Capoeira is an Afro Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and self defense. This is why it is so curious that a few high-level MMA fighters are choosing to learn the art, specifically one of its most powerful kicks, Meia Lua de Compasso. If you’ve seen this kick before, it’s very clear how dangerous this kick can be. The lightning fast speed, tricky angle, and unorthodox nature places it as one of the most, if not, the most powerful kick in Capoeira.
In case you have not seen, there is proof that this kick is effective in terms of its speed and knockout power. This video of MMA fighter Marcus Aurelias shows us how fast, tricky, and devastating the kick can be against an opponent. The opponent is KO’d with one kick to the jaw and the question is, can this be replicated? or is this a lucky shot?
There seem to be three good reasons for using this kick that others have pointed out. The first is how tricky it can be to spot this kick. I’ve never seen it countered, even though most of these situations have been in non-elite level fights. The kick is not well understood, and very nontraditional. It’s no wonder that people would not know how to counter it… because nobody does it. This trickery is the first advantage that Meia Lua has.
The second advantage is its speed. The kick is undeniably fast what looks like a wild left hook with your legs. The movement uses the entire body to generate an incredible amount of energy that you unleash on your opponent. If you ever see the kick done in Capoeira rodas, the kick looks like a whip, zooming around. And at this speed it looks ferocious.
The last thing this kick has going for it, is that when you hit, you hit with a very small surface area. Ask yourself, would you rather get hit with a metal bar or a hammer of equal weight? Most people would say the metal bar. The surface area of the hammer is much smaller and the weight is at the very end. The concentration of force guarantees a hard hit. This differs from other kicks done with the shin, which is also extremely strong, but perhaps not as concentrated as a circular kick using the heel.
But, if it were such a good kick, then everyone would be using it. Just because the kick has the ability to knock someone out, doesn’t mean that fighters will use it. Fighters use techniques that have a proven and reliable ability to put down their opponent or at least provide them with some advantage. MMA fighters in this sense are perfect test subjects for understanding why one kick is “effective” and why others are not.
Lets take another Capoeira kick that has gained some notoriety for its raw strength. Chapeu de Couro is a kick performed from the ground and swings the users whole body at the opponent. The kick is incredibly effective at producing force, but as you can see, the set up is long, which makes the kick slow. Not only that, but there is a huge amount of technical coordination required to perform this kick. It’s clear that for these reasons, chapeu de couro is not used in MMA. I can’t think of a single instance in which this kick was used. And if mixed martial artists don’t think that it’s useful or even worth trying, then it’s “power” is questionable.
There seem to be a couple reasons why you shouldn’t use this kick in MMA. The first one to me seems to be fairly obvious, which is that the kick is difficult to do. Kicks like the spinning back kick also suffer from this and therefore get a lot let use in the octagon. George St. Pierre trained with Joe Rogan to learn a spinning back kick and… had OK results. and this is a top tier fighter! Meia Lua is mechanically demanding and can take a fighter years to learn. As impressive as it looks, part of the reason it looks so great, is how hard it is to actually do. A fighter can spend months practicing this kick and not get it right. On the other hand, there may be other techniques that are less mentally and physically demanding, that can be learned in much less time. Take a look at some Capoeira kicks done by Anderson Silva and Conor Mcgreggor. Both amazing fighters, but both have lackluster Capoeira kicks. If you don’t practice Capoeira, it might be hard to see the flaws, but let me assure you that they are OK. Consider the fact that Connor looks like he’s going to fall over when he does this kick.
The second issue with this kick comes from one of its greatest strengths. The point of contact for this kick is the heel, which pools all the force generated into a small space. At the same time, that small surface area is difficult to kick with – especially when you’re spinning around. I’ve seen Conor throw this kick, but it’s difficult to hit. In fact, the only flush hit I’ve ever seen was the from the video above and this one here.
The last issue with the Meia Lua that might explain why it’s so rarely used in MMA is that it is exhausting to use. The movement incorporates the entire body in an explosive way. The arms, feet, and core all collectively generate force to create an incredible blow. I have never seen this kick used outside of the 1st or 2nd round, and I think does hinder its utility. It seems more likely that a fighter would choose to rely on techniques that do not severely drain them, particularly during the later rounds.
If this kick was a car, it would still be in the proto-typing phase. That is to say, people are still workshoping when the best time to sue this kick is. Is it on the defense? On the offense? After a combination attack? It’s not clear to me, and I think it’s still unclear to the MMA talent out there. Despite this, I’m very hopeful that this kick and get incorporated in the world of mixed martial arts. There have been many cases of other martial arts bringing their techniques to supplement or even form the foundation for a fighter’s style. Karate and Tae Kwon Do come to mind.
It’s for this reason that Capoeira has a lot of hope. There have been UFC fighters that have shown interest in the martial art and it will be interesting to see how (and if) they apply it. If anyone’s going to have a say about the effectiveness of a martial art, it’s going to be the ones at the very top of the sport. Listen to Connor Mcgreggor talk about Capoeira.
His point is that , “there is a time and a place for every technique”. I think this is why so many strikers (particularly the ones that enjoy a lot of movement in their style) gravitate towards this Capoeira. It might be the movements, it might be the dodges, or in the case of MMA today, it could be incorporation of the Meia Lua de Compasso. Regardless, it can be argued that Capoeira has a place in MMA with many big names going to learn its techniques. Some examples are, Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva, Conor Mcgreggor, and Thiago Santos. For now, the Meia Lua de Compasso holds its own as the most dangerous Capoeira kick used in MMA.
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