Learning how to punch and kick someone in the head can be a scary experience, although not the way you might think. Kickboxing is growing in popularity among fitness enthusiasts and martial artists alike but can be as intimidating as it is physically demanding. Knowing what to expect will make it easier to get used to new techniques and ways of doing things.
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Types of Kickboxing
Kickboxing can refer to several combat sports. The most common is freestyle kickboxing, which is descended from karate. It combines boxing punches and karate kicks. Other styles include sanshou, which also allows throws and is the sport form of kung fu. Muay Thai is from Thailand and includes knee and elbow strikes. French savate is known for its quick and accurate kicking. There is also cardio kickboxing, or boxercise, which is aerobics with punches and kicks.
Choosing a Class
Different martial arts appeal to different people, so you need to find a school that teaches a style you like in a way that suits you. If possible, visit nearby schools in person and watch or try a class -- some offer free trials. Look for a gym where the regulars have similar goals to you.
Talk to the trainers and the fighters to get an idea of the atmosphere. Small gyms may look after you better, while bigger gyms may have more renowned coaches and fighters but less personal attention.
Some classes are available at regular gyms and usually cost around $10 per class. Dedicated gyms usually only take monthly payments, with prices ranging from $50 to $100 or higher. Some gyms require a membership fee, which should include insurance, otherwise you will need to buy this separately. Boxing gloves retail from around $30, although serious fighters will want heavier gloves and other protective gear, which can total more than $100.
Your First Class
Some gyms may take beginners aside or hold special classes to teach you the basics; others will encourage you to jump straight in with the rest of the class. You can normally borrow gloves at first, but consider bringing a mouthguard and a cup. Let people know you’re a beginner, and they will help you out -- they used to be beginners too. No one expects you to be Chuck Norris right away. Concentrate on the basics and work hard to make a good impression.
Most classes last an hour. A class should have a warm-up including stretching, skipping, calisthenics or shadowboxing, where you practice moving and striking into the air. Next is technical work, such as boxing, kicking and defensive techniques, practiced through partner drills, hitting punch bags or padwork.
Expect to focus on the basics. Bruce Lee once said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Classes might also include optional sparring for you to test your fighting skills. Only spar when you feel ready.
Kickboxing is an intense cardiovascular workout. The fast-paced training is a form of interval training, where short bursts of concentrated activity punctuated by short rests tones your whole body and aids weight loss. Hitting bags and pads is also a stress buster. Learning how to defend yourself can boost your confidence. Classes are also a good way to meet like-minded people. To get the most benefits out of your kickboxing training, focus on safety. Start slow, always working on learning the proper form to avoid injury to yourself or others. Wear protective gear at all times. If you're working on more intense training, wrap your hands to prevent injury.