While the sport of Boxing having its long history since the age of Roman
Empire and a very large population base in its amateur and professional
practitioners, with its techniques having been thoroughly experienced,
researched and evolved, it makes us to think that the "Sweet Science" is almost
coming to be at a point of its perfection.
In comparison, while Muay Thai has its own history, Kickboxing is a new sport
now gaining a world wide popularity, and the population is still small. The
world of Kickboxing is also not as unified yet, as there are many organizations
in the world having their own championship tournaments with different rules.
Also the lines are thin between this sport and other full-contact or
semi-contact fighting tournaments. There are still many new ideas and techniques
coming out in Kickboxing, with a large help from the variety of already existing
Martial Arts such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu and many others.
Here is a brief background of the sport of Kickboxing. It is also written in
our FAQ page.
|Kickboxing has taken into a form
around 500 years ago (some say it's longer) in the country of what's now
Thailand, called Muay Thai or Thai Boxing. Most of the kickboxing
styles in the world is based on Muay Thai, including Japan, Europe, and
Australia. In Muay Thai match, the fighters are allowed to:
Kick and knee to the leg, body, head
Punch to the body,
Elbow to the body, head
Back spin punch
(They used to allow
head butts and throws)
What's dominant in America is the American-style kickboxing,
which is started out as a full contact Karate tournament with the basis of
boxing. It allows kicks to the waist above only, and there is no elbow and
knee strikes. There are many Kickboxing organizations in the world having
their own championship tournaments. The organizations are, to name a few:
W.K.A., W.K.C, I.K.K.C., K.I.C.K., P.K.F., P.K.A, I.S.K.A., etc.
Savate is a French version of kickboxing. San Shou is a
Chinese kickboxing started out from Kung-fu, allowing throws in addition.
And so is Draka from Russia. Shoot-boxing is started out in
Japan and is a combination of Muay Thai with throws.
Out of what seems to be an disorganized situation in present kickboxing
world, there came a kickboxing event called K-1. Originally a
full-contact Karate event that became a huge success in Japan, it is now
considered sort of a unified tournament of striking Martial Arts where any
styles and organizations can freely compete in it --- as long as they
adhere to its rule. It's tournament rule is similar to that of Muay Thai
without elbow strikes. So far the champions from many styles of
striking-based Martial Arts have competed in it, such as Karate, Boxing,
Muay Thai, Kung-fu, Taekwondo, American Kickboxing, Draka, Capoeira,
Shootfighting and No Hold Barred (UFC, Vale Tudo). It has been a huge
success in Japan and in Europe, and now it is also becoming big in the US.
The homepage of K-1 is: http://www.k-1.co.jp/. It is said that the idea of K-1
event is a very important step in the development of Kickboxing and the
Martial Arts in general.
By the way, when I say Kickboxing in here, I include Muay Thai in it. But I
sometimes distinguish the two for the comparison between the traditional Thai
Boxing versus the modern Kickboxing that is generally referred to now.
Some fighters are successful mostly with their use of Boxing techniques,
using very little or no kicks. Some excel in kicks, and are winning by fighting
at a long distance. Some are specialized in knee techniques, and are noticeable
by their stocky physique they need to grapple the opponent's neck, successfully
kneeing him round after round. Some champions have a unique style as they start
spinning their body while throwing unpredictable back blows and back spin kicks.
Some are low kickers, slowly crushing the opponent to his knees, and some show
up with an effective new combination techniques. While the punching techniques
alone, as in the sport of Boxing, can be so wide and deep, in Kickboxing you now
have to utilize 4 arms, or even more if a style includes knee or elbow
techniques. Kickboxing still has this potential to be explored many technical
areas that are yet to be discovered. Back spin kick and ax kicks are some
examples that have not been known in Muay Thai (or rarely used) but are now
being used by some Kickboxers.
The stance and the fighting posture of Kickboxing is basically the same
as that of Boxing. See Boxing
basics for its description. However, a lot of Muay Thai fighters
position their arms more up and forward, and their body faces more square.
There is one thing to mension here especially for those who are just
starting out Kickboxing having the background in other Martial Arts. It's
not to imply that one style is any worse than another, but instead of
using your leading arm to cover your face while positioning the other hand
low to protect your abdominal, it is more practical in this sport to
protect your face with that other hand. In other words, if you stand in
orthodox (standing with your left foot forward), cover the right side of
your face (jaw) with your right hand. Because that's the most vulnerable
spot, whereas it is possible to cover the left side of your jaw, in an
abrupt moment of danger, with your left shoulder or by slightly bending
Muay Thai vs. Kickboxer
The fundamentals of Kickboxing are those of Boxing. These include
stance, foot works, defenses, and of course, the punches.
There are some successful fighters in Kickboxing who are basically
Boxers in their background and the fighting style. The foundation of
Boxing is very important in Kickboxing. There are many starters of this
sport who tend to be attracted to practice the kicks, especially the
flashy ones, and this is to be strongly warned against. Just think of how
hand techniques alone can be so deep and wide as the boxers spend their
carrer in improving them, whereas Kickboxers must cover the leg techniques
in addition! There is no time for us to practice flashy kicks.
Please see Boxing
basics page if you haven't.
Back Spin BlowHowever, there is
one hand technique in Kickboxing that does not exist in Boxing. The back
spin blow is a strike where you twist your upper body in reverse, and hit
the face of an opponent with the back of your fist. It's abrupt and
unexpected movement can be an effective knockout technique, and because it
is not allowed in the much bigger sport of Boxing, this is one of the
techniques that needs to be studied well in its application.
Train to control the distance between your opponent while executing,
for it is typical to hit with your forearm instead, which is against the
rule in most Kickboxing tournaments. Also, this technique creates an
opening by facing your back to the opponent.
Here is a clipse
(300KB) of Andy Hug (Switzerland, Kyokushin Karate) executing a
back spin blow that knocks down his opponent. Notice the combination
he applied. As the opponent throws a left jab, he creates himself an
opening on his left jaw. Andy paries the jab with his right arm, and
quickly spins backward to connect with the back spin blow.
(180KB) on the same match where Andy executes the same technique
for the second time, decisively knocks him out. In this scene, the
opponent drops his left arm while throwing his straight right. Andy
throws a fake right jab, and with that momentum, he rotates his body
to connect with another back spin blow.
Kickboxing, the roundhouse kick is obviously the most widely used
kick of all. You can kick to the head and the body, or to the legs
depending on the tournament rules.
In training, throw your foot with the full twist of your hip and
the snap of your knee, while covering your face with the other side
of your arm. Feel as though you are actually throwing your hip
rather than your foot, --- hip movement is important just like how
Boxing teaches to throw punches --- and at the moment of impact,
your body and the leg should be almost on a strait line. Usually you
kick with your instep, but you can learn to use your shin which
yields much more power and heavier in its impact.
However, there are numerous ways to execute the roundhouse kick.
There is no right or wrong way. It is enlightening to see how each
style of Martial Arts has its own way of executing the kicks. Each
has its own merit, as its purpose and the tournament style differ,
and learning to kick in different ways is a great advantage. It's
almost a priviledge of living in the modern age, allowing us to pick
ideas as needed from the Martial Arts of all over the world.
|At a real
match you don't always twist your hip completely as how you
practice on the mit. For example, if you do the roundhouse
kick at a closer distance, you'll be kicking like this. Here
is a clipse
of a successful knockout kick using his shin at a close
A variation in a roundhouse
The following is the typical three steps on executing the
roundhouse kick in different styles of Martial Arts, with the
emphasis and the merit of each. It is only a generalization, to show
that there are different ways of executing a kick for different
purposes, and it is not to mean that the specified styles only
execute the ways as are written.
|Tae Kwon Do
With the twist of the hip and the snap of the
knee, hit your shin against the opponent's leg and body, your
instep against the head
With the snap of the knee, hit with the ball of your
foot, as your body still faces your opponent for the
Quickly retrieve the foot back to avoid getting
leans backward for extra distance.
Using the snap of the
knee, hit with the instep.
full twist of your hip, hit the shin against the opponent's
leg and body, instep against the head. They are noted
especially for their use of shin.
is to feel your body weight dropping onto the target with your
foot at the point of impact.
foot is well grounded all the time for the control.
said that the use of the ball of the foot in kick can be more
to its noted speed comes from flexibility, relaxation and the
hopping footworks on the ground.
motion is the key to its power. Sometimes they kick while
keeping their leg almost straight, executing solely by the hip
The shin is a sensitive area but can be a very
strong weapon if trained. Many Thai boxers have callasis on
their shins, as Karate fighters have on their
Notice how Aerts is looking down at his
Aerts' foot goes over his blocking
What he thought was a kick to the leg, as
he raises his leg expecting to block it.
Knocking out an opponent with a roundhouse kick to the head
definitely is the highlight and almost symbolizes this sport.
Don't we all consider it an ideal knockout scene we dream of
But you can't just start throwing a lot of kicks at random
hoping that one of them would catch a moment of your opponent
just happened to drop his arms down. Kazuyoshi Ishii, the head
of K-1 and Seido Karate, frequently says, "High kick doesn't
work as a high kick alone. Most of the knockout kicks were
effective because they were faked with the low kicks, to
create an opening on the opponent's head."
It is said that when there is a mix match between a Boxer
and a Kickboxer the Boxer usually wins, but when the rule
allows to have kicks to the leg, the situation starts to get
Peter Aerts KO
Peter Aerts, a Holland Kickboxer who
has been a 3 time K-1 Champion, could well be the strongest
Heavyweight Kickboxer there is today. He is said to have the highest
KO rate in executing the upper roundhouse kick.
- A clipse
of Aerts against Jean Claude (US, Muay Thai champ). He just pushes
the opponent during a clench to create the distance for this
knockout kick to the head.
- A slow-mo scene
of him knocking out a Draka world champion (I forgot his name).
is another beautiful roundhouse kick to the head. Notice every one
of his opponents who got knocked out always expected a low kick
Aerts knocks out Jean Claude again in his revenge match. His kick
may look awkward, yet the most effective.
- He knocks out Jerome
Lebanner (France, Muay Thai champ) after a clench.
one he knocks out an American Kickboxing champion, who is also
a world champion in the sport of Boxing at his weight class (I
forgot his name). Can anybody ever stop Aerts from beating every
champion in the world?
|Aerts looks down, as though he is about to execute a
low kick. The opponent also prepares to defend the low kick by
lifting his leg.
of a sudden, he switches to a kick to the head.
|Almost every knockout kick Peter Aerts (Holland, 3
time K-1 champ) had performed were being done this way (80% KO
Among all types of roundhouse kick, or any kick for that matter,
the low kick is used most oftenly (in the matches allowing the low
kick). It can be used either as a jab or an effective knockout
strike. It is more stable and quicker to execute, allowing more
easily to be included in combination moves. At the same time, it is
sometimes a neglected technique, being sloppy and simple in looks,
but there is a wide variety of ways and moments to execute. Some
traditional Karate and Chinese styles only teach to kick below the
waist for the practicality in real fighting.
|Low kick has the power to break a bundle of 3,4 wooden
baseball bats. Notice the momentum he creates using his whole
body, arching like a bow.
Rick Roufus has been a world champion in the sports of
Boxing and American style Kickboxing (allows no kick below the
waist), and also became a champion in K-1 USA. Francisco Filho
from Kyokushin Karate (allows no punch to the face) has been
doing exceptionally well in K-1 rings, notwithstanding the
fact that he had no prior experience in the glove match
(facial contact). Filho defeated Roufus solely by the low
kicks he had been throwing round after round, and it's a good
example of how effective the low kick can be. However while
seeing Filho's fights so far, it is obvious that his punches
are still very awkward, and the importance of Boxing
foundation in Kickboxing is still to be strongly emphasized.
Here's the clipse
of the fight.
Back Spin Kick
It's abrupt, confusing movement (contrary to all other kicks,
your right kick comes out of your left side) and it's extreme power
(because of its full 180 degree momentum, and the use of your heel
and buttocks muscle) have created many knockout scenes. With a risk
of momentarily turning back to your opponent, with a care it can
even be used as your first attack, and the moment of you facing back
to your opponent can be shortened for him to react against. Although
it is not an original Muay Thai technique, many full contact Karate
fighters and Kickboxers have been utilizing this technique.
When you kick with your right leg, it is more effective if
you target more to the right side of your opponent's body, in
effect only your heel would hit the target, otherwise you hit
with the sole of your foot which lessens the impact or your
foot may slip to the other side. Feel as though you are
hitting the target with your hip, rather than with the feeling
of a quick extention or push of your leg --- you end up just
pushing your opponent, or worse, causes an overextention of
your knee when misses the target. How the punches are taught
to execute in Boxing is an analogy to the principle in
On the left, Michael Thompson (Britain, Kyokushin), who was
losing on the rounds before, executes a back spin kick right
at the beginning of a next round that caught him a knockout
(against Champuek Kyatsongrit, Thailand, Muay Thai). Here's
Here's a clipse
of Ernesto Hoost's (Holland champion) knockout kick against
Mark Russel (Britain champion). Here's a clipse
of Francisco Filho (Brazil, Kyokushin) beautiful knockout kick
(against Vander Marv, S.Africa).
Front Kick, Side Kick
In self defence or Martial Arts in general, the front kick
is a fundamental and widely used kick that is said to be
practical, and a good technique to learn the basic elements in
kicking such as the balance, coordination and the use of the
quick snap in knee and hip joints. However, in the sport of
Kickboxing, it is executed with more of a push or thrust,
rather than a snap.
Orlando Veits' uppercut-like front kick
goes right through the blocking arms to
On a Kickboxing ring it is rather difficult to knock down
an opponent with the front kick or side kick (the reasons may
be its rule allowing no kick to more vulnerable lower stomach,
and the trained fighters being able to take the blows to the
stomach). You can also aim a front kick to the face, but both
kicks are typically used to control the distance between your
opponent, to stop an opponent's attack, to create an opening
or the forward momentum onto the opponent. Side kick is
another technique practiced widely in other Martial Arts,
while its application in the sport of Kickboxing has been
comparatively small and it does not exist in Muay Thai (or
rarely being used). But it's not meant to be stated that side
kick is impractical.
Side Kick is also similarly used. It , but its But
Thompson effectively executes his front kick to stop a
powerful low kick from Champuek Kyatsongrit. As you see, he is
pushing the opponent's left side of the hip to minimize the
body rotation needed for the low kick. Here is its clipse.
Ax Kick, Reverse Roundhouse
The Ax kick, a rather flashy kick difficult in achieving a
knockout with, is sometimes used to confuse the opponent. As
Kickboxing being a professional exibition, the audience love
to see it. It is confusing because you don't usually expect a
foot coming from up to down. A clipse
shows. A clipse
of Andy Hug effectively knockouts an opponent. Another clipse
shows how this kick can sometimes be difficult to deal with.
Reverse roundhouse kick usually is aimed to the head, and
it can effectively utilize the reverse snap of the knee,
creating difficulty in blocking as the foot can come around
the opponents blocking arm at the point of the knee joint.
Andy Hug knocked out his opponent at the final match by a
unique reverse roundhouse against the opponent's leg, as he
became a K-1 champion of that year.
regular roundhouse kick missed the target. Using that
follows the rotation with a reverse roundhouse, successfully
hitting the opponent's face.
Bending down when ducking or clenching, as how it often is being
done in the sport of Boxing, creates a big opening for a knee
Many Kickboxing styles allows clenching as part of the fight, and
elbow and knee can effectively be used. You can knee to the head,
body or even to the leg. Elbow is not allowed in many Kickboxing
of a straight right followed by left kick.
Combinations in Kickboxing is rather difficult to perfect
compared to those of Boxing. When you practice combinations without
a target to hit, as in a shadow boxing, you feel the combination of
a punch followed by a kick on the same side (eg. right straight,
right kick) is more balanced and natural. On the other hand if you
actually hit a bag, you may find that a punch followed by a kick on
the other side (eg. left hook, right kick) generally yields more
power with the balance, and thus practical. This is because when you
hit a target with your left arm, for instance, the impact from the
target (the opposite reaction) makes your body turn the other way
around, in effect letting you naturally to follow kick with your
right. This is a clipse
of left uppercut followed by right kick. Here's a clipse
of the famous combination move of Ernesto Hoost, who is nicknamed as
"Mr.Perfect" for his perfected moves as this one.
A left jab.
A fake right
straight. The opponent drops his hands to protect his abdomen.
momentum created by the fake right, right roundhouse is
followed naturally, KO'ed the opponent.
However, this is not to mean that other types of
combination are impractical. You can create an opening with
your right punch, followed by right kick. If you miss or
intentionally fake a right punch, you can follow with your
right kick. This is a clipse
of a left jab, followed by a fake right punch, followed by a
well balanced right roundhouse kick. With this combination,
Nakazato (Seido Karate, Japan) decisively knocks out a Muay
A combination usually ends with a kick. Combination of a
kick followed by a punch is a bit more difficult. This is
because when you execute a kick, as you lift your leg up your
upperbody leans backward, so you must then lean back forward
quickly in order to follow with a punch. Here's a clipse
of right kick followed by right punch. When you kick with your
right leg, your right arm tends to swing backward to maintain
your balance, so you can utilize that position to thrust a