Kick boxing is a full contact form of Martial Arts, and the nature of this combat is based upon punches, and kicks. When most people think of kick boxing they picture a combat sport that just involves a high calibre of kicks, where in fact kick boxing was the term derived by the Japanese for the combination of Boxing, Karate, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo. Kick boxing incorporates a fluent style of boxing techniques, along with the added advantage of using kick boxing kicks. The diverse nature of the sport has seen this hybrid form of striking become considerably more popular to mainstream Martial Artists.
What this article covers:
- Different Styles of Kick Boxing
- How to Train Effectively in Kick Boxing
- Kick Boxing Drills
- Key Kick Boxing Components
- Can Anyone Train in Kick Boxing
Since the beginning of time people have faced off in hand to hand combat, as early depictions show warriors battling in ancient Greece, and in ancient India. Throughout the generations Martial combat has been passed down the ranks from culture to culture, as the art of punching and kicking an opponent has become popularised.
Kick boxing was the culmination of different arts forms, and since the 1950's contests have taken place. In the 1970's American kick boxing became highly favourable to the American public, and this was due to the popularity of movie stars like Bruce Lee, and Chuck Norris, as they showcased their electrifying skills in striking. The Professional Karate Association, or the PKA held their first world championships in the mid 1970's, and from here kick boxing rose into the limelight of combat sports in America. Due to organisations like K-1, and Glory, they paved the way for Martial Artists to make an impact on the inception of MMA to America. Nowadays kick boxing is a valued part of the modern Mixed Martial Artists repertoire.
DIFFERENT STYLES OF KICK BOXING
Muay Thai is considered as one of the most formidable, and brutal combat sports in the history of the world. This full contact version of Martial Arts is also known as Thai boxing. In this combat sport, athletes will use the art of eight limbs, and this is a metaphor that describes the weapons of a Muay Thai combat athlete. Thai fighters will use their fists, their elbows, their knees, and their feet to attack their opponents, making this art form extremely rough on an athlete's body. The Thai clinch is also utilised in this form of combat, which is where an athlete secures a double neck tie, or a single neck tie on their opponent's neck, so they can deliver elbow, and knee strikes to their opponent. Muay Thai fighters are revered across the world as some of the most well conditioned combat athletes in all forms of striking combat.
Savate is another form of kick boxing, which was developed by the French. The Art of French boxing, or otherwise known as French foot fighting was created as a graceful, but fierce form of combat sports. Savate also has played a part in the culmination of striking in Mixed Martial Arts, as many high level athletes still utilise some of the kick boxing combos that savate has in its arsenal. A savate fighter is lighter on their feet, as they are commonly set up in a side on style of action, which enables them to execute a high level of kicking prominence. Some of the world's best fighters like Cheick Kongo, Francis Carmont, Karl Amoussou, and Christian M'Pumbu have all showcased their dominance in the art of savate fighting.
Kick boxing, like in the Japanese K-1 organisation, is a form of Martial Art that was developed in the early 1990's. This art formally derived from Seidokaikan Karate, but took on more of a kick orientated boxing ferocity, then its former predecessor. K-1 became an extremely popular Japanese form of kick boxing, where exciting fights of three times three minute rounds would take place. This style of kick boxing is fast, and furious, and has spread across the globe at a rapid rate. This form of kick boxing differentiates from the more clinical style of kick boxing, as it allows full contact striking from the head down including the legs. The addition of knees, and clinching to the K-1 organisation has made this form of kick boxing one of the most watched on a global scale.
HOW TO TRAIN EFFECTIVELY IN KICK BOXING
One of the most important concepts in all combat sports, is how to train effectively in kick boxing. Staying calm, and fighting relaxed is a skill that an athlete can only learn over time, as most beginners to any combat art will commonly be too rigid, overzealous, and use too much strength. Learning how to fight in a relaxed state is the best way to execute kick boxing moves at a higher level. It can be quite common for an athlete to be nervous, or anxious when they are competing, or training amongst other high level kick boxers. At the end of the day, any athlete has a fifty percent chance of winning each battle, so no matter what calibre of fighter an athlete is, they should always go into every training session, and competitive fight in a relaxed manner, with a positive attitude. This is one of the most important factors in fighting more effectively In kick boxing technique.
All combat sports require athletes to break their training down into specific components. It can be extremely hard to train in all aspects at the same time, this is why athletes spend time working on their power on the heavy bag, working their technique on the focus mitts, working their connection between punching, and kicking on the Thai pads, and training their fluency in shadow boxing. To reach a highly effective form of kick boxing, athletes will need to set certain goals for each kick boxing training session. Breaking down each part of the game will enable the athlete to master every specific element, before integrating them together, and working on their fluency. Shadow boxing is one of the best ways to sharpen up an athlete's form, and because there is no impact on an athlete's body, it becomes pure form, and cardio.
KICK BOXING DRILLS
An important part of kick boxing is warming up, and athletes can not overlook the significance of limbering up their body, and increasing their heart rate to help the blood, and oxygen flow through the body. This is why doing significant exercises like running drills, and other exercise routines are vital to the warm up systems. Athletes can do a whole different range of movements like squat jumps, jumping jacks, star jumps, rotating arm extensions, switch punch extensions, leg check drills, and circling of the arms. These are all movements that can be utilised in kick boxing for the benefit of an athlete's systems. Shadow boxing can also be used as a warm up drill, or it can be used as a more high intensity cardio, strength and conditioning, or skill based workout system. Some of the best fighters of all time have utilised shadow boxing drills, and a workout like this should be applied to every kickboxer's training session.
Focus mitts can be a kickboxer's best friend, and this is because of the high velocity at which they can train their punching systems. Kick boxing isn't just about kicking, as there is a significant amount of boxing involved. Using focus mitts is a great workout drill that can increase an athlete's cardiovascular ability, along with their speed, and accuracy of punching. Athletes can run on the spot while throwing a variety of different strikes like straight punches, hooks, uppercuts, and jabs, or they can use a combination determined by the holder of the focus mitts. Athletes can also use the same drills on the focus mitts, but instead of running they will use coordinated footwork to simulate a real fight experience. To make the drill even better the athlete will be slipping, and ducking underneath punches that the focus mitt holder will throw in between their combinations. This will only further improve the athlete's skills in evasion, combined with counter attack.
The Thai pads are one of the most important parts of drilling in kick boxing. Thai pads are much thicker and longer than a focus mitt, and can be used for punching, and for kicking. Trainers will commonly use these pads to help an athlete work significantly on the connection between their punches, and their kicks. Using a classic three hit combination like a jab, cross, and low kick, or a double jab, and then mid kick can be extremely versatile combinations to throw on the Thai pads. Athletes will be put under the pump, as their instructors will make them kick multiple times off the same foot, which is a great way to increase their strength, flexibility, and power within their kicks. Trainers can also strap shin guards on their legs, so they can throw kicks at the athlete while they work on their combinations. This is a great way for the athlete to work on the versatility of their game, while still being able to check kicks. Utilising this type of pad work is all about speed, power, and timing, and athletes can become extremely good at kick boxing with the right guidance.
Athletes can also use the boxing bag for a multitude of different reasons. The heavy bag can be used to work on their punching power, which is a necessary part of kick boxing. The speed ball is used to help the athlete with their timing as they will work on the gracefulness, their reaction time, and their hand and eye coordination. A full sized boxing bag can also be used to work on a number of different punch, and kick techniques. It is important to develop a wide range of maneuvers, and using the boxing bag is a great way to practice every single component. Once the athlete has worked on all of their techniques, they can integrate all of these aspects, and use it in a more fluent way. Circling around the bag, and using evasion techniques like ducking, slipping, and jabbing to set up a kick, is a great use of the boxing bag and one of the best drills an athlete can do in kick boxing training.
KEY KICK BOXING COMPONENTS
Training in a comprehensive art form like kick boxing can be complicated, and will demand a heavy toll both physically, and mentally. The athletes that stick around and persevere through the grind of competitive training will only reap the benefits. In terms of the physical components, athletes will build a significant amount of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and an improved body composition. Building up these strength, and fitness components are a crucial part of becoming a fitter, and stronger athlete. This will also improve the person's general health and well being, which translates into a more confident person, with a greater state of mental health.
In terms of the skill components, training in kick boxing can improve many attributes. Under the right guidance, and with dedication and perseverance, athletes will gain increases in speed, agility, power, balance, coordination and reaction time. Agility, balance, and coordination are extremely important in terms of footwork, and being capable of moving in and out of range, while being able to change direction quickly is vital. Speed and power are also important, especially for professional fighters, as they will need to be fast to execute dynamic punches, but will also need a significant amount of power to be able to knock their opponents out. Reaction time is one of the most important skill aspects, and this can determine the outcome of a punching, or kicking exchange. Having good reflexes, and being able to move faster than an opponent can strike, will enable an athlete to gain the upper hand, and execute all of their other attributes in cohesion, to ultimately become the victor.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE STANCE
A fighting stance is a major component in becoming a world class striker. If an athlete has a poor stance then this will severely affect their efficiency, and ultimately their performance. A good stance will ensure an athlete is using a good balanced structure, so they can access a more fluent form of striking. Good balance will also make them hard to knock down, as their evasive maneuvers will become more systematic. Athletes can use two main fighting stances, the orthodox stance, and the southpaw stance. The orthodox stance is when an athlete stands with their left foot, and left hand forward, with their right hand as the power punch. The southpaw is a polar opposite, and is a left handed stance, but in modern times this stance is used to confuse, and mix up an opponent's game plan.
The good part about a fight stance is that the athlete has multiple ways they can square off against their opponent. Using The Muay Thai stance involves more of a squared up position with a higher set of hands guarding the face, and this is mainly due to defending the clinch, and elbows from Muay Thai opponents. This stance can be utilised in kick boxing, and can be quite formidable. The traditional kick boxing stance is slightly side on, and very similar to an orthodox boxing stance. An athlete that has a good kick boxing stance will be lighter on their feet, with their toes facing inwards, and an even weight distribution between both feet. This will enable the athlete to become more mobile, and utilise various kicking techniques.
CAN ANYONE TRAIN IN KICK BOXING
Kick boxing is one of those Martial Arts that can be utilised for professional level competitors, and for everyday people looking for an interesting way to stay fit. Kick boxing sessions can be designed in a number of different ways, including as a warm up drill, a way to sharpen up a person's punching ability, or a more detailed training program like kick boxing circuits. Most kick boxing academies welcome all levels of students from children right through to older members. There is a common misconception that kick boxing is a thug sport, and is only taught to athletes in their prime, that are training for high level competition. Anyone can train kick boxing whether they want to learn for the self defense knowledge, the grind of professional combat, the burn of strength, conditioning and cardio, or just for the fun, and camaraderie of a kick boxing academy. In the modern day most people are looking for a way to stay fit and healthy, and for those people that need something a little bit more stimulating than a typical gym session, then Martial Arts like kick boxing is a perfect option.
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