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In muay thai boxing there is the low kick to the inner thigh of the opponent's leading leg as shown in : link to video

I have practised this in training and seen people with bruises from those kicks. But during the training those hits did not impede them from their movement so I am assuming that they impact muscles which are not critical and therefore unworthy targets. So I assume that those hits are going to be almost 'cosmetic' in a match.

My question is whether significant hits to the inner thigh of an opponent will impede their ability to fight. Will they feel loss of strength and support from that leg with those low kicks? Or are significant results obtained from hitting the outer side of the thigh where the larger leg muscles are?

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While I feel like it makes the kick less effective for sparring, I've also seen references to a sharp blow increasing the chance of a blood clot in the femoral artery, which can cause long-term damage to an opponent up to and including loss of limb and increased stroke risk. –  Sean Duggan Apr 14 at 17:26
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would simply argue that not every strike needs to be debilitating in order to be effective. Most jabs aren't knockout-worthy, but the jab remains a critical piece of any effective boxer's arsenal. The inside leg kick does damage.

Further, the inside leg kick is an important weapon to attack the opponent's footwork and disrupt their planned steps or kicks.

Sherdog

This sherdog post is an excellent breakdown of how the technique can be devastatingly effective. It includes gif highlights from Kyokushin karate. His argument is that the inside leg kick can:

  • cause damage when applied to a supporting (weighted) leg
  • be disguised as an outside low kick to draw a check with the opponent's opposite leg
  • off-balance or knock down an opponent by exploiting or forcing poor footwork on their part
  • counter an opponent's charge
  • counter an opponent's mid- or high-level kick

MMA Mania

This AintNoSunshine post argues that the inside leg kick is a powerful way to set up head kicks, mess with an opponent's footwork,

Nunes versus Florian: inside leg kick example

In his fight with Kenny Florian, Diego Nunes, despite taking the loss, showed how effective and dangerous an inside leg kick could be...

As you see, Florian’s right leg is leading as he stalks Nunes. That is the leg targeted most often, as kicking the rear leg leaves you more vulnerable defensively and takes a little more effort with less guarantee of effectiveness.

While Nunes is backpedaling in a subtle manner, he stops and sets his feet. While planted, Nunes swivels his hips thrusting his rear right leg forward in a slicing motion, landing right beneath Florian's knee. Part of the reason it lands so low is due to Florian checking/defending the leg kick. By picking up your leg, it helps absorb the strike in comparison to leaving it planted as it is kicked.

Nunes kicks Florian to his knee in a moment of unbalance and forces Florian to scurry up and retreat, resetting himself and stopping his stalking of Nunes.

Second example of Florian versus Nunes

Florian is once again stalking Nunes, walking him down while diligently looking for his opening. Not even a minute earlier Nunes caught the inside lead leg of Florian causing him to back pedal.

This is where that earlier strike gets paid off.

In the same manner as before, Nunes stops his retreating footwork and plants down to unload a kick. This time Florian is aware a kick may be headed his way, however, he assumes the kick will be attacking his leg.

He drops his posture as if to catch the kick and in turn, fails to protect his head. Nunes, instead of attacking the leg, goes upstairs for a head kick, landing flush on Florian's face and stumbling him backwards to once again retreat and reset.

By threatening Florian with the leg kick that threw him off balance, Nunes set up the head kick perfectly. Having Florian defend low enabled a high strike to land cleanly.

The inside leg kick is used to damage the opponent, counter their footwork and kicks, disrupt their footwork, and set up head kicks.

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great answer. So it seems as if the damage is secondary to the strategy for setting up more powerful hits –  Vass Nov 18 '13 at 11:15
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@Vass Not more so than most other strikes. An outside low kick, jab, body punch, and even the cross don't usually knock people out. They don't need to do so to be effective. Also, see the sherdog link for plenty of knockdowns from this kick. –  Dave Liepmann Nov 18 '13 at 11:50
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@Vass - Also, it is not necessarily the one shot damage, but repeated, compounded strikes to the same area. The body shot in boxing is rarely instantly debilitating, but dozens of body shots over many rounds wears down the body and stamina. –  JohnP Nov 19 '13 at 15:13
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This is equivalent to boxers punching their opponents' arms: it increases muscle fatigue in later rounds. There are other uses as well, but this is the most useful effect.

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is it by any chance more effective than gloved punches to the arms? Kicks to the outer thighs can bring an opponent to submission. IS the inner thigh a critical place as well? –  Vass Nov 18 '13 at 23:22
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@Vass - The outside thigh kick can bring an opponent down because there is a nerve bundle there that can paralyze the leg momentarily, and is relatively open to striking. The one on the inner thigh is up high enough it's harder to strike effectively. –  JohnP Nov 19 '13 at 15:15
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Try to kick a little wider and hit with your shin, unbalance them right as they step down on a jab for example. You can disrupt their balance with this kick. A few good ones will hurt their leg, even in sparring with shinpads on.

You can attack with it; use it to set up strikes to the head, or you can counter his advance with it as he jabs in; it ruins the right he wants to throw.

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Make sure you are actually landing the kick with your shin and not your instep, even when wearing protection. This technique done poorly without instep protection can damage your foot.

I lost nearly half a year of training after one match of a dozen sloppy kicks.

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