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Defensive Techniques And Coaching Keywords With Henri Hooft

Defensive Techniques And Coaching Keywords With Henri Hooft


Henri Hooft has proven himself time and time again, not only as a striker with a successful fight career, but also as a coach for multiple organizations, consistently holding the title of Head Striking Coach through his transition from one organization to the next. With an extensive background in stand up fighting, Hooft has coached UFC fighters and kickboxers alike, working with fighters who come from striking backgrounds such as Ernesto Hoost and Eddie Alverez, but also fighters with very little understanding in stand up fighting like the “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort, the “Soldier of God” Yoel Romero, and the current UFC Welterweight Champion, the “Nigerian Nightmare” Kamaru Usman. 

Using a combination of his experience in Dutch Kickboxing as well as Muay Thai Kickboxing, Hooft created his own system known as the H Kickboxing System. Hooft has constantly taught his system of combined kickboxing skills to fighters of different backgrounds and skill levels with consistent success. With his unique style and regular success as a coach, Henri Hooft is one of the most prevalent coaches in the striking world. 

Understanding that he can’t coach every person in the world face to face, Henri Hooft has partnered with Dynamic Striking to put together the basic principles of his hybrid kickboxing system in his instructional, H Kickboxing Fundamentals. In this clip from his instructional, Hooft explains defensive techniques to help fighters protect themselves against opponents oncoming strikes while maintaining a visual of the opponent. During his instruction of the defensive techniques, Hooft also explains how coaches can better guide fighters while they are in the ring competing. 


At the beginning of the video, Hooft tells the viewer “Something that is very important in fighting is your defense.” After stating that he goes directly into the techniques fighters can use to block their opponents techniques aimed at their head and upper body. Starting with his shield defense, Hooft shows a block with his front forearm, defending a punch front at the left side of the face. As he lifts his hand up to head level, Hooft flares his elbow out creating a defending arm position with a similar visual to holding a shield above the fighters head. You can imagine a circular shield on the arm of Hooft as you watch the video, noting the elbow position which helps prevent circular punches from coming around the blocking arm.

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After explaining the shield defense, Hooft reviews a few options a fighter may have when defending more wild punches from an opponent. First he talks about slipping punches, simply moving your head out of the way of the strike. He continues by expressing to the viewer the dangers that accompany slipping punches “especially if you do often.” In kickboxing, when you move your head out of the way of a punch, it usually goes into the line of an oncoming kick.

It does not mean you should never slip, but instead expresses the need to have more substantial defensive techniques. Rather than put himself, or his fighters in danger when defending, Hooft prefers creating a “little roof” with his arms. He places his fingertips together towards the top of his forehead and uses the whole length of his arms to block incoming techniques, using the space just under his hands to keep a view of the opponent. 

Once he discusses how each technique is done, Hooft explains when one should be used over the other. When a fighter feels that the pace is controlled, and they have the ability to move, slip and block, they should use the shield as the first line of defense, utilizing its ability to block while still having visibility. If a fighter is being pressured or pushed back against either the cage or the ropes and the opponent is throwing more wild techniques, it is better to use the roof defense in order to protect both sides of the fighter.

While the shield is effective defensively, it is also a useful tool for setting up counters. Just as Spartan warriors wouldn’t go into battle with only a shield, a modern day warrior would need the equivalent to a sword, which is the back hand. The shield allows the other hand to maintain an offensive stature. On the other hand, the roof offers only protection, it is an essential tool for “weathering a storm” of wild punches and kicks. It does not give the user an ability to have their hands in an attacking position. When used, it is something that needs to be quickly supported by the creation of distance, so that a fighter does not remain strictly on defense.

Both techniques are effective and simple to understand. Not only are they easy concepts to grasp but due to Henri Hooft’s years of coaching fighters, he understands the importance of each technique having a specific name. Hooft makes sure to point out in the video that the shield and the roof are both techniques he has his fighters use consistently for defense, and he uses the same name for both techniques every time they fight, as it gives the fighter specific cues on which techniques to use.

This type coaching minimizes the issue of a fighter confusing techniques that their coach is instructing them to use with a different technique that if used, could potentially turn the tables in favor of the opponent in a fight.

H Kick Boxing Fundamentals by Henri Hooft
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