Develop A Freakish Front Kick With The Machida Brothers
A Series Of New Frontiers
In the early 2000s, mixed martial arts was still developing. Still less than a decade removed from the advent of ground fighting that came with Royce Gracie’s rise to fame, the sport was already poised for another revolution. Wrestlers, boxers, and freestyle fighters dominated the early days of MMA, with little room for the traditional martial arts to make an impact. So when Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida began landing front kicks in the UFC, people started paying attention to this previously overlooked technique.
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Of all the techniques to grace the cage, the front kick is one of the most devastating and powerful. Given it’s high degree of difficulty and the dexterity required, only a handful of front kick knockouts have taken place in the UFC. Lyoto Machida has two of them. There is perhaps no one alive today who can offer better insight into the mechanics of this difficult technique.
As people learn to throw these front leg kicks, two issues come up over and over again:
- First, most fighters have a tendency to lean back on their kick in order to get their leg where they want it or to compensate for a lack of hip flexibility. Keeping your balance and posture while throwing kicks is crucial.
- A second issue that many people face when trying to incorporate high kicks into their striking game is not getting their knees high enough to begin with.
Watch Lyoto and Chinzo Machida in the video clip below to see some tips on a drill that will resolve these common issues that trouble people with the front leg front kick:
Your kicks won’t improve on their own. If you’re struggling to elevate your kick high enough, having trouble balancing, or struggling to get power on your strike, there’s something you can do to improve it! Lyoto and Chinzo recommend a drill using a chair or small box to help train better habits. By training this way, you’ll improve your snap, posture, balance, and power.
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To begin the drill, stand in front of a chair with one leg on the ground. As for spacing, your feet should be close together so that you can easily balance on your rear foot if you choose to. Have a friend hold a kicking pad above the lead leg that is elevated onto the chair and execute the kick from that position, landing lightly and with good balance after each strike
After the initial motion becomes easy, it's time to work up to the proper technique by spacing out your legs into a real fighting stance. This will be a much wider base and will likely mean that you can’t easily balance on your back foot. This time, you’ll need to intentionally separate the force you’re applying with each leg. Your front leg needs to push you upward, followed immediately by your rear leg pushing forward to drive through the kick. It looks simultaneous, but this is two separate motions.
Continue drilling like this until you can easily lift up your front foot to kick and come back to a ready stance without wobbling or losing balance. Finally, remove the chair and perform the kick with the same motion, remembering to push up with your front leg, forward with your rear leg, and maintain your balance.
Drill Sequence to Remember:
- Kick with leg elevated on a chair with feet close to one another for balance
- Kick with leg elevated on chair with feet normal distance apart for correct technique
- Kick from a ready stance with no chair and feet normal distance.
- Repeat until you can pop up the front foot with ease and land back in a balanced stance
About the Machida Brothers
The Machida brothers are professional mixed martial artists known for bringing their karate style to fame in the octagon. Lyoto Machida is the former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and one of the most legendary fighters in history, holding a record of 24-8. He popularized several karate techniques that were previously uncommon in MMA, including the front leg front kick. Chinzo Machida has a professional mixed martial arts record of 5-3, although he has turned his attention to instruction since his last bout in 2017.
To sharpen your striking skills, particularly some unorthodox techniques from karate, you’ll want to watch Chinzo & Lyoto’s Secrets of Machida Footwork or Machida Front Kicks, available on DynamicStriking.com. Both instructionals do an excellent job of revealing the secrets to these notoriously difficult yet undeniably effective strikes.