Kickboxing is a fun, fast-paced exercise that developed in the 1970s out of a combination of fighting and martial arts styles, traditionally karate, Muay Thai, and North American boxing. Originally developed as a form of self-defence, kickboxing is now a popular workout option for all fitness levels and has fans amongst a wide variety of exercisers all over the world. The early forms of kickboxing were a hybrid of several martial arts styles, and were developed in Japan. Since its creation, kickboxing has fostered the creation of other mixed martial arts styles in many different countries around the world.
The term kickboxing is not exclusive to a certain style, but is rather an umbrella term for many different styles of mixed martial arts and street fights. All forms of kickboxing allow full-body contact, but some forms involve more advanced strikes, such as head butts and forehead strikes. Kickboxing is a respectable form of fighting that only allows opponents to strike each other with their extremities. The primary forms of contact are punches and kicks, and fighters are never allowed to use their whole body to strike an opponent.
As a form of recreational exercise, the most common strikes are as follows:
- Jab: a straight punch aimed at the center of the opponent’s face
- Cross: a straight punch that crosses the front of the body and is aimed at the side, hitting the opponent with the back of the hand
- Hook: a rounded punch that is achieved by sweeping the arm around to hit the opponent on the side of the face
- Uppercut: a punch that comes from below, hitting the opponent underneath the jaw
- Front kick: a kick to the center of the opponent’s chest with the heel of the foot
- Side kick: delivering a more powerful kick to the center of the opponent’s chest by turning to the side and bending the upper body backward until it is parallel with the ground
- Roundhouse or circular kick: when you are facing away from the opponent, turning 180 degrees to face them and using the front of the foot or sometimes the shin to kick the opponent in a chopping motion
- Semi-circular kick: the same concept as the roundhouse kick but used when your body is presented sideways to the opponent and turning 45 degrees to face them and use the front of the foot or sometimes the shin to kick in a chopping motion
As a workout, kickboxing provides a high intensity cardio workout that boosts your cardiovascular activity and focuses on strengthening your core muscles. Gyms and personal trainers teach proper kickboxing techniques and ensure that newcomers are not put off by an intimidating environment. Kickboxing movements are regularly used in self defense classes, especially for women, as kickboxing movements can provide a lot of power without needing a lot of muscle behind them.
Although most kickboxing is performed without any equipment, wearing wraps or gloves on your hands and using a punching bag can allow you to really power through your kickboxing techniques with the benefit of feeling the impact of your strikes. Kickboxing without using a weighted bag is sometimes referred to as shadowboxing because you are sparring with an imaginary opponent, and it is the basis for most kickboxing exercise classes. However, it can make a world of difference when you are able to put your strikes, punches, and kicks into motion against a punching bag. Using a bag gives you the simulation of actually fight an opponent, albeit, an opponent who does not strike back.