Let’s get straight into this!


Gancho, or a hook kick is a very difficult kick to defend against. It’s fast, hits hard, and comes from a weird angle. The kick starts up just like a forward push kick, but at the last minute switches directions and kicks the side of the head with the heel. Most people would expect to receive a kick from their opponents shin, but the change in angle and timing definitely throws people off.

Here’s an example of Gancho.

In Capoeira, this kick is feared because even if you expect it, it’s hard to respond to. The best you can do it cover up, dodge, and hope your instincts lead you through the situation.

CABEÇADA (headbutt)

So technically speaking, a headbutt is not a kick. So why put it on this list?

When I think of fights I never think of headbutts, but the UFC definitely does. Enough so that they decided to make headbuts illegal for use in their professional bouts.  According to the “Unified rules of Mixed Martial Arts”, head butts are an illegal move, along with eye gouges, fish hooks and groin kicks. Serious damage can be done to somebody’s nose for example if hit with this very hard part of your body. It’s not transparent exactly what the reasoning behind this decision was, but the commission that makes these rules definitely saw headbutts as a danger.

Fun fact. While doing the motion capture for Eddy Gordo in the fighting game Tekken, Mestre Marcelo Caverinha wanted to include Cabeçada (head butt) as one of the strongest attacks available. This might sound strange at first, but there is some historical context to the idea. In Capoeira, Cabeçada is a widely used move and during the early 1900’s when Capoeira was illegal, one of the banned moves was “Cabeçada”, the head butt. Meaning, if you were seen doing this move, you could go to jail!


Part of Capoeira’s strength is being able to use every bit of momentum a person’s body, and hurl it at their opponent. The S Dobrado starts from the ground and launches the users shin forward. Sounds strong, but here’s a video to illustrate the point. The kick is efficient in terms of its ability to generate force and in the video you can see how it’s possible to generate almost a ton of force from a single strike.

Pound for pound the strongest kick out there, according to science.



Of  course. This kick is a hallmark of Capoeira and is widely used by all of its practitioners. In the Capoeira world, It’s considered a safe and deadly kick, albeit, difficult to execute.

Similar to the Gancho, Meia Lua de Compasso is a kick that hits with the heel of the foot. The kick starts from the back and rotates around using the full force of the user’s body to generate force into the heel. When I first started doing Capoeira, I had the hardest time figuring out how to avoid getting hit by this kick. I had done Taekwondo before, but found myself feeling very unprepared.

I enjoy seeing elements of Capoeira being used in MMa, and you can some instances of it being used effectively, although it’s application seems to be relatively unknown still. There are very few who have tried the meia lua kick in competition, but some have been very successful with its use.

Here are some fun examples.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Those some of the deadliest kicks in Capoeira. All these kicks have their own unique flavor and add to the mystique of Capoeira. Capoeira as a martial art is still being understood, but I think once more is known about how the art can be applied to mixed martial arts, we’ll start seeing more and more use in professional bouts.

Hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to let me know what list you would like to see next!

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