Muay Thai Side Kick

Muay Thai Side Kick

In this lesson you will learn how to do a muay thai side kick. That's when lift your leg sideways and thrust your foot straight towards your opponent. Side kicks are performed in a many of different martial arts and execution varies. In muay thai, the side kick is supposed to be very fast. That's why in muay thai, you usually kick with the front leg. Back leg side kicks are seldom seen. They are stronger but a little slower, because you have to turn. This lesson is only for the front leg - side kick. Find more muay thai techniques at muay thai main.

Description: Muay Thai Side Kick

  • Start from your muay thai fighting stance. (see fighting stance instruction)
    Summary: The legs are slightly bent. The heels are elevated a little. The upper body is crouched slightly. Keep your chin close to your chest.
  • Step forward with your back leg to adjust the distance to your opponent. This is a fast and short step. If you opponent comes towards you, you can also kick without this step or even hop backwards. If the distance to your opponent is too far, you can also skip forward on the back leg. However, keep in mind that your foot should stay very close to the floor. This is an instable moment. Turn the foot slightly away and keep the knee bent. (see illustration above) Don't stand up or raise your head as you step forward.
  • Lift your front foot shortly before you plant the back foot. Keep looking straight forward and don't lose balance.
  • Then raise your knee towards your chest and lean back a little bit. Don't lean back too much. Keep looking straight forward. You should be able to see your heel from over the thigh of your front leg. Don't let the shin hang down vertically. At the beginning this is pretty tough for the sides of your abdominals. The first few times you try this, you can hold onto a chair or a ladder wall and just practice how to lift the knee. The foot moves up and a little forward. Not up and back !
  • Thrust out the foot and exhale at the same time. Ideal point of impact: With the heel when the knee is bent 85%. Don't kick with the ball of the foot. The foot is parallel to the floor or the toes point down slightly. Twist a little on the standing foot and fully extend the hip. Try not to lean back too much. This is not an artistic side kick. For defense and speed reasons you should try to keep your upper body pretty upright. However, the further you lean back, the more power you can put into the kick. Unfortunately it will be easer for your opponent to catch your foot. In some artistic martial arts the leg is extended in a straight line (or arched) with the hip and the upper body. Keep your upper body tight and don't lower your fists. Don't turn your head away and don't twist too much on the standing leg. If you twist too much you will automatically turn away and your opponent will be able to attack your back.
  • Finally bend your leg and pull your foot back (in a straight line) so that your opponent can't grab your leg. Then go back to your fighting stance. Pull back just as fast as you kicked. If you let your foot fall, your opponent will grab your leg and throw you.

Trainer advice: Muay Thai Side Kick

  • Muay thai side kicks are usually delivered chest high. Kicks to the head are easier to block.
  • Don't turn away from your opponent. Keep looking straight forward.
  • The heel of the standing leg is elevated slightly. If you lift your heel too much, you might lose balance.
  • To learn how to make your side kick more powerful, also practice TKD and Karate side kicks. Keep in mind that if you lean back and arch you back more, your opponent will have more time to counter-attack.
  • Exercise: Practice the side kick holding onto a ladder wall.
    • Step
    • Lift your knee
    • Trust the foot
    • Pull back
    • Plant your foot and go back to your fighting stance