Welcome back to my online diary documenting my very amateur experience training in Muay Thai. If you missed the previous entries on Bloody Elbow, read them here.
My ongoing battle with kicks continued this week, though with positive results. Our main focus was leg kicks, which is something I have addressed in recent entries. They continue to not quite come naturally to me, but I felt better this time around. But after that, we moved on to a favorite of mine - the push kick.
In last week's comments, reader the jewish conquistador mentioned that he is not a fan of the push kick, which I find so surprising. I find this to be a great kick that is not utilized nearly enough in MMA. Since the famous Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort KO, there has been no shortage of front kicks, but the push kick, or teep, remains rather elusive.
To clarify, what Silva threw was a front kick where the force moved upwards in an arch. Think of it as the kicking equivalent of an uppercut. You see a lot of these now, with MMA fighters looking to replicate Silva's highlight reel KO. The push kick is different as the momentum goes straight into and through your opponent's body - the kick equivalent of a jab to the body. And you don't see them as much in MMA. Josh Thomson has long had a solid push kick, as has Carlos Condit, and other fighters use them at times, but it is not that common.
The complaint I guess I can see about this kick is that it is not always a high impact kick, and is more used to create distance. But like a jab, that's only as true as you want it to be. If you commit to the push kick and dig it in, there's no reason you can't do real damage. In our drills we worked a nice double push kick combo - starting in orthodox, through a left push kick with your lead leg. When it lands, use that forward momentum to step in and throw a second kick with your right leg. By taking a good step on the left and adding a bit of extra hop to my right, I was able to solidly connect with that second kick and drive it into my opponent's belly. The end result is a kick that both gets my opponent out of range, while also working his body and taking away his energy.
Is it an instant KO? No. And maybe that's the problem - much of MMA striking is focused on the big KO so a long-term strategy like working the body with punches and push kicks doesn't get used as much. With fans angry that Carlos Condit dared try and use strategy against Nick Diaz instead of go all out for the KO, is this a problem with MMA striking. Is it too KO-focused? Perhaps a good question for next week...
Question of the week: In your opinion, how effective are push kicks?