5 Styles of Kickboxing

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People who are unfamiliar with the sport often assume that kickboxing is a single, unified style of fighting, but in fact there are several different varieties of the sport. Some differ from one another in relatively minor ways, but there are others that have very real, distinct differences. While you may be limited in your choices depending on where you live, residents of major metropolitan areas can usually find at least two different types of kickboxing to train in. If you’re not sure which direction to take, consider these different types of kickboxing.

Muay Thai: All other types of kickboxing are commonly measured against Muay Thai, which tends to be a little more permissive than other forms. As its name suggests, Muay Thai is originally from Thailand, but it is heavily influenced by fighting techniques from other areas of the Indochinese region. It’s sometimes referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” because it employs two fists, two feet, two elbows, and two knees.

American kickboxing: Unlike Muay Thai, American does not permit the use of elbows or knees, and there are no hits allowed below the waist. It originates as a combination of American-style boxing and karate, and its low-impact style evolved so that it could be a kid-friendly sport.

Japanese kickboxing: To the casual observer, Japanese kickboxing may appear to be the same as Muay Thai, but there are some subtle differences, particularly with the scoring system and the typical length of the rounds. There are also some minor cosmetic differences that have little to do with the match itself.

Indian kickboxing: Indian kickboxing is not as widely known as the above three varieties of the sport, but it is growing in popularity due to its intense style. Perhaps because it is not as popular as the other varieties, it is still a lot rougher and involves a lot more grappling and other rough maneuvers.

French kickboxing: Like American kickboxing, the French version is a little tamer than other versions of the sport. Players are allowed to make contact with the foot but not with the knee or the shin. The sport has surprising origins within France itself; it’s thought to have originated in the street fighting techniques of the rough, 19th-century Parisian streets. Unlike other kickboxing varieties, it allows open-handed hits. Today, French kickboxing is an exceptionally safe sport, with very few injuries when compared to other forms of kickboxing.

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