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What Is Kickboxing? An Ultimate Beginners Guide (2023)

Are you grappling with boredom and seeking a vibrant hobby to inject some excitement into your daily routine?

Kickboxing might just be the exciting hobby you’ve been searching for.

In this kickboxing guide, we delve deep into the world of the exciting martial art, a hobby that not only promises to banish boredom but also offers a gateway to a community of like-minded enthusiasts.

Kickboxing is an exhilarating combat sport that offers a wide range of benefits, including physical fitness, self-defense skills, and an exciting competitive environment.

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What is Kickboxing?

Kickboxing can be defined as a hybrid martial art and combat sport that allows participants to utilize both punching and kicking techniques.

It emerged in the 1970s as a fusion of traditional karate and boxing, with influences from various martial arts styles.

The objective of kickboxing is to outscore or knockout the opponent through powerful strikes.

a man in a boxing ring, red punching/kicking bag

Historical Background of Kickboxing

The roots of kickboxing can be traced back to ancient combat forms practiced in Greece and India. In Greece, fighters known as pankratiasts engaged in a combination of wrestling and striking techniques.

Meanwhile, in India, practitioners of Vajra Mushti employed a similar hybrid style.

The modern development of kickboxing took place in Japan and the United States. In Japan, the sport of full-contact karate, known as Kyokushin, influenced the birth of Japanese kickboxing.

Notable figures such as Tadashi Sawamura and Kazuyoshi Ishii played significant roles in its evolution.

In the United States, karate practitioners sought ways to test their skills in full-contact matches.

Martial artists like Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace adapted their karate techniques to incorporate punches and kicks commonly seen in boxing. This paved the way for the development of American kickboxing.

Influence From Traditional Martial Arts

Kickboxing owes its diverse range of techniques to the influence of traditional martial arts. The incorporation of punches from Western boxing and the devastating kicks of Muay Thai has enriched the sport with a wide array of striking options.

This fusion of different martial arts styles has contributed to the exciting and dynamic nature of kickboxing.

Moreover, kickboxing has also served as a platform for cross-training among martial artists. Many practitioners of other combat disciplines engage in kickboxing to enhance their skills and broaden their knowledge.

Through its evolution and hybridization, kickboxing has become an exhilarating combat sport that attracts both practitioners and fans worldwide.

a woman kicking a man with black training pads

Why Choose Kickboxing as a Hobby?

Kickboxing offers numerous advantages that go beyond fighting.

Choosing kickboxing as a hobby opens up a world of benefits, touching upon physical, mental, and emotional spheres of your life.

Here are some key benefits of the hobby:

  1. Physical Fitness: Engaging in kickboxing is akin to embracing a comprehensive fitness regime. It helps in toning muscles, improving cardiovascular health, and fostering overall physical well-being.
  2. Mental Resilience: The focused and disciplined approach to kickboxing not only builds physical strength but also cultivates mental resilience, enhancing concentration and determination.
  3. Community Engagement: Kickboxing allows you to connect with a community of like-minded individuals, fostering friendships and offering a supportive environment to thrive.

Kickboxing for Self-Defense & Fitness

Kickboxing is not only a thrilling combat sport but also offers practical applications for self-defense and provides numerous fitness benefits.

Self-Defense Applications of Kickboxing

Kickboxing techniques can be effectively utilized for self-defense in real-life situations.

Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Striking Techniques: Kickboxing equips individuals with a wide range of striking techniques using punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. These techniques can be adapted for self-defense purposes, allowing individuals to effectively defend themselves against an attacker.
  2. Control and Confidence: Through kickboxing training, individuals develop the ability to maintain control and composure under pressure. This mental and emotional strength can help individuals defuse potentially dangerous situations and assertively protect themselves.
  3. Improving Reactions: Kickboxing training involves drills and exercises that enhance reflexes and reaction time. This heightened awareness and quick thinking are valuable skills when faced with unexpected threats or aggression.
  4. Physical Conditioning: Kickboxing workouts contribute to overall physical conditioning, which can greatly improve self-defense capabilities. The increased strength, speed, and agility gained through kickboxing training allow individuals to respond effectively in self-defense situations.

Fitness Benefits of Kickboxing

a group of people exercising, punching air, fitness class

Kickboxing provides a full-body workout that combines cardiovascular conditioning, strength training, and flexibility development.

Here are some of the fitness benefits associated with kickboxing:

  1. Cardiovascular Endurance: Kickboxing involves continuous movement and high-intensity intervals that elevate heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. Regular kickboxing workouts increase endurance, allowing individuals to sustain physical activity for longer periods.
  2. Muscle Strengthening: The striking techniques used in kickboxing engage multiple muscle groups, including the arms, shoulders, core, legs, and glutes. As a result, kickboxing training helps build muscular strength and tone throughout the body.
  3. Calorie Burning: Kickboxing is a calorie-burning powerhouse. The fast-paced nature of the sport, coupled with explosive movements, leads to a significant calorie expenditure, aiding in weight management and fat loss.
  4. Improved Flexibility: The dynamic kicks and movements in kickboxing require a good range of motion. Regular practice improves flexibility in the hips, legs, and shoulders, enhancing overall mobility and reducing the risk of injuries.
  5. Stress Relief: Engaging in an intense kickboxing workout releases endorphins, providing mental and emotional stress relief. The focus required during training helps clear the mind and relieve tension, leading to improved overall well-being.

Kickboxing offers a holistic approach to fitness, allowing individuals to reap the benefits of physical exercise while gaining valuable self-defense skills.

Pros & Cons of Kickboxing

As with any hobby, kickboxing comes with its set of advantages and disadvantages.

Here we delineate the pros and cons to provide a balanced view:


  1. Combat Boredom: Kickboxing offers a lively and dynamic environment, ensuring there’s no room for boredom. The diverse routines and techniques guarantee a new learning curve at every step.
  2. Enhanced Physical Health: Regular sessions contribute to improved muscle tone and cardiovascular health, fostering a healthier lifestyle.
  3. Boosts Self-Confidence: Mastering the moves and techniques of kickboxing instills a sense of accomplishment, boosting self-confidence and fostering a resilient mindset.


  1. Potential for Injury: Being a physical sport, kickboxing harbors a risk of injuries. It is vital to adhere to safety protocols and learn proper techniques to minimize risks.
  2. Time Commitment: Achieving proficiency in kickboxing demands a significant time investment, potentially conflicting with a busy schedule.
  3. Financial Aspects: Kickboxing can be a costly affair, encompassing expenses for classes, equipment, and memberships, which might be a deterrent for budget-conscious individuals.

Equipment Needed for Kickboxing

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Kickboxing requires specific equipment to ensure safety, enhance performance, and maximize training effectiveness.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced practitioner, having the right gear is essential. In this section, we will explore the essential protective gear and training equipment needed for kickboxing.

Essential Protective Gear

Protective gear is crucial in kickboxing to minimize the risk of injuries during training and competition.

Here are the essential protective gear items you should invest in:

  1. Mouthguard: A mouthguard is essential to protect your teeth and jaw from impact during strikes or accidental collisions. It helps absorb shock and reduce the risk of dental injuries.
  2. Hand Wraps: Hand wraps provide support and stability to the wrists and knuckles. They help prevent hand injuries and keep your fists secure during punching. Learn how to wrap your hands properly for optimal protection.
  3. Gloves: Kickboxing gloves are specially designed to protect both your hands and your training partner or opponent. Different types of gloves are available, including bag gloves for training and sparring gloves for partner work.
  4. Shin Guards: Shin guards protect your shins from heavy strikes and impact during training. They are particularly important when practicing kicks, ensuring your lower legs and shins remain protected.
  5. Headgear: Headgear provides protection for your head, including your temples, chin, and cheeks. It helps absorb the impact of strikes and reduces the risk of head injuries during sparring or competition.

Always choose high-quality, properly-fitted gear to ensure optimal protection and comfort during training and matches.

woman in black fitness clothing kicking black punching bag

Training Equipment

Training equipment in kickboxing plays a vital role in enhancing technique, power, and conditioning. Here is some common training equipment used in kickboxing:

  1. Punching Bag: A punching bag is an essential training tool for developing striking technique, power, and rhythm. There are various types of bags, including heavy bags, speed bags, and double-end bags, each serving different purposes.
  2. Focus Mitts and Thai Pads: Focus mitts and Thai pads are handheld targets that trainers or partners use to simulate real-life striking scenarios. They help develop accuracy, speed, and precision in your strikes.
  3. Kick Shields: Kick shields are large pads that trainers hold to absorb powerful kicks and strikes. They are useful for practicing powerful kicks and improving striking combinations.
  4. Skipping Rope: Skipping rope is an excellent conditioning tool that improves footwork, cardiovascular endurance, and coordination. Regular skipping rope sessions can enhance agility and endurance.
  5. Gym Mat or Flooring: Having a suitable gym mat or flooring is essential for safety during training sessions and sparring. It provides cushioning and reduces the risk of injuries from falls or slips.

Other equipment, such as heavy-duty boxing gloves, hand targets, and speed balls, can also be beneficial for specific training needs.

Assess your training goals and consult with trainers or experienced kickboxers to determine the additional equipment that suits your requirements.

Remember, safety should always be a priority when participating in kickboxing.

Invest in quality protective gear and training equipment to create a safe and

A close up of a punching bag in a kickboxing ring

Estimated Costs to Start Kickboxing

Embarking on a kickboxing journey involves certain financial investments. Here’s an estimation of the potential costs:

  1. Kickboxing Classes: The cost of classes can vary significantly, ranging from $50 to $200 per month, depending on the facility and the trainers’ expertise.
  2. Equipment and Gear: A basic set of quality gear, including gloves and hand wraps, can cost between $100 and $200.
  3. Apparel and Footwear: Suitable clothing and footwear are essential, with costs potentially ranging from $50 to $150.
  4. Additional Expenses: As you progress, you might incur additional costs for specialized training programs, workshops, or participation in competitions.

Difficulty Level of Kickboxing

Kickboxing caters to enthusiasts of all skill levels, offering varying degrees of challenges and rewards at each stage.

Here’s a breakdown of the difficulty levels:

  1. Beginners: At this stage, individuals focus on grasping basic moves and techniques, building a strong foundation for advanced learning. The journey begins with moderate physical demands and evolves with time and practice.
  2. Intermediate Enthusiasts: As you progress, the training intensifies, focusing on honing skills, improving speed, and understanding complex combinations.
  3. Advanced Practitioners: At this level, individuals undergo rigorous training aiming to master the art of kickboxing, venturing into competitive realms and seeking perfection in their craft.

How to Get Started with Kickboxing

If kickboxing has sparked your interest, here’s a step-by-step guide to setting the wheels in motion:

  1. Research and Choose a Suitable Kickboxing Gym: Begin your journey by researching local gyms or centers offering kickboxing classes. Consider factors like trainer experience, facility amenities, and customer reviews to make an informed choice.
  2. Invest in Quality Gear: Ensure to equip yourself with quality gear, including gloves and appropriate footwear, to enhance your training experience and ensure safety.
  3. Start with Basic Moves: Focus on learning the basic moves initially, building a strong foundation before venturing into complex techniques.
  4. Consistent Training Schedule: Develop a consistent training schedule to nurture steady progress and improve skills and fitness levels over time.
  5. Join a Community: Engage with online forums or local communities to connect with fellow enthusiasts, sharing experiences and learning collectively.
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All About Kickboxing Moves

Kickboxing encompasses a wide range of striking techniques designed to provide variety and versatility in combat. Here are some essential moves:

  1. Jab: Execute a quick and straight punch using the lead hand, aimed at the opponent’s head or body.
  2. Cross: Deliver a powerful punch with the rear hand, rotating the hips to generate maximum force.
  3. Roundhouse Kick: Perform a circular kick, swinging the leg in a horizontal or vertical arc to strike the opponent’s body or head.
  4. Front Kick: Execute a push kick using the ball of the foot, generally aimed at the opponent’s chest or abdomen.
  5. Hook: Throw a punch in a semi-circular motion, targeting the opponent’s side of the head or body.
  6. Uppercut: Deliver an upward punch, usually targeting the opponent’s chin or midsection, particularly effective at close range.

These moves, combined with proper footwork and defensive techniques, form the foundation of effective kickboxing.

Techniques in Kickboxing

Kickboxing is known for its diverse range of striking techniques, combining punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.

In this section, we will delve into the various techniques used in kickboxing and explore how to execute them effectively.

Punching Techniques

Punching plays a crucial role in kickboxing, allowing fighters to engage their opponents from a variety of ranges. Mastering punching techniques is essential for success in the ring.

Here are some key punching techniques used in kickboxing:

  1. Jab: The jab is a quick, straight punch thrown with the lead hand. It serves multiple purposes such as creating distance, setting up combinations, and gauging the opponent’s defenses.
  2. Cross: The cross is a powerful punch thrown with the rear hand, utilizing the rotation of the hips for added force. It is aimed at the opponent’s head or body and can deliver a significant impact.
  3. Hook: The hook is a curved punch thrown with a bent arm, targeting the opponent’s head or body from the side. It is effective at close range and can generate considerable power.
  4. Uppercut: The uppercut is an upward punch usually thrown with the rear hand, targeting the opponent’s chin or body. It is used for close-range attacks, particularly against taller opponents.

When executing these punching techniques, proper form and technique are of utmost importance.

Focus on generating power from the legs and hips, maintaining a strong guard to protect yourself, and maintaining proper balance and footwork.

Kicking Techniques

woman kicking black punching bag in front of mirror

Kicking is another vital aspect of kickboxing, allowing fighters to deliver powerful blows to various targets on their opponent’s body.

Here are some kicking techniques commonly utilized in kickboxing:

  1. Front Kick: The front kick is a thrusting kick using the ball of the foot, aimed at the opponent’s midsection. It is a versatile kick used for both offense and defense.
  2. Roundhouse Kick: The roundhouse kick is a rotational kick delivered with the shin or instep, targeting the opponent’s head, body, or legs. It is a powerful and frequently used kick in kickboxing.
  3. Side Kick: The side kick is a linear kick launched from the side, employing the heel or outer edge of the foot. It is ideal for targeting the opponent’s torso or legs and creating distance.
  4. Axe Kick: The axe kick is a descending kick executed with the heel, targeting the opponent’s head or shoulders. It is an effective kick for striking downward and generating power.

To execute these kicking techniques effectively, focus on proper technique and form. Maintain a good balance and pivot on the supporting leg to generate power during kicks.

Additionally, practice flexibility exercises to improve your kicking range and speed.

Elbow and Knee Strikes

In addition to punches and kicks, kickboxing also incorporates elbow and knee strikes, allowing fighters to excel in close-quarter combat.

Here are some notable elbow and knee strikes used in kickboxing:

  1. Elbow Strikes: Kickboxers utilize various elbow techniques such as the horizontal elbow, diagonal elbow, and spinning elbow. These elbow strikes can deliver devastating blows at close range, targeting the opponent’s head or body.
  2. Knee Strikes: Knee strikes are executed using the front knee, flying knee, or spinning knee techniques. These powerful attacks are commonly employed in clinching and close-range combat.

Proper technique and timing are crucial when executing elbow and knee strikes. Be mindful of your distance and make sure to generate power from the core and hips to maximize the impact of these strikes.

Clinching and Grappling

Kickboxing incorporates clinching, a technique used to control and immobilize the opponent. In the clinch, fighters engage in close-quarter combat, working to gain advantageous positions and land strikes. Grappling techniques such as takedowns and throws are also utilized in kickboxing.

Developing clinching and grappling skills requires understanding body positioning, balance, and leverage. Practice drills and techniques to improve your clinching abilities and be prepared for close-quarters combat scenarios.

By mastering these techniques and continually refining your skills, you can become a proficient kickboxer. Remember to focus on proper form, maintain a strong guard, and develop speed, power, and accuracy in your strikes to excel in kickboxing.

Kickboxing Combos for Fitness Class

group of people wearing black, fitness class, kicking forward

In kickboxing classes, participants are introduced to various combinations of strikes that not only improve technique but also keep training sessions engaging and exciting.

Here are a few common kickboxing combos:

  1. Jab, Cross, Hook, Roundhouse Kick: Start with a quick left jab, followed by a strong right cross. Throw a left hook and finish with a powerful roundhouse kick.
  2. Lead Hook, Cross, Low Kick: Begin with a lead hook to the head, immediately followed by a powerful cross. Conclude the combo with a low kick aimed at the opponent’s leg.
  3. Front Kick, Cross, Hook, Knee: Execute a front kick using the lead leg, swiftly transition into a cross, and follow it up with a hook. Finish the combo with a knee strike to the midsection.

These combos are just a glimpse of the exciting combinations taught in kickboxing classes.

Instructors consistently challenge participants with various combinations to keep the training sessions fun and engaging.

Kickboxing Competitions & Organizations

Kickboxing is a globally recognized combat sport that features a range of competitions and organizations.

In this section, we will explore the landscape of kickboxing championships, governing bodies, and the various rulesets and competition formats.

International Governing Bodies

Several international governing bodies oversee kickboxing competitions and ensure consistent rules and regulations are followed.

These organizations play a vital role in promoting and regulating the sport.

Here are some notable kickboxing governing bodies:

  1. World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO): WAKO is one of the most prominent kickboxing organizations and governs both amateur and professional kickboxing. They organize world championships and set rules and guidelines for various kickboxing styles.
  2. World Kickboxing Association (WKA): The WKA is another renowned organization responsible for organizing both amateur and professional kickboxing events worldwide. They provide a platform for fighters to showcase their skills and compete at the highest level.
  3. International Sport Karate Association (ISKA): The ISKA is a well-established organization that governs multiple combat sports, including kickboxing. They sanction a wide range of events, from local tournaments to international championships.

These governing bodies actively work to promote the sport, establish regulations, and create opportunities for kickboxers to compete on a global scale.

Championship Titles & Promotions

Unlike some other combat sports, kickboxing does not have a single universally recognized world championship. Instead, multiple promotions and organizations claim their champion titles.

Here are some notable kickboxing promotions and their championship titles:

  1. Glory Kickboxing: Glory is a premier kickboxing organization that holds high-profile events featuring elite fighters from around the world. They have their own championship titles across different weight divisions and deliver exciting matchups.
  2. K-1 World Grand Prix: K-1 is a legendary kickboxing promotion that gained widespread popularity during the 1990s. They organize the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix, a tournament that showcases the talents of top kickboxers and crowns a champion.
  3. ONE Championship: Although primarily known for mixed martial arts (MMA), ONE Championship also incorporates kickboxing into its events. They feature highly skilled kickboxing athletes and have their own championship titles.

These promotions attract top-level talent and provide opportunities for kickboxers to showcase their skills and compete for prestigious titles.

silhouette of a woman, dusk, leg raised in pose

Rulesets and Competition Formats

Kickboxing competitions can vary in terms of rules and formats, depending on the governing body and promotion.

However, there are some common elements across most kickboxing rulesets.

Here are a few key aspects to be aware of:

  1. Striking Techniques: Kickboxing allows various striking techniques, including punches, kicks, elbows, and knees. The specific rules regarding these techniques may differ between styles and organizations.
  2. Clinching: Clinching, which involves holding onto the opponent and engaging in close-quarter combat, is often permitted in kickboxing. However, each organization may have its own rules regarding clinching duration and allowed techniques.
  3. Round System: Kickboxing competitions typically consist of multiple rounds, with each round lasting a set duration (usually 2-3 minutes). The number of rounds can vary depending on the event and ruleset.
  4. Scoring: Judges score kickboxing matches based on criteria such as effective striking techniques, knockdowns, and overall ring control. The criteria for scoring can differ slightly between organizations.

It’s important for kickboxers to familiarize themselves with the specific rules and regulations of the organizations they compete under to ensure fair competition and compliance with the governing bodies.

Understanding the landscape of kickboxing competitions and organizations can provide valuable insights into the sport’s structure and opportunities for participation.

Whether you aspire to compete at the highest level or simply appreciate the skill and excitement of kickboxing, these competitions and organizations offer avenues for showcasing talent and elevating the sport.

Kickboxing vs Boxing & Muay Thai

Two men in muay thai shorts and gloves

While kickboxing, boxing, and Muay Thai share similarities, each has its unique characteristics.

Let’s briefly compare them:

  1. Kickboxing vs Boxing: Kickboxing offers a more diverse range of techniques by incorporating kicks along with punches, allowing for greater versatility in striking. Boxing primarily focuses on punches, emphasizing precise movement and footwork.
  2. Kickboxing vs Muay Thai: In kickboxing, the emphasis is on continuous strikes and combinations, with less focus on clinching and throws. Muay Thai, on the other hand, incorporates clinching techniques for close-range combat and emphasizes the use of elbows and knees in addition to punches and kicks.


Kickboxing is a dynamic and exhilarating combat sport that offers a wide range of benefits, from physical fitness to self-defense skills.

By mastering the techniques and principles of kickboxing, individuals can experience improved strength, agility, endurance, and self-confidence.

Whether you’re looking to challenge yourself, relieve boredom, or find a new hobby, kickboxing offers a dynamic and fulfilling journey of self-improvement.

It requires discipline, determination, and continuous practice to improve and excel. With dedication and proper training, anyone can have fun, get in shape, and enjoy the benefits of kickboxing and experience personal growth through this thrilling martial art.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Is kickboxing a suitable workout for beginners?

Yes, kickboxing can be a suitable workout for beginners. Many kickboxing classes cater to individuals of all fitness levels and provide modifications for beginners.

It’s important to start at a comfortable pace, listen to your body, and gradually increase the intensity of your workouts as you become more comfortable with the techniques and exercises.

Are there weight classes in kickboxing competitions?

Yes, most kickboxing competitions have weight classes to ensure fair matchups. Fighters are grouped into specific weight categories, allowing them to compete against opponents of similar size and weight.

This helps maintain a level playing field and keeps the matches safe and competitive.

Is kickboxing more suited for self-defense or for fitness purposes?

Kickboxing can be beneficial for both self-defense and fitness purposes. The striking techniques learned in kickboxing can be applied to self-defense situations, providing individuals with valuable skills to protect themselves.

Additionally, kickboxing is a high-intensity workout that improves cardiovascular fitness, strength, flexibility, and overall conditioning.

Do I need prior martial arts experience to start kickboxing?

No, prior martial arts experience is not necessary to start kickboxing. Kickboxing classes are designed to accommodate individuals of all skill levels, including beginners.

Qualified instructors can teach you the techniques from the ground up and help you progress at your own pace.

Can kickboxing help with weight loss?

Yes, kickboxing can be an effective workout for weight loss. It is a high-intensity cardio exercise that burns calories and improves overall fitness.

Combined with a balanced diet, regular kickboxing sessions can contribute to weight loss and body toning.

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