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Ode to the Front Kick

(Matthew Polly is our regular semi-regular scribe of note. You can tell that he’s almost done giving birth to his new book Tapped Out because the idea of writing more MMA stuff doesn’t send him into the fetal position any more.)

           Texas Jack: You ever seen somethin’ like that before?
           Turkey Johnson: Hell, I ain’t never even heard of anything like that.

If you are old enough, as I am, to have studied martial arts prior to the rise of MMA, then you are on intimate terms with the front kick Anderson Silva used to turn out Vitor Belfort’s lights. In kung fu, karate, and tae kwo do studios across the strip malls of North America, it was the first kick that was taught, because it was the easiest to learn. Pick your leg up, thrust your hips forward, and snap your knee.

If you went on, however, to attempt that kick in any competitive context outside that dojo, it was also the first kick you forgot, because it is almost completely useless. First, it is ridiculously easy to either block or avoid. Second, unless you commit every fiber of your being to the kick and leave yourself almost totally vulnerable to a counter-attack, it has next-to zero power. And third, pulling your toes back and landing the kick with the ball of your foot to the groin, solar plexus, or chin is nearly impossible: 9 times out of 10 you end up jamming your big toe on your opponent’s knee or elbow and howling in pain.

How useless is a front kick?

The kick is so useless that serious kickboxing styles like Muay Thai and Chinese san shou don’t even bother teaching it, preferring the forward thrust (or teep). The kick’s only purpose is to give young women in self-defense classes a false sense of security. (“Snap the kick into his groin, Ashley, and then your 6’3” 220lb drunk attacker will double over in pain and you can break his nose with a palm strike. What could possibly go wrong?”)

How useless is a front kick?

Anderson Silva is the only fighter to ever pull off a front kick TKO in MMA history. (Dana White: “The only place I’ve seen anything like that is in a videogame.”) Silva is the only fighter, I’ve heard of, to ever have the staggering, Grand Canyon-sized arrogance to even try it. And he did it as his first major kick in the first round against the most skilled opponent he’s ever faced. I thought perhaps that his Matrix-like head slips of Forrest Griffin’s punches and falling-backward, hand-flick knockout might have been a one-off—divine intervention. But now he’s done the impossible twice. (And that’s not even counting, the Fryklund back elbow.)

Which is why if I were GSP’s new manager, I would be screaming into the abyss. If GSP wins in Toronto, Dana wants him to go up a weight class (!) and fight Anderson Silva this year. I don’t see how it is possible he could win (and I’m a GSP nuthugger). GSP is MMA’s A+ student: anything his coaches teach him he can replicate. But Anderson Silva is a genius and a miracle worker. GSP would never have tried that kick, because no self-respecting MMA coach would ever tell him to use it. Silva perfected that kick with the help of Steven Seagal, who is a joke martial artist and has no self-respect. God knows what other nutjob, horseshit techniques Seagal has been whispering into his ear–techniques that would be utterly useless if not channeled through Silva’s divine-like talent. But I wouldn’t want to be the manager who signed the deal sending my gold-plated fighter into the cage to find out.

(image via Heavy’s UFC 126 gallery)

  • Reverend Clint

    If anyboxy can beat silva its a wrestler lie gsp.

  • scissors61

    You’re no daisy, Vitor. You’re no daisy at all. 


  • Predator8u

    Can you guys read my posts when im editing them?? because I have the grammer of a 3rd grader.

    I spend more time editing them. Then typing the original.

  • matthewpolly

    Silva: “I’m your huckleberry.”

  • Predator8u

    It’s all on Neo-Victor. He was so FUCKIN tense. with no head movement. Belfort got taught up in the silliness that Silva does , then BBOOOOMMM. The crazist kick hits him on the JAW and he ‘s OUT, I’ve NEVER been TK’d  but Ive been choked out 25+ times . SO i think, ITS THAT WHOLE WHERE’S yours MIND AT . HIS MIND wasnt tenseing his jaw, it was watching silvas patterns then BBOOOOMMM!. ThAT (NEVER DONE IN MMA)kick LANDS!!! 

    IT was all in Neo-Victors head and I to do not want GSP VS. Silva.. please no. GSP ‘s only chance would be to hold Silva DOWN. THAT has a good probably of being a boring fight OR a RD 1 TK “NO”!       

    RYAN Let me has a go at a radio show PLEASE . I LOVE MMMA and have experience in talking and Fighting:)

  • matthewpolly

    Rev Clint: So I’ve been thinking about this. Obviously, Silva’s one weakness is he can be taken down, but then what? He’s six inches taller than GSP, so GSP’s strikes will barely reach his head from the guard. So GSP has to get to half-guard or side control to deliver any effective GnP. Can he? Silva is no slouch off-his-back and he’ll know this is GSP’s most obvious strategy. More importantly, five rounds means (check my math) a minimum of five take-downs against the best counter-striker in the game who will be expecting takedown attempts. If they were the same size it might be more even, but GSP has to move up a weight class and take his first fight (with no tune-ups) against the best middle weight the world has ever seen. Even Silva didn’t take on the best light-heavyweights when he first jumped up.

  • Reem.Hadouken

    I think you’re totally right about how Anderson Filters out Seagals bullshit but takes bits of it to help his game.

    True genius.

  • Predator8u

    GSP better see through the money and not do it. At least wait until its absolutely necessary there are still fights for both of them. Just none of them would have the nutbustery.

  • Reem.Hadouken


    Vitor is a damn good wrestler and got silva down… but he couldn’t keep him down AT ALL. Just like Hendo couldn’t.

    I think the only reasons Silva stayed down for sonnen was to prove his point about jitz and fight off his back, and the rib Injury.

    If Silva is healthy and wants to get up, he will.

    If you rewatch the fight with Belfort it’s amazing to see him avoid a shot off his back with head movement.

    With GSP lacking any size advantage, which he has on most guys in his own division, I doubt he can hump and pray his way to victory.

  • xfreekx


    Hendo couldn’t keep Silva down? In the first round he took him down and kept him there the whole time.

    Fitch is the same size as GSP if not bigger and GSP was able to take him down at will. Hell, a fat, gassed Lutter was able to take Anderson down multiple times.

    I’m not saying GSP will win but he certainly can.

  • frickshun

    I’ve been working with Andy on some new techniques. He’s going to lean on his back foot for a minimum of 2 seconds……then he’ll fly forward, tucked in a ball while his body spins like a pinwheel. Another technique is throwing a couple of jabs & then his whole body will become electrified.

    This all works in practice.

  • fightfan

    Little off subject….Btu I am surprised I have yet to see a gif of Bones plaing leap frog with Bader. That was some slick shit and almsot got his back with it

  • Blackula Jonez

    Fricks other brazilian student

  • iamphoenix

    dear matthew polly,

    i want to have your babies.

    i love you,


    ps. no homo

    pss ok, homo.

  • Blackula Jonez
  • Blackula Jonez

    the trick seems to be having the accuracy and power to get your instep, outstep or heel to connect with the chin to get that head snap. your opponent will at the very least be stunned/dropped for you to follow up with some ground and pound.


    wonder how long this would take to master and if other fighters will start using this?

  • G Funk

    Stephen Seagal totally trained that guy too! Good gif find Black.

  • matthewpolly

    Excellent gif find, Blackula! And I stand corrected. There are obviously two crazy geniuses in the UFC.

  • G Funk

    So what is your take on the crowd booing Silva and cheering for Belfort Polly? Were they voicing their racial opinions?

    Ryan, the comments box also needs a tone description tag like the last site.

  • G Funk

    You know I’m just bussin your balls a ‘lil bit Polly. If Fightlinker 2.0 had a comment tone selection like the site of old, I would’ve labeled it “joking”

  • frickshun

    ^^I would’ve labeled it “gay pick-up lines”.

  • G Funk

    Polly seems to really attract the sausage here. I wonder if he suffers from this in person.

  • matthewpolly

    Alas, no. But here’s to hoping…