Leg Kicks and Take Downs: Like Flowing Water, Devastating Over Time

Todd JacksonSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2010

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 27:  UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre (top) battles Dan Hardy during their Welterweight title bout at UFC 111 at the Prudential Center on March 27, 2010 in Newark, New Jersey.  St-Pierre won by Unanimous Decision at 5:00 of the 5th round.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

When the MMA fan reflects back on what they consider to be the most exciting fight he or she has ever seen, it is not uncommon to hear about some knock-down, drag-out battle between two competitors who left it all in the cage or ring.

The memories flood back to the brain as they recall "The Predator" vs. Takayama, Griffin vs. Bonnar, Garcia vs. "The Korean Zombie", or any number of wars that resonate on their brain and bring a smile to their face.

The exciting back and forth of destruction, pain, heart, and pride is nothing short of astonishing to those who take in MMA as a spectator. What these warriors accomplish and what they endure is more than enough to make most human beings run home to momma.

It is the suspended reality of watching such a thing unfold before one's eyes that really drives a person to watch. To see someone step up and do something those watching could never dare to attempt, never muster the courage to endure, is what captivates many a fight fan.

To see Don Frye grab the back of Takayama's head only to deliver and receive a violent barrage of pain with one goal in mind reminds people of just how normal their lives really are. How could they ever allow themselves to be involved in such a raw display of power and bravery?

While that riveting style of battle is one of the most captivating aspects to this sport, there is obviously very much more than just all out open war. The imagery of reckless abandon in the heat of a battle is only the very tip of an iceberg that harbors much more of a technical side than any crazed frenzy it can produce.

While the casual fight fan craves for two warriors to drop all reservation and go to war, that technical side is what the more trained eye thrives upon. That science of true war, or chess as it may seem, really grabs hold of an entirely different style of fight fan.

The acquired taste of the technical side of the sport provides its own level of entertainment to those with a taste for the more elegant flavors of MMA. It is with that in mind that the focus can turn to the subtleties of the sport to see where a fighter may gain an edge for victory.

This is where the less sexy, less flashy, yet equally valuable and effective game plan is implemented.

This is where attacks such as the leg kick and the take down become the knockout punch.

While this knockout may not be the flash of lighting variety, it is more like a brook of water winding down a hill, carving its own path with a constant unstoppable force of inevitability.

The fight fan need look no further than two of MMA's most popular stars to find cold hard evidence of this theory to solidify the point being made.

In his most recent fight with Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy, UFC Welterweight Champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre put on a take down clinic in defense of his UFC strap. While it was not his only weapon against the British banger, it was the repeated nail in the coffin for the challenger.

While Hardy had the tools necessary in his arsenal to become the champ, his tool bag was locked closed by the expertise of GSP, and his ability to neutralize any threat Hardy could muster.

By firmly imprinting on Hardy's mind that he could be taken down at will with little to no warning, it took Hardy to a different place in his game plan. Quite honestly, it very well may have been his game plan to avoid the take down all together, and when he couldn't, imagine his frustration throughout a five round championship tilt.

While that take down does the obvious and scores points favorably with officials, it does much more than that when considering its effect on the fight itself, and the competitors. The take down is a multi-layer tool that punishes in so many ways.

It is not the most painful attack, but it is demoralizing as well as being a huge consumer of the vital energy needed to survive in this sport. A take down will rarely knock an opponent out cold, but it can suck the essence right out of a fighter's heart as they continually strive to avoid or recover.

As the science of MMA progresses, the take down will become one of the most heavily utilized aspects of the game. This is very much why the pure wrestler is one of the most dominant base fighting styles in the game today.

As for the leg kick, one name in recent memory reflects the most devastating clinic of lower body immobilization the sport may have ever seen: Jose Aldo. What Aldo was able to do to one of MMA's most elite super stars via the leg kick was absolutely painful to watch.

"The California Kid" was not quite invincible but was never thought of as easy prey by any stretch of the imagination. Aldo and his lethal barrage of leg kicks proved just how easy of prey a guy like Faber can become if a game plan is upheld, especially if that game plan involved destroying the foundation of any attack Faber intended to fabricate.

What Aldo did to Faber in their WEC title match was far more devastating than any flash knockout could ever be. No one, not one fan of the sport, ever would have taken a bet if they had been asked if they thought it possible to see Urijah Faber carried back to his corner by trainers midway through a title match.

That is exactly what happened to Faber after repeated devastating blows of raw Aldo shin connecting with the soft tissue found just above his knees. The resounding thud that echoed through Faber's body over and over again began to resonate not only with the fighter but everyone looking on.

They say this sport is barbaric. Well, there is not much a more grueling event to watch than five rounds of Jose Aldo with a plan of attack that includes chopping down his world class opponent to the point that showed Faber's corner question his ability to find his way back to his stool in between rounds.

The leg kick is such an underutilized yet profoundly effective attack stemming heavily from the roots of Muay Thai. After watching Aldo it has become painfully obvious that it can be one of the most devastating attacks the game knows if administered consistently and effectively.

These are two of a multitude of examples of just how deadly or devastating something as simple as a kick to the leg or a trip to the mat can be over the course of a 15 or 25 minute bout. They are attacks that syphon not only energy but will from an opponent as they score points in the eyes of judges.

They may not be as motivating to the fight fan as a seven second knockout or thunderous head kick, but rest assured any fighter who has endured such devastating repeated attacks would probably deep down inside have preferred the quick KO long before 15 minutes of abuse to their legs or endurance.

Behold the leg kick, admire the take down. They are very much a part of the mosaic puzzle known as mixed martial arts. The puzzle could not be complete without these very crucial pieces. As MMA progresses, look for both to become more and more utilized as their obvious effects continue to impact the outcomes of such important matches.

This article originally featured at hurtsbad.com