• You're all caught up!

What is Better for Fighting: Boxing or Kickboxing?

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
What is Better for Fighting: Boxing or Kickboxing?
Whether you box or kickbox, you'll need a pair of gloves Photo Credit Vstock LLC/VStock/Getty Images

Boxers are legendary for their punching power, precision and speed. Kickboxers are the great generalists of striking, using their hands, legs, elbows, and knees to strike an opponent. Kickboxers are comfortable using moves that boxers aren't used to, but boxers have lightning-quick speed and wit. At the end of the day, a kickboxer's versatility makes them slightly more dangerous in a fight.


In boxing, each fighter in the ring has two weapons: their fists. They punch and defend with these fists, creating different combinations and ways around the opponents defenses. A professional boxing match can be 10 or 12 rounds long, with three minutes in each round.

Read More: The Disadvantages of Boxing

Boxing Strategy

With only two hands, boxers have to create ways to attack and defend themselves without letting their opponent know what they're about to do. Boxers use a lot of subtle movements to trick opponents. They use feints, where they pretend to throw a punch to throw their opponent off-balance.

To defend themselves they move their heads constantly, since their head is a target, making it harder for their opponent to hit. They also use their hands to deflect and block punches. To hit back, boxers use straight punches for speed, called the jab and cross. They use hooks to loop around the side of their opponent, and uppercuts to slip under an opponent's defense.


Kickboxing is still a chess match, but there are more pieces involved. The opponents can not only punch with both hands, they can kick and use their knees to hit. In some kickboxing leagues, the fighters can hit with their elbows and even use takedowns to knock their opponent off their feet.

There's much more to a kickboxing match than a boxing match because attacks can come from so many different places. Boxers only have to worry about getting punched, so they try to stay a little more than arm's length away from their opponent. In kickboxing an opponent can hit you with a kick, so you need to stand a leg's length away. That makes it harder to hit an opponent with punches, knees and elbows.

Both kickboxing and boxing are as strategic as a chess match.
Both kickboxing and boxing are as strategic as a chess match. Photo Credit Chad Baker/Jason Reed/Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Clinch

In order to hit an opponent with knees, the fighter usually uses something called a clinch. A clinch is when you hold an opponent, usually behind the head, so that they can't move away. It's more difficult to hit someone with knees, so you have to hold them closer. In boxing, the clinch is discouraged because it's a way to rest and avoid punches. Boxers use the clinch to avoid hitting or being hit, but the opposite is true in kickboxing.

Read More: Positives & Negatives of Kickboxing

Which is Best?

In a fighting situation, both boxing and kickboxing are really useful to defend yourself. Boxers have lightning-quick hands and reactions. Not only can they throw powerful punches, they can dodge them. A kickboxer can hit you with different body parts and from different angles. They can also handle themselves in a wrestling and grappling situation because they know how to clinch with an opponent or take them down.

The variation in kickboxing gives it a slight edge over boxing. In a fighting situation, there is a lot of unpredictability. You don't want to be limited to only knowing how to punch or block punches. You want to know how to kick, punch, elbow, knee, clinch and take someone down. You also want to know how to defend yourself against all of those things.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
Lose Weight. Feel Great! Change your life with MyPlate by LIVESTRONG.COM
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media