Kickboxing Across The Globe
Kickboxing, a martial art, has become extremely popular as a means of keeping fit and has been popularized by film actors such as Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme. It has been around for many years and is practiced in various styles across the world. Different countries have different styles with subtle and not-so-subtle variations. Here is a list of the more popular styles across the globe:
A martial arts style which has roots from Thailand which can be traced back to more than two thousand years. Siamese soldiers used to engage in Muay Boran, which was a form of ancient boxing. In the early 1920’s, the specific term Muay Thai started to be used from 1920 onwards. This style of kickboxing allows the use of elbows, knees, sweeps, throws, clinch fighting as well as low kicks. This is also known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” since both hands, feet, elbows as well as knees can be used to strike the opponent. The most unique thing about Muay Thai is the continuance of fighting even when the fighters are in a clinch. Once in a clinch, the referee does not separate the fighters. Rather, they continue trying to hit the opponent using elbows and knees.
This style is also known as Indian kickboxing. This is mainly practiced in the southern Indian state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and also in Sri Lanka. Here, nine points of contact are permitted: hands, elbows, knees, feet as well as the forehead. In this particular style, pressure points in one’s opponent are targeted by the fighters. This style of martial art has evolved from ancient martial traditions of southern India ranging back to at least a thousand years if not more. There are some ancient literature in the form of palm leaf manuals which have some details about elements of Adithada, such as hitting pressure points to incapacitate opponents.
American kickboxing came to America in the 1970’s and is a mixture of karate as well as boxing. This variety of kickboxing was popularized by Bruce Lee in the movies. In the early 1970’s, full contact kickboxing started in America. This sport transitioned into a boxing ring in the late 1970’s. The International Sport Kickboxing Association was formed on sixteenth July 1986 after which the sport gained popularity across the United States.Here, opponents are not permitted to strike below the waist. Also, use of elbows, as well as knees, is forbidden. Fighters are always separated once they go into a clinch.
Japanese kickboxing originated in the early 1960’s after a fight between three Muay-Thai fighters and three Japanese Karate fighters in Thailand in the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium. The Japanese won this international challenge by two to one. The only Japanese loser, a contestant, called Kenji Kurosaki was inspired to do an in-depth study of Muay-Thai and came up with Shin-Kakuto-Jutsu which was referred to as Japanese Kickboxing. Japanese kickboxing does not allow the use of elbows or excessive Clinches. As a result of this, fights are much quicker, and there is substantial use of boxing skills rather than punching.
Savate or French Kickboxing originated in northern France in the slums of Paris. In the early nineteenth century, this transitioned into a sport. In this style of kickboxing, the fighters are permitted to wear shoes. The rules allow the opponents to strike with their hands and feet only, and usage of shins or knees are not allowed.
This variation of kickboxing originated from Cambodia. In Pradal Serey, four types of blows are permitted: kicks, punches, elbow as well as knee strikes. This type of kickboxing is also known for is kicking technique, wherein fighters generate power from the rotation of the hip rather than a snap of the leg as in other styles of kickboxing. Clinch fighting is also permitted in this style.
Gwon-gyokdo also known as Kun Gek Do or Korean kickboxing is a martial art which uses elements of Muay Thai as well as Taekwondo. Specifically, the kicking style prevalent in Taekwondo is used along with the usage of leg blocks, elbows and knees as in Muay Thai. Here, the front kick pushes out like in Taekwondo. Along with this, the spinning hook, side kick and back kick are also used. The Muay Thai style of roundhouse kicking is also used, however this uses the shin rather than the foot.
Lethwei or Burmese kickboxing was pioneered in Burma (now Myanmar) by Kyar Ba Nyein, who was a boxing participant in the Summer Olympics of 1952. He laid down the modern rules and regulations and popularized the sport by travelling around Myanmar and training with the remote villages of the country. Fighters can use kicks, punches as well as elbow knee attacks in a fight. They are also permitted to use knuckle strikes, head-butts as well as takedowns.
Yaw-Yan, a Filipino style of kickboxing, is also known as Sayaw ng Kamatayan which translates to “Dance of Death”. This type of kickboxing was developed in the 1970’s in the Phillippines by Napolean Fernandez who had a knowledge of Judo, Aikido, Karate, Eskrima as well as Jeet Kune Do. He fused these forms of martial art forms to create Yaw-Yan which is of considerable advantage to the slight build of Filipinos. Yaw-Yan is similar to Muay Thai, however here the emphasis is on delivering blows from a distance unlike Muay Thai which is predominantly based around clinching. Yaw Yan is a eight contact point fighting style and blows are delivered using fists, feet, elbows and knees.
Sanshou or Sanda also known as Chinese kickboxing was originally conceptualized by Chinese soldiers. This type of kickboxing combines elements of kickboxing such as close range punches as well as kicks along with takedowns, wrestling, sweeps, and throws. Sanshou is practiced in tournaments where elbow strikes, joint locks or chokes are not allowed.
With so many varieties of kickboxing out there, the best way for a novice to pick up this sport is to join a reputed institute who have trained teachers and exponents of the martial art. This way, novices will get proper guidance throughout their training period.