My second lesson on Monday night was an half-hour round kick (roundhouse, turning) clinic for the excellent Athena School of Karate. The school’s head teacher wanted her higher ranking and adult students to have a break in the combination work in order to better focus on the Thai round kick. This technique is reoccurring throughout the 14 combinations and is of vital importance for many forms of stand-up fighting. It is a decidedly different technique to round kicks typically taught in most schools of karate, tang soo do, tae kwon and kung fu.
First I gave an overview of the kick and why it is different to the snapping version. The kick does not chamber at the knee and has a less pronounced hinging action. It is swung into the target relying on torque from the oblique muscles and hip flexors, striking with the shin instead of the instep or ball of the foot. The instep is occasionally used in Muay Thai, Dutch Kickboxing and related arts but usually reserved for the side of the jaw or neck, although some very accurate fighters pull off round kicks to the liver or spleen. Round kicks to the leg are nearly always best thrown using the shin. Next I described popular variations including the standard horizontal version, the common downward chop, the no-pivot speed kick and the full-pivot speed kick. We progressed onto the low kick – a subject worthy of its own full workshop – and described its striking zones of the sciatic nerve or femoral nerve. The kick can also be used to strike the calf, an increasingly popular move in MMA. We looked at the Dutch upward version for speed and the downward chop version for power. Then we chained the kick on the end or between punching combinations. Moving to the body, we looked at the horizontal version and chained it with combinations again. I also looked at different hand positioning, explaining the importance of using the arms to create torque with some suggestions for better defence.
We also covered lead leg round kicks. The three most popular ways to train these is through the switch-kick, the pendulum shift-kick and the lead kick on the spot. Funnily enough the final version is actually the hardest when it comes to throwing a Thai/Southeast Asian round kick and the other two versions are great progressions.
The round kick is typically first learnt as 360 degree power kick. Ensuring the supporting foot is either pivoted or the fighter steps into a pivoted position, the hips are rolled over and the kick is then swung with the foot in a horizontal position taking the fighter in a complete circle. Then this is edited when throwing combinations. It can be either dropped with the fighter almost completely with their back turned to the opponent and quickly retrieved or covered with a shin-check. The shin-check, it was explained, was not a block but an active counter-offensive move driven into an opponent’s incoming round kick. Bringing matters back to the rhythm and flow work we have been doing, I also taught the full-pivot round kick for speed.
Some more helpful links:
- Sylvie von Duuglas-Ittu looks at the finer points of the round kick with Hippy Singmanee
- Sean Fagan explains his take on the Muay Thai arm swing
- Shane Fazen explains the full-pivot speed kick
- Ramsey Dewey’s arm placement is where I am at
- Dutch Kick
- Shane Fazen – Low Kick Variations
- Dutch & Thai Low Kicks
- Bas Ruten contradicts everyone’s hand/arm placement but is still brilliant
- Ernesto Hoost – The Perfect Low Kick by Lawrence Kenshin