Properly Block Low Kicks with Andre Zeitoun
Let’s take a look back a few years. It’s 2009 during the UFC TUF 10 finale in the catchweight division; Kimbo Slice versus Houston Alexander. Everyone was expecting a fast paced, action packed fight, however they got quite the opposite.
Kimbo was favored to win and Houston was expected to come out of the gate swinging early per his usual performances. Instead, the whole first round was occupied by Houston circling the cage repeatedly and not engaging with Kimbo. In a pre fight interview he shared that his strategy was going to be to chop Kimbo’s legs down as much as possible, and boy did he stick to his plan.
As the fight went on the tempo slowly started to pick up and Houston repeatedly landed low leg kicks on Kimbo. Further and further into the fight it was apparent that Kimbo’s leg was hurt. After Houston’s relentless circling for the entirety of the fight, it was apparent that Kimbo was patiently waiting for the right time to jump into the pocket and attack. Who knows why, maybe because he was focused on timing a jump into the pocket, but Kimbo did not even attempt to check Houston’s kicks, and his leg suffered the consequences of this.
Eventually Kimbo was able to get some good strikes in and utilize the grappling he had been working on to win the fight, but it definitely came at a noticeable cost as Houston landed a total of 32 leg kicks. Though he was not victorious, Houston’s strategy was successful and a lot can be learned from this fight. Specifically the effectiveness of leg kicks, and the importance of blocking them.
In this video, Andre Zeitoun breaks down the proper technique for blocking low leg kicks. Check it out!
In blocking leg kicks, there are some important details to understand to minimize damage to your legs. The simplest way to describe what blocking/checking a kick looks like is that you raise the leg that is being kicked so your knee forms nearly a right angle, and you aim to block the kick with your shin.
The first detail of blocking a kick is hip movement. When you raise your leg to block the kick, you are going to move your hips forward, moving into the kick. One of the purposes of doing this is it shifts your weight forward to counter balance your momentum moving backward once you get kicked. The other reason for this is the shorter distance your opponent’s leg travels when kicking you, the less powerful it is going to be.
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This looks a little bit different for inside leg kicks and outside leg kicks, but is not very difficult. When blocking an outside kick, you lift your leg and are going to turn your hips to the outside while pushing them forward, lining up the position of your shin with where the kick is coming from. The same goes for inside leg kicks, you raise your leg up and turn your hips to the inside while pushing them outward.
A common mistake made when blocking leg kicks is for people to move their leg forward instead of their hips. When your knee is at roughly a right angle, your shin is straight and it will take the kick directly. This is where you are the strongest. When you move your leg out forward to meet the kick rather than your hips, you eliminate the proper angle where you are the strongest and are going to take more damage. The knee comes straight up and you push out with the hips, keeping the position of the leg where it’s at.
Another important detail to be mindful of is landing back in your stance after blocking a kick. If you are in an orthodox stance with your left leg forward and you go to block a kick, ensure that you are bringing that left leg down in the front to stay in your stance. Changing your stance in the pocket or if you are not doing it intentionally can put you in a world of trouble up top.
Andre also explains that you want to block kicks with the top half of your shin as it is more solid when closer to the knee. Something else to pay attention to when Andre demonstrates the different variations of blocks is that he is always keeping his hands up protecting his head. When your opponent is consistently going for low leg kicks, chances are they are looking for tells of how you are going to react so they can land a nice combination off of the kick. Always protect your head!
As his Thai Boxing career began in 1980 in Paris, Andre was one of the first fighters in the beginning of the 80’s to travel to Thailand to train. He shares that his years of boxing did not totally prepare him for the level he was met with on his trip to Thailand, but he has taken so much out of his time training there.
With over 35 years of experience in competing and coaching, Andre owns a gym in Paris where he has consistently trained champions. He is referred to as not just a coach but as a mentor by his students, and their success proves that to be true.
Per his history, the techniques in this instructional are primarily traditional Muay Thai techniques, and nearly the whole instructional is devoted to the art of blocking kicks. Specifically:
- Basic low, middle, and high kick blocks
- Basic blocking with legs and hands
- Basic stance and dodges
- Solo and partner blocking drills
- Catch & hold and clinch drills
- A whole volume dedicated to striking with elbows, knees, and kicks.
As a pioneer who was one of the earliest fighters to receive Muay Thai experience from Thailand, as well as his fighting career and the champions he has produced, Andre Zeitoun has the skills that anyone could benefit from. Do not miss this opportunity to perfect your leg kick blocks and minimize the extent of the damage you take. Check out his instructional here!