watching John Makdessi and Daron Cruickshank’s recent performances and have come to the conclusion that yes, they are effective, but only recently have the full applications of traditional arts come to the fore.
Muay Thai vs. Tae Kwon Do
Virtually all Muay Thai camps teach the roundhouse or angle kick with the striking leg remaining passive (mostly with the leg allowed to bend slightly but some camps teaching that the knee should be locked except to close range kicking) and not using the pivot of the lower striking leg around the knee found in most other martial arts.
The power is instead entirely created by the rotation of the supporting leg and hips; akin to swinging a baseball bat. This style is perfect for the plodding nature of most Muay Thai fights, as well as the general slow movement style found in MMA, hence why the low kick has found such prominence.
But against fighters who have a tendency to move in and out, it can be seen easily, as there is a tendency to load up for power shots, more on that in a future article.
Traditional martial arts, such as Tae Kwon Do, place more emphasis on chambering the leg i.e. raising the knee and generating power from turning your hip over and using the joint of the knee to create a whip effect. Again this is best suited to purely traditional applications but as Cruickshank and Makdessi has demonstrated with their startling front leg kicking ability that it can be used in modern fighting.
Be Like Water
This is due to the deceptive nature of traditional kicks, Anderson Silva’s snap kick wasn’t effective because it was thrown by him, and it was effective because we are conditioned to expect a teep kick when the knee is brought in front of the body. This is known as the universal chamber to us old school traditionalists because any kick can be thrown from here, be they hook, side, axe, front or roundhouse with little but a shift of the hips.
This style of kick is highly effective in a sport where the most prominent kicks come from either the back leg or from a switch kick (favoured by Tae Kwon Do standout Benson Henderson) Remember, it’s the one they don’t see coming that ends fights.
In the words of the greatest Martial Artist in history, Bruce Lee: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water” We martial artists have a tendency to defend our styles to the ground and ignore others. Adaptability is the name of the game in MMA though, when combining the low power shots of Muay Thai and the quick, deceptive kicks of Tae Kwon Do.
We build an arsenal that is hard to prepare for, and when we are one step ahead of our opponent the fight is over before it even begins. This sport is no longer about Muay Thai, Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, we are entering the era of truly Mixed Martial Arts.
Image courtesy of dandjurdjevic.blogspot.ie