Fitness centers often offer cardio kickboxing classes to help you get into shape. While these classes can provide an exhilarating workout, they don't usually give you a true understanding of the actual sport of kickboxing. It's basically a rigorous battle between two tough combatants who fight with their hands and feet.
Kickboxing Through Time
Kickboxing dates back thousands of years to Thailand, where the art of muay thai originated on battlefields. Muay thai was first practiced as a sport in Thailand around the early 18th century. Combatants fought with fists, feet, elbows and knees. The term kickboxing was created in the mid 1900s by Osamu Noguchi, a Japanese boxing promoter who was inspired by the muay thai competitions. The first kickboxing event in Japan was held in 1966. Unlike traditional muay thai fights, the Japanese did not allow the use of elbows and knees.
America Steps Into The Ring
American kickboxing was developed in the early 1970s. At that time, some American karate practitioners wanted to create a full-contact sport that didn't follow the more strict martial arts tournament rules. The first American kickboxing match took place between accomplished martial artists Joe Lewis and Greg Baines in California in 1970. Lewis won by a knockout.
Rules Of The Ring
Typically, kickboxing rounds are two minutes long. Matches can range from three rounds for amateurs to 12 for pros. The fights are scored by punches and kicks landed, and won by judge's decisions or knockouts. Acceptable scoring areas can vary between organizations. For example, American kickboxing organizations don't usually allow kicks to the legs, but it's acceptable in the muay thai version. The fighters wear padded hand and foot protection, and amateurs also have to wear headgear.
First to The Punch
Like boxers, the jab and cross are popular punches for kickboxers. A jab is delivered with the lead hand. It's a quick punch that sets the opponent up for further punches. The cross is delivered with the rear hand, and the fighter twists his hips to maximize its strength. Punches are tougher to land in kickboxing than in boxing. A kickboxer must first get into punching range, which can be difficult to accomplish for fear of getting kicked. If you first land a strong kick on your opponent, this can give you the opportunity to move into punching range.
Kick It Up A Notch
Kickboxing organizations typically require fighters to kick at least eight times per round. Kickboxers are penalized one point for every kick they are short of this requirement. Some organizations don't count the kicks, but the referee may deduct a point if he feels a fighter is not kicking enough. Combatants use tried and true karate foot techniques, such as the front and roundhouse kicks. The front kick aims the ball of the foot at the foe. The sweeping roundhouse is often used to kick to the head.
- World Kickboxing and Karate Association: The Official Rules of the World Kickboxing Association
- International Kickboxing Federation: IKF Rules and Regulations
- Columbia University Kickboxing Club: Brief History of Kickboxing
- International Federation of Muaythai Amateur: History of Muaythai
- Immortal Combat; Bruce Thomas
- The Martial Arts Companion; John Corcoran