Recap: Workshop with Jowad Mahmoudi- Mastering the Middle Kick
If a person unfamiliar with Muay Thai were to look at a normal Muay Thai fight or class, they would probably think that people are just kicking their legs and defending themselves. Even for some of us casual Muay Thai class goers (me being super casual because I usually end up practicing once every six months), some of the techniques shown in class can be just a technique to do in order to strike a target. But, like most experts, Muay Thai experts know the angles, pivots, and what magic you need to perform in order to be great at Muay Thai.
Although I practice Muay Thai once in a while, sometimes it’s nice to dive deeper into certain concepts to really understand why you do certain things. So of course, out of this desire to learn more, I attended a Muay Thai Workshop entitled “Mastering the Middle Kick” which was led by Head Muay Thai and Kickboxing coach Jowad Mahmoudi at UFC Fit Gym in Pudong, Shanghai, China.
To share a bit of background on Jowad: He’s from Paris, France and part of the Mahmoudi family, owners of the renowned Mahmoudi Gym. Mahmoudi gym has given rise to some champion fighters including Brice Delval, Cheick Sidibe, Raphael Llodra, Christophe Leveque, and Elias Mahmoudi, who is Jowad’s younger brother. Because of his family’s extensive background in martial arts, Jowad started training at a very young age and has even competed in quite a number of professional and amateur competitions including some at the famous Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok, Thailand. He is now currently in charge of all aspects of Muay Thai and Kickboxing at UFC Fit.
I met Jowad back in 2017 at my old gym Warzone randomly. I remember him watching me try to kick a heavy bag that was in the gym and giving me some awesome pointers about how to do it properly. This is when I started to learn about his experience training in Thailand, his family, and about his coaching. It’s been awesome getting to know him throughout these years in Shanghai and knowing him as a friend and as a coach. Since I have done quite a few Muay Thai classes with Jowad and I really like his tough yet caring way of coaching, I had to attend this workshop to improve my middle kick.
In terms of kicking…. I’m not really the best (…I’m kinda trash but you know me: always improving, marginal growth, getting better slowly and so on). I have hip flexibility and mobility problems so when I try to kick, I can’t really turn my hip properly and I have to do an extra step or think to twist my foot in order to get the full power of the kick. Also due to my lack of hip flexibility, high kicks aren’t happening at the moment. But anyway, less talk about my sad, sad hips and more talk about the workshop happenings:
The event was the day of the McGregor vs. Poirier fight (which I ended up seeing the whole card EXCEPT for McGregor vs Poirier. F- me right but we all know how that ended up). So, while leaving the bar and trying to catch the last second of the undercard (picture me literally sticking my head out the elevator trying to catch the last second), a friend and I rushed to get to the workshop on time. We made it right on time… to miss the warmup (kind of), which if you know Jowad’s warmups you’re not that upset about it (literally almost cried the first time I did one)
The first thing we did we was some hip strengthening exercises which required standing against the wall and moving our legs in a few different ways. Jowad explained that this basic and proper position where your butt is in which allows your hip to extend in a way so when you actually pivot your standing foot, it brings more power to the kick. These exercises were hell for my hips and apparently for everyone else because of the numerous groans throughout the room. After that satanic torture, it was time to get into the actually “middle kick” part of the workshop.
To my surprise, Jowad explained that there were so many details that go into making a great middle kick, but we went over only three: the basic middle kick, the question mark middle kick, and the half middle kick. You would think in a 2-hour workshop that there would be like at least 10 kicks, but those three kicks took up so much time and Jowad was great in explaining every little details of each kick and the situations you use them in.
In the first part of drilling the kicks, we had to use either the punching bags to work out the combos or with a kicking pad in groups of two or three. This gave us the opportunity to really apply the drills in the beginning of the class and only focus on where our hips, butts, and feet should be when doing the kicks. This part was great, but I really felt uncoordinated in the beginning because I felt like I wasn’t really putting my body and legs in the right position in order to put me in the correct place to kick. But eventually I got it *dusts shoulders off like expert*.
In the second part of drilling, we had to work with our gloves and shin pads and practice using the kicks with blocking patterns and catching kicks. In terms of using my shin to block, that was a challenge because to block properly, you shin has to go out a bit as the kick comes. With catching kicks, I felt like a pro, because I’ve done it before while drilling. Also, in this part of the drills, it was cool to bring everything together when punches, blocks, and kicks come your way and how to send those kicks back.
There were at least 20 people in attendance at the workshop but Jowad made sure that everyone was watched and attended to. If you didn’t do something right, Jowad was super patient about re-explaining each exercise. Not only was he patient, but he also watched every single person and gave some great and positive feedback.
Because the martial arts community is quite close knit in Shanghai, I got to see and partner up with some of my friends (shouts out to Hanna, Jay-Jay and Arthur). It was nice partnering up with not only with friends but people who know about the sport and can actually correct your mistakes when Jowad wasn’t around.
Overall, I’m really glad that I got a chance to attend this workshop. I haven’t had a chance to do much striking and with this workshop I feel that my striking was reawakened. I was also able to apply some of the stuff I learned in another class and that was my reaffirmation that what Jowad taught works. Thanks to Jowad and UFC Fit for holding this awesome event and I hope to attend more like it.