Inside Martial Arts

What is Kickboxing? An Exciting Look Into The World Of Kickboxing.

What is Kickboxing? Kickboxing is the sensational art, renowned for its powerful punches and impressive kicks.

Martial arts have been around for longer than most of us would believe. Since the dawn of time, our ancestors would of used their hands and feet to fend off attackers. Many would say this was the beginning of martial arts, albeit in a more primitive form.

As humans evolved, so did our abilities. It’s this evolution that led to martial arts as we know it today.

By our very nature, we are designed for combat. Humans are forever developing new skills and abilities to further keep would be attackers at bay. Although as time has progressed, we have found our need to engage in combat becoming less.

Evidently now more of a want, than a need, we find ourselves increasingly intrigued by combat. It’s here where martial arts play their vital role in today’s society.

The impressive art of Kickboxing. Usually surrounded in mystery, Kickboxing has become ever popular around the world. But what is it? Hold onto your chop sticks, as we take a journey to explore the question, “What is Kickboxing?”











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IN A HURRY? Look out for our yellow boxes in the text below. They contain a summary for quicker reading.


What is kickboxing


Kickboxing could be argued to have originated with our ancestors, as a result of them having to fight off attackers with their bare hands and feet. Although this is certainly the case, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that the term Kickboxing was coined. On the whole, the word Kickboxing serves two purposes. The first is as an umbrella term covering all sports that include stand up kicking and punching. Therefore covering sports such as Muay Thai, Savate and full contact Karate. The second is specifically for sports that identify as kickboxing. Such as Japanese, American and Dutch Kickboxing.

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SUMMARY: Although possibly beginning with our ancestors, the term Kickboxing was coined in the 1960’s.


Yamada Tatsuo
Yamada Tatsuo (left) and Motobu Choki (1926).

During the 1950’s , Tatsuo Yamada , a Japanese Karateka, found himself fascinated with the art of Mauy Thai. This was due to a prominent difference in the two sports. In contrast, Karate didn’t allow the use of full contact striking, whereas Muay Thai very much did. As a result of Yamada’s fascination, he began to intertwine the two arts. Thus developing the style we now know as kickboxing.

Tatsuo Yamada first started the concept of kickboxing, although it’s not who most would associate as the creator of kickboxing. On the whole, it’s Osamu Noguchi who holds this privilege.

SUMMARY: Yamada Tatsuo started to develop the concept of Kickboxing during the 1950’s. Although most would not associate him as the “inventor” of Kickboxing.


Osamu Noguchi
Osamu Noguchi

In 1963 ,famous Japanese boxing promoter and karateka, Osamu Noguchi, longed for more. Additionally, Osamu wanted to develop a sport that merged Karate and Muay Thai. His aim was to keep the principles of Karate but add the full contact striking of Muay Thai, much like what led Yamada to experiment with the two arts.

Osamu’s original intention was to send Japanese boxers to Thailand, specifically in the hope to see them win. Although this idea was quickly halted after a brief period of thought.

Consequently, Osamu realised it would take many months of training for the boxers to develop the required skills. As a result, Osamu decided to send Karatekas instead. This was undoubtably a better idea, as the karateka would have experience in the use of kicking and punching, but also experience with clinching and knee and elbow strikes.

SUMMARY: Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi wanted to mix the principles of Karate with the full contact striking of Muay Thai.

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It was 1963 that saw three of Osamu’s karateka set sail for the Lumpinee boxing stadium in Thai Land. With the stage set, Osamu watched on as his three karateka faced off against their Muay Thai opponents. As a result, two of the three karateka won their matches, each by knockout.

Consequently, Kickboxing grew rapidly in popularity throughout Japan. The year 1970 saw Kickboxing broadcast on three different Japanese TV channels, therefore paving the way for kickboxing as we know it today. Subsequently, with its rise in popularity, came the first ever official kickboxing governing body, the AJKA. In 1971 The AJKA , or All Japan Kickboxing Association registered nearly 700 kickboxers.

SUMMARY: It was in 1963 that Osamu was crowned as the father of Kickboxing.

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What is kickboxing

As a result of its rise in popularity, kickboxing started to spread around the world. Consequently, it didn’t take long for word of the new sport to make its way to North America. Additionally, the first competitions incorporating the new hybrid art took place in the early 1970’s. Although at the time, it was very much just full contact karate.

As a result, 1974 saw the establishment of The Professional Karate Association (PKA). Then, just two years later in 1976, we saw the development of the World Karate Association (WKA).

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SUMMARY: Kickboxing reached North America in the early 1970’s, although effectively just full contact Karate.


Traditional arts such as Taekwondo, have an english translation. Consequently down to the origin country naming their art. As a result of kickboxing rising to popularity in America, we have no need to translate the word. Kikkubokushingu is quite simply the Japanese translation of the English word Kickboxing.

SUMMARY: Kikkubokushingu in the Japanese translation of Kickboxing.

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What is Kickboxing

When we plunged into the world of Taekwondo, we noticed that they wear a traditional uniform. Much like the white suit we all commonly associate with martial arts. Subsequently, kickboxing is slightly different. Depending on the school you train in, the clothing requirements will also differ. For this reason, we will take a look at the clothing commonly worn during competition and sparring.


First lets look at the gum shield, designed to help protect the teeth of the wearer. Whilst sometimes also referred to as a mouth guard, the gum shield is a vital part of safety equipment. Typically coming in three forms, gum shields will either be, “straight out of the box“, “boil and bite” or “custom made“.

Firstly, straight out of the box gum shields are used “as is” and very little protection is given to the wearer. Not to mention how hugely uncomfortable they are.

Secondly, the boil and bite gum shields. These require the user to form them to their own teeth layout. This is achieved by boiling the gum shield for a few minutes to soften the inner material. Finally, once cooled slightly, the wearer will put the shield in and bite down, thus creating a better fit.

Finally, custom gum shields. As a result of being designed based on a mould of the wearers teeth , these gum shields will give the greatest amount of protection out of all three options.

Whilst a gum shield serves to primarily protect the teeth, gums, lips and jaw of the wearer, it also has another important function. Although the test results are somewhat inconclusive, it is said that the gum shield will reduce traumatic brain injury from certain strikes. For example, should the wearer receive a strike to the jaw, the gum shield is said to disperse the force. As a result, less shock will be transmitted through the skull and therefore into the brain.

SUMMARY: The gum shield, or mouth guard, serves to protect the users teeth, gums, lips and also the jaw.

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Usually depicted as red in colour , I’m sure we are all aware of what a boxing glove is. Thanks to the Marquess of Queensbury, boxing gloves are mandatory in boxing, much like they are in kickboxing. Although often different in aesthetics, the purpose of the glove is the same, being to protect the wearer from significant hand or wrist injury. Specifically through heavily engineered and purposefully placed padding.

Whilst the glove is designed with the intention of protecting the wearer, it also protects their opponent. It is however, a common misconception that boxing gloves will reduce the chances of brain injury. In fact, the use of gloves could possibly increase this risk. As a result of the glove allowing for much harder strikes with less risk of injury to the person delivering it. With this in mind, the use of gloves will still greatly reduce facial trauma that would otherwise be sustained.

SUMMARY: Boxing gloves enable much harder strikes with less risk of injury to the hand and wrist.


What are Martial Arts

To the untrained eye, kickboxing shorts may look the same as boxing shorts. Whilst there are some aspects are similar, the differences are very important.

Although other materials are sometimes used, it’s very common for kickboxing shorts to be made from satin. Additionally, they offer a wider leg than typical boxing shorts. This slight difference allows the user extra freedom of movement when performing kicks.

As a result, some brands have developed shorts that can be used across multiple disciplines. On the whole, these shorts are very similar to MMA shorts, although ultimately a much shorter cut and commonly made from a lighter weight material. Consequently, these shorts have gained the name hybrid shorts.

SUMMARY: Kickboxing shorts are similar to boxing shorts, but with a wider leg to enable extra movement for kicking.

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Most of us are aware of two belt colours in martial arts. Needless to say, one is the white belt, and the other is the black belt. With this in mind, lets explore the different belt colours used in Kickboxing.

With the growth of the modern world, also comes the growth of martial arts, and kickboxing is no exception. It’s becoming common practice to reward students as they progress in kickboxing, similarly to how they would in more traditional arts. Kickboxing schools may employ this method to encourage the student in their progression. Therfore, rewarding them at each stage of their development.

Due to its adaption from Karate, you will often see traditional kickboxing schools employ a similar ranking system. For those schools who do adopt the karate style ranking system, they will also adopt it’s terminology. With this being said, most schools will use the Japanese word for “grade” or “rank“, which is Kyu. This term signifies any junior belt grade Kickboxer. Furthermore, as with Karate, the senior belt grades are referred to as “Dan”(Dahn) or “Degrees”. For example, 1st dan black belt, or 1st degree black belt.

SUMMARY: Most Kickboxing schools employ a belt system similar to Karate.


Below is what the belt system would like if the common 6 Kyu Karate system were to be adopted. Whilst this is a common system adopted in Kickboxing schools, a lot of schools will have their own version.

Kickboxing Belt Colours


As with all martial arts, encouraging practitioners is a must. It’s for this very reason that you will find a lot of schools issuing encouragement grades. An encouragement grade acts as a stepping stone between grades.

Below is a common belt system with its encouragement grades.

Kickboxing Belt Colours

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What is kickboxing

With it’s ever growing popularity, huge events are a must. Seeing the rise of such organisations growing in recent years. However, there are two which have risen above the rest. Below we will take a deeper look inside these top contenders.


Glory stands currently as the largest kickboxing promotion in the world. With it’s first ever event being held in 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden, Glory has risen high above its contenders. Being home to some of the most prestigious names in kickboxing, Glory has held over 80 events to date.

Currently the Glory heavy weight champion, Rico Verhoeven is undeniably one of glory’s top ticket fighters.

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Although having hosted many mixed martial arts competitions, K-1 stands proud in the field of Kickboxing promotions. Commonly known worldwide for it’s heavyweight division fights, K-1 was established in 1993. Whilst the letter K in its name is somewhat of a mystery, there are many speculations. As a result, some have claimed it to be representative of the world Karate, stemming from kickboxing’s origins. Whilst others say it comes from the word kakutougi, which is a Japanese word meaning “combat sports” or “martial art combat without weapons“. Furthermore, some have claimed the K to simply stand for kickboxing, and the 1 to represent its single weight division.


A simply beautiful art.

Born from the principles of Karate and the full striking of Muay Thai.

Brought to it official existence in 1963 by Osamu Noguchi.

Its popularity originally grew in Japan.

The year 1970 saw Kickboxing broadcast on three different Japanese TV channels.

Made its way to North America in the early 1970’s.

The World Kickboxing Association (WKA) was founded in 1976.

Some schools do not employ a belt system.

Most schools will follow a grading system similar to karate.

Has grown hugely and resultant large promotions have been formed.

Glory and K-1 are two of the most popular kickboxing promotions in the world.

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