How Powerful Is A Muay Thai Kick?


Muay Thai fighters are known for their powerful kicks, but just how powerful is a Muay Thai kick? I decided to find out.

How powerful is a Muay Thai kick? The strength of the kick will depend on the size of the kicker themselves and their technique. An average Muay Thai roundhouse kick transfers energy similar to the swing of a baseball bat at 480 pounds of force per strike.

The Muay Thai roundhouse is known as the strongest kick in martial arts, but can it kill or break ribs? There are many factors to consider why Muay Thai kicks are so strong.

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How Powerful Is A Muay Thai Kick Exactly?

It is difficult to answer as this will largely vary in the size of the kicker and his/her kicking technique. If you’re interested in why this is and the physics of a roundhouse kick please read more on this blog post.

The American TV show Sports Science, tried to find the hardest Martial Arts kick. The Muay Thai fighter actually broke a maple baseball bat with over 1000 pounds of force registered! 

You can see the video of the experiment down below, although these shows are not known to be the most scientifically accurate.

The problem with identifying power with pounds of force, is it is difficult to understand. For example, I don’t think you can imagine the difference between 600 pounds and 800 pounds of force. So let’s try to think of it differently.

A Muay Thai leg kick can give a strong shock to the leg and cause a lot of damage and numbness. Muay Thai leg kicks are a very important part of the sport and I can tell you how badly they hurt. They have become very popular in MMA recently and every fighter knows how to use them.

You can see the leg kick “power” easier by watching this knockout video. Just imagine the pain of getting your leg kicked by a professional fighter! Ouch!

A roundhouse kick to the body can cause serious damage to the ribs and even break them. Just look at Buakaw, one of the best Muay Thai fighters ever, hitting the heavy bag, below. You can truly feel the power!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uPLnXCng1Q

Although the only real way to “feel” how strong a Muay Thai kick is, is to hold a pad and feel the kinetic power of the kick first hand. This is miles better than hearing some statistic, as you can actually feel the power yourself!

Why Do Muay Thai Fighters Kick So Hard?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lY7AFuqIEA

You might ask yourself how on earth can Muay Thai fighters kicks be so powerful? A large part of it has to do with shin conditioning. This occurs by bone calcification, which is when the body deposits calcium to increase bone density and strengthen bones. You can read more about it here.

I’ve noticed bone calcification myself as my shins get stronger. But it is a long and tedious process and takes years of hard work to get shin bones strong enough to kick shin to shin full power in a professional fight.

This is done by hours and hours of kicking dense, heavy bags and pads and by sparring. The body will come to recognize it needs to strengthen the shin bones with calcium. It is common to break down Banana trees in Thailand to achieve the same effect.

If you need help conditioning your shins as I did, then please check out the fantastic YouTube channel of Sean Fagan a professional fighter who lives in Thailand. He offers 5 tips to condition your shins for Muay Thai down below.

Can A Muay Thai Kick Break A Rib?

animal bone photography

Your ribs are comprised of relatively weak bone and can easily break if kicked in the wrong location. Just look at how easily pork ribs are to break when pulled at a certain angle. On the website, mayoclinic.org ribs can be damaged by:

  • Direct impacts from motor vehicle accidents, falls, or contacts sports
  • Repetitive trauma from sports like golf or rowing
  • Even from severe and prolonged coughing!

Muay Thai is a brutal sport even amongst brutal sports, so clearly a Muay Thai kick can break a rib. I’ve fractured my rib myself from BJJ. A kick breaking a rib will depend on what part of the rib was hit and which specific rib was hit.

Just take a look at this Muay Thai fight where a body kick breaks the opponent’s ribs. These injuries are very common in combat sports and can happen in Muay Thai if you’re having a real fight or even just sparring too hard.

Can A Muay Thai Kick Kill?

We’ve decided a Muay Thai kick can break ribs but can it kill?

Every year a couple of MMA and Muay Thai fighters die in the ring, but it usually involves body complications due to excessive weight cutting which can be super dangerous even if you don’t fight.

Watch this documentary on the dangers of weight cutting for fighters by Thomas Hughes, who is a 2 time North American kickboxer for team USA.

On November 10th, 2018 a 13-year-old Muay Thai fighter died after taking a strike that sends him headfirst in the ground during a charity fight. This unfortunate event showcases the potential dangers of martial arts and Muay Thai in general.

The reason punches and kicks kill is due to the trauma of the strike causing the brain to hit the skull. Think of the brain as a large bouncy ball in a short space, and every time it bounces it twists the brain.

Professor Andrew Kaye, Head of Neurosurgery at The Royal Melbourne Hospital, says to think of the brain like jelly on a plate: When you shake the plate hard enough, the jelly will shake and begin to tear. Just like when you get hit the brain rattles against the skull causing the neurons and cells that make up the brain to be damaged and tear apart.

Many, many conditions can occur if someone is struck by a Muay Thai kick, falls and hits an object or concrete.

Concussion

If you ever get hit or kicked you could experience a concussion. You may or may not lose consciousness, but you may experience brain fog or slow thinking and will most likely have a headache or suffer memory loss, nausea, dizziness and ringing in the ears.

The more concussions you receive the easier is it to get one and you could end up with Post-concussive syndrome (NY times).

Damage To The Brain Stem

If someone gets Muay Thai kicked and their brain shifts, the brain stem can be damaged or torn. A small section of the brain roughly the size of a thumb connects the brain stem to the spinal cord.

This cord has many functions like sorting out your breathing, heartbeat and digestion. Any damage to the brain stem could affect you for life.

Skull Fracture

Probably the most common brain injury due to martial arts, is if a person loses consciousness, falls and hits their head on the ground or an object. This may result in a fractured skull.

A depressed skull fracture will cause broken parts of the skull to press into their brain. This causes the brain to bounce around the skull causing further trauma.

I know this is grim reading but it’s important to know the very real-life applications a Muay Thai kick or punch can have in the street. Check out this visual explanation of how the brain can be damaged in such an attack.

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