Kickboxing is defined as a group of stand-up combat sports based on punching and kicking. As well as being a full-contact sport, kickboxing is also performed for general fitness and self-defense purposes. There is no single governing body, and with so many organizations, the sport has a number of different variations, which we briefly explore below.
Which Kickboxing Style Suits You?
Cardio kickboxing: This is a form of kickboxing performed for the purposes of improving cardiovascular fitness and also to lose weight. It involves throwing combinations of punches and kicks, and can be done at home with limited equipment.
Muay Thai: This is a traditional Thai martial art that has become an extremely popular kickboxing event. It emphasizes elbow and knee strikes, with hard, accurate kicks to the shin of your opponent a common tactic.
American kickboxing: This is a substyle of kickboxing where you are not allowed to strike below the waist, which makes it very different to Muay Thai, for example. As a result, it involves a lot of punching and is closer to boxing than traditional kickboxing.
Japanese kickboxing: This is comparable to Muay Thai in a number of ways stylistically. The biggest difference is the system of scoring in competition. It is also believed to be the first fighting style to carry the kickboxing name.
Chinese kickboxing: Also known as sanshou or sanda, Chinese kickboxing is similar to kung fu and wushu. Throwing is one of the most important parts of sparring, so competitors strive to grab their opponent and send him flat on his back.
French kickboxing: This is also known as savate, and as competitors are allowed to wear shoes during bouts, the result is even more powerful kicks.
Filipino kickboxing: Also known as Yaw-Yan, this form of kickboxing comes from the Napoleon Fernandez school of teaching. Kicks are normally performed in a downward direction and resemble chop downs designed to knock an opponent off his feet. Hip pivoting is also important to generate power and speed, and practitioners also refer to this style as the Dance of Death.
Cambodian kickboxing: This is known as Pradal Serey and is allegedly the predecessor of Muay Thai. It is a form of kickboxing that emphasizes a variety of elbow attacks.
Muay Boran: It is a kickboxing form that can be described as Pradal Serey with headbutts allowed!
Burmese kickboxing: This is better known as Lethwei and has enjoyed a surge in popularity to the point where it has become a big kickboxing event. Practitioners are allowed to use any limb on the body to strike and can hit any part of the opponents body. This includes the use of headbutts.
Adithada: This is also known as Indian-style kickboxing and involves using the forehead, elbows, and knees to strike opponents.
As you can see, there are a bewildering amount of kickboxing styles to choose from, so we recommend picking the one which allows you to achieve your combat goals.