KICK BOXING TRAINING
Combat sports have become extremely popular all over the world, and with platforms like K-1, the UFC, and One Championship the calibre of world class strikers is phenomenal. Champions like Ernesto Hoost, Rodtang Jitmuangnon, Semmy Schilt, and Anderson Silva did not become famous with pure talent, as each of them worked extremely hard on the training mats. Becoming a world class striker in any combat sport takes a great deal of dedication, perseverance, hard work, and mental toughness. Along with all of these core values, athletes also need athleticism, skills, and intelligence to take control of an opponent with high level striking.
What this article covers:
- What to Expect from a Martial Arts Academy
- How to Train More Efficiently
- Kick Boxing Training Drills
- Cardio for Kick Boxing
There are many aspects to consider when an athlete begins training for high level competition. Strength and conditioning is one of the most crucial aspects, and especially when they are going up against a legitimate contender for the title. Working on cardio is just as important as strength, and this is because most kickboxing elements in a competition fight take a serious toll on the athlete, especially in the later rounds of a fight. This is why athletes will push themselves to their limit, so they can significantly boost their cardiovascular fitness. Athletes will also need to work extensively on many of their skill components, and this means to improve on their footwork, striking form, balance, speed, and power.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY
All combat academies can be an extremely daunting place for a brand new student. Walking into an academy, and watching world class strikers throw kick boxing combos will make even the most bravest of beginners second guess their choice. The reality of the situation is that all combat academies are highly professional, and will welcome brand new students into their ranks. This means that a beginner that is only looking to improve their self defense, or their fitness level, is still highly valued amongst its members. Although a beginner may not be able to hold the pads for a world class striker, they can still make a sizable contribution to a striking class.
New students can expect a high intensity training session that involves elevated levels of cardio, with elements of strength and conditioning. These aspects are a given, as the intense nature of combat sports requires athletes to be supremely fit, and considerably strong. Learning skills in kick boxing will also incorporate a high aptitude for fight strategy, as an athlete will commonly need to use their intelligence to execute a series of fundamental striking exercises. All kick boxing training classes involve hitting the focus mitts, the Thai pads, the kick shields, and the boxing bags. Working through high calibre striking systems takes a calculated, and systematic approach, that can only be learnt once an athlete loses their arrogance, and applies their full level of attention, and perseveres through the adversity they may face.
Whether an athlete is in it for fun and fitness, or they are training to become a world champion, all athletes will need to spar with their training partners if they want to develop a formidable striking game. Shadow boxing, and hitting the pads will only take an athlete so far with their skills, and their fluency. In order to build a comprehensive kick boxing routine, all athletes should be looking to get some full contact sparring under their belt, so they can battle test all of their relevant skill sets. Sparring can be deadly, but to become a formidable striker athletes will need more than just skills, fitness, and strength, they will also need real life fight conditioning. This means To gain considerable experience against other strikers at their training academy. This is the only true way to understand what it is like to strike against an opponent in a real life situation.
HOW TO TRAIN MORE EFFICIENTLY
Training effectively is the key component to building a clean, and successful striking style. It can be too easy to fall into the trap of working on too much power, and not enough speed work, or too many highly complicated kick boxing kicks, rather than their overall fluency of striking. There are more prominent methods of increasing the athletes overall skill sets within the striking art. It is important for all athletes to focus on individual components of the game, like power punching against the heavy bag, striking combinations on the Thai pads, and more specialised boxing combinations on the focus mitts. Breaking down each aspect of the striking game can help an athlete to put more specific time into each element. This can be the most successful way to develop significant skills in all aspects of kick boxing.
Once an athlete has developed skills in every aspect of the striking game, they can then look at combining all of these elements into one proficient style of striking. This is where shadow boxing can become an efficient method of combining an athlete's footwork, and their overall ability to utilise striking combinations. Even though evasion techniques can be applied into a shadow boxing workout, it is not until an athlete takes on real life sparring sessions that they will be able to incorporate real fight tactics. Being efficient in a sparring session is all about not wasting any energy, and this means that the athlete will not over commit by throwing too many reckless striking combinations. Instead they need to use a more patient, and cautious approach to get in and out of range, while throwing fast, accurate, powerful, and fluent striking combinations.
KICK BOXING TRAINING DRILLS
One of the most important training drills in all combat sports is shadow boxing. This drill can be used as a warm up session, or as a more systematic way that an athlete can piece together all of their striking components. It all starts from a good kick boxing stance, and as they switch between orthodox, and southpaw, the athlete can explore many ways to attack from both of these comprehensive stances. An important way to drill is not to go all guns blazing in the first drill, and allow certain components to be explored, like simply just using footwork, and practicing evading imaginary punches. A secondary drill can be to add in counter strikes, as they evade punches, or they can utilise full fledged kick boxing combinations. The shadow boxing drill is designed for an athlete to improve the fluency of their striking, and combining that with a systematic form of footwork, which will allow them to move in and out of range of their imaginary opponent. This is the most reputable way that all of these aspects can be ingrained into their muscle memory.
Focus mitt training is a crucial part of all kick boxing training sessions, and even though the focus mitts are designed purely for boxing, this is extremely helpful to a kick boxer. It is important to work individually on boxing skill, and then on kick boxing skills, as the two different styles have their own merit. A good trainer will put their student through the paces with the focus mitts, and can force them to duck, and evade punches, while still throwing counter strikes. There are many good drills to use on the focus mitts like an athlete running on the spot, while throwing continuous strikes into the mitts. Other drills include various combinations that the trainer will call out, and this is so the athlete can work on their punching power, and also on their punching strategy as well.
A good training drill is to go through kick boxing circuits, where athletes can go from one station to the next, and work on all elements of their striking game. This means to move from the boxing bag, to the focus mitts, to a real life sparring partner, then into a shadow box, and then onto the Thai pads. This can be highly advantageous, and will build an extreme amount of cardio, while at the same time building up significant endurance in their muscles. The Thai pads are more suited to kick boxing combinations, and this is because they are thicker, and bigger, so the athlete can throw hard kicks into the pads. There is a wide range of different drills that can be utilised on the Thai pads, and athletes will work extensively on punch, and kick combinations like the jab, the cross, the left hook, and the right low kick.
Using boxing bags is a fundamental part of any striking combat, and art forms like Boxing, Muay Thai, and Kick Boxing all incorporate bag drills. Athletes can use the bag as an imaginary opponent, and begin practising their range by stepping in and out, and circling around. This is a good workout routine that athletes can use, as they will incorporate a variety of striking combinations. The heavy bag is predominantly used for improving an athlete's power in their strikes, and this will also help them to build a significant amount of resilience within their shins. A good kick boxer needs a significant amount of power, so they can have a greater chance of winning against high quality opposition.
CARDIO FOR KICK BOXING
Kick boxing training sessions incorporate high elements of cardio training. This can start from the warm ups, as athletes are usually required to go for light jogs at the start of training, before moving into other cardio exercises like skipping, shadow boxing, and other high energy exercises. It is highly important that an athlete builds up their cardiorespiratory endurance, and this is so they don't fatigue during any part of their matches. Some kick boxing arts will require athletes to fight for multiple rounds, and when they are using high amounts of energy, their cardiovascular ability must be first class. Utilising any kick boxing drills can be a cardio exercise, and this is because the athlete will throw combinations at an extremely rapid rate, which will only benefit them later on in their competitive fights.
Building up cardio in a combat athlete is crucial for competitive fighting, but even more important for general street application. Building up self defense has become a vital aspect for many people in the modern era, and to have a formidable style of self defense, a person needs to be extremely athletic, with a high amount of cardio. This is important so they can stay calm, and calculated, without losing energy during a real life conflict situation. This is also crucial so the athlete can simply run away if the situation gets too heated. The beauty of kick boxing as a Martial Art, is it involves a high calibre of kicking techniques that requires an athlete to have an extensive aerobic capacity. Utilising jumping kicks, or combinations that combine punching and kicking, use high amounts of energy, and require athletes to be extremely fit.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING
In the modern fight game, all athletes are incredibly strong, and the more strength an athlete has the less chance they have of being overwhelmed by their opponent. The days of technique beats strength are in the past, as these days even the most technical strikers incorporate considerable strength and conditioning systems into their training regimes. Most athletes will incorporate weight lifting training programmes, or other systems like kettlebell training, or plyometric training. Standing up against the rigorous grind of striking Martial Arts, has forced many athletes to improve their overall core strength. Reaching the higher levels of striking ferocity takes more than just skill, as an athlete needs a tremendous amount of athleticism to be able to incorporate high level kick boxing moves like cartwheel kicks, jumping axe kicks, spinning back kicks, and various techniques found in Muay Thai boxing like clinch work, knee strikes, and elbow strikes.
MOBILITY AND INJURY PREVENTION
Training in striking Martial Arts goes far beyond utilising fight mechanics, as all athletes must be in tune with how to prevent their body from sustaining injuries. This is where mobility exercise comes into play, as athletes can use extensive ways to increase their overall range of motion. Athletes will use equipment like broom hands, as they maneuver the pole over their head, and behind their shoulders, while they look to rotate and manipulate their shoulder joints. The same process can be used on an athlete's hips, and this is how they can increase their kicking power, and their range of movement. Mobility exercises will help to keep an athlete off of the injury list, and looking fitter and healthier for the long term. These methods are not new to combat sports, and all high level athletes are well known for their highly functional training exercises.
Athletes must understand the difference between dynamic, and static stretching, and using a dynamic stretch first is the only way to get the body warm, and the blood flowing in the right direction. Once the athlete is warm they can move into more deeper stretches to loosen up any tight spots, as they look to increase their overall range of motion. Combat sports involve a higher velocity of punching, and kicking, as well as movements that can put an athlete on the canvas. This means they must work on different ways to break fall, and to get back to their feet during competitive fights. It is important to work on mobility exercises like arm swings, sideways leg swings, multi directional lunges, back rotational stretches, leg curls, neck stretches, lower back flexion stretches, hamstring stretches, quadriceps stretches, hip flexor stretches, groin stretches, gluteal stretches, calf stretches, posterior shoulder stretches, forearm and bicep stretches, and wrist extensor stretches.
Injury prevention methods are extremely important, and if an athlete wants to survive in combat sports for the long haul, they will need to be cautious in how they execute their actions. Beginners are usually reckless with how they will initiate their striking processes, and especially when they are young they will push their bodies past the ordinary boundaries. Using common sense does not necessarily run through a young person's mind, but for the more experienced athletes they will be a lot more cautious with how they warm up, execute their striking techniques, and warm down. Longevity is vital in combat sports, and all athletes should be considering how their bodies might feel after they retire from professional competition. It doesn't take much extra effort to add mobility exercises into an athlete's training regime, so it becomes increasingly important that athletes do so.
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