Facts About Kickboxing

Updated April 17, 2017

Kick-boxing was invented in Japan to compete with Muay Thai or Thai boxing. The sport, a derivative of boxing, karate, taekwondo and other fighting styles, bears many similarities to boxing except the fighters use fists, arms and legs for strikes. Kick-boxing is practised as a full-contact combat sport or for general fitness.


Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi is credited with developing the sport. Three Muay Thai fighters journeyed to Japan in 1966 to battle three karate fighters from the Oyama dojo. Japan won two to one, and Noguchi and Kenji Kurosaki, a karate master, coined the combined martial art "kick-boxing."


Kick-boxing took off in the United States in 1974 when Mike Anderson, George F. Bruckner and others founded the World Federation WASKO (World All Style Karate Organization). WASKO standardised rules for competitions. Kick-boxing then caught fire with the popularity of Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. Known for his fast roundhouse kick and hook kick---clocked at 60mph---Wallace won 23 consecutive bouts between 1974 and 1980.


The term kick-boxing grew to cover a variety of fighting forms, including Muay Thai. Some others are Adithada (Indian); Lethwei (Burmese); Pradal Serey (Khmer); Savate (French); San Shou/Sanda (Chinese); Full Contact Karate (American/British kick-boxing); and shoot boxing (Japanese) which allows submission moves and throwing.


There are two different types of kick-boxing fighting---full contact and semi contact. Because full contact allows hard strikes and kicks, children can only compete in semi contact competitions. Sparring requires padded kick boots, shin guards, boxing gloves, and head and mouth guards.


The rules in kick-boxing resemble those of Muay Thai such as the allowance for clinch fighting. However, the United States and British style only permits striking with fists and feet. Use of elbows and shins is strictly forbidden. Full contact kick-boxing allows strikes above the shorts. Judges count each fighter's number of kicks; eight kicks are compulsory per round. For each missed kick, fighters are penalised a half point. Kick-boxing rounds last two to three minutes with one minute breaks and a bout lasts three to 12 rounds. A winner is declared if there is a submission, knockout or referee stoppage. However, when the fight is evenly matched with no clear victor, the judges tally points to determine the winner.

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About the Author

Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.