A martial artist and former coach for two decades from Houston, Texas. Specializing in the disciplines of kickboxing, karate, MMA, and Jiu Jitsu.
A kidney punch is a devastating punch that is banned within many combat sports with striking. But in Muay Thai, you can attack the kidneys.
That’s why we’re going to cover the kidney from a Muay Thai perspective. Going over possible ways that you can use a kidney punch on your opponent.
We’ll also go over why the kidney punch is illegal in other combat sports and why it’s a dangerous strike.
- In which combat sports is the kidney punch illegal?
- Why is kidney punch illegal in these sports?
- Is a kidney punch legal in Muay Thai?
- The kidney punch from a Muay Thai perspective
- How to land a kidney punch
- Other kidney strikes
- How to defend against the kidney punch
In which combat sports is the kidney punch illegal?
The kidney punch is legal in just about every single combat sport, the blow is deemed illegal. In boxing and MMA, you can only deliver strikes to the front of an opponent’s body. Since your kidneys are located in your lower back, this would make kidney punches an illegal body blow.
Why is kidney punch illegal in these sports?
A kidney punch is illegal in boxing, MMA, and Glory Kickboxing for two main reasons. You’re only allowed to attack the front of the body in these combat sports and the potential damage to the kidneys.
Your kidney are the filters of your body that blood and fluids you consume pass through. By getting one of them damaged with a kidney punch can lead to two possible health problems.
- Urinating blood due to damage
- Complete shutdown
As you can see, a kidney punch can not only KO your opponent, but permanently damage their kidney.
Is a kidney punch legal in Muay Thai?
There are actually no rules against a kidney punch within the Muay Thai rules set. You are allowed to punch your opponent’s kidneys or even knee them if you wish. It is entirely up to you if you want to use a kidney punch in a Muay Thai bout.
The kidney punch from a Muay Thai perspective
So, since a kidney punch is technically legal with Muay Thai, where do you land them from? You can land a kidney punch either from in close boxing or the clinch.
In close boxing
If you’re glove to glove with your opponent, you could possibly hook a punch over their arm to target their kidney. In boxing, George Foreman was a notorious kidney puncher.
Infamously knocking one opponent out with a kidney blow in the first round during his career. When his opponent covered up, Foreman used his size and reach advantage to land a kidney punch.
Looping a punch over his opponent’s arm to deliver a devastating kidney punch.
The most probable way to land a kidney punch in Muay Thai is from the clinch. An opponent can be so preoccupied with protecting their head and body that they forget about the kidneys. You can possibly target them with hook punches from the clinch.
How to land a kidney punch
There are two possible methods that we’ll detail how to land a kidney punch. A walking hook like George Foreman and a kidney punch from the clinch.
The walking hook
The walking hook kidney punch that George Foreman made famous comes from walking your opponent down. Start by attacking your opponent with straight punches to make them cover over.
Once the opponent becomes defensive, you can start moving forward and begin pressing them. Throw a punch similar to an overhand, but loop it over their shoulder.
Try targeting their kidney and strike it with a downward hook, where you hit it with your index and middle knuckle.
From the clinch, you can possibly set up a kidney punch off of fighting for underhooks and over hooks. You can bait your opponent by offering them an underhook to get a body clinch.
When you do this, this gives you enough space to turn your hips into a hook to the kidney. You can land a few hard shots to the kidney before your opponent abandons clinching.
Other kidney strikes
Aside from the kidney punch, there are two other possible strikes that you could use to target an opponent’s kidneys. You could either use knees or kicks to attack an opponent’s kidneys and make them crumble.
Diagonal knee from the clinch
From the clinch, a strike that is more probable to hit the kidney is a diagonal knee. Getting a deep underhook can open up a clear path to a diagonal knee strike to the opponent’s kidney.
Roundhouse to the body
The next probable strike that can hit your opponent’s kidney is looping a roundhouse kick around their body. A good setup is by throwing multiple roundhouse kicks to one side of your opponent’s body.
This will force them to block the kick and turn their body and expose their lower back. Once they block your initial body lock, you’re going to throw a roundhouse kick from the other side.
If you do it just right you can hit them right in the kidney.
Spinning heel kick to the kidney
Generally a spinning wheel kick or heel kick is thrown to your opponent’s head. When you throw a wheel kick, your opponent will usually block their head.
Instead of going for their head, you can go around their body and aim for the kidneys. It’s an uncommon strike, but it can work.
How to defend against the kidney punch
A kidney punch can be hard to defend since you can’t block your lower back. But there are two defenses that will work against a kidney punch.
Don’t expose your back
Simply enough, the best way to defend against a kidney punch is don’t expose your back. Always face your opponent and never turn to expose your kidneys.
The most likely place that you’ll get hit with a kidney punch in Muay Thai is in the clinch. To prevent getting hit with a punch to the kidneys, your best option is to take high underhooks.
Once you get your underhooks, climb your hand up to lift your opponent’s arm. They won’t be able to hit your kidneys if their arm is stretched upward.
This can also be a defense against knees to the kidneys from the clinch. Your opponent can’t throw a good diagonal knee to your kidney if they’re being stretched upward.