Well. I have seen some Kickboxing, Muay Thai and Kung Fu fights on YouTube. I noticed that kicks are much more dangerous to the one applying the kick than I thought. Many times kicking fighters hit the ground due to a sweeped second foot or a blocked high kick.

This question is about the cases where opponents where able to grab the foot/leg when defending against a front kick, side kick or roundhouse kick. This seem to happen surprisingly frequent. I also have seen this in my training.

In videos, defenders usually where not able (allowed?) to take advantage of the grabbed leg. They more or less simply dropped the grabbed opponent's leg continuing the fight by other means.

So what is the best thing one can do after grabbing an opponents leg?

I am a Choy Lay Fut Kung-Fu beginner so of course I am especially interested in Kug-Fu techniques.

7 Answers 7


Catching a kick is a common technique in Muay Thai and a major part of san da/san shou (Chinese kickboxing).

In Muay Thai, I've seen lots of kicking out or sweeping the other leg. This clip teaches one method, and the video ends with clips of competition applications against opponents doing their best to stay standing. Other techniques I've seen in that art include stepping in hip-to-hip behind the leg for a throw/knockdown, punching the other guy in the face, and spinning elbows.

San Shou values kick catches highly and trains them more than perhaps any other art. Several good applications are seen in live competitive matches: in one clip at 1:20 sweeping out the leg in various ways and 2:10 with the ever-popular punch-them-in-the-face-while-you-hold-their-leg, and in this other clip at 0:40 with the runner-up "punch them in the face while driving forward", at 0:54 with a slick leg-pull to make them fall, and elsewhen with a variety of lifts, pushes, kicks, and trips. There are a lot of different distinct scenarios with catching kicks: round kicks, front kicks, back kicks, catching so you're behind the leg or in front of it, and so on.

What's the best of these? The one that suits you and the situation best. Personally trips come best to me, maybe because I have long legs and some judo experience. Philosophically, punching people in the face is also a favorite of mine. You should train at a place where these things are taught regularly as part of normal class, practiced regularly as part of normal sparring, and tested regularly in competition against skilled people who train elsewhere.


How you respond will depend on what kind of fight you are in.

  • Kick opponent in groin. This is obviously not something you do to friendly sparring partners.
  • Kick opponent in supporting leg knee. This may cause serious damage to the joint, so it is also not something you should do to friendly sparring partners.
  • Sweep supporting leg. Assuming your partner knows how to fall, this should be relatively safe. Whether/how you continue with your opponent on the ground is up to you.

If you can catch a kick, exploit it. This will also give your opponent feedback that they need to do their kicks differently or better to avoid the counter.


Sweeps, throws, and unbalancings.

All of them need to happen fairly quickly after capture, of course; giving the kicker an opportunity to reset themselves on their remaining leg makes it a lot harder. The most common issue I see is that people just don't know what to do in a timely fashion. It's odd, because even just rushing the kicker's center of mass is often enough to get them reeling backwards; they can't hop as fast as you can run.


Came across this in training a couple of weeks ago - All depends on the kick I guess - Front kick could come in close and sweep them - Roundhouse could strike the supporting leg, groin or thigh (if High), if its low then a take down and side kick would be similar to a front kick.

A consideration would be is don't actively look to catch kicks as this can leave you exposed: e.g. Trying to catch a roundhouse can expose your ribs and if you get it wrong, you miss they hit.


It really depends on your situation I guess, if you are sparring, as above it may be worth sweeping the other leg, Or just to put your point across to your Uke, just move them about the Dojo, controlling the caught leg, and allowing them to balance on the other leg.

If this was outside in a street fight, then I would recommend either

1)(extreme - multiple opponents) Bringing your elbow in hard against the inside knee of the caught leg, then a side snap kick to the supporting knee(this may lead to permanent damage hence extreme).

2) Sweep (inside/cross hock?) to take them to the ground then use one of the multiple leg locks/restraint techniques, used in Ju jitsu/ Judo.

In my opinion high kicks are a high risk stratagey, leaving the attacker open to a counter, if as you mentiond the leg is caught, or they over extend, puting the attacker in a poor position which you can take advantage of. Lower kickers (knees/ shins/ groin) are used as softeners, if they go wrong and you miss/ over extend, you may still be in a poor position however you will not have over extended as much so I imagine the positioning would be no where near as bad as a high kick. These lower kicks are also a lot quicker.


Kick defence taken from a kung-fu form Tong Bi Quan. Begins at 1 min 15 secs through to 1 min 23 secs in the Youtube video.


  1. Catch the leg.
  2. Raise it up high with the rear hand, push the opponent over backwards with the other, front hand.
  3. Step forward and kick out the remaining leg and allow opponent to drop to the ground.
  4. Retain hold of the leg as he drops.
  5. Apply joint lock to the opponent's knee joint.

In a defensive situation you'd just tear the joint, in a competition you could go for submission instead.

BTW, this exact same application / sequence is present in the Karate Passai/Bassai Dai kata. Beginning at 57 secs to 1 min 5 secs.



High kicks are dangerous because they leave you vulnerable. Take a roundhouse kick toward the head. You expose your groin, your calf muscle and hamstring, your ankle(for someone to use joint manipulation), as well as like you said leave yourself vulnerable to a sweep or other takedown. It depends on what you are talking about. Sparring is different than Olympic Taekwondo which is different from a street fight. Generally if there are rules involved you see what you have seen. I know Bruce Lee didn't incorporate much high kicking into his method until much later. I believe it was Chuck Norris who told him he should use kicks to the head because it's just one more technique in the arsenal and not to limit yourself to only low or mid kicks.

For me personally even though I trained in Taekwondo many years I don't think I'd lean on them. They look nice but for maximum effect I want to take out the knee with a stomp kick or a stiff front or side kick to the solar plexus can work wonders if I'm going to be using a kick. In MMA they often kick the leg of an opponent repeatedly in the hamstring so it goes stiff and the opponent loses mobility, potentially going down. What it comes down to is the rules involved in the activity. Each martial art has different rules for what is acceptable.

  • 1
    This doesn't really answer the question. It's a general discussion of high kicks. Aug 10, 2015 at 3:04
  • Jumping kicks are preferred if you're afraid of getting swept. Aug 11, 2015 at 12:19
  • But not if you're afraid of being dumped on your butt. Aug 29, 2015 at 2:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.