The best kickboxing training comes from repeating the same ten kickboxing drills in different orders and degrees of focus. Although each bout has infinite variety, that variety comes from different applications of a limited number of basic skills.
- Shin conditioning. Kick an 80 or 100 pound heavy bag with your shins as hard as you can without undue pain. Like stretching, aim for serious discomfort but no actual agony. Over time, you'll build up the threshold where that is.
- Floating bag. Punch or kick a heavy bag until it's 45 degrees from its hanging position. Using only legal kickboxing strikes, keep it there for one, two, or three minutes.
- Rib kicks. Practice with a sparring partner. Stand in front of each other, taking turns giving a 60 to 75 percent power roundhouse kick to the strong ribs near your partner's armpit. The kicker practices control and target acquisition. The kickee practices breathing and flexing to minimize the effect of a strike. Keep your hands on your heads during this drill to avoid accidentally kicked fingers.
- Medicine ball toss. Stand in front of your sparring partner in a stable stance while holding a medicine ball. Throw the ball with both hands at your partner's abdomen, aiming for the stomach and avoiding the groin and solar plexus. Your partner allows the ball to bounce off the ab muscles and into his hands. Then he throws the ball at your gut. This kickboxing drill trains good breathing techniques while building core muscles.
- Numbered combinations. Agree on a number each for four to six combinations. For example, number one could be a roundhouse kick followed by a jab and hook. One partner holds kick pads and calls the numbers in random order. The other partner performs the combinations as commanded.
- Cat and mouse. Perform this kickboxing drill in the ring with a sparring partner. Using only footwork and body position, the "cat" partner tries to trap the other against the ropes and in the corner. The "mouse" uses only footwork and position to avoid being trapped. Switch roles at the end of each round.
- Roundhouse knockdown. Stand in front of a well-filled, free standing heavy bag. Use a roundhouse kick to knock it down. Drill until you can reliably do this with a single kick. If training for MMA, follow up the knockdown with ground and pound techniques.
- Push kick. This kickboxing skill is vital for gaining needed space. Throw a front kick at a 100-pound heavy bag, aiming to push the bag as far as possible rather than striking the bag with force. At first, you'll be as likely to push yourself away from the bag as you are to push the bag away from you. Practice until the bag swings but you don't move an inch.
- The gimp. This is standard sparring with one or more limbs disallowed. You can tie the limb down or just agree not to use it. This drill is great for forcing you to use strikes you're not confident with and to help you dissect strategy for bout planning.
- Range drills. Stand in front of your sparring partner or heavy bag, at a range where you can comfortably throw and land kicks. Shuffle back one foot. Explosively get into range and deliver a combination, then shuffle out of range again.
For best results, combine these ten kickboxing drills with a regular regimen of resistance exercise, roadwork and simple partner sparring.
Bill Packer, Kickboxing Trainer, AKKA, Albuquerque, NM
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