Muay Thai roundkick mechanics

Hewitt2 I've been where you're at. It took me a long time to unlearn. The only way I've been able to change my kicks is to have my instructor watching me and giving immediate verbal feedback while I work repetitions on the bag or pads. Its almost like my own body lies to me about how a kick\knee..whatever should feel and often when I was getting closer to the way it should be done instinctively it felt wrong. By having my instructor giving me constant feedback I can kind've learn how it should feel which allowed me to "reprogram" what I should feel when a technique was done right. Almost like teaching a pilot to trust his instruments even though the tactile sensation indicated he was upside down and diving when flying straight.

For example, when I was kicking correct with some power to the kick cutting into the bag it FELT ineffective to me vs. the audible slap and rocking of the bag with a less powerful kick.

I've often wondered how people do trying to learn MT or other arts through videos and such. For me it would be impossible without good quality instruction (hey Wes or Amy if you're reading this my hats off to you). Course, I'm athletically not the brightest bulb, YMMV.

check out:

khun kao wrote some stuff before on the kick.


Hi everyone,

I wanted to make sure this issue hasn't been accurately explained already, so I checked the archives and I'm reasonnably sure I'm in the clear here.

Anyways, I'm quite new to Muay Thai. I've taken some classes and am already very impresed by the emphasis on conditioning, as well as the many powerful weapons the art uses. However, I feel really confused about something...

My problem is that I received many years of training in another martial art (TKD) before I came to Muay Thai, and I'm having problems "un-learning" some of the stuff I learned before. Chief among these is the roundkick. Try as I might, I can't even come close to doing a proper Thai roundkick. I always end up doing the "Taekwondo" roundhouse: chambering my leg with my knee pointing at my target, then twisting my hips and shooting my leg out. It's getting to the point where it's embarassing to me and I'm wondering whether I can ever get my body to stop instinctively acting when it comes to round kicks.

Has anybody had a similar experience? What did you do to effectively "change styles" and improve your technique? Finally, is there any resource around that could help me work on the Thai kick outside of class, by telling me what the proper technique is?

Anyways, everyone, thank you all for your help.



You need to change the hip from a closed position to an open one. First thing to do is relax, don't be in a hurry to throw your kick or have the foot arrive at the target. Try this for getting the pulling open hip feeling: tie something nice and heavy (not toooo heavy) on a rope and tie that to your ankle on your kicking leg. Now just walk forward trying to use your kicking mechanics to pull the leg forward. So you will be stepping onto your opposite leg rotating it and pulling your hip forward on your kicking leg, when the hip on the kicking side comes forward put your foot down, step forward with your other leg and repeat. You are not trying to throw a kick here, merely getting use to the open hip position you need to throw a proper Thai kick. This has been one successful method I've used, I'm sure there are loads more. Getting your legs to the point of exhaustive failure is another good way to re-educate the muscles too, when there is nothing left to generate power but the mechanics of your technique I find people kick better and retain the mechanics.

I'd advise you to check the archives and look for things on just thai kicking mechanics, and developing power, there have been several great threads on it. Having a better concept of what you are trying to achieve will help, and a few of the threads go into great depth.

What's wrong with the Taekwondo Roundhouse kick? By the way, you are doing it wrong. Your knee should point past your target so that when you extend you go "through" the target. That is how you get power.


I don't think anyone is intentionally slighting the TKD roundhouse kick. You are right though, if the TKD roundhouse is done PROPERLY, the knee extends past the target, and the hip rotates through, too.


Now, back to your question. I also originally started training in a more "traditional" style, Tang Soo Do. I had a lot of trouble adjusted to kicking without snap also.

My advice is this. The Muay Thai roundhouse kick is swung around "dead-legged" style. In other words, imagine that your leg is a baseball bat. That means that the knee does not exist. Now, to get that leg to swing around and through a target, you have to use your hip to swing it around.

Let's break it down. Pretend that your leg is in a cast from the ankle to just below your hip. Your knee is immobile. You have to swing the kick around like a baseball bat to strike through your target.

First, step at an angle. You lean in the way that you are stepping, which is coincidentally the opposite direction from your kicking leg. (that is an important item to note, I'm coming back to it in a moment)

As you step, you should already partially rotate your support foot, and you should also be up on the ball of your foot. Do not step flat-footed.

Now that you have taken that step and the kick is beginning to launch (remember, your leg is immobilized and you have to swing it with your hip) you must pivot on your support foot, LEANING AWAY from your kicking leg throughout the entire motion!

The heel of your pivot foot should have turned all the way towards the target during the kick. Or, you can think of it as turning your knee completely away from the target.

You should keep your leg semi-stiff throughout the swing of the kick, tensing it up at impact.

You should point the toes of your kicking foot during the kick. This tightens up the muscles and tendons in the foot and ankle, which will prevent injury if you catch your target wrong, such as when you misjudge your distance when you kick and catch your target with your toes.

Now, lets go back to that "lean away" item again. By leaning away from the kicking leg, you are actually transferring your full upper body weight into the kick. How? Well, I am not a physicist, but this has to do with that law regarding for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.

But, rather than discuss physics, just think of it like this. Have you ever swung a baseball bat? Or a golf club? In both cases, as you swing the club or bat, your upper body always swings around opposite of the club or bat. Leaned away from it! Baseball players do not hunch into their swing unless they are bunting. Rather, they lean back, or away from the bat and try to knock the fucker out of the park!

Anyway, I hope this helps you with the mechanics of the kick.

Khun Kao