If you have ever been hit with a hard knee strike you will know how devastating knees can be. An opponent who is good at controlling the distance can land devastating knee strikes that are difficult to block.

When you talk about defending the knee it is important to understand the basics of the knee strike. The knee is a straight forward strike, so if we want to defend against it we can either block, parry, or avoid the knee.

Learning how to defend against knee strikes is a skill that takes practice. The basic defense against a knee strike is to raise your lead leg and block the incoming knee. This defense works well if you are at a distance from your opponent and have time to block the incoming knee. However, if you are in close range you won’t have time to raise your knee for the defense.

Another effective defense against the knee is to extend your arm out and stiff arm your opponent’s upper chest. This will push them back, taking away a lot of the force behind the knee. This is a defense that can work, but sometimes good knee strikers will find a way to land their knee regardless of your push.

One of the most effective ways to defend against knee strikes is to circle out away from the power of the knee. This is a defensive tactic that is suitable for advanced students. If you are a beginner don’t worry about trying to circle away from knee strikes, just focus on blocking the incoming knee with your lead leg.

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In this video below, Sam-A demonstrates how to circle away from a knee strike by parrying the knee and stepping out at the same time. This is a technique that utilizes a combination of footwork and hand defense to avoid taking damage from the knee.

Video: Knee Defense with Sam-A

Tips for Improving

To pull off this knee defense you need to have good timing in order to avoid the knee. If you try to move too early, your opponent can adjust his strike and still land his knee. If you are too slow, you won’t be able to get out of the way in time.

It is important to circle away from the outside of your opponent’s knee. If your opponent is throwing a right knee, you circle out to your left. Conversely, if your opponent is throwing a left knee you circle to your right. This puts you out of your opponent’s line of fire and sets you up for a good counter strike. Circling the wrong way can put you in a bad position, so make sure you practice this technique against left and right knees so you develop the correct footwork.

The best way to develop the right footwork is to practice with a partner at a slow pace in order to develop your timing. Work on this technique whenever you get a chance to clinch or spar so you can do it without having to think about it.

As I mentioned before, this knee defense is not going to work for beginners. If you are a beginner use the lead leg block or the stiff arm to stop incoming knee attacks. Once you develop better overall footwork and movement, you can start practicing on circling out when your opponent is coming forward.

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This knee defense works great against tall fighters who like to use their long knees. When someone is a lot taller than you, pushing them as they knee doesn’t work because they cover too much distance. Sometimes even lead leg blocks don’t work because they can knee over your block.

Parrying the knee strikes and circling out of the knees is the best way to avoid the knees of taller knee fighters. This drill will help you develop natural movement in the ring.

One of the reasons why Saenchai is the best fighter in the world is because of his next level footwork. Learning how to circle out from incoming fighters is a skill that is develop in training.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you want to incorporate any technique into your game you need to practice that technique over and over until you don’t have to think about it. You can never be too good at anything; you can always improve.

Take your time to work on your footwork and this technique will be a lot easier to pull off. Remember that good footwork will make you a difficult fighter to counter. Nobody likes facing someone that they can’t hit.

Special thanks to Sam-A for demonstrating this technique. If you want to train with Sam-A you can visit him over at Evolve Vacation to learn more.