Kick boxing is a highly intensive form of combat that incorporates punching skills from the art of boxing, and kicking skills from Martial Arts like karate and taekwondo. The popularity of mainstream combat sports has become exponential, especially since the culmination of Mixed Martial Arts in the United States of America.
What this article covers:
- Is Kick Boxing a Good Workout
- Warming up For Kick Boxing
- Important Kick Boxing Concepts
- How to Train Effectively for Kick Boxing
- Different Kick Boxing Routines
- Health Benefits of Kick Boxing
Training to become a fighter is the childhood dream of many Americans, and whether they do this in a grappling form, or a striking form, the notoriety and popularity is seamlessly increasing. Organisations like One Championship, Glory, and K-1 kick boxing have catapulted the striking arts into a new age, and the innovation of the modern fight game is consistently improving.
Most beginners are not sure how to start kick boxing, and even though it may be hard to walk through the doors initially, a person will just have to take the leap. Walking into a training academy, and wanting to learn Martial Arts is the first step in becoming a fitter, stronger, and a more intelligent athlete. The evidence is conclusive, and anyone that trains in Martial Arts is going to get tougher, and more confident in everything they do. It can be extremely surprising at how becoming a competent Martial Artist can translate into someone's life, as it will give them a greater sense of purpose, and help them to become a more valued member of the community. Martial arts is about respect, honour, humility, and valor, and any person that commits to the training will be extremely grateful they did.
IS KICK BOXING A GOOD WORKOUT
Aside from Mixed Martial Arts, kick boxing can be one of the most intense workouts in combat sports. Utilising kick boxing combos on the focus mitts, the Thai pads, and the boxing bag can be grueling, especially when an athlete is pushed hard by a trainer. The focus mitts are used for various boxing combinations, and the athlete will use this exercise to increase their technical proficiency, and their speed of punching. Running on the spot while throwing continuous jabs, straights, hooks, or uppercuts can be an extremely effective workout method. The athlete will also engage in other movements like stepping in and out, slipping, and circling, while they throw a multitude of strikes into the focus mitts.
There are other elements to a kick boxing training session like hitting the Thai pads, hitting the boxing bag, and even shadow boxing. All of these concepts have been designed to specifically target certain areas that athletes will need to work on. Striking Martial Arts are a massive cardio workout, and they also incorporate strength and conditioning, and a serious amount of skills training. To say a kick boxing session is a good workout is a massive understatement, as the striking art can be extremely brutal in terms of physical conditioning, as well as mental conditioning. Athletes will become fitter, faster, stronger, more intelligent, more dexterous, more flexible, more balanced, and gain a better level of agility.
WARMING UP FOR KICK BOXING
All combat athletes need to warm up extensively before they begin a grueling training session like kick boxing. The important factor for an athlete is to start by elevating their heart rate, and increasing their blood flow, and the delivery of oxygen to their muscles. This can be achieved a number of different ways, and in combat sports the athletes will usually begin by going for a jog. Other ways to warm up include exercise drills like burpees, sprawls, squat jumps, rotating arm extensions, and switch punch extensions. Athletes can also shadow box, which is a light way of getting all of the systems moving by punching and kicking into the air, while dancing around the mat. Shadow boxing is one of the most iconic forms of boxing training, where the athlete will use different kinds of footwork to duck, weave, and slip an imaginary opponent, while they continuously throw a fluency of striking combinations. The good thing about kick boxing training sessions is an athlete can simply find a boxing bag, and just do some light bag work, or they can grab a partner, and both have a turn at lightly hitting the focus mitts with an emphasis on getting the systems moving.
IMPORTANT KICK BOXING CONCEPTS
There are many important concepts that are associated with a combat sport like kick boxing. Balance, posture, and agility are extremely important attributes that must be built up, and mastered if an athlete wants to be successful within the sport. Agility is the act of being able to change direction at any given moment, including stopping suddenly, moving forwards, moving backwards, moving sideways, or even changing levels and dropping low to the floor. Balance is all about staying on their feet, and having their weight distribution in the right spot, as they throw different striking combinations. This also works in reverse, as a balanced athlete will know how to absorb a punch, or evade it by staying strong on their feet. Posture is extremely important because the body goes where the head goes, so when an athlete is using the appropriate posture it means their spine is in alignment, and this makes it hard for an opponent to knock them down, take them down, or move them off of their line.
Speed and power are two concepts that go hand in hand, as the athlete must develop sleight of hand, so they can outmaneuver their opponent. Having a fast punch, or a succession of fast punches can leave an opponent shaken, and unable to defend, or counter attack. Having speed is one thing, but if the athlete has no power within their punch then their speed will count for nothing. A powerful punch gives an athlete the opportunity to take their opponent out once they set them up with good striking combinations. Once an athlete shows their power to their opponent this can cause a diverse effect, where the opponent will start to play a more cautious game. This is a concept that can help an athlete worry their opponent, and trap them in the pocket, before finishing them off with fast and powerful combinations.
Athletes must develop their reaction time, because having slow reflexes will almost always result in an athlete being knocked out. Kick boxing can be a dangerous sport, where an opponent is looking to wrap their shin around the athlete's head. The brutal nature of kick boxing can mean that the athlete must develop fast reflexes, so they can evade trouble, and look to counter attack before the opponent can reset themselves. Athletes must understand what a safe distance is when they are in a real fight situation. Knowing the range is extremely important, so that when the opponent attacks, the athlete has enough reaction time to block, evade, or counter strike. This is the same in the attack mode, as an athlete that has a fast reaction time will always get the jump on their opponent that is considerably slower.
HOW TO TRAIN EFFECTIVELY FOR KICK BOXING
The worst mistake an athlete can make is being lazy, or unmotivated while they attempt to learn a Martial Art like kick boxing. All striking Martial Arts can be extremely harrowing, and this is due to the extremely physical nature of the kick boxing circuits. Maximising training routines is of vital importance, and like most Martial Arts it takes some serious dedication, consistency, and perseverance to succeed, and achieve all of the goals an athlete will set out. An effective way to get the most out of kick boxing is to break the sessions down into smaller achievable goals. This means to focus on one or two aspects like punching form, and technique, and then in the next session work on speed, and power. It is important to master each avenue before attempting to integrate everything together, and this will stop an athlete from getting lost, which is a more efficient use of their mat time.
All beginners that come into a heavy duty Martial Art like kick boxing will come in with too much strength, too much arrogance, and not enough poise, and humility. It is important to learn how to be calm, and fight in a relaxed state. A fighter that is relaxed will be much more dangerous, because they will be limbed up, and more ready to absorb a punch, as well as evade, and counter attack. It is much easier to think clearer when an athlete is relaxed, instead of being under the pump, stressed out, or overworked. It is important not to push the envelope too far, and this means to take Martial Arts one day at a time, because putting in too much effort in one instance, can severely deplete the energy levels, and burn out an athlete from wanting to train.
DIFFERENT KICK BOXING ROUTINES
There are a multitude of different kick boxing routines that can be administered into an athlete's training sessions. Considering all of the different aspects like shadow boxing, hitting the focus mitts, hitting the Thai pads, hitting the kick shields, punching and kicking the boxing bag, and real life sparring, there are multiple avenues for athletes to improve. A competitive athlete will always start off with comprehensive warm ups, and this includes jogging, and various exercises to get the heart pumped. Shadow boxing is great for warm ups, and is also a great workout routine that can help athletes perfect their form, and link all of their technical proficiencies into one system. Some of the world's best fighters have always shadow boxed, and greats like Ernesto Hoost, John Wayne Parr, Badr Hari, and Mark Hunt have proven how fortuitous it has been.
An extremely important workout routine is skipping, and although this may seem like a relatively simple technique to execute, it is a guarantee it will make an athlete's legs burn. Skipping can be a grueling workout that will build extreme power in the athletes legs, as well as significantly improve their cardiorespiratory endurance. What makes skipping such an important workout routine, is that when an athlete dances over a skipping rope they are mimicking skilful movements in the footwork game. Developing fast feet, and using extraordinary footwork skills, can be trained thoroughly with a skipping rope. All of the greatest fighters of all time have used skipping as their controlling measure to practice how to stutter step past their opponent.
There are many different routines that athletes can use on the focus mitts. Running on the spot, and throwing consecutive strikes like uppercuts, jabs, hooks, or crosses are a great way to increase the burn. Athletes will also use more controlled movements like circling, stepping in and out of range, while executing combinations. A good trainer will always incorporate punches, and kicks towards their student, and this is a good way to force them to use evasive maneuvers like slipping, weaving, side stepping, checking kicks, and then counter attacking. Kick boxing is all about movement, combined with precision and power, and these types of focus mitt drills will help athletes considerably. There are an abundance of different combinations at an athlete's disposal, as there are no limits to the creativity that a trainer, or an athlete can have.
The Thai pads offer the same work as the focus mitts, with the added advantage that an athlete can throw hard kicks. The Thai pads are thicker, and longer, and are used for Muay Thai boxing movements, where the athlete can throw hard kicks, knees, elbows, and punches. There are many different routines that an athlete can use like setting up the jab, cross, and low kick combination, or even more complicated ones like the jab, cross, hook, duck, leg kick, body hook. Thai pads are one of the best training tools, and athletes should learn how to strike them, and how to hold them, and this is a good way of perfecting the movements. There are literally no limits on what an athlete can achieve, and becoming good at striking is all about creativity, and having the discipline to stay consistent, and push themselves to the limit.
Often kick boxing athletes will use the heavy bag to work on their power. This is a good opportunity for them to use timed rounds to wear themselves out on the bag. This routine involves non stop movement, as they circle from side to side, and around the bag. Athletes will include ducking, side stepping, slipping, and other evasive tactics, combined with a higher magnitude of powerful punches, and kicks. The most important concept about this workout routine is using the right posture, and the right technique. If an athlete is practicing bad form, then this can be detrimental to their overall growth within the sport. Utilising strenuous training methods, where the athlete will continuously punch, will create a muscle memory where the athlete will no longer have to think hard about their moves, instead it will come instinctively. This is why correct punching, and kicking technique is imperative, so that the right movements are ingrained into their muscle memory.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF KICK BOXING
Training in a Martial Art like kick boxing has a wide range of health benefits. The physical benefits are written on the wall so to speak, as all kick boxing athletes are in astonishing physical shape. All training sessions utilise kick boxing drills that will push an athlete to their limits, which will increase their levels of fitness, and strength and conditioning. Increasing the cardiorespiratory endurance is crucial for a heightened ability of fitness, and improving muscular strength, and muscular endurance will result in a healthier, and stronger body. Flexibility is a big one, and because of kick boxing training, an athlete will become much more flexible. Becoming stronger will only help an athlete prevent injury, and give them a better physical quality of life.
Training in kick boxing will also improve an athlete's mental health condition, and this is due to many factors involved. It is a proven study that exercise releases endorphins in the brain, which are responsible for a person feeling happier, feeling more motivated, and feeling less stressed. Engaging in a community sport can be extremely helpful to someone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health conditions. Martial Arts gives a person a greater purpose, as well as distraction, and a way to vent all of their frustrations. Kicking, or punching a boxing bag is a great way for an athlete to release any built up anger, or tension they may have. This is all done whilst getting a great workout, and learning how to defend themselves.
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