Kick boxing is a highly effective method of combat striking, and since its evolution from early versions of Karate, the art form has become increasingly popular. Since the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts in the early 1990's kick boxing has featured as one of the most prominent styles within a Mixed Martial Artist's repertoire.
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Having the ability to box, submit, or wrestle is highly sought after, but an athlete that has the ability to integrate these aspects with high level kick boxing kicks can be an extremely dangerous competitor on the world stage of combat sports. This has been proven with the likes of Mirko CroCop, Anderson Silva, Lyotto Machida, and Edson Barboza, as they have all showcased their dynamic ability to use knockout kicks.
There are many different kick boxing combinations that can help an athlete become extremely fluent within their fighting style. Building a reputable game style comes from a disciplined mind, a hard work ethic, and a consistent appearance on the training mats. All athletes that train in kick boxing are highly capable of some extremely deadly striking maneuvers, which entails more than just a deadly series of kicks. Kick boxing also incorporates a high element of boxing combinations, and this is because setting up high level kicks starts with a good kick boxing stance. From here the athlete will use a series of integrated punching maneuvers like jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts, before landing basic to advanced kicking techniques.
EFFECTIVE METHODS OF TRAINING
Training in any combat sport, especially the striking arts, can be extremely grueling, and can have a heavy effect on an athlete's mind, body, and soul. Kick boxing is well known for its highly dynamic form of combat, as many of the kick boxing moves require an athlete to have significant athleticism, flexibility, and audacity. Stepping out into the professional limelight of kick boxing can be a dangerous prospect, and the only way to truly be successful is to prepare the right way for combat. This means that athletes will need to train effectively by not wasting any of their mat time, and using every spare minute to work on technique, form, strength and conditioning, cardio, and fight strategy. The most important concept in the beginning is the right mindset, and athletes need to come with the right attitude of being willing to learn, and willing to put in the hard work. At the professional level, all athletes are extremely well rounded, meaning usually the athlete that wins is the one who is willing to put in that extra little bit of training time.
An athlete cannot have an effective training method without utilising a significant warm up period. In order to get the best out of an athlete's training they must lubricate their bodies, warm up all of their systems, and activate all of their muscles. The first step in a comprehensive warm up is to use dynamic stretching, which is movement based stretches like star jumps, burpees, jogging, sprawling, and basically any action that gets the blood flowing, increases the heart rate, and helps to oxygenate the athlete's muscles. Once the athlete has warmed up their systems they can move into static stretching, which is a deeper form of stretches that can help an athlete iron out any sore spots. In kick boxing warm ups are crucial, and all athletes need to use extensive movement based kick boxing drills to warm up their arms, and their legs, so they can have a greater chance of being more flexible, and being more fluent throughout their training sessions. Athletes should be utilising exercises like rotational arm swings, shoulder extensions, rotational leg swings, switch punch extensions, multi directional lunges, and various other exercises.
Once the athlete has warmed up significantly they will move into the bulk of their training session. This means practising their footwork, their punching form, their speed and movement, and their punching power. Athletes can always start by utilising shadow boxing exercises, which is when an athlete employs a solo drill, and focuses on moving around the mats with form, and technique, as they punch and kick into the air. It is important to use visualisation, and imagine they are circling in and out of their imaginary opponent. Shadow boxing is one of the best ways to develop an effective style of kick boxing. To gain more efficiency with their punches, athletes should work on focus mitts, and practice utilising different combinations, as they evade strikes from their trainer. The same can be employed with the Thai pads, as athletes will commonly work on combinations that involve kicks, as they look to implement their footwork, their evasive techniques, their speed, and their power into the Thai pads. This is a great way to work on the in and out range of their accuracy, as well as their punching power.
THE IMPORTANCE OF STRIKING FLUENCY
Fluency in striking is one of the most important aspects of all, and athletes will need to have the ability to throw any weapon during any situation in a fight. Having a really strong punch, or being extremely quick with their punches are only individual aspects, as all kick boxing athletes need to have complete cohesion between their speed, their balance, their power, and their footwork. Using fluency in a kick boxing match is how an athlete can get on a momentum roll, which can significantly hinder an opponent from counter striking. Fluency is not just about rolling every punch with the right momentum, it is also about having strategy embedded into their muscle memory, so that every single punch and kick rolls out fluently, but in a strategically placed position.
Athletes that take the sport seriously will use their kick boxing training sessions to master all of these components. This is where shadow boxing can help with their form, and fluency, and so can working on focus mitts, or Thai pads. It is important to use structured learning to build discipline, and this is a key factor in becoming consistent in kick boxing training methods, which will ultimately result in a more dedicated, and more skilful athlete. There is no room for arrogance in combat sports, and athletes that think they are better than they are will spend a lot of time face down on the canvas. It is important to go into training with an open mind, and allow the trainer to guide them towards a more fluent style of striking. The best part about training in pad work is that because the instructor is shouting out the combinations, the athlete is simulating a real fight situation, as they will be using their instincts to evade punches, and throw their own fluent combinations.
Becoming proficient in kick boxing starts at the basic levels, and this means that athletes will need to practice and employ basic combinations, before they can implement much more advanced systems. Before an athlete can practise the form of basic combinations they need to first develop their jab, and this is because the jab is the pivotal aspect that can consolidate a good striking foundation. A good jab can be used to keep an opponent from closing the distance, and it can also be used to set up more systematic striking combinations. A basic combination that is still one of the most important is the jab cross combination. This technique requires an athlete to start off by stepping their left foot in towards their opponent, and this will allow an effective amount of power within their jab, their secondary movement is a back foot pivot, which enables a right hand cross to execute with even more power than the jab. This is an extremely important combination that is used by all professional athletes, and is the beginning of much larger combinations.
Another basic combination is the jab, cross, left hook, low kick combo. This combination is one of the more systematic ones that incorporates dynamic elements, and finishes with an extremely powerful low kick to the thigh. Employing leg kicks in combat sports has an extremely high success rate, and can be quite devastating to the future movement of the opponent in the fight. Starting off with the jab the athlete will step in with their left foot, connecting with a short left hand jab to the jaw of their opponent. The secondary movement is a back foot pivot which leads to a right hand cross, before side stepping with their left leg, and throwing a hard body hook with their left hand. The athlete will use the rotation of their left hook to throw momentum into a right low kick that connects with the opponent's thigh. There are important kick boxing tips for an athlete to know like, making sure that they connect with their shin and not their foot, otherwise they may wind up with broken bones. The tibia is a much harder bone, and will cause more significant damage to the thigh of their opponents.
Some of the most basic combinations can be set up by using timing and trickery. Using the feint in kick boxing is a masterful act, and can open up an opponent critically. Faking the jab, and then using a light push kick can open up an opportunity for a more devastating kick like a question mark kick, or a side kick. Athletes can also use a fake push kick, and then step into a jab, or even an overhand punch. There are other good methods like throwing a rear body kick, and then when the opponent goes to defend the next rear body kick, the athlete can switch into a hard push kick. Using fakes is extremely important in striking Martial Arts, but like a lot of kick boxing techniques they must be used with caution, because an opponent will start to read their body language, which can lead to an easy counter strike.
Using the double jab is a highly effective method of striking, and this is because after the first jab an opponent will commonly expect a right hand punch. This is a good way of upsetting the game plan of any opponent, and once the opponent is second guessing the athlete's next maneuvers, then the athlete can advance their combinations to stay one step ahead of their opponent. Combinations like the double jab, followed by the right cross, and then a left hook power shot is highly advantageous, and the athlete can even add a right low kick to make an even greater impact on their opponent. The double jab can also set up a nice right hook, followed by a left foot kick. The possibilities are endless with how many striking combinations can be effective, and athletes have a creative ability to integrate their own instrumental strikes.
MORE ADVANCED COMBINATIONS
Using more advanced combinations incorporates evasive aspects like slipping punches, parrying punches, and using stutter steps to slide into more advantageous positions. Sometimes using combinations that are larger than a four hit combo can be hard to maintain momentum, which can make it easier for an opponent to defend, but there is still a lot of merit to certain combinations. A good combination to use starts from the orthodox stance, and the athlete will throw a quick jab, followed by a quick right hand cross. The athlete can then step their left foot forward and throw a lead hook to the head, before slipping forward, and to the left and throwing another lead hook, but this time to the body. The athlete can then finish off the combination with a rear kick to the leg using the rotation from the body hook. This combination is highly effective, and can often catch an opponent off guard with the lead hooks, as well as the leg kick.
Another combination that is a little more complicated will start from the orthodox stance, and even though this is another combo that involves a lot of moving parts, it still can be successful. This combo begins with a lead front kick to the abdomen of the opponent. The next step is to take a floating step to the inside of the opponent, and deliver a quick right hand cross, followed by a quick lead hook to the jaw. The athlete can then add a right hand elbow, and another quick lead hook, before finishing off the combination with a hard rear kick to the leg, the midsection, or the head. This is a more detailed combination of strikes, and once an athlete can understand how to use rhythm in their striking, they will find complex combinations like this one, relatively easy to perform.
One of the most highly effective striking combinations is a five hit combo, and starts from the traditional orthodox stance. Like most combinations the athlete will start off with a left hand jab, and follow up with a right hand cross. This is a great way to open up an opponent, as they will commonly begin backing up, or trying to side step to evade. The third hit in this combination is a left hook to the body, and this can be highly effective if the opponent side steps straight into it. From here the athlete has created an opening to deliver a right hand uppercut to the jaw, followed by a right roundhouse kick to the head for the finisher. This can be a high percentage combination that can be mixed up with a spinning hook kick, or a hard low kick to the thigh.
IRON SHARPENS IRON
There is a metaphor in the Martial Arts community that goes 'Iron sharpens iron' and this is relevant to all forms of Martial Arts. The ancient proverb relates to one athlete challenging another, in order to help them to improve. This is why two high level strikers will use sparring as a way to increase their striking ability. Utilising combinations on the pads will improve an athlete's technique, but improving all aspects at the same time including fight strategy, can only be done with high intensity sparring drills. This is why the term iron sharpens iron is used throughout the kick boxing community. Improving at kick boxing takes a considerable amount of training, and employing all the systems like sparring, shadow boxing, hitting the pads, and hitting the bags has an instrumental role in how an athlete will develop their game style.
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