What Is Kickboxing?


Kickboxing combines the punches of boxing with the kicks of karate. There are a few variations of the sport. Some competitive kickboxers practice the sport against opponents in the ring. Other fitness enthusiasts practice kickboxing as an aerobic workout. Kickboxing techniques are also practical for self defense. Over the past several decades, kickboxing has become an exciting sport to watch and to practice.


Karate has been practiced since the 19th century, but kickboxing has a much shorter history. The term “kickboxing” was created by a Japanese boxing promoter in the 1950s. The promoter used the term to refer to a combination of Muay Thai boxing and karate. The term later gained more popularity in the United States in the 1970s. American full-contact karate practitioners were frustrated by the scoring limitations of tournaments and decided to take their bouts to the boxing ring. A couple of the legends of the sport from that time are Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and Bill “Superfoot” Wallace. Kickboxing became more popular when ESPN started broadcasting matches in 1979.


Competitive kickboxers use a wide a range of techniques to disorient and defeat opponents. Punches include the jab, uppercut and hook. The hook punch is one of the most devastating strikes because it swings around and powerfully hits an opponent from the side. Kicks also are powerful weapons in the sport. Kicking techniques include the front, hook, side, roundhouse and spinning back kicks. Spinning back kicks are good for surprising opponents. A kickboxer performs this technique by quickly spinning and driving his heel backward into his opponent.

Rules and Regulations

There are several organizations that promote and govern kickboxing matches. Rules can vary between organizations, but matches are typically between three and 12 rounds. Each round is usually two to three minutes long. Contestants wear protective fighting gear on their hands and feet. Some organizations allow kicks below the waist, but others restrict kicking techniques to above the waist. Kickboxing and boxing matches are decided in a similar manner. Opponents are divided by weight class and the outcome of a match is determined by a decision, draw or knockout.


In preparation for matches, kickboxers go through some of the most rigorous workouts in the sporting world. Kickboxers must be well conditioned to both deliver and take blows for the duration of a fight. This requires intense muscular endurance and cardiovascular endurance training. An example of a kickboxing exercise is the elevated push-up. Elevated push-ups are performed by using a chair to elevate the legs while doing push-ups.

Cardio Kickboxing

Due to the effectiveness of kickboxing training regimens, kickboxing workouts have become popular among everyday fitness enthusiasts. Many gyms now offer cardio-kickboxing classes. Participants perform many kickboxing techniques, like jabs and roundhouse kicks. The techniques are performed at a fast pace to music. Cardio-kickboxing classes are a toned-down version of a fighter's workout, but they still provide a great calorie burn. The classes also teach participants some basic self-defense moves.


Sport kickboxing and cardio kickboxing are both physically demanding. People interested in kickboxing should get a physician's approval before beginning this type of exercise routine. It is also important to adequately stretch before practicing the punches and kicks of kickboxing.