Yesterday in Muay Thai, we were practicing the side kick, and I wasn't clear on how it's different from the front kick. I mean, I get how the technique is different, but it seems like the two kicks accomplish exactly the same goals in a fight. I haven't tried it in sparring yet, but I hoped someone here could help me understand how it works.
Originally Posted by Asaris
There's a difference between reach angle and delivery. Also this is the first time I'd ever heard of a sidekick being thrown in Muay Thai. Also, if you can't tell the difference between the two your instructor may not be teaching you correctly.
Both are thrusting kicks that drive the hip into the target to knock it back, but a front kick will have the hip square to the front, while the side kick will have the hip turned to the side. So, you use the one with the better suited hip angle.
The side kick can be thrown when the hip is turned away from the opponent. The hip turns away from the opponent when doing roundhouse kicks. This means that the side kick may be delivered right after a fake or failed round kick since the hip will already be turned.
You can also incorporate the side kick with lateral or triangular sidesteps. I use a crashing side kick in stickfighting while engaging up high with sticks. This is done by stepping forward and outward and then kicking on the opposite line. I wouldn't feel as good about using a front kick here, although I suppose it could work.
Savate also has a leg dynamic used in side kicks that doesn't really have an analog with front kicks. Do some savate research and you'll see that there's ways of applying the side kick that don't apply to the front kick.
The front kick will lend itself to other situations. Since its thrown with the hips square, its already primed to go from a MT stance, so less of a need for a setup. When people use a side kick as their go-to fighting stance push kick, they'll tend to stand sideways to get the right hip angle, which is great for sidekicks but bad for most other things, since the lead leg can't check in a square position easily and the back hand can't be brought into play as easily.
The side kick also requires the supporting foot to pivot more to allow the hip angle. This pivot and weight shift makes a lot of side kicks into a 2-move motion, like when Bruce Lee hops in with his back leg and then kicks with the front. I find that the first little step often tips off the opponent, so I try to hide the leg adjustment in different ways since I point my heel at whatever I'm sidekicking, something I'd otherwise not do. Front kick should also have some adjustment but its a little easier to mask.
Range of the sidekick tends to be longer.
Originally Posted by Permalost
Thanks, that's very helpful.
Side kick also tends to be a more powerful kick, while the front kick is a lot faster to pull off, depending on how your standing of course.
Also, front kick can be executed with the heel or the ball of the foot. Side kick is never done with the ball of the foot.
Sidekicks can also very useful to the intended target, particularly when attempted without set-up or feint.
All that hip-turning, raising the knee and getting the foot into that super-awesome chambered position is such a lengthy process (compared to, say, punches) that the opponent can close range just as the kicker is about to unleash the kick's seismic fury.
With the chambered leg now trapped between kicker and intended target, the erstwhile kicker has an epic choice: try to kick anyway, only to find that--being the person with only one foot on the ground compared to his adversary's two--he ends up projecting himself into the nearest wall. Either that or don't kick and end up thrown down under the opponent's side control.
Sidekick is the best kick ever.
In MT, we only covered sidekicks for half a minute, to the effect of "if you miss your roundhouse, need to create space, and have NO OTHER OPTION, maybe try this (but probably don't)". I've never seen it used in a MT fight before, but obviously there are situations that may call for it.
I find the teep more useful, especially when kicking Rick James out a motherfuckin' window.
Cung Le's "San Shou" has a good chapter on effective side kicking.
One thing he mentions is that when side kicking, you can lean back and keep your head out of striking range with more stability and regain balance/stance easier than with a frontal kick.
He also mentions its easier to properly snap a side kick ("like a wet towel") and return than with a frontal kick, and that a "common mistake" among fighters is to push their kicks instead of snapping them, which can cause "little to no damage".
I know this is one of my difficulties. (With kicks and punches both!)
Originally Posted by W. Rabbit