Stretching and Kicking The Heavy Bag Alone Can Hinder You From Kicking Higher…Like It Did For Me
Do You Find Yourself Having Difficulties Kicking Higher? Or when your kicks get to head level, you can’t seem to put any ‘umph’ behind them?
As an naturally inflexible guy, I finally learned how to develop the exact coordination, balance, strength, and flexibility to throw kicks above my head after…surprisingly…having to travel for work.
With no access to a gym, I shadowboxed in my hotel room. During those weeks, I could feel my balance improve, techniques sharper…with NO equipment.
Even more surprisingly…after getting back to the gym, I kicked higher and with more power and control.
To Kick Higher…You Need More Flexibility…To Get More Flexible…You Need To Stretch…Right?
Out there… there are so many types of stretches…static stretches, dynamic stretching, foam rollers, banded distraction, yoga poses…you could spend an entire day doing these exercises and not throw a single kick….and you’d get no where with your head kick.
The Muay Thai kick has so many intricate moving parts in the body, the idea I guess is that if you do all of these stretches….one of them is bound to work, right?
Well actually, there’s more to what might be holding you back from delivering solid Head Kicks.
The Ability to Deliver a Head Kick Starts Not At the Hips But the Feet
During the Head Kick, all of your weight is being supported by the foot on the floor. Specifically, people will tell you to lift up on the balls of your feet.
What you probably have never heard unless you’ve been following my blog…is that while delivering the Muay Thai kick, your weight needs to be distributed on a specific part of the balls of the feet…right underneath the big toe.
The more the weight is distributed evenly or towards the pinky toe, the more off balance you’ll feel. You don’t need to take my word for it..try it out yourself right now and feel the difference.
The challenge with throwing the head kick is that we lift our center of gravity higher, raising the hips upward, requiring significantly more strength in the feet to support that lift and stay balanced.
Also, look at that guy in the pic above..notice that the support leg is near straightened out. That supporting leg needs to straighten or you’ll be struggling to bring the leg up higher.
Again…test it out…try standing on one leg with your leg extended…then try going into a deep bend on one leg…which one was easier? Obviously, straightening out the leg!
So before working on flexibility of the hips, if we don’t have the strength to stay strong on that supporting leg and foot, no amount of flexibility will develop a Muay Thai Head Kick!
OK…So Stretching Might Not Be The Answer…So We Should Just Keep Kicking High On the Bag Right?
Well Sort of. The Signature of all Muay Thai kicks that really distinguishes them from other striking arts is that the kicking leg comes down on the target…it’s sadistically more painful and a lot harder to defend.
There are several problems with using the heavy bag to develop a higher kick and specifically the head kick.
- Most People Focus on getting their leg higher and compromise hip rotation – the source of the power
- It’s near impossible to increase the rotation of the hip against a bag
- It trains your body to rely on the weight of the bag to balance – take the bag away and balance becomes shaky during the kick
- Bag Work is more for power, after you’ve developed a technique and feel comfortable throwing them without a target
Basically, in order to develop a powerful headkick…one that has power and that we feel in control of…balanced…we first need to be able to do it with balance and WITHOUT focusing on power. Makes sense right?
Adding a target like a bag will make it much harder for you to accomplish this.
Like All Truth’s, the Secret to Developing Higher Kicks is Simple
To Develop higher and higher kicks – ….find the height that you can kick comfortably in the air getting full hip rotation…then progressively move higher, while MAINTAINING your form.
By removing equipment and focusing on just kicking air…you can take your focus away from height…and start focusing strengthening the supporting leg and foot. Also, by getting rid of the bag…on your kicks in the air, you can get a fuller, deeper stretch of the hips, stretching them out in the air against gravity, instead of stopping that stretch short against a bag.
In this mode of training, you’re not focused on training for just power or just height…but everything that’s needed for a kick to actually be effective – balance, control, hip rotation.
If you were looking for something earth-shattering or ground-breaking…sorry to disappoint….The easiest, quickest way to develop a higher kick is to just kicking the air…with good form and balance
- Driving the Inside of the Ball of The Foot Into The ground
- Straightening Out the Supporting Leg
- Getting a Full Hip Rotation so the kick comes downward
- Doing it altogether in a way that you don’t fall off balance
Start by getting the first part down, the feet…because without that…you won’t be able to kick higher with power OR balance…which means that your training won’t be effective for developing any real skill. Progressively move down the steps…checking yourself in a mirror to make sure it’s right…
Once you develop the balance to deliver low kicks in the air without a bag…slowly, progressively start to increase the height until you get to head level. Again there’s no magic pill, but this is Muay Thai..it’s hard…it’s fucking hard as shit…
I can guarantee you if you follow this protocol you will gradually and feel yourself kicking higher and higher with ease. I can’t say the same for all of the other stretches, fancy gimmicks and protocols out there.
You can try them out..but why beat around the bush? None of them incorporate the complexity…all of the specific muscles, balance, and engage the nervous system as just the act of kicking itself and slowly making progress.
On a final note…in all of my time in Thailand…I got to say..I honestly never saw Thai Fighters spending any considerable amount of time stretching out. And when I did, it was after they were done training, throwing down heavy head kicks and such…As with all things, there are a lot of methods out there but only a few that work..and I can say with absolute certainty that the plan I layout above definitely works for developing powerful head kicks. If you’re looking to increase the height of your kicks, drop the bag work for 2 weeks, train like the way I described, and I guarantee you’ll be kicking higher, with more power and more control.