Since you can use both your hands and feet in Muay Thai, this particular form of martial arts boasts an impressive number of opportunities to strike. The biggest benefit of kicking in Muay Thai is the distance that the action puts in between a fighter and his opponent, making kicks incredibly important.
So much so, in fact, that kicks should be an essential part of Muay Thai practice.
You can master kicks by taking on one of many Muay Thai kicking drills. These will help you hone your roundhouse kicks as well as your jabs, both of which are powerful kicks.
To help you get started, here are a few Muay Thai kicking drills that will help you improve your techniques. As well as some important kicking drill and general Muay Thai information.
Table of Content
- 1 The Benefit of Muay Thai Kicking Drills
- 2 Necessary Gear
- 3 Mobility and Warming Up
- 4 Turning The Wheel
- 5 Handshake Drill
- 6 Heavy Bag Roundhouse Drills
- 7 Kicking Balance Heavy Bag Drill
- 8 Mobility Body Kick
- 9 Shin Conditioning Drills
- 10 To Sum Up
The Benefit of Muay Thai Kicking Drills
The most obvious benefit to Muay Thai kicking drills is that, over time, your kicking techniques will improve. Kicking drills help you improve the specific movements you want to master, while at the same time increasing your power during said movements, ultimately aiding in the development of lasting skills.
Muay Thai kicking drills aim to teach the participant how to set up their bodies to perform the move correctly and with the most impact. Kicking drills also tend to focus on using the shins as a solid surface for kicking and absorbing impacts without inflicting or suffering damage in the area.
Muay Thai drills are excellent for shin conditioning but because of the repetitive blows that your shins take, it’s important to have high quality shin guards. The most common form of shin protection are shin guards, which come in a variety of materials and at varying price points.
Also known as jump ropes, skipping ropes are a surprisingly beneficial piece of equipment for Muay Thai kicking drills. Although they are not directly used within the drills, they are wonderful for doing warm ups. A few minutes of intense skip roping works the heart and lungs and stretches the muscles to help them be prepared for the kicking drills to follow.
With your hands having such a big part in this exciting sport, it’s essential that they stay in good shape. To keep your hands in good health and working their best, you should always have a pair or two of heavy duty Muay Thai gloves.
Even when working on kicking drills you’re likely to use your hands, as combinations are often part of kicking drills.
This is why it’s advised not to purchase the cheapest gloves you can find, as generally, more expensive gloves are made of better protective materials.
Many of the following drills can be done solo, however, they are even more mentally and physically beneficial when you have a partner. The best Muay Thai partner is another Muay Thai enthusiast. If your partner is knowledgeable in Muay Thai, both you and your partner can benefit from giving and receiving advice and suggestions.
Most solo drills can be altered to cater to two people without losing any of the benefits of the drill.
If you have access to a kickboxing gym, you already have plenty of space for practicing kicking drills. However, if you lack your own gym, you’ll need to find an area with plenty of open space. You’ll need more space if you’re practicing alone, as your space will have to have a heavy bag in it.
A great place for practicing is in an open basement or spare bedroom that has nothing breakable or that can be damaged.
Arguably, one of the best ways to practicing muay thai kicks is by way of a heavy bag. Heavy bags are nearly as good as using a partner, and are much more convenient.
Mobility and Warming Up
Although warming up is a no-brainer for most of us, warm ups can and do get neglected. A good warm-up is critical for a successful kicking drill. It not only prepares the body but also the mind, as it trains the mind’s ability to focus on the workout at hand.
- Begin by jumping 500 times with a jump rope. Practice various different kinds of jumps and try to increase your speed as you go.
- Let your head drop to the front and slowly roll your neck in a circle, stretching but not hurting your muscles. Repeat this 10 times in each direction, a total of 50 times.
- Do the same motion as the step above but with your shoulders and going forwards and backwards instead of side to side.
- Twist your body to one side 10 times, following this by repeating on the other side. Keep your movements smooth and gentle and repeat 50 times. Try to make sure that you don’t overstretch or pull any muscles in your back; this should be beneficial not damaging.
- Set your hands on your waist and slowly roll your hips in circles. Do this 10 times, totaling 50 circles between both directions.
- Lift your knee up, to the side, and then to the back by grabbing your ankle and using it to pull your knee up behind your back. Do this 25 times for each leg and be sure not to pull on your leg too hard.
- Balance on a wall and swing your leg forwards and back as if you were a swinging pendulum or swinging on a swing. Do this on both legs 50 times, keeping your legs moving in a smooth motion.
Pay attention to your body during this time. If any body part gives you pain or tension, spend more time stretching it and warming up. Don’t be afraid to spend a few extra minutes to ensure that your body is adequately prepared.
Turning The Wheel
Two aspects that can always be improved are kick speed and the power behind kicks. This drill is designed to improve both of these. It’s also interesting to note that this particular drill is popular with many Muay Thai professionals.
- Starting with the left hand, throw a cross-body hook.
- After the hook, bring the other hand across.
- As the second hand is on its way back, turn both your shoulders and hands as if you’re turning a wheel.
- As you turn the imaginary wheel, bring your leg alongside it, kicking the heavy bag using your shin.
- Repeat this 50 times, before switching sides and repeating the entirety of the drill.
Although the primary focus of this drill is to improve power, it’s also used to practice and increase agility. To get the most out of the drill, aim to land your kicks at different heights. For example: head, body, and low.
Ideal for beginners, this fantastic workout aims to help newbies master the throwing of roundhouse kicks. Since roundhouse kicks are useless without good form and power, this drill increases the efficiency of both.
- Start with a partner. Face him/her in neutral stance.
- Reach across your body with your right hand, grasping your partner’s right hand.
- Keeping your hands clasped, bring your right leg up as if you were about to kick your partner’s left ribs.
- As you lift your leg, pivot on the left foot, turning your shoulders in that direction. Bring your hand to your left temple.
- Repeat this drill 50 times and switch sides. Repeat again.
Where most drills are aimed to improve speed, this drill is primarily focused on increasing. This being said, take your time with it and don’t try to rush into lightning fast kicks yet.
Heavy Bag Roundhouse Drills
Upon mastering the basics of the roundhouse kick, it’s time to move on to introducing speed into the kicks. This easy drill will aid in helping you have powerful, precise roundhouse kicks. In addition, it will help improve your balance, posture, and stamina.
- Come together with one or two partners.
- Face your heavy bag and have your partner stand behind the bag to hold it steady.
- Take up an opening stance.
- Perform a roundhouse kick with the right leg.
- Upon connecting, bring your foot directly back onto the floor.
- Only connect with the floor using the ball of your foot.
- Deliver another roundhouse kick and repeat.
- Switch legs and continue repeating the drill.
While doing this drill, be sure to always keep your body moving. Stay active and in motion as if you were in the middle of a match.
Kicking Balance Heavy Bag Drill
This drill is ideal for learning to stabilize yourself when you perform kicks. It ensures that you’ll consistently deliver powerful kicks from a sturdy base position.
- Start by standing in front of the heavy bag.
- Lift one leg, fully extending it. Give the bag a solid kick.
- As the bag swings back to you, use the same leg to perform a shorter kick that will stop it from moving.
- Do this 50 times and switch legs.
Try to aim for the same spot on the heavy bag with each kick. It will stop it from spinning as well as improve your accuracy.
Mobility Body Kick
Turning your hip while performing a body kick is one of the most important parts of the kick. Most of us do not perform this type of movement on a daily basis, which is why it’s essential to practice the motion.
This drill helps to make the awkward movement second nature, further improving the efficiency of your workouts.
- Start by kicking your leg up at hip-height. Have a partner stand and hold your leg there.
- Have your partner hold it securely but loose enough that your leg can turn easily.
- Place the other hand against your head, pushing the same arm backwards as you turn your elevated leg.
- Return your leg to the initial position.
- Do this 50 times with each leg.
Although this is a great drill for practicing specific movements, it’s also good for stretching and toning the glutes.
Shin Conditioning Drills
Muay Thai kicking involves both using your shins to kick as well as to absorb the impacts from an opponent’s kicks without causing you too much pain and suffering. To combat this, shin conditioning is a must. To condition your shins, you must first desensitize the nerves in the shins. You need to strengthen your shin too. This drill will help you condition your shins in the most gentle way possible.
- Kick your favorite heavy bag 200 times with each shin.
- Start this gently, but around the 100th kick of each leg, amp up the power and kick the bag with full force.
- Stop for a break and to massage your shins and restore blood flow every so often. To massage them, straddle your shin with the 2nd and 3rd knuckles of your lead hand. Run that hand down the entire length of the shin.
There are a number of rumors that claim that Muay Thai experts frequently run their shins into trees in order to condition them. Don’t fall for this and do not try doing it.
You can severely damage the bones in your shins, which is not what you want to do.
To Sum Up
When it comes to Muay Thai, practice makes perfect. This is why I stress the importance of the various drills, kicking exercises, and move regimes above.
This being said, however, practice should never truly damage the body. So upon completing these drills, should you experience any sever pain or lasting discomfort, you have probably overdone it.
A weekly combination of the above drills can help you hone, master, and improve a variety of skills including balance, roundhouse kicks, power, warming up, agility, and speed.