An axe kick, also known as a hammer kick or a stretch kick, is characterized by a straightened leg descending onto an opponent like the blade of an axe. The kick begins with one foot rising up in an arcing motion, stopping above the head of the opponent and striking downward. The kicking arc motion can be performed in an inward and outward fashion and brought down with devastating power. While it is a more common technique in karate and kickboxing, is it a viable kicking technique for MMA?
One of the most well known axe kick artists was Swiss Kyokushinkai Karateka Andy Hug. See how he demonstrates the technique below:
When executed correctly, you can see how this kick can have devastating power from an unexpected angle of attack. The axe kick is rarely if ever seen in MMA from a standing position. That lone supporting leg becomes a very enticing target for takedowns and kicks while attacker loads up the arc of their attack. However, the axe kick has been attempted in MMA with some success. Cro Cop was able to pull off an axe kick against Mark Hunt in Pride Shockwave and against Pat Barry at UFC 115.
Both axe kicks by Cro Cop were a deceiving strike. Hunt brings up his shin to block a body kick and Barry has his right forearm up to block a head kick. Axe kicks have been pulled off successfully in MMA, but it’s hard to say wether or not it will ever be a legitimate striking technique. It’s more common to see the axe kick come from an attacker to a downed opponent to avoid a stomping foul in MMA. That being said, MMA is a very adaptive sport. Once someone has proven that a spinning back fist or a crane kick can bring devastating KO power in the cage, everyone takes note.
Do you think the axe kick is a viable technique for standing strikes in MMA? Who do you think is the right athlete to pull it off?