What is the Most Effective Kick in MMA?

Different martial arts kicks can be attempted in MMA training and competitions, however not all styles and techniques are equally represented in the cage. Some kicks and techniques have proven to be more effective than others, over the evolution of the sport.

Due to that, some kicks and techniques have become more popular and are used much more than others. The kicks have to be practiced regularly since they’re used in different situations such as demonstrations, sparring, self-defense, breaking techniques, plus katas and forms.

The techniques should be done under the supervision of a qualified martial arts instructor. If you’re a fan or new to MMA and you want to take up MMA training, the following are some of the most effective and common kicks.

Roundhouse kick

This kick is considered the most effective and destructive strike in MMA. In nature, the roundhouse kick also known as swinging kick is similar to those found in kickboxing and karate.

It is very useful as very few strikes are needed to wear an opponent down, reduce their offense, and even knock them out. The roundhouse kick is aimed towards various targets including the inner thighs, outer leg, head, or ribs and thrown with the shin.

There are a lot of variations of the kick, hence Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Wushu, and Karate all offer a different variation of the kick. Each of them has their own take on different aspects such as body movement, Target of the kick, and stance.

However, the most common versions of the kick are cast by swinging the leg in a semi-circle by rotating the leg and the rest of the body to put extreme power into the strike.

While, it is the most destructive kick in MMA, it is hard to execute in the fight. Mastering the technique is almost a must if you were to apply it in the fight.

Why is the roundhouse kick the most effective?

This is the most powerful kick because of the version used by Muay Thai fighters. The Muay Thai utilizes the entire body to produce power, unlike other arts that depend on quadriceps to produce power.

The power of the kick is obtained from the rotational movement of the entire body, mainly the trunk muscles and hips.

Muay Thai has become popular due to different reasons. It takes a fairly short period to study and to become efficient in the basic strikes.

However, in order to master the strikes effectively, numerous repetitions have to be completed. The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is performed in a good amount of MMA fights.

The different ways you can train for the roundhouse kick

In order to develop a powerful roundhouse kick, you have to train with all methods present at your gym. The more powerful your core and hips are, the more powerful and fast your kick will be.

In order to enhance your core and hips, you have to incorporate particular exercises in your routine. You must include ballistics and grinds, to develop your hip hinge and squat pattern for better strikes. The following are some of the different ways you can train for the roundhouse kick:

Thai pads – they are good at helping to improve your accuracy, speed, and timing. They also simulate dealing with a real opponent.

The heavy bag – this is a piece of very vital training equipment. It will assist you in perfecting your techniques with very minimal risk of getting injured. Training with the heavy bag helps you with conditioning your shins.

Sparring – you have to spar in order to use the techniques you’re taught with your trainer. It helps you learn how to adopt an opponent and also lets you use all the techniques you learn.

Drilling – it is essential in helping you learn how to efficiently perform the technical nuances of the rough kick.

Shadowboxing – using shadowboxing to train helps in enhancing your cadence. It assists you in seeing the loopholes in your game.

The following are the exercises incorporated for a strong roundhouse kick.

Ballistics – kettlebell snatch, kettlebell clean, kettlebell swing, and plyo box jumps.

Grinds – front squats, single-leg deadlifts, deadlift, Bulgarian split squats, and pistol squats.

Core – medicine ball throws, hanging leg raises, land mines, and ab wheels.

Front kick

It is also referred to as the straight or push kick. This is also one of the most effective kicks in martial arts. It is executed by first raising the knee of the kicking leg so that it is aimed at the opponent.

The ankle is put straight in line with the rest of the leg. The leg is straightened in order to kick the opponent. After all the actions are done in reverse to put you back to your original stance.

In order to throw front kicks the right way, you need to

  • Thrust your hips forward in order to generate more power and speed of the kick.
  • Keep your hands in the air while maintaining your guard, do not allow your hands to swing down.
  • Tuck in your chin.
  • Keep your back straight while you are in your stance in order to maintain balance.
  • Aim for the torso area in order to land a more powerful kick.

When it is done right, it becomes a solid self-defense technique. Front kicks are described as one of the most natural of kicks. The reason why this kick is very effective is that it is very difficult to block.

The kick comes straight on to an opponent catching them off guard. It is one of the most commonly used techniques in martial arts. This is because of the ability to throw it quickly with a lot of power.

It is easy to learn and it requires the least flexibility as compared to other basic kicks. It can also be used to put your opponent off balance. It is fast to perform and it uses little body motion. It also serves as a great opener for combination attacks.


A sidekick, also known as the side piercing kick is executed by turning the body sideways with the hip turned slightly over. It is called piercing due to its linear motion.

Position the kicking leg diagonally across the body and extend the kick in a linear motion towards the opponent. There are two variations of a sidekick:

  1. The front leg side kick which is positioned to target the ribs of your opponent
  2. The rear leg sidekick is executed by moving your kicking leg forward while putting pressure on the non-kicking leg before you land the kick.

In order to land a great sidekick:

  • You need to take up your position – either a neutral or side stance.
  • Bring your knees towards your target.
  • Chamber your kicking leg and pivot with your resting leg.
  • Use the blade of your foot to execute the kick.
  • Rechamber your kicking leg for more flexibility and more opportunity to throw more kicks.

This technique can be used to attack, defend, or counterattack your opponent. Similar to the front kick, a side kick packs a heavy blow, because its power comes from the hip and the core.

A well-executed sidekick often results in broken ribs. They are the most effective for long-range attacks and engages both the hip and thigh muscles. It is handy as a counterattack technique on a charging opponent.

As the front kick comes with versatility, the sidekick comes with variations. They include jumping, flying, spinning, and skipping sidekicks.

Back kick

This is a very effective kick in martial arts. It is also known as a donkey or horse kick. A well-executed back kick can break your opponent’s rib. It is executed by throwing a kick backwards towards your opponent.

The striking surface is normally the heel of your foot. An effective way to throw the back kick is to use it as a counter-attack technique when your opponent is charging towards you.

Back kicks are one of the most powerful kicks as they utilize the big muscles of the body, the hamstring, glutes, and the back. With these powerful muscles in action during the back kick, it has a great impact on the opponent.

They have a follow-through, which allows your kick to leave a maximum impact without drawing it in the normal position. The back kick uses the heel, which makes it very brutal. When the heel connects with the opponent’s ribs with great force, it will shatter them.


Since the beginning, kicking has been a powerful weapon in mixed martial arts. Learning and becoming good in the above techniques is beneficial to a martial arts fighter. A good kicking action is pleasing to watch for many fans, no matter what form of kicking you use.

However, a lot of training is required by fighters in order to enhance their skills and perfect them.

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