Ken Milling asked: Many people reading your Q&A will know that you produced an excellent DVD on the turning kick, an invaluable resource in understanding the differentials in your perspective on alignment and delivery + more. I communicated with a guy a little while back who was on the end of a few of your round kicks, he stated that you were holding back but most of his leg turned black including his lower leg, no doubt that one works!

A kick that I personally have struggled with is the front kick & I have thought about dropping it all together. Its a kick that you demonstrate on one of your earlier NHB videos, emphasising the clawing type of action (hope my recall is correct)

My question is-do you think that there can be a place in MMA for the front kick & is it a kick that you would value for a street altercation?
I nearly blew my knee out about 3+ years ago when a guy caught my front kick & opened up the joint of the supporting leg in the wrong way. This in itself made me front kick shy.

Steve’s answer:

Well for those Muay Thai fighters coming into MMA, they’re skilled at using it and they keep the front kick. They can even use it to the head. The key to anything, whatever skill you use, is to make sure that you have a good defence against whatever counter is going to come back at you.

Personally, I don’t see it as a high percentage move in mma other than to keep the guy away from you momentarily. It’s just going to check him momentarily.

On the street, yeah, definitely. But you bring it down. And there are two kinds of front kicks I use. One, as you mention, is a clawing kick. That’s what I call the ‘Saturday night’ kick because you hit him straight in the bladder, and if he’s been drinking, it’s full. THe other kick is a groin kick not as in a kin geri but a straight front kick straight into the balls.

And again, if it fails and you’re countered, you’ve got to be ready for that. Or if it fails, do something else. It’s one move in your destructive repertoire.

The reason why your leg probably got caught is probably because your foot was coming up towards his hand. Your kick, if it’s going to midbody, should always be going down. So whatever he tries to catch is going away from his hand, not into it. And if you’re kicking straight up with the shin, you only go as high as the groin, which puts your foot somewhat below his line of reach. ANything above that line, you’re taking a chance. THat’s why you either claw down, or as in Muay Thai, you use it more or less as an insult: that you can kick the guy in the head without him being able to do anything about it.

But the latter, you wouldn’t want to risk that on the street.

It’s a good idea to work out your kick wearing the footwear that you usually wear on the street in whatever your environment. I used to wear boots, but in the summer I wear flip flops. I’d work with both.

And really, with the idea that the guy can catch your leg or block it, make sure you’re driving hard with your shin through the point at which he might do that. I broke a guy’s arm that way once. I knew he was going to block the kick, so I attacked his arm instead of the body behind it. Just a tip.