Head kicks are one of the most devastating attacks you can throw at an opponent in MMA. It is a simple technique that can be easily perfected with regular drilling and, when it connects, it’s powerful enough to stop anyone regardless of how tough their chin is. Head kicks are so powerful when thrown with proper technique, they hurt your opponent even when they’re able to block it.
Setting Up Your Head Kicks
Different combat styles have their version of the head kick, but Muay Thai’s version is typically viewed as the most effective.
A Muay Thai fighter uses their leg as if it were a baseball bat when attacking. Instead of snapping their leg like a whip, like a karateka might do, a Muay Thai fighter extends their legs and attempts to kick through their opponent, generating extra power by swinging their hips and body as they fire away.
“When you stand on your toe, it’s easier to turn around on your feet,” MMA World Champion Siyar Bahadurzada explains. “If you’re flat on your feet, you cannot turn. When you’re on your toes, it’s easier to turn, and you will have your entire bodyweight behind your kick, which makes your kick much more effective and powerful.”
When it comes to landing head kicks during mixed martial arts competition, the key is to hide the kick behind other attacks, so your opponent does not have enough time to evade or block it.
Effective Head Kick Attacks
Here are some of the most effective ways to set up head kicks during MMA fights:
1. Jab, Head Kick
This is one of the first combinations Muay Thai students learn. The jab is one of the fastest attacks you can throw, and it works well as a range finder. If you can touch the other guy with your jab, you can definitely put your shin on their chin.
Throwing one or more jabs before firing off a head kick allows you to ensure your opponent is well within kicking range. The jab obstructs your opponent’s view of your body, and it forces them to defend their right side. This opens up their left side for the head kick that follows.
2. Cross, Switch Head Kick
Here’s a more complex technique for more advanced fighters. The sequence starts by setting up the kick with a right cross. You follow that up by throwing a switch head kick. This means you switch to a southpaw stance if you started in an orthodox stance, so your left leg becomes your rear leg, putting you in a perfect position to throw a head kick with your left leg.
It’s All About The Setups
Setting up your head kicks behind other attacks increases the odds of you landing on your target. Head kicks use more energy than most strikes, so you want each one to count. Watch the video above for more tips on how to set up head kicks from MMA World Champion Siyar Bahadurzada.
This article, "Here’s What You Need To Know About Setting Up Head Kicks In MMA", originally appeared on Evolve MMA, Asia’s No. 1 martial arts organisation.