Hello everyone, this is a Wolfman Breakdown on the use of Super Low Calf Sweep Kicks prompted by their use by both Cub Swanson and Dustin Poirer in their fight this past weekend at UFC on Fuel TV 7!
I have been making many videos on this subject and putting them on Youtube and The Underground MixedMartialArts.com forum trying to perpetuate their use by fighters since August 11th, 2012 when Benson Henderson used it against Frankie Edger in their second fight.
I actually had been using these kicks for months before that (the first kick in my sparring highlight video I made for you guys at Kings MMA was actually four days before Henderson/Edger 2). Training occasionally with Kickboxing legend Sensei Benny “The Jet” Urquidez really got me thinking about using these kick sweeps.
In May 2012 I actually started sparring at Black House regularly for a few months leading up to Lyoto Machida’s fight against Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4. Sparring the likes of Lyoto, TUF 17’s Keven Casey, and Roger Gracie really got me using these techniques looking for any advantage.
This is especially true because 6’4″ Jiu-jitsu MASTER Roger Gracie would sometimes be able to catch my regular right low kicks and get an easy takedown. I knew if that would happen in a real MMA fight that would be a horrible predicament to be on bottom against him.
Because of this, as well as his reach with his long jab (you see I am barely 5’11”), I started really using these Calf Kicks or Super Low Kicks when sparring him and others much more. Besides a sliding or hopping sidekick to the knee, they can also be one of the longest ranged striking tools one can use!
I constantly try to perpetuate the use of lesser used or outside the box techniques like linear kicks to the knee, rare submissions, and using knee destructions, bottom of foot defense, or loose leg defense against low kicks! Calf kicks are another very successful tool I have been pushing out there.
Let me list some of the advantages of these types of kick/sweeps
- They are one of the longest striking weapons you can use to the closest target
- Because they are one of the longest tools you can use, they, like linear kicks to the knee, can make up for a lot of differential in height or reach when facing a taller opponent.
- Most fighters are unfamiliar with them, because most kickboxing and boxing coaches are oblivious to them
- You can disrupt or open up someone’s base which opens them up to follow up strikes
- Disrupting someone’s base can frustrate them mentally, and breaks their rhythm
- Used along with other attacks, they can keep the opponent guessing
- Frustrating an opponent psychologically destroys a lot of both their offense and defense
- They can help you close the distance to enter for punching combinations or clinches
- Because of the greater distance, punching counters to the kicks compared to regular low kicks are less likely to hit
- You can sometimes sweep your opponent clear off their feet to the ground with these like Benson Henderson has been able to do against both Frankie Edger and Nathan Diaz. This makes them, cut kicks, Vovchachyn style counter to the low kick, & Machida’s Shotokan style Kuzushi Waza sweeps the most energy efficient takedowns available!
- Super low calf sweep kicks are much, much harder to get takedowns against than regular inside or outside thigh kicks!
Swanson obviously had a plan to use Super Low Kicks or Calf Kick Sweeps against Dustin Poirier and Poirier adjusted well by throwing his own.
Swanson used seven Super Low or Calf Sweep Kicks (round kicks below the knee) in the fight. Two were in the first 12 seconds, with the second one sweeping the base open followed by a hook that rocked Poirier. One of these was to the outside of the leg disguised very neatly behind a fake hook. This was much like he disguised a couple of what I have been calling “Dip Kicks” since Barao used them on TUF, dipping right high kicks behind a fake right hand.
Poirier fired five Super Low Kicks or Calf Kick Sweeps back. Of all these kicks thrown by both fighters, only one was partially checked by Poirier (leg braced/prepared for it but angle of check not great) and he was unable to raise his leg above any of them. Poirier also fired two round kicks directly on the knee to try to buckle or knock him off-balance. Of those the second one to the inside was knee blocked/knee destruction by Cub Swanson.
Also, I will note Swanson’s cool standing Omaplata position had a small window I thought it could have been a finishing hold or break, had he kept his hip in tight and reached for an S-Grip under the far armpit (and obviously whipping his left leg down and backwards to RIP).
Anthony Smith in the first round vs. Roger Gracie was the best utilization of these kicks both to the inside and outside before this fight, which won Anthony the first round before being submitted by Roger Gracie in the second.
These are as I have been saying for awhile now, the next big weapon in MMA, but guys really haven’t learned/trained specific hand combinations used with them yet, nor have many gotten the defense/check down. Jamie Varner did the one correct one in MMA though it caused some blood on his shin.
A simple leg lift or loose leg counter to punching combination or clinch works very well which you will see in the video of me sparring with my students and daughter. Malaipet attacked with one in his Muay Thai fight a few weeks ago to draw one back from his opponent then did a perfect super low check back that messed the guys shin up so bad it basically won the fight for him!
Someone on the last Bellator 89 prelims also used calf kicks. It’s been almost two years now since the exponential increase of using linear side and oblique kicks to the knee, and yet trainers of yore are still not adjusting their fighters to be able to counter these properly.
That will be the subject of another article. How many fights where these super low calf sweep kicks will be used before most adapt? Why are new striking tools not adapted to, when to a bigger extent D’arces and Anacondas or whatever fad choke were?
Here is a partial list of fights where the Super Low Calf Sweep Kicks were a big part of the fight!
- Marlon Sandro has used them in some of his Bellator fights.
- Benson Henderson uses the outside calf kick frequently, starting with his second fight against Frankie Edgar. I posted at length on the Underground forum at MixedMartialArts.com how it would be a big deal in his fight against Nathan Diaz and made his camp aware of it, and indeed it was a big weapon in that fight. Benson landed 6-7 very effective ones against Nate. Benson has swept people completely off their feet at times with this kick sweep.
- Jamie Varner vs Melvin Guillard. Melvin used a couple in this fight. Jamie Varner did the correct Super low check, though it did bloody up his shin.
- Jim Miller vs Joe Lauzon, they were both using them extensively in this fight.
- Brad Pickett landed 19 of these kicks and missed four in his loss against Eddie Wineland. Most of the kicks were not too strong however, except for two that had great impact sweeping open the base in the third round.
- Amateur fighter Anthony Birchak vs Matt Leyva-Anthony won with the Super low sweep open base kick to a 1,2 KO just like I show at 1:40 in my Henderson vs Jones video!
- Rory McDonald vs BJ Penn. Rory used a few against BJ in his excellent display of how to mix up range attacks blitzkrieging in and out of your opponent’s range.
- Nam Phan vs Dennis Siver, both fighters used them a few times but not in a very substantial way.
- Anthony Smith vs Roger Gracie. Anthony Smith won the first round against Roger Gracie by mixing his attacks up with these kicks to hand combinations. I wonder if Anthony or his trainers had watched my first video on the subject, where I mentioned using the kick against Roger Gracie instead of a regular low kick so he wouldn’t take me down?
- I was told on the Underground forum that Forrest Griffin used them against “Rampage” Jackson in their title fight but I need to review that fight as I haven’t watched it in a good while.
- While not MMA, Malaipet Sasiprada vs Vishnu Gulati’s recent Muay Thai fight at Lion Fight 8 was very telling. In the beginning of the second round Malaipet nailed Gulati with a hard outside calf kick in order to draw one back to himself. He waiting and Gulati threw one back. Malaipet nailed him with a hard super low check counter just the way he was expecting. This devastated Gulati’s shin and basically won Malaipet the fight. He just followed up with left long super low kicks to Gulati’s now damaged rear shin for the TKO victory!
If you want to know more on the super low calf sweep kicks and it’s check counter, as well as other advanced MMA techniques and rare or unknown submissions, I have filmed how to do them. I have made tons of videos on specific combinations utilizing this Super Low or Calf Sweep Kicks!
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MMA Training Videos involving Super Low Kicks/Calf Sweep
Here is a Video I made of myself and my students using this kick in light sparring the last seven months. As it is light sparring you see us naturally using Loose leg or Lift Leg defenses to the kick which lead to various punching and clinching counters! That could have been huge for instance for Nathan Diaz to help him get to clinches against Henderson. Also, because it is light sparring, realize I would be kicking their bases much more open with harder kicks! I do show how to do the hard super low check at the end of the video like Malaipet and Jamie Varner have done.
My first Vid on the subject, recommending to use them on tall guys like Jon Jones and how I used them against Roger Gracie and others in sparring.
Jab, inside sweep, to 2,3, Right High Kick! I show how to check the kick properly at the 1:40 mark of this video!
Jab, outside sweep, switch stance 2, 3, Left High Kick!
Rory MacDonald vs BJ Penn Wolfman Breakdown<
How to use Range Attacks with these kicks and switched punch combinations, like Rory MacDonald vs BJ Penn
Showing both outside then inside Super Low Calf Sweep kick attacks into punching combinations against a switched lead fighter, like as in Cub Swanson vs Dustin Poirier