Hour six of my client’s Muay Thai course introduced the back-kick. After our usual warm-up, we moved onto a couple of southpaw combinations working the strategy for moving to the outside. Often this maneuver has to be covered in the same way as moving to an opponent’s power side position. We used a lead teep to set up a rear straight left. The rear straight left is coordinated with the step that puts the fighter onto the outside, angling off the opponent. This was then followed with a lead right hook from the offline position and finished with a rear round kick. As always the angled mirror position allows the fighter to take greater advantage an opponent’s blind side whilst simultaneously bringing the power side closer. This procedure was repeated using an elbow/knee combination. Lead spear elbow was used to create the initial setup followed by rear horizontal elbow to cover the outside step, lead slashing elbow from the blind side and rear spear or diagonal knee as a power finish.
With the focus being on stepping off the attack line to the blind side, I moved the lesson onto a new technique for this client: the back kick. I introduced the new positioning of the foot via a side teep. Somewhat resembling the more common side kick seen in karate, tae kwon do and various Chinese martial arts systems, the side teep differs in its initial execution. It is thrown like a regular teep but the foot is then turned over upon impact, more at a diagonal angle than completely horizontal as with a regular side kick. Just as the side kick offers a greater extension than other linear techniques so the side teep allows the nak muay to cover a great distance with the side teep. I then explained that the foot will turn over into a horizontal position for the back kick. Geeky note: the back kick is in many traditional martial arts outside of competition from Karate to some Chinese martial arts styles is often delivered in a heel-up vertical position. Anyway, with the horizontal foot position introduced we began looking at the back kick technique.
The Thai back kick, which is pretty indistinguishable from the type of competition back kick popularised in Korean semi-contact competition. In Muay Boran circles it is often called Guang Liao Lang or “Deer Looking Back”. When I transitioned to American/European Kickboxing from Tae Kwon Do and prior to my Muay Thai training, I was taught the errors over rotation. The back kick, which I don’t believe is accurately described as a spinning kick, is a linear kick performed when a fighter steps across and turns away. Hee Il Cho labelled it a back turning kick, which probably does the move the most justice and distinguishes it from a standard back kick where someone just kicks backwards. Seeing as this is not going to happen in a Muay Thai contest, just calling it a back kick suffices. I was taught not to bring my head round, as you would with a genuine spinning kick that throws a kick on a circular path, but to peer out and look over the shoulder (as per the Muay Boran descriptive name) as the kick is extended to the target.
When I execute a back kick I also try to minimise the time spent in a bladed stance due to the dangers it presents to the backs of the legs. Therefore, I teach more of a 180 degree pivot off the leading the leg and to use the stepping action to better position the fighter to land on target.
As opposed to the offline step, the southpaw or mirror stance fighter is having to step across towards the opponent’s power side. An orthodox or same stance fighter would be stepping offline. A simple way for the southpaw fighter to cover their approach is to throw a jab or another linear technique.
We then looked at tactical ways to apply the back kick. After the jab setup I taught a switch round kick/back kick combination. Here the back kick is delivered as a recovery technique. The round kick misses its target and the fighter allows some of the rotation to position him for the back kick.
The lesson was finished with 5 x 3 minute rounds:
Round 1 – Straight punches only – focus mitts
Round 2 – Straight kicks only (including the back kick) – focus mitts
Round 3 – All punches – focus mitts
Round 4 – All punches and kicks – focus mitts
Round 5 – Free sparring