10 Things you need to know to be a Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Part 2: how to kick like a Kick Boxer or Tae Boxer not a tae kwon do player.
Everyone knows that the Mixed Martial Arts Craze is taking over America and everyone wants to be a part of the craze. The problem is that 99% of the Martial Arts Schools in America can’t teach you all you need to know to become a great MMA fighter. Why? Because the teachers don’t know all the skills necessary to become a great MMA fighter and so they only teach a little of the skills required and thus they only produce very poor MMA fighters.
So what exactly are the skills you need to know to be a great MMA fighter
- How to punch like a Boxer, not a karate player
- How to kick like a Kick Boxer or Tae Boxer, not a tae kwon do player
- How to do takedowns like a Wrestler
- How to do ground jiu jitsu with No Gi
- How to do conditioning for a fight
- How to eat like a champion
- How to prepare for a fight mentally and physically
- How to control your mind and emotions before, during and after the fight
- How to use the ring
- How to do physical conditioning
During the next few weeks I will be going over each of these skill sets and how and why you need to know them if you want to be a great MMA fighter.
The 2nd skill set you need to know is how to kick like a Kick Boxer or Tae Boxer not a tae kwon do player.
One of the most beautiful things to watch is a great tae kwon do kicker doing his flying, jumping, twisting, and kicking techniques. When I was doing demos in the 80’s at all the big tournaments, there was a guy named Eagle Park who used to blindfold himself and do a jumping turning flying kick 10 feet in the air and break 4 inches of wood. Almost invariably he would not break the wood on the first try, or the second, or the third, but usually would finally break the wood and get a great cheer. Now the point of this story is to illustrate 2 things. One, how difficult it is to do great flying, jumping kicks in the Martial Arts. And Two: how most of the flying, jumping, spinning kicks don’t work. They don’t work in a demo, and they don’t work in a real fight.
If you want to be sure to get hurt in a real fight or an MMA fight. Just try some of the flashing kicks of tae kwon do or karate. The high low roundhouse, the jumping ax kick, the flying side kick, the jumping front snap, the tornado kick are all beautiful and impressive but they simply don’t work in an MMA fight. They might actually work in some street fights, especially if you do them to start the fight or against a stupid weak opponent. But they usually don’t work in an MMA fight for the following reasons:
- They don’t have any knock out power. They are mostly point kicks. They will give you a “point” in a karate tournament, but will not give you anything but trouble in an MMA tournament.
- They leave you open after the kick to get knocked out. When you do a flying, jumping, turning kick you will leave yourself “open” for punches, throws and attacks when your kicking stops.
- They require too much time and technique to be practical for the average person to do. It is great to be able to jump 10 feet in the air and break 4 inches of wood, but the average person can’t jump 3 feet and can’t break 2 inches of wood. The amount of skill required to do these flashy kicks is simply beyond the average ability of most Martial Artists.
- They don’t cause enough damage to the opponent to stop him. When you throw a high quick roundhouse to the head, unless you land it on the temple or jaw, you are going to do nothing but make your opponent mad and leave yourself open for a punching attack.
Before you and your tae kwon do teacher have a heart attack in your great hurry to protest the real power and usefulness of these flashy kicks, please look at the last 10 years of MMA fights on TV and count exactly how many fighters won the fight with a jumping front double tornado kick. None, it these kicks worked you would see them being done in every single MMA match, constantly. Every time there was an opportunity to do them, and there are plenty of opportunities to do flashy kicks in an MMA fight, but not to win with them.
That being said, there are plenty of good kicks you can do in an MMA fight and these kicks mostly come from Kickboxing techniques and Tae Boxing techniques. The fighters who practice Tai Boxing know all too well what will work and what will not. They do some high kicks, and they do some spinning kicks, but they do more low power kicks, to the legs and ribs and knees. They jumping kicks, but these are usually jumping knees etc, that will land on the head of the opponent which is usually being held to make the kick more effective.
If you want to use your kicks in an MMA fight you better practice your kicking techniques with a Tae Boxing teacher or with a Kick Boxing teacher. You need to practice doing your kicks against someone who is trying to knock you out, not someone who is standing there for a demo, or holding a board.
I asked Guy Mezger, who was as World Kick Boxing Champion, as well as a UFC Champion, and was considered to be one of the most powerful, devastating kickers in the Karate tournament circuit. He could throw his kicks faster, higher and harder than anyone I ever fought. He could do a side kick into the side of your face in a tournament and then jump up and do a turning back kick into the other side of your face. He was, and is an amazing powerful kicker. But when I asked him why he didn’t use his “tournament kicks” in his MMA fights, his answer was simple and easy to understand. “ I don’t do my tournament Karate Kick because they don’t work in the ring. They are not powerful enough and you leave yourself too open. You will get hurt if you do a weak side kick. You will break your toes if you do a front snap into an elbow. You will break you foot if you do a traditional round house the body or head area. You have to remember that the guy you are kicking is trying to hurt you and if you leave your foot up for too long or do a weak ineffective kick, your opponent will invariably grab your leg, throw you to the ground or knock you out.” Sounds pretty definitive to me about not using traditional karate kicks in an MMA fight, and since this advice is coming from one of the greatest kickers in Karate History and a Living Legend in MMA fights I would suggest that you pay attention and leave your tae kwon do tournament kicks in the school and not try them in a MMA ring.