Have you ever been told to keep your hands up or stop reaching to grab your opponent’s kicks in sparring?

Little mistakes that you make in sparring, can end up forming into long-term habits if you don’t correct them over time. If you develop a habit of blocking kicks with your arm, you will wish you learned how to properly block kicks when your arms are numb from shins smashing into those arms.

We can all agree that dropping your hands or not blocking kicks is a bad habit, however, there are other bad habits that can easily go undetected if you don’t have someone correct you in training. One of these other habits is always reaching to grab your opponent’s kicks.

While good fighters will grab their opponent’s kicks if they miss a block, there are some fighters out there that always try to catch their opponent’s kicks.

If you develop a habit of catching your opponent’s kicks, good fighters can take advantage of those habits.

If I know that you are going to grab my leg when I kick, I will set you up for a head kick or throw a fake kick and follow it with an overhand right punch.

To help me illustrate this point better, here is a real-life example of a fighter who gets repeatedly caught by punches as he grabs his opponent’s leg.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Grab Your Opponent’s Leg

When it comes to the ring, it is important to try to be as unpredictable as possible. If your opponent cannot anticipate your next move, it makes you a harder person to face.

If you constantly try to grab your opponent’s leg, you will leave your chin exposed and be open for your opponent to counter you.

This fight between Erhan Gungor (blue shorts) vs. Billy Williams (yellow shorts) showcases what can happen if you develop a bad habit of always grabbing your opponent’s leg.

Watch the fight below or you can skip to the analysis to see why Billy ends up losing the fight. 

Fight Breakdown – A Bad Habit that Leads to Multiple Knockdowns

This fight between Erhan Gungor vs. Billy Williams provides a good example of the dangers of bad habits.

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In the first round, both fighters looked even and traded blows throughout. As the fighters were feeling each other out, the fight was close.

The first time Billy caught he opponent’s leg, he was able to pull off a nice sweep. This happens in the first 40 seconds of the fight and it was well executed.

Notice how Billy leans back as he catches the kick and raises his opponent’s leg, this puts him out of danger from the right punch. The only thing Billy could have done better would be to step to the side to reduce the impact of the kick. but otherwise, it is good execution.

Billy is able to catch his opponent’s leg and pull off a nice sweep.

Following the sweep, both fighters exchange a few punches and missed kicks as neither fighter could establish a good rhythm.

The next time Erhan (blue shorts) throws a right body kick, you can see Billy (yellow shorts) again going for that leg grab. However, this time it is unsuccessful and he misses it.

Notice how he attempts to grab the leg again.

Luckily for Billy, his opponent throws a body kick and doesn’t take advantage of his dropped arm. This is often how fighters like Superlek are able to get a high amount of head kick knockouts.

Up until this point, the fight is an even back and forth affair. Both fighters are trading some punches and kicks, but nothing significant has landed all fight.

Then this happens.

Billy once again reaches for his opponent’s right low kick and gets caught with a straight right on the jaw.

Notice the difference between this kick catch and the first technique. Billy is walking forward into his opponent’s punch, instead of leaning back and raising his opponent’s leg to throw him off balance like he did the first time.

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After the flash knockdown, Billy should have stopped going for his opponent’s leg. He should have learned his lesson from that flash knockdown, but unfortunately, bad habits die hard.

Less than 10 seconds after the first knockdown the following happens.

Again, Billy grabs on a teep in close range and refuses to let go. This results in him getting dropped from multiple punches to the chin.

While the referee should have given the Billy (yellow shorts) an 8 count, he lets them fight on. After this sequence, the Billy never recovers and gets dropped by punches right after.

Before the round expires, Billy catches his opponent’s leg after a teep for the second time in a row.

Instead of letting go, Billy is determined to get another sweep. This results in him taking more punishment to the chin.

As you can see, Billy’s natural instinct to grab his opponent’s leg cost him 3 knockdowns in the first round.

Billy would get saved by the bell in the first round, but he ended up getting TKOed at the start of the second round. He was never able to fully recover from the first few knockdowns that resulted from grabbing his opponent’s leg.

Bad Habits Can Cost You A Fight

If Billy didn’t get knocked down multiple times from grabbing his opponent’s leg, this fight could have played out differently.

While Billy had a few other bad habits like leaving his hands down and not tucking in his chin, catching his opponent’s kick was the habit that would lead to his loss.

Final Thoughts

Every technique has a time and a place.

If you want to have long-term success in the ring, it is important that you establish good habits and eliminate bad ones.

Good habits like keeping your hands in front of your face, properly blocking kicks with your legs, and maintaining your composure will help keep you safe in the ring.

Even though you can get away with little mistakes in sparring, the ring is less forgiving. When your opponent is swinging full power wearing 8 oz gloves, one bad habit is all it takes to lose a fight in the blink of an eye.

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi