How to Become a Better Kickboxer

Within the last several years, kickboxing has been making a resurgence with promotions like Glory and the newly created Bellator Kickboxing. These organizations have been able to stream and televised their event to show people the beauty behind this combat sport and the destructive outcomes from its matches. Due to kickboxing main arsenals being kicking and punching, the content below will describe various drills for improving the technicality of these skills.

Striking

  • Kicking Heavy Bags - Practice your kicking technique and make sure its movement is crisp and attacks the angles you want. Also, be mindful of your arm placement and movement during the kicking motion to provide the maximum damage while also protecting yourself from being hit.

  • Finish Each Combination with a Kick - Kickboxing requires it individuals to set up their attacks with combinations to be successful. Find a training partner or a heavy bag to work on throw various punching combinations and always finishing with a kick. This replicates the sparring scenario of setting up your kicks by making the opponent distracted and on the defense from the punches.

  • Advance Mitt Drill - Reacting to the mitt holder’s mitt position instead of their verbal command.

  • Timing Low Kicks - Practice timing the kick as you and your teammate moves around the ring. Target when they are moving forward and committing to a strike or trying to retreat. These are optimal time because the opponent either has too much of their weight on the lead leg to check your kicks or their body position is leaving it vulnerable.

  • Picking on Stationary Targets - Follow your training partner’s movement and release combinations upon them pausing and becoming stationary.

  • Circling Away from Pressure - Mitt hitting drill that involves the mitt holder pressuring forward towards you as soon as you finish throwing a combination. This exercise helps you learn to actively circle away from pressure and be aware of where you are within the ring.

  • Attack on the Move - An excellent drill to do with a training partner is to throw combinations as you move forward towards them and then be able to do the same as you retreat backwards.

Defense

  • High Guard - The high guard is a solid fundamental defensive structure for shielding you from strikes. Practice moving around and defending strikes with your high guard.

  • Blocking and Avoiding Punches - Have your mitt holder change it up and throw various punches and kicks at random times, so you are always ready to protect yourself at all times.

  • Free Flowing Drill - This drill involves having one individual be the aggressor that pressure forwards and throw strikes while the other person be solely on defense. Incorporate a round timer and take turn switching roles. The person on offense should throw singular attacks as warm up, then proceed to start unleashing combos after the first couple rounds. If you are new to this drill, then work on the punching portion until you feel comfortable later on. The person on defense should incorporate all defensive tactics to prevent the opponent from hitting them: shield, parry, head movement, footwork and checking kicks.

Footwork

  • Maintaining the Proper Stance - Move around the ring in all directions while using your footwork to maintain the proper kickboxing stance at all times.

  • Switching Stance Footwork - Practice different footwork drills that makes your ability to switch between the orthodox and southpaw stance more efficient. Integrate the neutral stance into these drills as well. For example, practice retreating from a teammate into a neutral stance, where both of your feet are placed shoulder width apart and horizontally in-line with each other, and then launched forward with a switched stance.

  • Range - Knowing how to use your footwork to control distance is crucial. Work on blitzing in and out of striking range at different angles.

Sparring Strategies

  • Ring Control - If you are being overwhelmed and have trouble catching up to the opponent’s evasiveness, you have to use your ring IQ to pressure forward and cut off the ring to limit the space for them to use. You should also add strikes with your movements to get the opponent on the ropes or trapped in the corners.

  • Controlling the Action - Being well-rounded allows you to control and dictate where the action occurs. An opponent with good kicks requires you to get within punching range and work your hands. One with great hands should be dealt with by keeping your distance and attack afar with kicks.

  • Low to High Kicks - Throw a high kick after a series of low kicks, since the opponent’s attention will start to be drawn towards checking and avoiding low kicks.

  • Fighting Against Someone With Better Kicking Abilities - Pressure them backward, since it is harder to throw kicks when forced to move backward. Get inside their kicking range to a boxing or an infighting position.

  • Catching an Opponent Midstep - Bait the opponent to mirror your lateral movements. Throw a strike just as they are stepping sideways to match your centerline. This technique can be seen implemented in fighters, such as Dominick Cruz.

  • Feinting - Even if you feel comfortable sitting back and waiting for your opponent to come forward and initiate the action, try using feinting attacks to draw aggressive opponents out of position or a defensive minded one to expose themselves.

  • Incorporating Low Kicks - Break down your opponent’s legs with low kicks to reduce their mobility and interrupt their rhythm. Furthermore, damaging their legs will make it harder for them to put weight on it. This will result in the decline of their effectiveness to throw strikes, especially with power.

  • Minor Hip and Leg Flinches - Distract them with your lower body movements before launching yourself into punching attacks.

  • Creating Space with the High Guard - A typical strategy for kickboxers to use in close quarters combat, in place of clinching, is to utilize their high guard defensive frame and bump the opponent backwards with their forearms. Kickboxers will create just enough space for them to release a burst of powerful punches to the head and body before finishing their combination with a kick.

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