Roundhouse Kick – Everything You Need to Know

roundhouse kick

Probably the most widely known technique that people associate with combat sports is the roundhouse kick. It is a phenomenal technique that can be thrown a variety of different ways.

This is a technique every fighter must know how to throw with precision and force. Without a good roundhouse kick, they would have a glaring hole in their game.

Many think they know how a roundhouse kick works, but they don’t know half of what makes a good roundhouse. 

Well we’re here to help you out, because we’re here to tell you everything about the roundhouse kick. We’re going to list numerous ways you can throw this kick along with detailing the mechanics of this effective technique.

Who invented the roundhouse kick? 

Nearly all striking martial arts teach a roundhouse kick or round kick from karate, taekwondo and kung fu. Though the one martial art that has seemingly perfected the roundhouse was the art of Muay Thai.

It’s amazing how the Thais develop a way to put the entire force of their body behind their round kick. Not only that, but are able to throw it repeatedly with the same amount of speed and force.

The majority of the top MMA trainers have spent years learning how to teach the roundhouse kick. It has become a stable must know move in MMA.

How does the roundhouse kick work?

The roundhouse is a classic chambering style of strike. All of your power is put in your kicking leg. But to be able to release this power, you must methodically go through each step.

Throwing a good roundhouse involves everything from pelvic rotation, hip abduction/flexion, and knee extension. When you’re able to chain all of these movements together it enables you to throw a powerful kick.

Basic back leg roundhouse kick

The basic back leg roundhouse kick seems simple enough, but there are many details for throwing this kick properly. Before throwing your kick, you need to be in a good stance and be light on your feet. Being flat footed significantly slows your kick down and telegraphs it to your opponent.

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Your first step is going to be your initial step and pivot with your front foot. This pivot starts the chain of all of the movements involved in throwing a roundhouse kick. It opens your hips up, while starting the momentum of your kick, and giving you the angle of where it’s going.

Next, you bring your knee up and turn your hips bringing your whole body across along with your leg. Bringing your knee up is important, because it dictates how high or low your kick will be.

When you land your kick it is very important that you hit with the low part of your shin. Avoid landing the kick with your foot or you could seriously damage it badly.

For ending the kick, you have two different options. Your first option is to follow threw circling around back into your stance. The other option is to leave your kicking leg in front and just move it back into your normal stance.

Switch roundhouse kick

The switch roundhouse or switch kick is where you switch your stance and kick with your lead leg. When you switch your stance the movement has to be quick.

In a quick movement, you switch your hips making your front leg your back leg. At the same as you switch stance, you have to pivot with your back foot.

Doing these steps at the same time enables you to quickly throw your round kick. When you switch, you’ll already be ready to throw your kick. 

From there, all you have to do is lift your knee up and rotate your hips over. It’s a powerful and fast roundhouse kick.

Flying roundhouse kick

If you’re a fan of Muay Thai kickboxing, then you’ve seen this devastating kick land. It is very similar to the mechanics of a normal back leg roundhouse with one big difference.

In a normal back leg roundhouse, you pivot your foot and hips to produce force for the quick. With a flying roundhouse, you generate the power for the kick differently.

Instead of turning your lead foot, you step forward pushing your energy forward. You use this power to bring your knee up and jump forward during your kick. 

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When done right it can be lights out for your opponent.

Lead leg roundhouse

This technique is a karate style lead leg roundhouse very different from a Muay Thai lead leg roundhouse. When you do the Muay Thai version, you switch stances before throwing your round kick.

There is no switching stance with a karate style lead leg roundhouse. You’re going to bring it right off the ground and connect it to your opponent’s head.

Start by pivoting your back foot at an angle outward to open your hips up. In one quick motion, you bring your knee up and snap it up to the opponent’s head. 

This is a favorite technique of fighter’s like Stephen Thompson and Lyoto Machida.

Scissor kick roundhouse

The scissor kick roundhouse is another great roundhouse kick technique that is taught within multiple striking disciplines. It’s all about tricking your opponent into buying your fake to land your kick.

You can set it up multiple ways and one of the best is using leg kicks. As you throw multiple leg kicks, your opponent will start anticipating a leg kick and go to defend it.

This sets you up to throw your scissor kick. For a back leg scissor kick, you start by bringing your front knee up.

From there all you have to do is hop forward and land your kick. It’s a great technique that you can do on either leg.

Karate roundhouse

Karate also teaches a style of back roundhouse kick that is quick to throw and easy to learn. The two main differences between this technique and the Muay Thai one is the stances and pivoting.

In Muay Thai, your stance is closer, where in karate it is a little wider and more sideways. You didn’t have time to do a big pivoting motion in a wider karate stance. The kick has to come off the ground quickly.

With your front foot, you subtly do a small pivot to open your hips up. Then all you do is bring the knee of your kicking up through the centerline and snap it up.

When done right, you can generate a lot of speed and as much power as a Muay Thai roundhouse.

Tips for doing a roundhouse kick

A roundhouse kick can look really cool or really bad. There’s no in between, so you have to remember all of the details when you throw them. Here are some tips to remember when throwing your roundhouse kick.

  • Initial Step: Your initial step is always the first you need to make when going for a roundhouse. Doing this step and pivoting gets you in position to throw your kick at your opponent.
  • Turn Your Front Foot: When throwing a roundhouse with your back leg, you always need to start the kick by turning your front foot. Slightly turning your front foot out opens ups your hips and the angle for where you want to throw the kick.
  • Lift Your Knee: Like with all chambed kicks, you have to lift the knee of your kicking leg up. This allows you to be able to hit the opponent’s upper body.
  • Turn Your Hips Over: Along with turning your foot, you have to turn your hips over when doing a roundhouse. This allows you to flow and get the full motion of the kick.
  • Chop Down: When doing an outside leg kick remember to chop down on the opponent’s leg like you’re chopping wood.
  • Chop Upward: When doing an inside leg kick remember to do it in an upward chopping motion.
  • Switch Your Stance: Remember when you throw a Muay Thai front leg roundhouse kick you must first switch your stance. Your front leg becomes your front leg and it gives you the momentum to put for force behind your kick.
  • Hit With Your Shin: Always aim to land the kick with the end of your shin bone. Landing a roundhouse with your foot will definitely injure it or at worse break bones.
  • Light On Your Feet: To throw a roundhouse kick with speed and force, you have to stay light on your fight. When you’re flat footed it makes the kick slower and the opponent can see it coming.
  • Finishing Options:  When you finish your kick, you have two options. Your first option is to follow through by circling around back in your stance. The other option is to keep your kicking leg in front and then bring it back into your normal stance.