Have you ever wondered what would happen if you were ever to introduce a muay thai world champion's shin to a baseball bat made out of ash wood?
Wonder no longer:
And that is why I respect real striking arts like muay thai so much. The most highly skilled practitioners of that art have spent so many years smashing their shins into hard objects that they are basically able to engage neurological "cheat codes" in their brains to shut down the (extreme) pain that comes from taking bone-on-bone, or in this case bone-on-wood, impacts.
The good news is that you too can have this superpower. You just have to learn how to smash your shins- and remember, it's the lower part of the shin, close to where the shin bone meets the foot, where it forms a blade-like edge- into heavy bags and palm tree trunks.
Hey, I didn't say it would be easy. Or fun. It can, however, be achieved.
These Fight Science segments are quite fascinating, for a number of reasons. They help you answer all sorts of interesting questions that nobody else in his right mind would ever think about asking- such as, could you actually break someone's spleen with a hard enough impact?
(Hint: the answer is both affirmative and disgusting.)
Or how's about this one: which striking art has the hardest kicks?
I did sort of expect tae kwon do to be up there in the top ranks of extremely powerful kicks- TKD is heavily kick based, to the point where if you want to beat up a TKD black belt, get inside his kicking range and punch him in the face. He almost certainly won't know what to do if you do this- not least because TKD, at least as it's taught in most Western federations and schools, trains you to keep your hands down.
I don't claim that lightly, by the way. One of the blue belts at my school is a 4th-degree black belt in tae kwon do. He's got absolutely devastating kicks. Dude's at least 20 years older than me, and yet every time I spar with him I always feel like a complete novice.
(Except for that one time where I managed to hit him with an axe kick. He blinked, grinned, and said, "Whoa! Just got a taste of my own medicine!". We laughed, touched gloves- and then within twenty seconds he damn near took my head off with a perfect roundhouse kick. It was all I could do to get a boxing glove in the way. Nothing like a good ass-whoopin' to put some young buck back in his proper place, eh?)
He told a story in the locker room once about how, when he came to Krav Maga and started sparring, the first bad habit he had to get rid of was the fact that he kept his hands low and used them to balance himself before throwing kicks. He had to learn how to box from the ground up- and he's very good at it as a result. Because he had to figure out how to balance himself using his hands up high while keeping up a defensive guard, similar to the way muay thai fighters work, he has in the process become a much more dangerous martial artist. But the basic foundation of his kicking strength and speed was always there.
I did not, however, really expect capoeira to be up near the top ranks in terms of sheer explosive power and lethality when it comes to kicks. Many serious martial artists today- the kind that actually fight, not the kind that just teach what someone else taught them- regard capoeira as something of a "show-off" style- really pretty to look at, primarily because it was apparently invented by Brazilian slaves for the purpose of air-drying their hair, and not terribly useful in an actual fight.
Here's an interesting fact about capoeira: back in the day, when the Gracie family was crafting their particular blend of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, several of the top Gracies went out to prove the effectiveness of their style by taking on the best capoeiristas in Brazil in sanctioned tournaments- and on the streets. Back then, capoeira was the dominant martial art in Brazil, and it was thought that nothing could take it on and beat it in a tournament setting.
Those match-ups between a mostly striking-based art and a mostly ground-based art went pretty much as you might expect them to. The Gracies made their reputation on those fights, and the world of martial arts was never the same again.
That being said, capoeira is not completely useless in a fighting environment:
I personally remain unconvinced of the utility of such a flamboyant and over-the-top style; the strikes look to be very stylised and in some ways highly inefficient. But there is no doubting the extreme power generated from those kicks.
The knockout kicks that you see landed in that video above all look to come from that massive wind-up spinning back kick- similar in some ways to the kyokushin karate wheel-kick technique known as Do Mawashi Kaiten Geri. And that is a truly fearsome technique:
There is, however, a known and useful counter to such kicks. It's less effective against the kyokushin variant, but against the capoeira variant I suspect it would come in quite handy.
Basically it involves moving into the back of the guy throwing the kick, while defending against the spinning leg with a hand up. You then grab your attacker while delivering an overhead elbow into his kidneys, lift him up by the waist, and slam him down.
Not perhaps the most useful thing to do in an MMA fight, and requires exceptional timing because of the variables involved, but it does work.
Still, I wouldn't recommend that to a beginner. If you see a capoeirista throwing these crazy jumping spinning kicks on his way to mugging you, just run away. Or, better yet, if you live in a part of the country with sensible gun laws, just shoot the bastard.