Learning to check a leg kick is an essential skill for any style of striking which involves being kicked in the thigh.
The thigh kick is both debilitating and painful; it stops you moving and also hurts like hell. The leg kick slows a fighter down and makes them less agile and therefore, easier to hit.
The other thing is that the mind tends to focus on things that hurt. Once pain sets in, it effectively distracts you from everything else that’s going on and creates greater vulnerability to other strikes.
There are four possible leg kicks you’re going to be met with, but the technique for blocking them is largely the same.
The area of the shin used to check is the area you should be kicking with, the top of the tibia just beneath the knee. This is the thickest part of the lever and will absorb the force most effectively. There is the added benefit that the sharp protuberance of bone, known as the tibial tuberosity, will dig into the shin of the kicker.
This is painful at the very least and also has the potential for splitting the skin. If the skin splits and the fighter bleeds sufficiently, they will lose the match by default.
The technique is as follows:
- Shift your weight onto your heel.
In order to lift one leg to check, you have to balance on the other. This requires that the standing foot is flat so that you can establish your balance.
- Lift your leg.
Lift the checking leg in a straight line from the knee. The straighter the line, the cleaner the check. You want the opponent’s shin to strike yours directly and not move around, mangling your leg as it goes. It’s important to remember that checking will result in damage; you need to minimise that damage as much as possible.
- Meet the opponent’s shin with your own
Meet it, don’t clash with it. If you knock your own shin against the kicker, it’s going to mess up your leg. Make sure you effectively stop the kick, as if you’re catching it.
Don’t attempt to absorb the kick with the large, fleshy part of the calf, the tibialis anterior muscle. This will result in a nasty cork and if you can’t stand, you can’t fight.
- Keep your checking leg firm.
You want to make sure the kick stops flush. If your foreleg is not firm, a smart opponent will pick up on it and kick straight through your check the next time around, striking your standing leg.
You have to be well conditioned to both kick and check effectively. Every kicker needs to condition their shins on a sandbag – this is absolutely essential and will improve your kicking technique out of sight.