Technique Guide:The Shogun Kick

Welcome to the first installment of a new weekly series here on 7#, wherein I will breakdown some of the most exciting and awe inspiring striking techniques in MMA.  As strikers have evolved to a point where they are confident enough in their defensive wrestling to find openings for these high risk/high reward techniques, fans are treated to a whole new set of attacks unfamiliar to most.  From Cung  Le’s back kick to Edson Barboza’s wheel kick, these techniques add an exciting and interesting new wrinkle to the MMA game.

Note:  This article is for informational purposes only, I’m not your instructor teaching you how to do this.  If you want to learn find a martial arts gym near you.  In other words, don’t sue me when you are pretending you’re Shogun in your basement, kick the end table and split your foot open.

First, we are going to examine one of the signature moves of one of the sports most talented strikers; UFC on Fox 4 Headliner Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s legendary Shogun Kick.

The name “Shogun Kick” has been used to describe the technique since he opened the Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Finals by throwing it completely over Ricardo Arona’s head.  He has trained it for years, though he has used it sparingly.  He famously passed the technique on to Kazushi Sakuraba during Saku’s time training at the Chute Boxe academy late in his career, though Saku has never thrown it in competition to my knowledge.

The Shogun Kick

The Shogun Kick is really two separate moves: a back-foot roundhouse setup followed immediately by a tornado roundhouse.  The key to success in this technique is the setup.  If you don’t sell the roundhouse or misjudge your opponents reaction the kick is doomed.  Another very important aspect is that once you have turned your shoulders away from your opponent, you must complete the tornado roundhouse with violence and urgency.  Any delay is time for your opponent to escape.

When it works:

1) When your opponent has tasted your back-foot roundhouse: If he fears it already he will often move back as soon as you start to throw it.  The tornado roundhouse to follow can cover a ton of distance if you need it to with great speed.

2) If your opponent wing blocks everything: The tornado roundhouse is vastly more powerful than a regular high kick, as you have a much bigger motion of the hips and a lot of momentum moving into it.  If your opponent elects to throw his hands up like a boxer instead of getting out of the way he can easily have his forearms driven into he head hard enough to be knocked out anyway.  Or have his arm broken ala Shamrock/Le.

3) When you know the distance and timing: To use this kick effectively you must drill the tornado round from many different distances.  It can be a short turn or a long, chasing turn that covers a lot of ground.  Equally as important is to watch your opponent for as long as you can during the tornado (NOT like I did in the GIF above, turning my head too soon).  If your opponent stays put and you throw a long, reaching kick he will smother it, and you will most likely end up on your back.  Contrastingly, if your opponent moves back quickly throw a short tornado and he will watch you fall short and probably hurt you with a counter attack as soon as your feet hit the ground.

When it doesn’t:

1) When your opponent doesn’t respect your roundhouse:  He won’t react to the initial movement, and he will simply evade your tornado kick.

2) When you over commit:  If you throw the initial roundhouse thinking “I am going to tornado, no matter what.”   This will often leave you in a vulnerable position.  You must see your opponent react to your set up before committing to the second kick.  There is a point of no return, where there is no turning back safely.  Make sure your opening is there before you cross that line.

3) When you haven’t put in the practice:  If you haven’t thrown hundreds of these in the gym, in sparring and on pads, you shouldn’t throw one in competition.  Your confidence will not be properly developed, and your timing and distance will likely be such that you will do more harm than good when you are taken down or counter struck.

Keys to the Technique:

Stay flat: There is a saying in Tae Kwon Do,”Fight like you’re on ice, not on a pogo stick”.  In the tornado kick, resist the urge to jump up while throwing the kick.  I did not do this well in the GIF above, as you can clearly see my hips slowing behind me as my body rises into the kick.  Your feet will both be airborne, but your head should stay roughly the same height throughout the whole kick.  The flatter you stay, the faster and harder you kick, and your opponent has less time to escape.

Speed and Violence: Once you pass the point of no return on the tornado round, you must explode your hips and core through the kick as fast as possible.  Your opponent will have less time to move between your seeing him before the turn and your shin slamming into his his skull.  And this is always a good thing.


Well, that is it for this week.  Want to tell me how wrong I am?  Want to tell me how awesome it is?  Want to give me shit for having a filthy garage with a milk crate partially blocking the view?  Let me know in the comments.


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  1. IS this normal speed?

    2 Questions.
    Can the tornado be thrown at a different angle than the roundhouse?
    Can we swap the tornado for a low kick instead of a high?

    How about Collin’s Class? Alliteration rooles!

  2. No, it is slowed down quite a bit.

    Yes. It can be thrown to either side, if your opponent moves laterally. This takes a lot of practice, but it is definitely possible. You just shorten the turn and kick sooner or elongate it slightly to follow someone moving to away from the kicking foot. The most important thing here is to watch your opponent as long as possible to be able to make adjustments like that mid-kick.

    You can make either of the kicks as high or low as you want to. Another good thing to do is mix them up: make the setup a high kick, bring the defenses up, and then drill the body with the tornado. And if you throw the tornado to the lead leg, it does as much damage as at least two low kicks.

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