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. Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 17:26

5 Answers 5


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.

Evidence from Kyokushin Karate

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

Evidence from MMA

This AintNoSunshine post argues that the inside leg kick is a powerful way to set up head kicks or 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.

Furthermore, not to pick on Kenny Florian, but Jose Aldo also used an inside low kick to disrupt his opponent's balance, do damage, and set up subsequent strikes. There is a beautiful piece of fight journalism consisting largely of quotes from Aldo's opponents describing how fearsome and debilitating his leg kicks were:

Florian: He was kicking the inside of my leg, which affected the nerves in my legs so much that it took about a full two months to really get feeling back. It actually [became a game]. I would swipe my hand on the inside of my leg to see if I could feel it, and I just couldn’t feel it.


Faber: That was actually the most pain I’ve ever been in, because it was all soft tissue.


He kicked me to the ground...I couldn’t bend my leg at all. Like, I really [couldn’t] use my leg on the ground either. I felt like I was going to pass out from the pain.


Brookins: By the second round I was just, like, almost trying to jump over those leg kicks. Every time there were coming, I remember being terrified.

So yes, some people can make leg kicks into a pretty useful tool.

Evidence from Muay Thai

This is the damage taken by one student from just a few rounds of sparring someone who was keen on inside leg kicks and wasn't wearing shinpads:

Damage from inside leg kick

Doesn't look like fun. The opponent now hurts, is distracted and worn down from that hurt, and is weaker and slower using that leg. Those all sound like effective uses of a strike.

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

  • great answer. So it seems as if the damage is secondary to the strategy for setting up more powerful hits
    – Vass
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 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. Commented Nov 18, 2013 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
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:13
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    inside leg kicks are great counters against any sort of big strike or charge. Excellent answer Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 6:23

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.

  • 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
    Commented Nov 18, 2013 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
    Commented Nov 19, 2013 at 15:15

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.


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.


I'm a trained MMA fighter that has focused in Muay Thai and Boxing and let me tell you while the inside leg kick doesn't look like much it certainly adds up and hurts like hell after a while. The purpose of them is to take away your opponent's base and while they may still be able to stand on that leg it certainly affects their power significantly. Also, as shown in Dave Leipman's reply/answer it's highly effective at setting up other attacks, whether it be a different kick or a straight punch.

Edit: in my comment I say I do an inside leg kick with my lead leg. This is possible since I'm a southpaw and usually face orthodox fighters. When facing an opponent with the same stance this will have to be done with the power leg.

  • What is a good follow up combo? any personal preference as an example would be interesting.
    – Vass
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 12:15
  • What I liked to do was hit that inside leg kick with my lead leg and follow that up, since I'm already planting my lead leg after the follow through, with an elbow, then an uppercut to the body and a power knee. Alternatively, the leg kick, inside or out, can be used to end a combo, such as jab-cross-leg kick or jab-power uppercut to the body-lead hook to the head-power elbow-leg kick Commented May 21, 2015 at 16:48

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