In our Combatives, we utilize a number of different low-line kicks (i.e. below the waist). As with our other striking techniques, we focus on kicks that are not highly technical, nor do they require tremendous flexibility. I was reading somewhere recently about making techniques yours, and how it still takes practice to truly acquire a skill or technique, and I must agree with this mentality. Just my two cents, of course, and though these kicks are fairly easy to learn, they still require some training. We like front kicks, o'ou tek (hook or roundhouse) kicks, low destructive kicks (sometimes called a stab kick), shin kicks and stomps. We do not work Thai kicks very much in class because they are more technical, in our humble opinion, and those students with previous training in other arts tend to turn them into snap kicks anyway. On rare occasion, we work the side kick. This has never been one of my personal favorites, but it is just a preference thing. We have probably worked the push kick (teep) once or twice.
We use front kicks pretty regularly, with the groin being a common target. We also start beginners with front kicks whenever we do the o'ou tek series of combinations. It is just a little bit easier for them to pull off technique-wise. We often train the lead leg in combinations, but there is no reason why you cannot use the rear leg and kick a field goal right into the groin. Some folks point their toes up (dorsiflexion) when they snap the kick, others keep the toes pointed out (plantar flexion). I guess it all depends. If I were wearing big boots, as I sometimes do, and I was going to kick to the groin, I would probably dorsiflex. Then, my kick would look more like a spike kick, with a little or no snap in the lower leg, as well.
We take this from JKD. It is basically a roundhouse or hook kick, and we use it below the waist with the lead leg. When I began training it, I also used a Pendulum Step. We do not generally require the students to use that footwork, but it is important for them to plant the ball of the foot of the rear leg at the right angle to open up the hips. Some students have a hard time grasping why they need to turn the toes away from the kick. I had "lift and pivot" burned into my brain. In any case, we often train this kick with a combination series. A typical combination we use leads off with the o'ou tek, follows with a Cross - Hook - Cross and ends with the o'ou tek. I love the flow of these drills.
Low Destructive Kick
With this kick we are usually aiming for a knee from various angles. I think of it as a stab kick because of the way the leg is chambered and the way kick is applied. From the front, I crouch my body a little bit as I chamber my leg, with my instep facing upwards. I throw the kick down, towards the knee joint, just as if I was thrusting a blade towards the target. With enough force, I can make his knee hyper-extend. I retract the leg just as I might retract the blade after stabbing. I can also do this directly from the side, pushing the knee inward towards the opposite leg. It takes a lot of force to break a knee. It is a hinge joint, and therefore is not intended to move from side to side, nor even hyper-extend by very many degrees. Having said that, even if it is hard to break the knee, with the right mechanics, I can cause a lot of pain and probably inflict some damage by making it move in ways nature did not intend!
Unless people train to deaden the shins and calcify the bone, this area of the anatomy does not have much protection between skin and bone. So naturally it is a very nice place to throw a kick. We train with the rear leg only. Lifting the leg slightly, the side of the foot accelerates towards the shin-the hip is open. We use the instep instead of the toe for the striking surface because it is tricky to make contact with toe to shin, especially under duress. Sometimes we scrape or drag the foot a little bit across the ground until we get close to the target, (like kicking up dirt) then explode with the foot into the shin bone. Once the foot is planted to the side, after the kick, there is a nice opportunity for a downward elbow strike. We train this on one of the Slammer pads, but you could also train this on a piece of PVC pipe with a wide diameter. Very nice, indeed.
Okay, now I want you to pay attention about this one. People already think they know how to stomp, but I want you to stomp BETTER. Bring yourself directly adjacent to the target. Lift your body up and lift your knee. Now, bring all your bodyweight to bear on the target, like you are squashing a humongous cockroach with your foot. BAM! No love taps or nudges, here. Think of your leg as a powerful piston. A stomp is nice insurance. You triumphantly got him to the ground somehow, and you want to ensure you have stopped this threat. Maybe you want to keep him from getting up and running after you. Maybe you want to destroy the weapon-retaining hand. Perhaps he is just kneeling, and you want to make sure he does not jump back up to try something stupid. Expect that you might break the ankle, or if he is prone and his foot is dorisflexed (toe pointing towards ground), you might do terrible things to the Achilles--same thing if he is kneeling. I see this one as a finishing move IF I STILL FEEL HE IS A THREAT. Obviously, only you can make that determination within the context of your situation.
I will avoid getting into the mechanics of the Thai kick, side kick or push kick-we do not use them very much in our Combatives. They are awesome tools, and if you train in Muay Thai or other arts, they are definitely worthwhile, but they require much more training to master, in my opinion. I recently found an interesting article about high kicks, and it discusses whether or not they are "worthless." A lot of folks say they are too risky for the street, but you know, there are probably some out there with the timing and speed who can actually pull them off with relative ease. It is up to the individual and his/her training. We have never said that our way is the only way-that is flawed thinking. Nevertheless, we do know that these particular kicks are quick to learn and easy to retain. It is a good thing to have techniques that are not overly complicated and are fast to acquire-if the fight finds you tomorrow, you can use them immediately!