How To Destroy Leg Kicks: Defense & Counters

Marco Ruas was the first fighter to prove the effectiveness of leg kicks in MMA, using them to KO Paul Varelans in the early days of the UFC

Muay Thai Leg Kicks In MMA

Not since the introduction of the Muay Thai Leg Kick to MMA via Marco Ruas and Maurice Smith has the world seen the true effectiveness of this devastating technique. In fact, I would venture to say that in recent times the leg kick, though still respected, had been more or less relegated to the status of nuisance/point scorer by spectators in a sport where takedowns and ground and pound are so prevalent.

Obviously, if you’ve read our treatise on “The Anatomy of the Leg Kick and Beyond” Article, you know that I disagree and that there will always be a special place in my heart for this brutal weapon.

However, I understand it’s limitations in the arena of MMA and will be the first to say that it is difficult to use effectively when takedowns are a factor. So I can see why people like Cecil Peoples would say things like, “You have to keep in mind we always the favour the fighter who is trying to finish the fight, and leg kicks certainly don’t do that.” (you can read more about his thoughts on the subject at

Aldo vs Faber

It’s my humble opinion that the Aldo vs Faber fight has once again changed the perception of the relevance of technique and application in the ever evolving world of Cage Fighting.

Urijah Faber shows what he's made of. Despite the damage to his leg he fought on like the Champion he is.

Urijah Faber shows what he's made of. Despite the damage to his leg he fought on like the Champion he is.

Here we saw a fight determined by the relentless use of the leg kick. We saw that it was possible, even in present times, at a championship level, for a striker to successfully employ the leg kick against a seasoned and accomplished GNP fighter and former champion.

Tips For Drilling The Basic Shield Defense to the Leg Kick

Below is the Knee Block Defense to the Leg Kick

Once again, the Muay Thai Leg Kick has proved it’s importance and earned it’s role in the scheme of combat sport. No doubt the technique will see a much deserved resurgence in popularity.

Below is the Kick Back Counter to the Leg Kick

But this is the present and those merely following the trend will undoubtedly become part of the past. The future will controlled by those who lead. And there, understated and lurking just beyond the horizon is leg kick defense and counter. These will be the focus of this article and it’s included video clips.

Everyone wants to be like the champions they see winning fights. Aldo won this fight with his leg kicks. And now you will see more and more people working on their leg kicks, thumping the heavy bag with their shins, talking about how hard they can kick and boasting about how they desensitize their legs by kicking some torturous object like a tree trunk or concrete column. But no one wants to know how to make sure that their leg won’t be turned into a fluid filled sac of pulsating pain.

Learn the defenses and counters and you will be two if not three steps ahead of the average MMA Caveman. Now of course any good defense begins with a thorough understanding of the weapon they are trying to defend against, so it won’t hurt (ha ha) to learn the leg kick. But as I’ve said before, that’s what everyone else is doing. To become the Enlightened Fighter you must also learn the defense, and the counters. Those who master these will rule over their less educated subjects.

Cory Hill experiences first hand, the true power of a well placed Knee Block

The future of the leg kick, lies the defensive aspects and counters, and beyond that, understanding how to effectively set up the leg kick and pre-emptively disrupt those set ups (which are entirely different subjects).

We’ve included a number of these set ups in our “The Anatomy of the Leg Kick And Beyond” Article, but will reload them to the members area for faster, higher quality play back.

Best of luck guys and Happy Hunting!

Below is an option for a worst case scenario

Below is MMA Counter to the Leg Kick, The Crumble Takedown

Below is an option for catching the leg kick

Related Articles: