Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kickboxing: What It Is and What It Can Do For You

Kickboxing comes in different forms.  In Thailand, it is called muay thai although most Asian cultures have a form of kickboxing as a type of street martial art.  It is not like Japanese karate because Japanese karate is an art form - a martial art as well as a spiritual discipline - so it has rigid rules of engagement. It is not like Korean taekwondo which is purely a martial art.  Also, kickboxing was developed only in the 1960s. One similar martial art in the Philippines is called “yaw-yan” which corresponds to the last syllables of two words “saYAW” (meaning dance) and “kamataYAN” (meaning death).  Together the last syllables mean the “Dance of Death.”  Kickboxing is a kind of dance: the graceful yet powerful moves can be lethal.

Kickboxing has Asian roots as a form of sport.  It is almost gladiatorial.  For centuries, Asian monarchs kept kickboxers as sort of champions – instead of going out to an all-out war between kingdoms, they sent champions to fight with each other. 

The king whose champion won the bout would be declared the winner, and lands and other reparations and tribute would be paid to him by the losing monarch.  The kickboxers gained fame and an elevated status in society.

English: world z9 kickboxing champion, George ...
World z9 kickboxing champion, George "The Dragon" Hastings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Kickboxing has been adapted in the West as a form of gladiatorial or spectator sport.  In places like Las Vegas, Nevada, kickboxing is a sport where placing bets is encouraged.  Kickboxers are sports celebrities in their own right and they have fans and a following.

Kickboxing is a full-contact sport.  Fighters can use their hands and their legs to either knock down their opponent or hold them down so that they are unable to move or fight. 

Unlike boxing where there are moves that are considered foul (such as head butting, pushing or hitting below the belt), in kickboxing, these moves are par for the course.  Kickboxers often get their teeth knocked out, and their bones broken (even though they win).  It is a violent sport. 

Kickboxers wear protective gear such as gloves, mouth guards and groin guards but this is more for protection for the kickboxer than it is for the protection of the opponent.

It borrows a lot of the names of the punches from boxing such as jab, upper cut, cross and straight punch.  It also borrows from karate and taekwondo the names of the kicks such as front kick, back kick, side kick and roundhouse kick.

However, in the US, kickboxing is also a form of popular exercise.  Because all four limbs are involved in the exercise, it is a total body workout.  It also involves strength training because the punches thrown must have enough power in it to knock your opponent down.
English: Roundhouse-kick in counter Français :...
Roundhouse-kick in counter. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It also develops speed in order to throw punches and kicks in quick succession.  It develops agility: one must be flexible enough to dart in and out of reach of the opponent’s kicks and punches.  It is a good weight-bearing exercise because you have to be able to carry your own weight, dance around the ring and bounce on the balls of your feet.  Roundhouse kicks are difficult to execute because you balance on one leg while executing the kick.  So balance is also required for kickboxing.

The most important part of training in kickboxing – be it for sport, for exercise or even for professional fights is mental discipline. 

A kickboxer needs to be able to anticipate the moves of his opponent, and make many small decisions that might mean injury if they fail.  A kickboxer needs to develop strategy; for this, the kickboxer must be alert and he must be a good tactician and strategist.  He must also perfect a number of moves to include in his arsenal.

All told, kickboxing is a great sport as well as a great form of intense exercise.

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