Kickboxing is a group of martial arts and stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from Karate, Muay Thai and Western boxing. This discipline is practiced for self-defense, general fitness or as a contact sport.
Japanese kickboxing originates in the 1960s, with competitions held since the 1960s. American kickboxing originates in the early 1970s. Japanese kickboxing developed into K-1 in 1993. Historically, Kickboxing can be considered a hybrid martial art formed from the combination of elements of various traditional styles. This approach became increasingly popular since the 1970s, and since the 1990s, Kickboxing has contributed to the emergence of Mixed Martial Arts via further hybridization with ground fighting techniques from Jujutsu and Folk wrestling.
There is no single international governing body. International governing bodies include International Combat Organisation, World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, World Kickboxing Association, International Sport Karate Association, International Kickboxing Federation, among others. Consequently, there is no single world championship, and champion titles are issued by individual promotions, such as K-1, It’s Showtime, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, among others.
The term “Kickboxing” can be used in a narrow and in a wide sense:
1) The narrow use is restricted to the styles that self-identify as kickboxing, i.e. Japanese kickboxing (with its spin-off styles or rules such as Shoot boxing and K-1) and American kickboxing.
2) In the wider sense, it includes all stand-up combat sports that allow both punching and kicking, including Savate, Muay Thai, Indian boxing, Burmese boxing, Sanda, styles of Karate, etc.
The term Kickboxing itself was introduced in the 1960s as a Japanese anglicism by Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi for a hybrid martial art combining Muay Thai and Karate which he had introduced in 1958. The term was later also adopted by the American variant. Since there has been a lot of cross-fertilization between these styles, with many practitioners training or competing under the rules of more than one style, the history of the individual styles cannot be seen in isolation from one another.
The French term Boxe pieds-poings (literally “feet-fists-boxing”) is also used in the sense of “Kickboxing” in the general meaning, including French boxing (Savate) as well as American and Japanese kickboxing, Burmese and Thai boxing, any style of full contact Karate, etc.
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