Taekwondo for MMA
What’s up guys, today we’re going to talk about the best Taekwondo kicks for MMA, and we’re also going to go over the major benefits of incorporating Taekwondo (a more traditional martial art) into your MMA training.
Mixed Martial Arts is a hybrid of different fighting disciplines, and no one martial art can truly be relied upon as the only style a fighter must master to be successful in the sport.
Yet, even as the sport’s most popular leagues grow and expand at a breakneck pace, one thing hasn’t changed:
Just as it was in the no-rules beginning of the cage fighting movement, even today it’s the most intense, bloody and stunning knockout performances by fighters that generate the most interest from rabid fans.
Many of these amazing finishes come by way of spectacular kicks.
Any kick landing on an opponent in the right place with maximum force connecting at the perfect time can be crucial in a mixed martial arts fight, but the most dynamic knockout kicks produced in cages and rings across the world usually come from the Korean martial art of Taekwondo.
Why Taekwondo Sells (Even Though it Doesn’t Have To)
Drama sells tickets and there is nothing more dramatic than watching a fighter who is known for dispatching his or her opponents with ease.
Crowds crave and often call out loudly for quick ends to fights, and promoters know that sudden stoppages are the best revenue generators.
Superior striking in MMA often starts with the understanding that kicking is a must. There are leg kicks, body kicks, head (or “high”) kicks, and multiple variations and target areas to memorize on the way to mastering the kicking aspects of MMA.
Karate Alone Isn’t Enough
We have seen from the rise and fall of both Lyoto Machida and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson that Karate kicks alone are not the answer to maintaining a dominant, impenetrable MMA fighting style.
Both fighters had phenomenal moments in their ascension to fame, but ultimately their opponents adapted to the karate-heavy attack and figured out how to counter it perfectly.
Take a look some of the most popular MMA highlight reel footage of knockouts, and you will notice that some of the most epic masters of separating their foes from consciousness rely on Taekwondo to finish their fights.
Here are some of the best Taekwondo kicks for MMA:
Spinning Back Kick
The Back Kick, Spinning Back Kick, or “Dwi Chagi” is another one of the best Taekwondo kicks for MMA.
It’s best thrown to the belly, liver or chest area and can send an opponent across the cage or to the mat in pain.
It involves a perfect revolution in footwork and packs some major power if it lands properly. If landed at the right time in the ideal place, this kick can (and often WILL) suck the air out of an opponent or even break a rib.
It is really a typical side kick on steroids with the spin providing a considerable amount of additional force, torque and strength that goes way beyond a basic side kick.
Although this technique involves turning your back to an opponent–something seen as high dangerous in some other combat sports–the backward motion of this kick is also the secret to why it often lands with such powerful force.
Here is a clip of Dennis Siver using the spinning back kick to take out Paul Kelly at UFC 105 in November of 2009:
The Hook Kick (Huryeo Chagi), Spinning Hook Kick (Dwi Huryeo Chagi) and Roundhouse Kick (Dollyo Chagi) are often also referred to as “wheel” or “heel” kicks.
Again, these kicks involve a certain level of footwork and a spin that generates more force when the strike lands.
Perhaps the most famous example of this type of kick hitting the perfect home was when Edson Barboza hit Terry Etim squarely on the temple with the heel of his foot at UFC 142:
Lando Vannata also landed a beautiful spinning hook kick on John Makdessi at UFC 206, connecting right on the chin with outstanding results:
The Tornado Kick (Doolgae Chagi) is a technique that is simply jaw-dropping to watch when it is executed perfectly.
It is reserved for only the most talented Taekwondo practicioners, who can use this blow to completely confuse their opponents first, just before rendering them unconscious.
Watch Current Bellator Superstar Michael “Venom” Page (AKA “MVP”) nail a walk-off tornado kick in his early days in the cage:
Here is one of the best video tutorials on how to throw the Tornado Kick:
Kwonkicker is a YouTuber who has a myriad of different videos displaying all the many Taekwondo techniques, primarily those involving kicking.
He also shows footage of him landing many of these kicks in actual Taekwondo competition.
His methods of training and teaching the craft are down to Earth and easy to understand and practice on your own. So definitely go check out his Youtube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/kwonkicker
The Axe Kick (Naeryeo Chagi) and Front Kick (Ap Chagi) are both often used in defensive ways to keep advancing opponents back.
However, these kicks can also lead to devastating knockouts. Lyoto Machida used an Axe Kick (also sometimes called the “Crane Kick” thanks to the Karate Kid movie series) to end Randy Couture’s career at UFC 129, busting Couture’s teeth in the process:
Another fantastic example of an Axe/Front Kick is Anderson Silva’s vicious KO of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126. Belfort walked right into the perfectly thrown strike, folding to the mat in a heap where Silva finished him off with punches.
The Issue With Taekwondo?
Taekwondo is so heavy on kicks that it can lead to an MMA fighter who uses it too much getting in trouble with takedowns against a capable wrestler like Chad Mendes or George St. Pierre.
Still, the sport of mixed martial arts as a whole puts such a premium value on toe to toe battles in the cage or ring.
If a fighter can go out to the field of combat and take his or her opponent out of the match with a brutal kick, he or she will surely be remembered by fans, analysts, and maybe even future opponents.
The defensive value of all these kicks also cannot be overlooked.
The leg is the longest limb you can use for striking in an MMA fight, and a kick can be useful even when it misses.
A fighter who almost walks into a wild spinning kick is going to be hesitant to get that close again.
Kicks can be used like jabs to set up other strikes as well, and they can be utilized to keep opponents back, and out of range to throw their own best strikes.
Taekwondo techniques can easily transition to the MMA cage or ring, but they need to be used with precise timing and constant consideration for the potential of an opponent taking you down while you attempt to land your best kicks.
Here are some more of the best Taekwondo kicks for MMA:
- Crescent Kick
- Flying Back Kick
- Flying Side Kick
- Jumping Front Kick
- Push Kick
- Scissor Kick
- Side Kick
Often times people will write off Taekwondo as an ineffective martial art that doesn’t work for MMA.
However, as we’ve seen today, this is simply not true.
Taekwondo is certainly an effective art to be used in MMA, and you should definitely be training some of these techniques.
Remember, as a fighter, you want your training to constantly be evolving.
You DON’T want to stay stuck in one place for a long time, and not add anything new to your skill set.
Stay open-minded, and appreciate all the martial arts, and only take from them what you see if effective and what works.
By learning and evolving, you will be that much more dangerous, and you’ll have so many weapons in your arsenal as an unarmed combat technician.
I hope this article gave you some insight into the value of Taekwondo, and the value of many of it’s techniques.
Until next time,
The MMA Coach.
P.S. If you want to take your knowledge and understanding of martial arts to the next level, check out my page called “recommended reading” here: