which style of kickboxing is best2

Which Style Of Kickboxing Is Best?

There are many different kickboxing styles, but which one is the best for you? This guide will help you decide which style is right for you and give you a few tips on getting started. Whether you're interested in Muay Thai, American Kickboxing, or something else entirely, a style of kickboxing is perfect for you. Let's take a closer look!

Kickboxing FAQs

Objective: Traumatic brain injury, which is a frequent and a worldwide important public health problem, may result in pituitary dysfunction. Concussion, a common type of lesion after traumatic brain injury, is an injury associated with sports, including boxing and kickboxing.


One concussion is one too many, much less suffering three, four or more. True, one concussion usually doesn't lead to lifelong disability, but having multiple concussions may end one's career (or life) prematurely.

Primary styles. Four generally accepted boxing styles are used to define fighters. These are the swarmer, out-boxer, slugger, and boxer-puncher. Many boxers do not always fit into these categories, and it's not uncommon for a fighter to change their style.

Dementia pugilistica is a variant of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a serious type of brain damage resulting from repeated concussions. It is found in many professional athletes and military personnel who have been subjected to multiple impacts to the head.

After obtaining a black belt in some Japanese schools, the student also begins to instruct and may be referred to as a senpai (senior student) or sensei (teacher).


Kickboxing Styles Around The World

Kickboxing in NYC, Greece, Thailand, Brazil, or throughout the globe comes in numerous varieties. There is no single definition of kickboxing in today’s martial arts world. There is no one international governing body to regulate kickboxing in NYC, Japan, or any other city or country. As a result, elements of kickboxing are often incorporated into mixed martial arts competitions that are not defined as kickboxing.

But different cultures worldwide continue to engage in their specific form of kickboxing. Following are some of the more prominent styles.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, developed in Thailand, goes back to the 16th century. It is known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because eight contact points are used to strike the opponent. The eight points are both hands, feet, elbows, and knees. Muay Thai fighters are not separated after a clinch but seek to take advantage of the proximity with elbow and knee strikes.

Japanese Kickboxing

Originated in the 1960s as the first sport to be known as kickboxing. As other variants developed, it was renamed Japanese kickboxing. Japanese kickboxing is similar to Muay Thai but with different scoring.

American Kickboxing

American kickboxing does not allow hitting below the waist. Striking with elbows is also not permitted, and striking with shins is usually not permitted.


Also known as Sanda, this Chinese kickboxing allows throws and wrestling but not grappling or submissions.

Savate (French Kickboxing)

which style of kickboxing is best3

Savate means old boot or shoe. Savate is atypical for kickboxing in that competitors wear shoes. They can only strike with the feet only, not with knees or shins.

Adithada (Indian Kickboxing)

This style from India involves strikes not only from the hands, elbows, knees and feet but also from the forehead. Grappling techniques and a focus on targeting pressure points are also important. Adithada fighters do not wear protective pads.

Yaw-Yan (Filipino Kickboxing)

Yaw-Yan was developed in the 1970s. The name comes from “Sayaw ng Kamatayan,” which means “dance of death.” Kicks often strike downward. Hips are rotated to build up force.

Lethwei (Burmese Kickboxing) 

Lethwei incorporates strikes from any part of the body, including head butts. It is sometimes known as Bando kickboxing.

Gwon-Gyokdo (Korean Kickboxing)

Gwon-gyokdo combined elements of two fighting styles popular in Korea, Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do. A fighter from one style can fight a fighter from the other style.

Pradal Serey

This form of kickboxing comes from Cambodia. Hip torque is used in kicks. There is a focus on strikes with elbows.

Different Rules Of Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a fighting system and combat sport that emerged in the 1950s in Japan. Like any other combat sport, there are different kickboxing styles defined by different rule sets.

K-1 (Asian/Unified Rules)

This is one of the most popular forms created by the famous promotion called “K-1” from Japan. The letter “K” stands for karate, kickboxing, and Kung Fu. Back in 1993, K-1 wasn’t created as a style of kickboxing. It was just the name of the promotion that used to promote kickboxing matches, and it had its own rules. But K-1 became very popular over the years, so much that we saw the birth of K-1 as a new style of kickboxing. 

K-1 kickboxing is very popular mainly because fighters compete at a high pace. Each fight includes 3–3 minute rounds, which means that fighters can fight at a high pace the entire fight. Fighters can use kicks, punches, and knee strikes to hurt the opponent and finish the fight.

American Kickboxing (Full Contact)

This form emerged in the 1970s in the US. Back in those days, karate and western boxing were the most popular combat sports in the country, and the mix of techniques from both of these combat sports is how American Kickboxing got created. 

Fighters wear trousers, and matches last from 3 to 10 rounds, with each round being 3 minutes. They can strike only above the waist using kicks and punches. Elbows, knees, striking below the waist, and fighting in the clinch are not allowed.


The Semi-Contact rule is a variation of American Kickboxing. It is also known as point fighting, and it looks very much like a karate competition. However, the emphasis is on light contact and scoring points with fast and precise strikes instead of chasing a knockout with powerful strikes. All male fighters must wear a shirt, trousers, shin guards, boots, and headgear.

International Rules

This form is also known as “freestyle” or “Low Kick” in the US. The rules are the same as in full contact, except it also allows low kicks. Fighters can throw kicks, and punches, both above and below the waist. Strikes like elbows and knees are not allowed, and fighting in the clinch. The length of the matches is the same as in full contact, 3–10 rounds, with each round being 3 minutes long.

Dutch Style Rules

This is perhaps, the most famous style that emerged in the 1970s when martial artist Jan Plas brought kickboxing from Japan to the Netherlands. Unlike other styles, it is a mix of Muay Thai, Kyokushin karate, and western boxing techniques. What makes this style unique is the heavy emphasis on hand strikes and boxing techniques.

The rules of the Dutch style are very much the same as the ones in K-1 and Muay Thai, with few exceptions. For instance, fighters can land kicks, punches, and knees. However, as for the elbow strikes, they are allowed only if both parties agree to it.

Rules Emphasis And Techniques

  • K-1 Rules (Asian or unified Rules) - Striking above and below the waist and fighting in the clinch is allowed. Kicks, punches, and knees
  • American kickboxing Rules (Full Contact) - Striking below the waist is forbidden, so there are no leg kicks. Fighters can use only kicks and punches.  
  • Semi-Contact Rules - Emphasis is on light contact and scoring points with fast and precise strikes. Fighters can utilize kicks and punches and must wear a shirt, trousers, boots, shin guards and headgear. 
  • International Rules - Fighters can strike both the area above and below the waist utilizing kicks and punches. Fighting in the clinch, elbow and knee strikes are forbidden. 
  • Dutch Style Rules - The emphasis is on western boxing techniques and mixing them with the kicks. Fighters can strike above and below the waist using punches, kicks and knees. 

Is Kickboxing A Good Form Of Self-Defense?

Kickboxing is outstanding for self-defence. It combines the deadliest and most effective techniques from Boxing, Muay Thai, and Karate. But it is also a great workout that gets practitioners in their best physical shape and ready to defend themselves.

But, go for the real thing, not the watered-down variants. Some kickboxing classes are just cardio fitness classes.

The real thing is good because, if you’re well-trained, you can use a variety of kicks when your opponent is some distance from you, and you could unleash several power punches when they’re close.

Of course, they’ll counter, and you could easily discern if they’re good at fighting and know the best way to beat them up quickly.

Unless They’re Trained Fighters Themselves, Kickboxing Will Help You Crush The Attacker.

Besides the fact that you’re excellent at throwing kicks and punches, you’ve also acquired the ability to absorb punches and kicks during training.

Some forms of kickboxing allow knee strikes and elbow strikes. Both can be super-effective when executed properly and at the right time.

What Are Different Styles(Types) Of Kickboxing?

which style of kickboxing is best

Here are the most popular types of kickboxing, and we have also created a table of all types, which you can find below.

  • Muay Thai – is one of the best striking arts and a national sport in Thailand. The art focuses on using all limbs as weapons to strike with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. The emphasis is on hard kicks and fighting at close range and in the clinch.
  • Savate – is a French form of kickboxing that mixes English boxing techniques and foot kicks. It differs a lot from other styles because its fighters wear unique designed boots, trousers, and a vest. The main difference is that savate fighters can land kicks only with their foot, not with the shin or knee as in other forms of kickboxing. Lethwei – is the most severe form of kickboxing as it is bare-knuckle, and fighters can utilize headbutts. The rules and the techniques they use are very much the same as those in Muay Thai. They can use all limbs to fight using kicks, punches, knees, elbows, and notorious headbutts.

Which Style(Type) Of Kickboxing Is The Best?

Muay Thai is the best and most popular type of kickboxing. It is much better and more effective than other types like French Savate or Sanda. Of course, the others might think that Lethwei is better, and there is a strong argument. But Muay Thai teaches you the same skills, which is much safer overall.

Muay Thai is a complete striking art that will teach you all about real fighting. Students learn how to fight at all ranges using all limbs as weapons and deliver each strike with a lot of power. The emphasis is on hard kicks, clinch fighting using brutal elbows and knees, and boxing. It is very effective for self-defence, and it is also a very popular sport. 

The other good kickboxing style is Lethwei. But this style is too brutal as fighters compete for bare knuckles. It teaches the same techniques as Muay Thai, but it adds the infamous headbutts. It is a very dangerous style and not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure. On top of that, it is not as accepted across the world or as popular as Muay Thai, which is one of the reasons why Muay Thai is better.

What Is The Difference Between K-1 And the Dutch Style Of Kickboxing?

K-1 is a set of rules created by the famous Japanese “K-1” promotion that later became a new kickboxing style. The emphasis of this style is on fighting at a high pace and throwing each strike with a lot of power. The matches have three rounds, with each round being 3 min long. Or in other words, fighters can push a high pace and don’t worry too much about passing out. It is, perhaps, the most intense style of kickboxing that is very popular in all parts of the world.

Dutch style, on the other side, is not any less effective. The rules are very much the same as in K-1, but the main difference is the emphasis. The emphasis of the Dutch style is on western boxing and mixing them with the kicks. Instead of throwing each strike with a lot of power, the focus is on technique, accuracy, and high output. Dutch-style fighters would often throw five punch combo before finishing it with a leg kick, which is a style that differs a lot from K-1.

Overall, K-1 and Dutch styles are very similar, with pros and cons. 

How Is Muay Thai Different From Dutch Style Kickboxing?

At first sight, Muay Thai and Dutch-style kickboxing might look the same as these two styles share a lot in common. But when you look deep into it, these two differ greatly in rules, techniques, and emphasis. Here is all you need to know.


The emphasis in Muay Thai is on kicks and throwing each strike with a lot of power. Instead of having a high output, fighters focus on doing big damage with a single strike, always pushing for a knockout. Although fights can end in a decision, the main goal of Muay Thai is to finish the opponent.

In Dutch style, on the other side, the emphasis is on the high output of strikes and western boxing techniques. Most fighters tend to have very technical striking, and they focus on picking the opponent apart with high volume, accuracy, and relentless pace. While Thai boxers focus on a single power strike at the time, kickboxers rarely do such a thing. Instead, they would explode with five punch combo and finish the attack with a kick or a knee.

Kicking Techniques

Muay Thai is also known as the art of eight limbs as fighters can strike using kicks, punches, knees, and elbows. However, boxing is not that important in Muay Thai as the emphasis is on advanced kicking techniques. Fighters use punches to set up the kicks or close the distance to pull the famous Thai clinch from which they can land knee and elbow strikes. Muay Thai fighters tend to extend their leg when throwing a kick fully, and they land with the lower part of the shin (tibia).

There are many variations of how you throw a kick in kickboxing. In Dutch Style, fighters would lift their leg, snap the knee and connect with their foot.

Rules Of Competition

Muay Thai rules are pretty simple and do not vary too much across different promotions. However, here are some general rules of Muay Thai you should be aware of:

  • Muay Thai fighters compete in the ring.
  • Matches have five rounds, each lasting 3 minutes, and there is a 2-minute break between the rounds.
  • Fighters can strike using punches, kicks, elbows, and knees.
  • Clinch and throwing the opponent to the ground are allowed
  • Promotions use a boxing scoring system to pick a winner if a fight ends in a decision.

Dutch-style rules of kickboxing are very similar to the ones in Muay Thai:

  • Fighters compete in the square ring
  • Matches have three rounds, with each round being 3 minutes long, and there is a 1-minute break between.
  • Fighters can throw kicks, punches, and knees, while elbows are forbidden.

What Is Fighting Style Used In The Movie “Kickboxer”?

In the movie “Kickboxer”, the main actor and martial artist, Jean Claude Van Damme, used techniques from:

  • Karate
  • Taekwondo
  • Muay Thai

Van Damme got into martial arts at a very young age by training in “Shotokan” karate. After earning a black belt in the late 1970s, he would start competing in various karate and kickboxing matches and become a European karate champ.

Later on, he would move to live in the U.S., where he started training in Tae Kwon Do and Muay Thai, two of the most popular arts. This mix of karate, Tae Kwon Do, and Muay Thai skills made Van Damme’s fighting style unique. In his movies, notably the “Kickboxer”, we could see him throwing various spinning kicks, doing splits, and chopping bamboos with kicks.

Is Tkd Better Than Kickboxing?

No, Taekwondo(TKD) is not better because kickboxing is a more versatile fighting style. In short, Taekwondo is too one-dimensional as it puts too much emphasis on the kicks. Students rarely learn how to throw punches; even when they do, they can strike the body area below the neck. This is mainly because the Taekwondo rules favour kicks and forbid punches to the head. Although the initial forms of the art used to teach solid hand strikes and even the basics of grappling, modern taekwondo is all about the kicks.

Kickboxing also puts a lot of emphasis on sport and competition, but most styles are very effective for self-defence. Kickboxing teaches you advanced kicks, punches and how to mix them with knee and elbow strikes. In most styles, the focus is not on scoring points like in Taekwondo but rather on knocking the opponent out. This makes kickboxing much better for real fighting and self-defence in general.


So, what is the best style of kickboxing? It depends on who you ask. Each country has its own set of rules and techniques that make its particular brand of kickboxing unique. But if you want to learn how to box in a more well-rounded way, it’s best to study all the different styles and find the one that suits you best. Muay Thai may be popular in Thailand, but Dutch-style kickboxing is gaining ground worldwide. With so many different options available, there’s no excuse not to get out there and start kicking some ass!


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