Kickboxing is a relatively new combat sport, being created from boxing techniques and karate kicks by martial arts exponents in America in the 1970s. Despite its youth as a sport, kickboxing is actually a professional sport for both men and women worldwide. Indeed in parts of Asia, kickboxers are kinds of celebrities to the people. In the West, kickboxing is an incredibly popular sport due to its demand for high fitness levels and the emphasis on being able to protect oneself. Like all combat sports, you can train in kickboxing without wanting to compete, however many do.
When it comes to the rules of kickboxing fights, the lines are very blurred. As there is no one official governing body for kickboxing, like karate’s WKF or judo’s IJF, the rules differ depending on which organizations competition you attend. Some professional bouts can be up to twelve rounds long, with 2 minutes for each round. That’s twenty four minutes of fighting! As you can imagine, this requires speed, strength, and endurance to keep punching and being punched, but also great flexibility and agility to get their kicks up, from thigh to head level. Fighters also need to be resilient, particularly when it comes to their pain threshold. Fights can either be for points or until knockout depending on the rules – either way the contact will definitely wear a person down after a while.
Kickboxing fights, like boxing fights, are held in boxing rings, which are made of a sprung canvas and are enclosed by four ropes on each side. In terms of officials, there is a referee in the ring, a timekeeper, scorekeeper, and judges outside the ring looking in. There will also be a doctor at the ring to tend to any injuries incurred during the fight. Each fighter has a corner team which usually includes their trainer or coach and two seconds who will tend to minor injuries between rounds.
In all kickboxing fights, competitors have to wear some form of boxing gloves for protection. These vary in weights and style depending on the rules. Foam shin and feet pads may also be worn as another form of protection. Groin guards, chest guards and mouth guards are essential. In some fights, head guards will be worn. When children fight in kickboxing, the contact level is usually light to semi, and all of the protective equipment has to be worn. This is because until you get to around eighteen years old your body hasn’t finished developing yet, therefore extensive contact can be damaging to muscle and bone growth.
However, this being said, the kickboxing training is incredibly beneficial to people of all ages as it increases fitness levels continuously and builds up fantastic strength whilst also teaching the skills you could need to protect yourself at unfortunate stages in life.