Which Martial Arts Kicks Are the Strongest? 3 Power Kicking Arts

There are many powerful kicks in martial arts, but the exact amount of power you deliver with them will depend on your strength, form, and execution. Supposing that you do everything right, which martial arts kicks are the strongest?

The strongest martial arts kicks are side and spinning back kicks in Taekwondo, the round kick in Muay Thai, and the turning side kick in Capoeira. Another highly powerful and dangerous kick in Capoeira is the meia lua de compasso.

The rest of this article will discuss the strongest martial arts kicks in greater detail. It will also discuss practical ways to learn these kicks and how fighting styles affect kick power.

Are Muay Thai Kicks Effective?

Muay Thai kicks are incredibly effective and can cause severe damage to an opponent. Muay Thai features some of the most powerful martial arts kicks, particularly the roundhouse kick. The elbow and knee strikes in Muay Thai are highly effective too.

In Muay Thai, it’s not just the kicks that are effective. Fighters can use many parts of the body for striking opponents:

  • Elbows: You can use your elbows in many ways when fighting in Muay Thai. Examples are diagonal strikes, horizontal strikes, and uppercuts.
  • Knees: A powerful knee strike can knock out an opponent.
  • Legs: Many Muay Thai kicks can be highly effective with proper form and technique.
  • Arms (hands): There are many valuable and effective punches in Muay Thai, including the jab and swing.

In Muay Thai, fighters are often trained to kick with a straight leg. This means the knees are kept straight rather than bent. Because of this, the shins build strength, making for stronger kicks. 

Many Muay Thai fighters injure their shins and then give them time to repair. This process is known as shin conditioning, and it allows the shins to get stronger each time the bones repair themselves. It is the reason Muay Thai fighters have such strong shins.

For most Muay Thai practitioners it is usually a better idea to just pick up high-quality shin guards like these that are available on Amazon and are popular at almost any gym that trains Muay Thai kickboxing.

What Is the Most Powerful Kick in Muay Thai?

The most powerful kick in Muay Thai is the roundhouse kick. This kick primarily comes from the hips rather than the knees, so your leg should be relatively straight. It’s a simple and effective kick that can seriously injure an opponent.

Roundhouse Kicks

There are different roundhouse kicks in Muay Thai, but they all originate from the hips. The most powerful one is the low kick. Almost all professional fighters compare this kick to hitting an opponent with a baseball bat.

To make it even more powerful, you’ll need to practice it often and train your body in other ways, especially your hips.

Kettlebell swings are great exercises for your hips and overall body strength. Knee lifts and leg raises are other excellent exercises to strengthen your hips.

Muay Thai roundhouse kicks are popular in MMA. If you want to reach proficiency in the sport, being able to do powerful roundhouse kicks is a must.

Are Taekwondo Kicks Effective?

Taekwondo kicks are effective, but the sport overall is not as effective at building overall striking capabilities as Muay Thai. Taekwondo is heavily focused on a range of kicks rather than punches and other types of strikes but is performed without a heavy sparring focus which lowers effectiveness.

Taekwondo skills alone likely won’t be enough to beat your opponent in real-life fights. Although you can learn powerful kicks, you won’t learn how to apply them in a real fight situation through Taekwondo.

Other striking arts like Muay Thai include realistic fighting situations like clinching, striking within the clinch, and using basic foot sweeps to bring your opponent to the ground.

If you are interested in pure self-defense applications, it is a good idea to include other martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai to supplement your Taekwondo training.

Taekwondo kicks are trained very frequently and to a high technical skill at the highest levels, and these martial artists can have more control and speed than many other martial arts. In this martial art, kicks come from the top of the foot rather than the shins, giving them maximal range and a high impact velocity due to additional leverage. 

What Is the Most Powerful Kick in Taekwondo?

The most powerful kicks in Taekwondo are the sidekicks. The sidekicks use many muscles and parts of the body, including the hamstrings, hips, shins, and quads, making them powerful. Engaging the hips in rotation alongside using the stationary leg for stability makes these kicks powerful.

To perform the sidekick in Taekwondo, you must raise your leg and knee while rotating approximately 90 degrees. Your upper body strength will then help swing your leg, creating a stronger impact velocity.

Standard sidekicks are quite effective, but where Taekwondo really shines is when you take the sidekicks and add additional momentum. This can happen through either adding a skipping motion to build momentum or finding additional rotation of your hips such as when you are executing a spinning back kick.

You can use sidekicks in MMA, but they aren’t too popular. The reason is that, because of their narrow stance, they expose you to attacks and are relatively easy to grab a leg and transition into a takedown.

It’s common to be slightly off-balance or turned away from your opponent after a sidekick. This certainly wouldn’t work in your favor in MMA.

Roundhouse Kick

Another powerful kick in Taekwondo is the roundhouse kick. The roundhouse kick is one of the most common types of kick, and you can see it across most martial arts. 

Proper execution is essential for this kick. With poor execution, it won’t be nearly as effective as it could be.

The Taekwondo roundhouse kick begins the same way as the front leg kick. You must raise your kicking knee in the air and then pivot so that your foot rotates around. Then you throw your kick, bring it back, and let your leg land.

Roundhouse kicks are powerful because they use the hip flexors, abs, glutes, hamstrings, and quads. Training all these areas along is key to delivering powerful roundhouse kicks.

Are Capoeira Kicks Effective?

Capoeira kicks can be effective with proper technique and strength. Many Capoeira kicks require significant skill and practice to execute and can be pretty technical. Capoeira also has the highest overall athletic requirements to execute kicks effectively.

Many Capoeira kicks require full-body power and momentum rather than one or two particular muscles, which is why they are slightly tricky to learn—but this is also what makes them so powerful.

Capoeira is also effective for learning better movement and agility. By practicing Capoeira, you can gain better balance and even the ability to better understand body language, especially in terms of combat sports situations.

In terms of real-life fighting and self-defense, it isn’t the most effective martial art to learn. However, knowing some Capoeira kicks and strikes together with other martial arts can prepare you for real-life fights.

An example of a strong Capoeira kick is the gancho. The gancho often works by tricking your opponent into thinking that you’re kicking them straight on, but then you switch the positioning of your foot at the last second. So, this kick can cause significant damage to an opponent.

However, arguably the most famous and influential Capoeira kick is the meia lua de compasso, which uses the ball of the foot on impact.

Why Did the Capoeira Kick Produce the Most Force?

The meia lua de compasso Capoeira kick produces the most force because it requires full-body movement executed with power. Since most kicks involve less momentum and fewer muscle groups, they won’t usually have as much impact as the meia lua de compasso.

Although the meia lua de compasso produces the most force, it is a complicated kick that takes a lot of time and practice to get right. This is why many Capoeira and MMA fighters generally don’t incorporate these kicks into their training routines.

Below, I will discuss the technique of this powerful kick in greater detail.

  • Understand that you need to use your body weight. The first thing to know when it comes to the meia lua de compasso kick is that you need to focus the weight from your entire body into the heel of your kicking foot.
  • Start with legs wider than your hips. You should slightly bend your knees as you’re in this stance.
  • Rotate using one of your legs. You’ll need to rotate with your leg and face your back to your opponent, leaning all your weight onto the foot you turned with. Your heels and hips should be facing toward your opponent.
  • Place both hands on the floor. You must have both hands fully on the floor, and your kicking leg should be straight. The other one should be slightly bent.
  • Throw the kick. Once you’re in the correct position, you can throw your kick. This kick is very round and requires a lot of balance, so you should start slow and work your way up to a quicker speed.

To make the meia lua de compasso kick as powerful as possible, you should hit the target with your heel rather than any other part of your foot. To do this, you must keep your foot parallel to the floor. 

Before throwing the kick, it’s essential to keep your hands and upper body slightly twisted rather than straight ahead. This will make the kick more powerful. 

Since you aren’t facing your opponent for the first part of this technique, it’s essential to know precisely where the target is before getting into position. This is one of the reasons this kick is so challenging to execute.

As you improve your technique, you can attempt different variations of the meia lua de compasso, like the no-hand version. 

The meia lua de compasso is a rare kick, but it is highly effective in an MMA match if executed correctly. 

Check out the short video below to see the effective execution of a meia lua de compasso kick in an MMA fight:

What Is the Hardest Kick To Learn in Martial Arts?

The hardest kicks to learn in martial arts are spinning kicks because they require great balance, full-body strength, and impeccable technique. One of the most challenging spinning kicks is the meia lua de compasso, but any kick that involves twisting and full-body spinning will be hard.

Although spinning kicks tend to be the hardest to learn and master, they are also the strongest. The spinning of the body creates momentum, transferring much more power than a regular straight kick.

If you want to learn difficult and powerful martial arts kicking techniques, you should focus on one of the many spinning kicks. 

Taekwondo Spinning Hook Kick

Another example of a difficult martial arts kick is the Taekwondo spinning hook kick. This spinning kick requires a complete 360-degree turn, requiring great agility and balance.

To do the basic Taekwondo spinning hook kick, you first need to spin and turn your back to your opponent. Then, you should kick backward—diagonally rather than with a straight back. You’ll spin back around to finish off the 360-degree turn as you finish the kick.

How Strong Can a Kick Be?

A kick can be extremely powerful, to the point where it knocks an opponent out cold or even injures them. However, the maximum strength of a kick will depend on a combination of the physical attributes of the fighter alongside technical proficiency in the specific technique.

Some of the strongest kicks can be found in Muay Thai, particularly the lower kicks. Throwing one strong lower kick in Muay Thai can instantly injure the opponent and end the match.

Some high-level fighters can kick with a force of up to 9000 newtons. However, this is only true for the most skilled fighters.

Because kicks can take advantage of your entire body weight and use more muscles, they can get to be much stronger than a punch. That is not to say they are more effective—kicks are slower and more difficult to land. But if you can do both things right, your strikes will become much more effective.

What Fighting Style Has the Strongest Kick?

Capoeira has the strongest kick, the meia lua de compasso. The involvement of the entire body and spinning creates immense momentum but is very difficult to execute. Muay Thai has powerful knees and kicking techniques that are more likely to be useful in a fighting context.

Taekwondo has many alternate powerful kicking techniques, mostly centered around their variations of sidekicks. There are many strong Taekwondo sidekicks, but the spinning back kick sidekick is probably the most powerful one due to the involvement of full-body rotation which generates momentum and impact velocity.

Final Thoughts

There are many good options for learning very powerful kicking techniques in martial arts. Muay Thai is the gold standard for power kicks within the overall context of being a good fighter in terms of striking. Muay Thai is the best choice for somebody who wants to be the best fighter that they can be that also wants to emphasize power-kicking competency.

Taekwondo also has great power kicks but is a bit more traditional and less capable in terms of overall striking capabilities.

Capoeira is an interesting blend of acrobatics alongside very athletic kicks that can generate a surprising amount of impact velocity since it utilizes the full body and more momentum but at the cost of a very high execution floor.

For more check out Which Martial Art Uses the Most Kicks? 5 Best Kicking Arts


Hi, I'm Andre and I am the author of this website. I currently train primarily in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but supplement with other grappling martial arts as well as help to coach my kid's blended grappling program.

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