When you watch mixed martial arts competition you see plenty of kicks, but the one you don’t see utilized as much is the push kick.

Now the fighters that do use it always seem to be the ones whose base discipline is in-you guessed it-muay thai. Surprise surprise, right?

There are three very important reasons why they use it:

  1. To judge distance (similar to a jab)
  2. As a set up for another technique
  3. Or to stop an advancing opponent

And there are two different ways to throw it:

  1. With your lead leg
  2. Or with your rear leg

How to throw a proper muay thai push kick

The lead leg push kick is slightly trickier than the rear leg. Reason being you have to re-adjust your rear leg with a small step to maintain balance and acquire your range.

It’s almost a skip step where you push off your rear leg and place it where the lead leg was just posted (much like the lead leg muay thai kick).

Beyond that the mechanics of the muay thai push kick are the same for both legs.

So I’ll continue…

Lift your knee up to your chest. Yes, lift your knee up. I know it’s kind of counter-intuitive, lifting your knee up into your chest probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word kick, but that is the first step (for the lead leg it would be the second).

Next bring your foot up until your knee and foot are both aligned. The line from your knee-down your shin-to the heel of your foot should be parallel to the floor.

From there you thrust your leg into your opponent using the power of your hips.

Where should you target your push kick?

Sometimes just hitting them anywhere will do.

But there are three places that are money:

The Knee: This is the best place to target your push kick if you want to knock your opponent off balance. To use it as a set up for a follow up attack upstairs angle your kick down at the knee instead of directly at it, this will cause your opponents head to drop right into your wheelhouse.

The Breadbasket: Otherwise known as the midsection. This is the optimal place to kick if you want to create some distance or stop the dude right in his tracks. Aim for the sternum to leave him gasping for air.

The face: This the lowest percentage target, but when that bad boy lands, it will devastate your opponent. It’s especially effective when the fighter has a more open guard leaving a good amount of space between the hands and elbows.

Which part of the foot do you strike with?

You can use the ball, the heel, or the whole foot.

When you use the ball of your foot you’ll be able to cover more distance and it will also cause the most damage. But when you use your heel or the entire foot you have less of a chance to miss your target.

One mistake you don’t want to make

Don’t fall forward into the kick…on a miss you’ll want to retract your kick in the air and place it back in your proper stance.

If you fall forward and your opponent launches an attack the momentum you bring into his attack will increase the power of his shots and that’s about the last thing you want.