are there different styles of kickboxing3

Are There Different Styles Of Kickboxing?

It can be tough to decide which type of kickboxing is right for you. There are so many different styles, each with its benefits and drawbacks. In this blog post, we'll take a look at some of the most popular kickboxing styles and help you decide which one is right for you. So, whether you're a beginner or an experienced fighter, keep reading to learn more about the different types of kickboxing!

Kickboxing FAQ

Rules: Fighters can strike their opponent with punches and kicks, including kicks below the waist, except for the groin. Elbows and knees are forbidden. Clinch fighting, throws and sweeps are forbidden.


All of these kickboxing styles allow the use of elbows and knees during fights. However, in the U.S., kickboxing is more of a blend of boxing and karate. It strictly prohibits strikes with anything but the hands and feet. Attacking an opponent's groin, legs, or back is also off-limits.

So why boxing is the best hobby and sport you ever need:

All anxiety, stress, fatigue, and depression disappear during boxing workouts, and you start filling energy and strength again. Boxing training helps you to raise self-esteem and competencies. Boxing is a hobby that will make you a brave man and woman.

Kickboxing belts can differ by country and school; in most cases, there are nine belts. The belts go from orange to green, blue, purple, red, first brown, second brown and third brown to black belt.

Kickboxing mainly teaches boxing and kicking techniques, and elbows and knees are even banned under some Kickboxing rules. However, there are different styles of Kickboxing and Kickboxing competitions, some of which allow them; therefore, some Kickboxing schools do still teach elbows and knees.


What Precisely Is Kickboxing, Then?

When you see ‘kickboxing’ advertised in a class at the gym, it is worth finding out what sort of kickboxing they are referring to.

Because whilst there is a specific sport that goes under this name – with a whole load of variations including Japanese, Dutch, and American kickboxing – it is also a generic term for any martial art that uses both the hands and feet, both punches and kicks. Not very precise at all.

This is the thing. Because whilst going to the boxing gym for fitness kickboxing might sound appealing, sparring in Muay Thai boxing may sound a little less fun. We’ll come to that precise style – which uses elbows and knees too – later on.

A Generic Term.

But kickboxing begins as a generic term that includes everything from taekwondo to full-contact karate, Brazilian jiu-jitsu to mixed martial arts, kung fu to British kickboxing. Each of these individual fighting styles has its own set of rules – and very rarely do fighters from different styles fight against each other.

This hasn’t always been true, however. The different styles have come about through literal contact with other martial arts during the sport's relatively brief formal history.

Only since the sixties have different styles, we now know as kickboxing – such as the American and the Dutch, for example – developed. And now, the style that most of us know as ‘kickboxing’ per se is the American variant.

With the establishment of institutions such as the International Kickboxing Federation, a global set of formal rules were developed that promoted competition and brought the sport into the public eye in the west.

Now, of course, you’ll find kickboxing classes all over the place. And whilst many people learn the sport to take part in proper competitive bouts, most use it for the great workout it offers – for strength conditioning and for improving stamina, self-confidence, and a general fitness level.

What Is Kickboxing Good For?

Kickboxing is practised for a variety of reasons. Many mixed martial artists take kickboxing as their striking base for its effectiveness. Beyond competitions, it is good for overall fitness, self-defence, and weight loss.

What Is Cardio Kickboxing?

Cardio kickboxing is a non-competitive, aerobic fitness exercise that incorporates kickboxing techniques and movements. It is a cardiovascular-focused exercise inspired by the kickboxing sport with less impact and involves no sparring. Cardio kickboxing is a popular fitness exercise that is practised around the globe.

American Kickboxing: A Bit Of History.

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Kickboxing itself started, we can say, in Japan in the 1950s. However, whilst karate was widely practised and publicly enjoyed, it wasn’t much of a thing at the time to make actual contact with your opponent.

This changed when Tatsuo Yamada decided to bring Muay Thai into the ring. With the combination of the full contact elements of Muay Thai and the grace and dynamism of karate, a new style was born.

This was kickboxing – and the problems of definition, formal rules, and style were born right there with it. With each fighter taking different bits and bobs from the two different styles, it was never exceptionally clear – in the first days – which moves were allowed and which weren’t.

Kickboxing’s first ruling body was set up in Japan in 1966, and after this, the sport went global. By which we mean it went to those countries that did not already have an established martial arts tradition – such as the US, where this mix of karate and Muay Thai became hugely popular.

The Rules Of American Kickboxing.

Let’s take American kickboxing as the fighting style to look at in-depth, as this is what we generally are referring to when we talk about kickboxing in the UK. Here's a full-blown explanation of the kickboxing rules too.

In American kickboxing, the emphasis is on reflexes and agility, and, as such, the ring is kept quite small to ensure close contact between the fighters.

American kickboxing differs from other forms of kickboxing because you are limited to the use of fists and feet, and you are prohibited from using the low kick. People have said that this rule – no kicks below the waist – is a deliberate attempt by promoters to ensure that fighters perform dramatic high kicks. Therefore, the torso and head are the only legitimate targets for strikes – and no throwing is allowed.

American kickboxing developed out of the Japanese style of full-contact karate and western art of boxing – during the sixties and the seventies.

French Kickboxing, Savate, Or Boxe Française.

In comparison, savate or French kickboxing has its distinct tradition. Unlike many other kickboxing styles in the west, it is not based on an Asian martial arts technique. Rather, it is a French phenomenon dating back to the nineteenth century.

A Distinct Sport.

Savate comes out of two traditions: the style of hand-to-hand street fighting that was popular across France in the nineteenth century and traditional English boxing.

While it became a good sport in the 1920s, when it featured in the Olympic Games, like all folk sports, the rules differed from region to region in France. Whilst some traditions favoured open-hand slaps, others developed rules and fighting techniques that permitted the knee strike and strike to the groin. Punching was not necessarily allowed because, under French law, this was seen as a weapon.

Originally, the kick – including low kicks – was the most important weapon in France. And it wasn’t until French fighters had organised bouts with English boxers that savate, as we know it now, was born.

What To Expect In The Ring.

Whereas American kickboxing is close contact, savate demands a bit of distance between the fighters. It’s thought of as ‘fencing without the swords’, as it has developed into a style with elegance, thought, and athletic moves: the style favours excellent footwork, jumps, and movements.

In the ring, savate fighters wear special shoes that allow kicks with the toes. The roundhouse kick, the reverse, and the shin kick are all popular moves for the feet, which involves familiar moves with the fists: the uppercut, the jab, and the cross.

When fought well, it is a beautiful spectacle. And if you are looking for a total body workout, savate is the place to come.

And Muay Thai Kickboxing – What Is That?

Of all the different styles of kickboxing found in southeast Asia – Pradal Serey in Cambodia and the ‘Burmese’ or Lethwei style from Myanmar – Muay Thai has become the most popular in the western world.

Ascribe to it historical reasons, perhaps – as Muay Thai, as you’ve seen, was one of the great inspirations behind what we call kickboxing generically these days. It’s a combat sport that uses shins, knees and elbows, fists, and the clinch or holds.

Muay Thai is almost as popular in the UK as American kickboxing. Yet, given the intense contact that it requires, injury is pretty common.

Elbows And Knees.

The main difference between kickboxing and its Thai variety – ‘Muay Thai’ literally just means ‘Thai boxing’ – is its use of lots of different body parts. You are not just limited to feet and fists as you are in French, American and western kickboxing.

In the same way, Muay Thai is not a sport that has been refined into something gentler and more palatable for a general audience. Instead, it remains intense, full contact, and the risk of injury is high: you need to be in exceptional physical fitness to perform it well.

Kickboxing For Fitness.

Whilst these are the three main styles, many people these days prefer to do kickboxing just for fitness. By that, rather than sparring, we mean practising the moves in the gym.

Whichever you prefer – the real fight or the fitness regime – both are amazing fun. So, could you give it a go?

Kickboxing Techniques

Kickboxing techniques in international kickboxing competitions include punching, kicking, knees and limited clinching. More kickboxing techniques for beginners include standard jab-cross punches, roundhouse kicks and straight knees.

Let’s look at these techniques in more detail.


Punch techniques in kickboxing are inherited directly from classic boxing. Basic punch techniques include the jab, straight/cross, uppercut, and hook. Some of the more advanced punch techniques are spinning back fist and superman punch.

Punches can be thrown directly to the face, temples, chin, jaw, ribcage, liver, and abdomen. It is illegal to punch the back of the head or the throat.


Kicks are the long-range weapons of kickboxing.

There are many variations of kicking within each style of kickboxing. The basic kicking techniques in kickboxing include the roundhouse body kick, high kick, and leg/low kick. More advanced kicking techniques include the spinning back kick, axe kick, jump kick, flying kick and cartwheel kick.

Most kicks are used offensively. The deep or push kick is a defensive move thrown to the solar plexus, abdomen or face to disrupt an opponent’s rhythm but can also be used offensively.

Kicks are thrown to the ribcage, arms, head, neck, legs and back. Even though accidents happen regularly, groin kicks are usually illegal in most fighting sports.


Knee strikes are delivered with the kneecap or surrounding area. They can be effectively used in short, mid- or relatively long-range.

Basic knee techniques include straight knees and diagonal knees; Knee strikes target the sternum, abdomen or ribcage. A more advanced knee strike is the flying/jumping knee which targets the head for a more devastating effect.

What Are The Rules Of Kickboxing

Like other forms of martial arts, kickboxing also has its own set of rules. This is to ensure the safety of every fighter and guarantee the match's fairness. If you’re new to this sport, read on to learn about its rules.


Kickboxing requires certain equipment and its own “court” to keep everyone safe. For “court,” kickboxing uses a boxing ring. Its size, however, depends on the associations and promotions that organise it.

As its name suggests, kickboxing utilises boxing moves. Hence, the gloves are regulated too. Here, you can use boxing gloves. However, you must use hand wraps underneath it to keep your wrist in shape and keep injuries at bay – just like in boxing.

Since you’ll be kicking your way to take home to gold, you will also need footpads. This equipment protects your shin. You will also need mouth and groin guards.

During The Match

  • Full-contact kickboxing competitors must compete against a fighter in the same weight category as themselves to ensure a fair battle.
  • After listening to the referee’s instructions, both competitors contact gloves, and the fight begins.
  • Rounds typically last three minutes, and the number of rounds varies on the fighters’ expertise. A one-minute pause separates each round. Championship battles normally last 12 rounds of 3 minutes each.
  •  Each fighter should aim to knock out their opponent using punches and kicks to the body and head.
  • If none of the two fighters can knock out their opponent or force the referee to stop the fight, the referee will stop the fight. After that, the fight is scored. The victor is determined by the number of points scored by each fighter. The contest is called a draw if both fighters have the same points.


Depending on the kickboxing organisation, several scoring techniques may be employed. But typically, kickboxing organisations use the same scoring system as boxing.

In each round, judges (or, in some situations, just the referee) evaluate each combatant based on their performance.

For each round, the better fighter receives ten points. Meanwhile, the other combatant receives nine points. Both fighters are given ten points if they did equally well. However, if one has greatly outperformed the other or knocked them down, the round is scored ten points to eight.


To bring home the gold – or the belt – you must knock out your opponent or score points.

  • Knockout – This is when one fighter their opponent, rendering them unable to continue. 

The referee will count to ten to give the other opponent a chance to rise and continue fighting. If they don’t stand up, the other fighter is pronounced the winner.

  • Total Knockout (TKO) – This happens when one fighter is no longer capable of defending oneself. The bout is immediately stopped during this time, and the other fighter is declared the winner.
  • Points – If there is no knockout or TKO during the fight, the bout is decided on points. On a scorecard, the judge or referee totals the scores. The fighter with the most points wins. The fight is deemed a draw if the points at the end of the fight are equal.

What Are The Benefits Of Kickboxing?

are there different styles of kickboxing

Let’s explore the health benefits of kickboxing workouts and other benefits of training kickboxing.

Better Fitness

If you are looking to get fitter and stronger, kickboxing is an ideal exercise to take up. Kickboxing training is a full-body workout that is both cardio and muscular intensive. With regular kickboxing training, better fitness is not a matter of if, just when.

Weight Loss

Kickboxing workouts usually last 1-2 hours and may burn up to 1000 calories each session. Regular kickboxing training can be a great addition to any weight loss plan with a balanced diet. There aren’t many exercises as effective as kickboxing in burning calories.


When you take up kickboxing, you will effectively learn combat skills. Kickboxing is an all-rounded fighting style with long-range and short-range striking techniques. It also covers offensive and defensive movements. Knowing how to fight is a life skill worth having when there is no way to run.

Stress Relief

Besides seeing fitness improvements, kickboxing benefits can also be mental or psychological. Kickboxing is an intensive exercise that triggers positive feelings due to endorphins secretion within the brain and nervous system after working out. This helps in stress management, helping to relax and improves sleep quality.

Builds Confidence

When you get fitter and look better and see improvements over time, your self-confidence improves. Additionally, knowing that you can protect yourself with self-defence skills adds to that confidence.

Kickboxing Vs Boxing

Although boxing heavily influences kickboxing, both combat sports are distinctly different. First, let’s look at the difference between boxing and kickboxing.

The most apparent distinction is the wider range of techniques in kickboxing. Kicks and knees make kickboxing a more complete and dynamic fighting style than just hands in boxing. There are more techniques to learn and master in kickboxing than the suite of punching techniques in boxing.

While footwork is pivotal for both sports, pure boxing utilises head movements more than kickboxing. Kickboxing relies more on blocks for defence as there is a wider range and angles of attacks to guard against.

This is not to say one style is better than the other. One powerful and precise punch to the jaw may be all it takes to knock someone out, whereas kickboxing has more weapons at disposal.

In street fights, speed is critical, so boxing can have advantages over kicking. However, kickboxing has become a more all-rounded striking base for mixed martial arts. Kickboxing is also a complete exercise regime that provides both upper and lower body conditioning, making it for fitness purposes.

Kickboxing Rules

Like all combat sports, kickboxing competitions are governed by rules and regulations. Here are some of the key and fundamental rules in kickboxing as adopted by the top kickboxing promotions in the world:


Kickboxers wear shorts with no tops (men) or a sports bra (women). Shoes are not allowed in kickboxing, unlike in boxing. Groin protectors and mouth guards are always worn for safety. In amateur kickboxing competitions, head guards may also be mandated.

Weight Divisions

Competitors are grouped into different weight classes, fighting only against opponents in the same weight division. This categorisation makes it fairer for athletes as a heavier weight is advantageous in combat situations.


Kickboxing bouts usually last for three rounds of a 3-minute duration, with championship bouts lasting five rounds. In the case of a knockout, a winner is determined at that instance.


A referee is in charge of ensuring the safety of fighters and enforces the rules and regulations to promote a fair fight. There are also -typically 3- judges outside of the ring who will score the fight. If there is no knockout, the referee will gather the scorecards from the judges to determine the winner of the fight.


Some fouls in kickboxing include striking the back of the head, throat, and groin (repeatedly). Clinching is also limited in that a knee must be thrown immediately when clinching is engaged and allowed up to 5 seconds as long as there is attacking or counter-attacking. If both fighters engage in a clinch with no attack, the referee will break up the clinch.


Kickboxing is a popular form of martial arts that has many different styles. It can be used for self-defence, competition, or fitness. American kickboxing follows the same rules as Muay Thai kickboxing with some modifications. Learning kickboxing has many benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased strength and endurance, and better coordination. 


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