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High kicks are the Holy Grail of martial arts and landing them consistently secures superstar status for a kickboxer or mixed martial artist just as well as a knockout punch does in boxing. There is something uniquely impressive about watching a head kick master such as Mirko 'Cro Cop' Filipovic send an opponent's head snapping sideways and their body crumpling to the ring canvas. As frightening in it's effects upon the recipient as it is an awe inspiring feat of flexibility and explosiveness meeting perfect timing; a perfect high kick in a major promotion will be viewed millions of times on Youtube and propel the kicker into title contention in at least the fans' minds.
No man has done more for the publicity of the high roundhouse kick than Mirko Cro Cop; his head kick wins over Igor Vovchancyn, Wanderlei Silva and Aleksander Emelianenko fill highlight reels all over the internet. Cro Cop's head kick is interesting because, unlike the later entries on this list, he never off balances his opponent with a push to bring their hands down (the Peter Aerts method), he simply kicks them in the head from outfighting range. Cro Cop, a southpaw, lacked the slick combinations of other strikers and would have been a simple one trick pony if he had not developed two other techniques to prime form; his left straight punch and his left body kick. Through the use of his straight left punch - which was strong enough to fracture Bob Sapp, Josh Barnett and Kazushi Sakuraba's orbital bones (the latter two from his knees on the ground) - Cro Cop was able to make his opponents forget their strict right hand position - which every opponent held rigidly in defence of the side of their head at the start of their meeting with him. Through his left body kick Cro Cop was able to mop up against the disciplined opponents who kept their hand up at all costs.
Watching this extremely short fight against world class striker and MMA fighter Igor Vovchancyn, it is clear how disconcerting just a couple of Cro Cop's left straights are. Igor comes out of his corner looking disciplined, with his right hand up high and away from his head to soften Mirko's kicks, but just a minute later he is bringing it in after being stung by Mirko's straight. Mirko doesn't even need the hand completely out of the way, as he is content to kick through the less sturdy guard Igor presents.
Here, in Japan's premier kickboxing promotion, K1, Mirko fights New Zealand's Mark Hunt. A former Grand Prix champion who got by on his huge punch and having arguably the best chin in combat sports history, Hunt was able to take the full force of Mirko's kick and get up, but Mirko's set up was picture perfect and the clip has made an appearance in dozens of highlight reels. Hunt's defense has improved somewhat when he meets Mirko and it gives the Croat trouble throughout the fight, but Hunt's attempts to utilize better head movement to evade punches backfire when Cro Cop catches him getting into a pattern. Notice at 5:43 as Cro Cop fakes to attack with the straight, Hunt goes to fire back but pulls short when he realizes that Cro Cop is in position to defend. Mirko immediately fakes again and Hunt leans to his right to slip the straight left. Mirko's left straight and left high kick require the same step with the lead foot outside of the opponent's lead foot, meaning that by conditioning an opponent to expect a straight punch when Cro Cop steps, he can instead throw a high kick without his opponent seeing the foot being placed in position as a telegraphing of the technique. In the most effective cases he can convince the opponent to duck into the kick, just as Hunt does.
These are just articles I write for fun in between my commitments to HKL to improve my style so any advice on writing form you can give me is very helpful! =D
Which head kick is best?
CC vs Igor (29 votes)
CC vs Hunt (9 votes)
CC vs Nagata (2 votes)
Aerts vs Claude (5 votes)
Yamaguchi vs Dennis (1 vote)
46 total votes