Kickboxing is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from Karate, and Western boxing. The term "kickboxing" can be used in a narrow and in a wide sense: in a narrow sense, it indicates the styles that self-identify as kickboxing (i.e. Japanese kickboxing and American kickboxing), but in a wider sense includes all stand-up combat sports.


Most punching techniques are very much identical to boxing punches, including jabs, crosses, hooks and uppercuts, plus a number of other techniques such as the backfist, a strike to the head delivered raising the arm and bending the arm at the elbow, and then straightening the arm quickly to strike to the side of the head with the rear of the knuckles, the flying punch, struck usually from the rear hand while the combatant hops on the front foot, kicking back with the rear foot and simultaneously extending the rear hand as a punch, the overcut, a semi-circular and vertical punch thrown with the rear hand, usually when the opponent bobbing or slipping, and so forth.

The standard kicking techniques are the front kick, a strike to the face or chest with the heel, the side kick, delivered to the head or body with leg parallel to the ground, the circular kick and roundhouse kick, delivered in a chopping motion, and so forth. There are also spinning/jumping variation of basic kicks, and a large number of special techniques such as axe kicks, back kicks, sweeps and others. Knee techniques, indicative of its Muay Thai heritage, are also used in some competitions, usually in a short-range or clinching position.


Kickboxing has a number of different rulesets.

  • Full contact, or American kickboxing, is essentially a mixture of Western boxing and traditional Karate. Opponents are allowed to hit each other with punches and kicks, striking above the waist, while elbows and knees strikes are forbidden and the use of the shins is seldom allowed. Clinch fighting, throws and sweeps are also forbidden.
  • International rules, also known as Freestyle rules, American boxing and Low kick, contrasts with full contact rules in that it also allows low kicks. Elbows, knees, clinch fighting, throws and sweeps are still forbidden.
  • Dutch kickboxing is an aggressive style of kickboxing which allows punches and kicks to head, chest and legs, though the main emphasis of the style is on punches. Knee strikes are allowed but elbow strikes are not. Clinch fighting is allowed but not emphasized. Throws and sweeps are not allowed.
  • Japanese kickboxing, or K-1, was the first combat sport that adopted the name of "kickboxing" in 1966. Fighters are allowed to strike their opponent with punches, kicks and knees including kicks below the waist (except for the groin). Limited clinch fighting is allowed, but elbows are forbidden. Head butts, throws and sweeps were initially allowed, but were banned in 1966 for fighters' safety.
  • Shoot boxing is a unique style of kickboxing popular in Japan that utilizes standing submissions such as chokeholds, armlocks and wristlocks in addition to kicks, punches, knees and throws. Elbows are forbidden.




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