Kickboxing is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from Karate, Muay Thai, and Western boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a contact sport.
Japanese kickboxing originated in the 1960s, with competitions held since then. American kickboxing originated in the 1970s and was brought to prominence in September 1974, when the Professional Karate Association (PKA) held the first World Championships. Historically, kickboxing can be considered a hybrid martial art formed from the combination of elements of various traditional styles. This approach became increasingly popular since the 1970s, and since the 1990s, kickboxing has contributed to the emergence of mixed martial arts via further hybridization with ground fighting techniques from Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Folk wrestling.
There is no single international governing body. International governing bodies include International Combat Organisation, World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, World Kickboxing Association, International Sport Karate Association, International Kickboxing Federation, World Sport Kickboxing Federation, among others. Consequently, there is no single kickboxing world championship, and champion titles are issued by individual promotions, such as K-1, Glory, SUPERKOMBAT, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, among others. Bouts organized under different governing bodies apply different rules, such as allowing the use of knees or clinching, etc.
The term "kickboxing" can be used in a narrow and in a wide sense.
- The narrow use is restricted to the styles that self-identify as kickboxing, i.e. Japanese kickboxing (with its spin-off styles or rules such as Shoot boxing and K-1), Dutch Kickboxing, and American kickboxing.
- In the wider sense, it includes all stand-up combat sports that allow both punching and kicking, including Savate, Muay Thai, Indian boxing, Burmese boxing, Sanda, and certain styles ofKarate (especially full contact karate).
The term kickboxing itself was introduced in the 1960s as a Japanese anglicism by Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi for a hybrid martial art combining Muay Thai and karate which he had introduced in 1958. The term was later also adopted by the American variant. Since there has been a lot of cross-fertilization between these styles, with many practitioners training or competing under the rules of more than one style, the history of the individual styles cannot be seen in isolation from one another.
The French term Boxe pieds-poings (literally "feet-fists-boxing") is also used in the sense of "kickboxing" in the general meaning, including French boxing (Savate) as well as American, Dutch and Japanese kickboxing, Burmese and Thai boxing, any style of full contact karate, etc.
Arts labeled as kickboxing in the general sense include:
The Indochinese family of kickboxing sports (also known generically as muay) including:
- Khmer Pradal Serey – similar to Muay Thai with an emphasis on elbow techniques (Ring-wise). Also known as Kun Khmer.
- Thai Muay Boran (Ancient boxing) – Predecessor of Muay Thai, allows the use of headbutts.
- Thai kickboxing or Muay Thai – the modern Thai martial art with strong emphasis on knee and elbow strikes.
- Burmese Lethwei, a traditional Burmese martial art of which has now grown into a popular kickboxing event with strong emphasis on knee, elbow strikes and headbutt. Any part of the body may be used to strike and be struck. It is also known as Bando kickboxing.
- Laotian Muay Lao – Laotian boxing which is similar to Muay Thai
- Filipino Yaw-Yan – Sayaw ng Kamatayan (Dance of Death) is the proper name for Yaw-Yan, a Filipino martial art developed by Napoleon Fernandez. The art resembles Muay Thai in a sense, but differs in the hip torquing motion as well as downward-cutting nature of its kicks and with strong emphasis on delivering attacks from long range.
- Indian Musti yuddha (also known as Muki boxing) and Adithada, a form of kickboxing that uses knee, elbow and forehead strikes in Southern kalaripayattu.
- French Savate, a historical sport which developed in the 19th century.
modern competition-oriented hybrid martial arts that developed in parallel with Japanese and American kickboxing:
- Dutch Kickboxing — incorporate styles of Muay Thai, Boxing, and Kyokushin style of Karate.
- Any style of Full contact Karate
- Sanda (Sanshou) (Chinese Kickboxing ) – The applicable component of wushu/kung fu of which takedowns and throws are legal in competition as well as all other sorts of striking (use of arms and legs).
- Shoot boxing – A Japanese form of kickboxing which allows throwing and submission while standing, similar to Sanda.