Kickboxing: A Descendant of Martial Arts
Fighting in some form or another – and with the elements of rules and sportsmanship – has been around for millennia, as shown by the huge number of ancient arenas and fighting pits that have been discovered dating back to some of the oldest human cultures. But these days, it’s much more than just tossing a couple of gladiators in a circle and placing bets. From those old traditions come some of the most common and recognizable disciplines we see today, including kickboxing.
Last month we talked about the origins and forms of karate, and that ties into kickboxing because that’s where the sport began! Though it may seem like a natural offshoot of a fighting style – after all, kicks are more powerful than punches – it actually was not until the 1950s that the sport we now know as kickboxing began to take shape in Japan.
Drawing not only from traditional karate, but also from muay thai, a man named Tatsuo Yamada began outlining the forms of the new sport and throughout the early 1960s, it took hold in students of both disciplines. As more people learned the rules of the sport, and the first competitions and events were taking place, soon kickboxing was expanding around the world and by the 1980s, it had grown into North America and Europe. Moving back and forth in popularity since then, and with very broad scope of rules and styles, it is one of the most enduring schools of modern martial arts for people of all skill levels.
Though each country seems to have its own rules, the bouts that most people are familiar with in kickboxing are generally based on full-contact karate, where the opponents fight through rounds until one of the fighters is knocked out or submits. There is no specialized equipment or weapons; generally only a mouth-guard, hand wrappings, and other protective gear is needed. Rules vary on low and high kicks, hits to knees or with elbows, use of spins, and other details. That means that each fighter has to be pinpoint accurate, quick to strike and to retreat, and ready to react to their foe in an instant. As opposed to the more meditative nature of karate and kung fu, kickboxing is much more fast-paced and focused on the immediate impact of kicks and punches.
There are dozens of sub-styles of kickboxing, including shoot boxing (where fighters can use standing chokeholds and armlocks), sanshou (which incorporates elements of wrestling and takedowns), and Japanese K-1 (which allows lower-body strikes and grappling).
Whatever your personal style may be, if you like to fight, chances are good that there’s a kickboxing genre for you. However, if you prefer something more holistic and meditative, you can’t go wrong with studying kung fu – and we just happen to know the perfect place to learn: right here at Kung Fu
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