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No Holds Barred Fighting: The Kicking Bible: Strikes for MMA and the Street

No Holds Barred Fighting: The Kicking Bible: Strikes for MMA and the Street

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by Mark Hatmaker

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One of the most feared and useful weapons in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition is dissected and discussed in this fully-illustrated guide to both perfecting and defending against the low kick. Many competitors view this technique as a single tool in their arsenal, limiting themselves when they could be taking this low-line method of


One of the most feared and useful weapons in mixed martial arts (MMA) competition is dissected and discussed in this fully-illustrated guide to both perfecting and defending against the low kick. Many competitors view this technique as a single tool in their arsenal, limiting themselves when they could be taking this low-line method of attack and modifying it to fit far more kicking situations than those commonly used. This volume demonstrates how to expand the low-kicking arsenal, showing how a simple alteration in leg targeting can strongly challenge an opponent's defense, and how to hone low-line kicking power and speed so that rapid-fire low-line kicking becomes a powerful advantage. These techniques are prime for MMA competitors and anyone who wants to improve both their self-defense and competition skills with the best empirical information available.

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Tracks Publishing
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No Holds Barred Fighting series
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No Holds Barred Fighting: The Kicking Bible Strikes for MMA and the Street

By Mark Hatmaker, Dough Werner

Tracks Publishing

Copyright © 2008 Doug Werner
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-884654-31-2



Your stance is a variation on the classic boxing guard with a bit wider positioning to allow for rapid defense and offense for shooting. Keep in mind that a stance is a reference point and not a stock-still animal. A stance blends and changes with movement, but you should always see the remnants of it even when in motion.

12-point stance

• Stand on the clock face with your lead foot at noon and your left foot at 8 if you are a right lead and your right foot at 4 if you are a left lead.

• Feet stay approximately a shoulder-width apart.

• Toes of both feet face slightly to the inside of your stance.

• Weight is felt on the balls of the feet without actually being tiptoed.

• Knees are slightly bent.

• Hands are up.

• Rear fist touches rear cheekbone.

• Lead fist at lead shoulder height extended approximately one foot in front of the shoulder.

• Elbows in.

• Forearms parallel.

• Chin down.

• Shoulders up.

No need to spend three 5-minute rounds on this, but you should assemble the stance in the mirror and watch for it devolving when approaching all of the material to follow.



You can stand, now it's time to walk. Footwork is often overlooked by the novice because there is nothing dramatic about it. Veterans, on the other hand, are acutely aware that footwork/mobility often separates the Hitter from being the Hittee, the powerful effective strike from the just-missed shot.

Work each of the following footwork drills for the prescribed round protocol while watching for stance deterioration.


• Keep the feet one shoulder-width apart even while moving. Narrowing your base reduces balance and commensurately, reduces power.

• Resist the urge to hop or bounce with your steps. This showboating (some call it a needless waste of vital energy) inhibits speed, power and balance. In other words, a complete waste of your time and energy.

• The foot closest to your opponent is the lead foot. The one farthest is the trail foot. We violate this rule with stance shifting.

• Do not cross your feet when taking steps to move in any direction.

• Keep your feet in contact with the mat as much as possible even while stepping.

• Think step and drag, not step and step.

• Step in the direction you want to move with the foot nearest to that direction and then drag the trail foot to the new stance position, except in the case of stance shifting.

• Use a mirror to strive for footwork perfection.

• Once the mirror work is done, grab a partner and have them look for flaws while you move through several rounds of footwork.

• Keep your feet one shoulder-width apart when moving.


The gnomon, for those who have started scratching their heads (I did the same thing the first time I encountered the word) is the upright stylus in the center of a sundial that is used to cast shadows to indicate approximate time. I want you to picture yourself as a gnomon standing on the surface of your sundial (your sundial being the mat, ring surface or street).

• When you stand in the center of your sundial, directly in front of you is 12.

• Behind you is 6.

• Directly to your right is 3 and to your left is 9.

• And so on with the numbers.

With the gnomon/sundial numbers in mind, let's begin our drills.

Step and drag forward

• Step the lead foot toward 12 and drag the trail foot to follow.

Step and drag retreat

• Step the rear foot toward 6 and drag the trail foot to follow.

Step and outside drag

• Right side forward stancers will step to 3.

• Left leads will step to 9.

Step inside and drag

• Right leads will step to 9.

• Left leads to 3.

Stance shift

• The stance shift is exactly what it sounds like, a quick change in leads.

• Step the lead foot backward toward 6 leaving the left foot now closest to 12.

Step forward 45 degrees outside

• Right leads step the lead foot to 2.

• Left leads step the lead foot to 10.

Stance shift forward 45 degrees inside

• Right leads stance shift the left foot to 10.

• Left leads stance shift the right foot to 2.

Stance shift retreat 45 degrees outside

• Right leads stance shift the right foot to 5.

• Left leads stance shift the left foot to 7.

Stance retreat 45 degrees inside

• Right leads step to 7 with the rear foot.

• Left leads step to 5 with the rear foot.

Pivot inside

• A pivot is executed by leaving the lead foot in place and pivoting on the ball of that foot while the rear foot/trail foot sweeps in the prescribed direction.

• Right leads will sweep the rear foot to 10.

• Left leads will sweep the rear foot to 2.

Pivot outside

• Right leads will pivot the rear foot to 5.

• Left leads will pivot the rear foot to 7.

Once you have the basics of movement down, please do not think you have completed your footwork drills. On the contrary, you will be revisiting these time and time again. Optimally, you will learn each new kicking/striking tool in isolation (from a still stance). Then you will learn how to launch it effectively as you move forward, back, to the inside, outside and while pivoting. You must be able to fire while in motion, so know these numbers thoroughly. Then apply your striking tools on top of them.

These footwork drills will serve you in good stead as you develop or fine-tune your low kicking game. For advanced footwork options, upper body mobility and ring generalship concepts, please see our guide in this series, Boxing Mastery.


Outside range low-kick arsenal


This is perhaps the hallmark of low kicking and with good reason. You will find this technique similar to the standard Muay Thai version, but with a little less commitment to avoid the spinning follow-through that is usually recommended. By abandoning the spin follow-through, we sacrifice a bit of power, but we make up for it in speed in combinations and the safety gained by not presenting the back. We are a bit lengthy with the initial explanations to seat fundamental technique. Later we pare down as we take these concepts for matter of fact.

• Right leads will step the lead foot to 2.

• Left leads will step to 10.

• Spinning on the ball of the lead foot, swing the rear leg from the floor to the target surface — the inside or outside of your opponent's thigh.

• The striking surface is the triangular facing surface of your shin (the tibia). Use the lower half of the tibia while being certain to use no lower portion of the leg. Striking with the ankle and/or the instep is a recipe for injuring yourself.

• You will recover the kick (negative motion or returning to stance) along the same path you throw the kick. Pay attention to negative speed (return speed). A quick return to position is what allows shifting into combinations and/or faster responses in defense work. Working only on striking speed with little attention paid to return speed is a common mistake.

• When throwing this kick, think of the leg as a club or tree limb that is being swung at your target. Do not hinge the leg and attempt to add more "snap" with a burst from the quadriceps upon contact. If it helps, think of the leg as one fused piece of bone with a slight bend in the knee so you aren't throwing stiff-legged.

• You also will find a bit more bite in the thigh-kick if you allow the kick to drop down upon impact.

• With that in mind, the complete arc described by the kick is the kick coming straight from the floor in a 45-degree and up angle and then a slight dip downward upon impact (exaggerated in the photo).

• This dip is executed by rolling the striking hip downward at the moment before impact.

• The hip is the key throughout this technique. You lead the kick from the hip allowing the leg to sweep along behind it. The more you concentrate on snapping the hip, and the less on swinging the leg, the more effective the kick.

Rear kick ankle

• Here we have the exact same kick executed in an identical manner, but we change the target.

• The inner and outer surfaces of the ankle or lower shin are overlooked targets to bang. Strikes to the ankle have an unsettling caliber of pain and the added bonus of becoming leg sweeps/takedowns.

• The ankle as a target is also harder to read because the shot is faster, and they are seldom used (at the time of this writing). You should find that they are quite surprising to your opponent.

• Use them often.

Jumping rear kick thigh

• Uh-oh, I thought someone said no jumping kicks.

• This one is not a jumping kick in the usual sense.

• We use a shuffle step to close distance and strike when we've got an opponent drifting a bit too far on the periphery.

• The kick application is the same, once the shuffle step has been executed, so here we describe the shuffle/jump itself.

• Drive off your rear foot and take a lunging step toward the proper lead number (right leads to 2 and left leads to 10).

• As soon as the lead foot plants — launch the kick.

• We don't jump this kick to the ankle as the telegraphing of a hurtling body has a tendency to prompt a moved foot response. This usually still leaves the thigh as a target, but no need to chance the ankle from this outside range.

Switch kick thigh

• A switch kick is the mirror image of the rear kick thrown off the lead leg. But we perform a quick stance shift in front of it to load up the leg for greater power. That can be achieved by merely launching the lead leg straight from the floor.

• Right leads will skip the right leg toward 5 and the left leg toward 10.

• Left leads will skip the left leg toward 7 and the right leg toward 2.

• This stance shift skip happens simultaneously and with a ballistic burst of speed.

• From this new position, your "lead" leg has been positioned to the rear to deliver the standard "rear" thigh kick.

Switch kick ankle

• Switch as above and bang the ankle.

Switch kick / solo view

Slide switch kick thigh

• This is a less "acrobatic" version of loading up the switch kick.

• Right leads will drive off their rear foot and slide the lead foot toward 2.

• Left leads will drive with the rear foot to slide the lead foot to 10.

• Once you have stepped into the new number, step the rear foot forward (toward 12 for both leads).

• Now you launch a rear kick with your former lead leg.

• While not as fast as a standard switch kick, it still should be practiced with speed in mind. And you may be surprised how much speed you can muster in the midst of some footwork that can appear quite confusing to your opponent.

Slide switch kick thigh / solo

Inside kick thigh

• The inside kick is nothing more than a standard lead thigh kick delivered without the benefit of a hip windup, shuffle or slide-in assist.

• The kick is thrown off the lead leg and goes straight from the floor directly to its target.

• While there is no hip windup, it is advisable to aim for the hip roll-over upon the impact aspect of the technique.

• What the inside kick lacks in power, it makes up for in non-telegraphic speed.

Inside kick ankle

• Same kick, different target.

Shuffle-in inside kick thigh

• The shuffle-in allows you to use the inside kick even when your opponent is dancing in the outside range.

• To execute, both leads will slide the rear foot toward the lead (a bit of a footwork lawbreaking going on here, I know).

• Immediately drive off the rear leg to execute the inside kick with the lead leg.

• Work on the shuffle step until you gain the speed needed. Do not let the word "shuffle" lull you into being lackadaisical. Explode into technique whenever possible.

Shuffle-in inside kick ankle

• You know what to do.

Shuffle-in point round thigh

• In this version of the shuffle-in round, we make a few adjustments.

• First, the striking surface now is the ball of the foot (or the point of the shoe if shod).

• Second, we take advantage of the hinge nature of the knee joint.

• This is a variant of a kick found in Savate or La Boxe Francais with a bit less finesse.

• Shuffle-in as in the previous shuffle-in kicks.

• This time raise the lead knee high as if throwing a front kick to midsection level.

• Roll the hips so that the striking hip is pointing toward your target — the inner or outer thigh.

• Snap the kick using the quadriceps muscles to power the shot.

• While not a power shot by any stretch of the imagination, the small size and tenderness of the striking surface allows for an unsettling shot to be fired in the midst of combination work.

Shuffle-in point round groin

• Identical to the previous technique, but the target is the groin.

• This kick can be launched only if you are in matched leads (each of you has the right leg forward or each has the left forward).

Twist point thigh

• This kick is an inverted version of the preceding two kicks.

• Twist points use an inverted action of the lead leg inside of the ankle up — an inversion of Savate technique.

• This kick (as with all of the point kick variants) is meant to be delivered with maximum snap/speed and minimum telegraphing.

Twist point groin

• Use twist point technique to strike the groin of an opponent standing in an unmatched lead.

Twist point / solo view

Lead bark

• Barks are best delivered with the point of the shoe and thus are ideal for self-defense and of little use for competition.

• Use the ball of the foot/point of the shoe of the lead leg to attack the shin or knee.

• Use the hinge action of the knee to deliver the kick.

• Strive for minimum telegraphing and maximum speed.

• The goal of the shoe and/or street oriented kicks is speed and strikes thrown in overwhelming numbers. No need to power up to throw these.

Rear bark

• The short choppy version thrown off the rear leg into the shin or knee.

Jab kick

• This kick is as high as we are going to throw in this manual.

• You will target your opponent's hips.

• It is used ideally as a range keeper (keeping your opponent away).

• Or as a stop kick to stop your opponent's attack.

• Or a distance creator, launching him back and away from you.

• Lift the lead knee high and then thrust the leg outward from this loaded position striking with either the ball of the foot or the entire sole of the foot.

• I urge you to target no higher than the hips for reasons offered in the introduction.

Shuffle-in jab kick

• Use standard shuffle-in technique and cock the lead knee high.

• Once the trail foot plants, launch the kick.

Descending jab kick

• This kick is a variant of the jab kick (as if the name didn't tip you off).

• Lift the knee high as in the standard jab kick, but rather than launch outward toward the hips, descend the sole of the foot on top of your opponent's thigh.


• Here we fire a "jab" kick off the rear leg.

• It's a bit slower, but the power is greater.

• Lift the rear knee high.

• Deliver the kick striking with the ball of the foot. The target is your opponent's hips.

• Think of powering up to kick open a locked door and you've got the picture.

Cross stomp

• This also is delivered with the rear leg, but we strike with the entire sole of the foot. Toes are cocked to the outside and heel to the inside.

• This is a slightly more powerful variant of the preceding kick.

Stomps / solo views

Stomp above and cross stomp to the right.

Rear purring kick

• This self-defense kick is ideally delivered while wearing shoes.

• A purring kick is a cop from a Welsh drinking game in which participants clasped each other by the shoulders and took turns blasting each other in the shins with their hobnail boots. The first to release his shoulder grip lost.

• Here, the drinking is optional, we lose the shoulder clasp and simply deliver the kick.

• Travel the rear foot from the floor toward your opponent's lead shin. The toes point at the target.

• Just before contact, snap the toes to the outside and the heel to the inside.

• The striking surface is the inner arch of the foot.


Excerpted from No Holds Barred Fighting: The Kicking Bible Strikes for MMA and the Street by Mark Hatmaker, Dough Werner. Copyright © 2008 Doug Werner. Excerpted by permission of Tracks Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Mark Hatmaker is the bestselling author of six books in the No Holds Barred Fighting series, including More No Holds Barred Fighting, The Ultimate Guide to Conditioning and Boxing Mastery, and The Ultimate Guide to Submission Wrestling. He lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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