Kickboxing’s Tumultuous History and what it’s all About


Although kickboxing seems to be a very popular sport, it wasn’t always. With roots that reach back thousands of years, it has had many reincarnations over the years in an effort to build the modern following that it has today.

What is kickboxing and where did it come from

The sport of kickboxing originated as a 2,000 year old form of combat in Thailand known as, Muay Thai Kickboxing. Its original purpose was for the use of self-defense in battle. However, as battle was met with progress and the instance of full-contact weaponless warfare became increasingly rare, the need for kickboxing shrank.

Avid followers of this full-body martial art began to transition it into sporting event combat rather than see the ancient technique die out. It remained an unfamiliar sport with little popularity outside of Thailand, until the 1970’s when up and coming celebrity champions Bruce Lee and John Claude Van Damme brought martial arts to the forefront of the rest of the world’s public eye.

Although Bruce Lee’s martial arts discipline was full-contact karate, he was the one who really set the stage for kickboxing to develop into the sport it is today; by introducing the western world to martial arts in general.

Over the next several decades the sport went through its ups and downs when establishing a governing body with one attempt after another failing. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s early 2,000’s that the sport began to take off and an accepted governing body was established.

General Kickboxing Overview

Kickboxing is a martial art based form of boxing. Unlike mixed martial arts competitions, the combatants in kickboxing wear gloves that are mandated by the World Kickboxing Association. Kickboxing gloves range in weight and size, but during competition must fall within the association’s guidelines. Kickboxing is a full-contact sport where competitors use boxing techniques and martial art kicks in order to overpower and subdue their opponent.

In addition to being a mainstream sporting event, kickboxing has become an effective and popular fitness workout. Gyms, and athletic centers all over the world offer kickboxing classes as a way to maintain lean muscle and a strong cardiovascular system. The use of kickboxing as a workout routine has helped immensely in the efforts to popularize the sport leading to its modern day success.

What’s the Difference between Kickboxing and MMA

Mixed Martial Arts formed as a spinoff sport from kickboxing. The main difference between the two sports is in the rules and the fact that mixed martial arts is a bare fisted combat sport. In MMA sports there are a lot of wrestling moves incorporated into the movements associated with MMA fighting; that are intended to force the competitor to tap out similar to wrestling. You do not typically see these same movements within kickboxing; although you will see many kickboxing techniques used in MMA.

Kickboxing’s 2,000 year old history has morphed it from being a military hand-to-hand combat practice to being a multi-million dollar sport that is acknowledged around the world. Thanks to ambitious athletes like Bruce Lee who strived to introduce the world to the practice and disciplines associated with martial arts, it looks as though kickboxing will be around for a long, long time to come.