Does Muay Thai have spinning kicks?
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
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Let's be honest, we've all watched the films Karate Kid and Kickboxer and thought how cool it would to be able to land a flashy spinning kick and knock someone out.
You may have recently started training and watching Muay Thai and notice that you don't see any spinning kicks being thrown, and this may have you asking, does Muay Thai have spinning kicks? Well, the answer is yes, spinning kicks are allowed in Muay Thai, however they aren't used as frequently as they are in other martial arts such as kickboxing or Taekwondo.
Are spinning kicks allowed in Muay Thai?
Spinning kicks are allowed in Muay Thai and they are completely legal, they are however a move that isn't used as frequently as other, more basic moves, and they are rarely thrown at a high level in the Thai stadiums.
You'll see spinning kicks and techniques used often in many martial arts. The main reason for this is due to the fact that they are seen as more difficult techniques that will score highly if landed correctly and cleanly. In Muay Thai, this isn't the case, the difficult of the strike doesn't increase scoring factor with the judges.
Due to spinning kicks not offering favor with the judges, many Muay Thai fighters won't throw spinning techniques, as they require more energy to throw and they are more difficult to execute.
Muay Thai fighters will stick the mastering the basic strikes such as the roundhouse kick, ensuring that they can land it cleanly with maximum speed and power. It'll mean that they have lesser of an arsenal to other martial art practitioners, however they'll be far more effective with the few moves that they have in their locker.
Some Muay Thai fighters will throw spinning kicks, however they are hardly ever thrown at the very top level of Muay Thai when fighting in the stadiums.
Are spinning techniques allowed in Muay Thai?
Spinning techniques such as spinning kicks, spinning elbows and spinning back fists are allowed in Muay Thai. Although they are thrown less frequently, you may often see a spinning elbow being thrown.
The spinning elbow is the most popular technique as it's a good technique to use if you are in close quarters with your opponent or exiting the clinch. The spinning elbow is a quick technique that doesn't put yourself at a major risk and if it lands cleanly, it'll almost always result in a fight ending shot.
Spinning kicks and spinning back fists are techniques which are used far less frequently in Muay Thai, this is due to the complexity of the strikes, the unlikeliness of it landing cleanly and also the energy that these techniques exert when thrown.
The different kicking techniques in Muay Thai
The roundhouse kick is the main technique used in Muay Thai and also the highest scoring strike if landed cleanly across your opponents body. It can be thrown to the head, body, or leg.
Also known as Push Kick, this type of kick is basically a long range straight foot-thrust. A teep kick is a powerful weapon to target the opponent’s solar plexus, hips, abs, and even the face. It helps to set up an attack and keeps the opponent at a distance. It’s a bold, fast, and disruptive move meant to dominate the opponent in the ring.
The low kick is a variation of the roundhouse kick which is thrown low to the opponents leg, mainly aiming for the thigh muscle of the opponent. It's used to off-balance an opponent, disrupt their movement and damage their leg making it harder from them to maneuver throughout the fight.
This variation of the roundhouse requires practitioners to quickly switch their stance. For instance, if you are right-handed, your left leg will generally be in front. When you switch, your left leg will become your power leg, allowing you to be ready to attack your opponent’s right side. This kick misleads opponents with clever footwork and timing. It can also be used for a wide range of attacks, but remember not to jump on both legs when changing your stance. Alternatively, take a couple of quick steps. Remember to place the lead leg back and bring the back leg forward to remain grounded and maintain balance while moving quickly.
Although spinning kicks, and other spinning techniques are allowed in Muay Thai, they are techniques you'll rarely see used. If you do see them used in a bout, it's likely that the fighter has trained in other martial arts.
Muay Thai practitioners focus more on mastering the basics and building a simple striking array that they can throw with speed, power and effectiveness.