What do you do to keep fit? Many people bike, run, or take part in team
sports. Some join aerobics or other exercise classes. However, the people
having the most fun getting in shape these days are those into cardio-kickboxing.
As the name suggests, kickboxing is a mixture of martial arts kicking techniques
and boxing skills. These days many people do it to get in shape and to learn
Those who do it for recreation say it's a wonderful way to relieve stress.
Those who do it competitively sometimes turn professional.
"Many people lose weight and develop new strength and other attributes
as a result of kickboxing. Almost everyone develops new self-confidence,"
says Lynn Jennyc, cardio-kickboxing instructor at Arashi-Do Karate.
Kickboxing is an activity most people do at a club or gym, though you can
certainly practice at home if you've got the space. There are hundreds of
kickboxing clubs in cities throughout the United States and Canada.
Many are martial arts organizations that offer classes in other disciplines
as well. Many clubs have mixed classes. Some clubs specialize in the competitive
sport of kickboxing, while others may focus more on cardio-kickboxing classes
for people who just want to get in shape.
Kickboxing, especially cardio-kickboxing, is a very popular and fast-growing
sport. There are no statistics available.
But judging by the number of clubs around, it's a safe bet there are thousands
of people actively involved in kickboxing. The sport caters to both young
and old, male and female. Some organizations even offer kickboxing classes
Kickboxing has a rather short but interesting history in North America.
It is generally agreed that kickboxing is only a few decades old on this continent,
tracing back to about 1970.
That's when American fighters began looking for a competitive format where
they could use their skills to full effect, using full-power punches and kicks.
However, much of kickboxing history is in constant dispute. Disagreements
arise mainly over the generic term "kickboxing." In North America, all martial
arts styles using boxing gloves are generally grouped under "kickboxing."
Many martial arts magazines break kickboxing into different styles like:
san shou (Chinese), bando (Burmese), boxe Francaise-savate (French), muay
Thai (Thai) and, of course, cardio-kickboxing, currently the "in" thing in
fitness. Kickboxing is also known as Thai-bo.
Cardio-kickboxing, aerobic kickboxing, kick-boxercise -- whatever you want
to call it, it continues to grow at a phenomenal rate. It is easily the fastest-growing
and most popular method of getting fit these days. Classes everywhere are
full and new ones are starting up all the time.
The popularity of cardio-kickboxing is also having an impact on competitive
kickboxing. People who get into it for fitness sometimes find they like it
so much they want to take it a step further, like into the ring!
Kickboxing is a unique blend of martial arts kicking techniques and boxing
skills. It involves the use of your feet and legs, as well as your hands.
It's like boxing except that you can also use your feet. The use of elbows
is usually not allowed.
Kickboxing is a very fast, exciting and physically demanding sport. Kickboxers
combine all the different and varied martial arts kicks with the hand techniques
of the boxer.
They wear boxing gloves and usually kick in their barefeet. Professional
kickboxing bouts take place all over the world. Kickboxing is also sometimes
referred to as full-contact karate.
Cardio-kickboxing is something else entirely. Cardio-kickboxers learn all
the same skills as a competitive kickboxer, but they don't step into the ring.
People join cardio-kickboxing classes not only to get in shape, but to learn
challenging new skills.
Cardio-kickboxing is often referred to as a combination of martial arts
training and aerobics. It is one of the most popular forms of organized exercise
There are many reasons for this popularity. Besides the obvious benefit
of being fit, cardio-kickboxing adds the element of self-defense.
With cardio-kickboxing, the "cardio" benefits are second to none. It offers
way more variety than running, and you use muscles that normally wouldn't
get used in typical aerobics.
These days, women far outnumber men in cardio-kickboxing classes. However,
just the opposite is true in competitive kickboxing. Men just seem more drawn
The reason cardio-kickboxing is so popular with women is twofold: they
can have fun getting in shape and learn how to protect themselves at the same
time. Many women also comment on how kickboxing boosts their self-confidence.
Of course, cardio-kickboxing isn't just for women. More and more men are
catching on to benefits of this non-competitive version of kickboxing. Cardio-kickboxing
is also very popular with teens who have previously done well in karate and
want to learn a new technique.
While cardio-kickboxing is a very physically demanding activity, people
with physical challenges can also take part.
People who are visually impaired; people with heart problems, back problems,
and weight problems; and even people with degenerative diseases can take part.
Some clubs offer adapted programs where people can work at their own pace.
Competitive kickboxing is not suitable for physically challenged people.
For most people, there are relatively few employment opportunities in kickboxing.
It is possible to become a kickboxing instructor, but it takes a lot of time
and effort. Before you can become one, you have to spend a lot of years learning
the art and be very, very good, especially at teaching.
Most reputable clubs will only hire "certified" instructors. Of course,
who does the certifying and what certification actually means is often in
dispute, and varies depending on where you are. As with other martial arts,
many instructors do it just because they love the sport.
Some people go on to become professional kickboxers, a business much like
prize fighting -- and for those so inclined, there is also a limited amount
of work available in Hollywood. Bruce Lee was perhaps one of the most recognizable
martial arts movie stars.
The cost of taking kickboxing classes isn't much different
than joining a typical aerobics class. Prices vary from club to club. Some
clubs have a yearly membership fee, some charge by the class, others have
a monthly fee. You just have to check around.
When it comes to equipment, what you need depends on whether you're involved
in cardio-kickboxing or competitive kickboxing.
For competition, you'll need shin guards, a mouth guard, head protection,
hand wraps and gloves, not to mention a certain amount of courage. In cardio,
all you really need are hand wraps to protect your hands.
The best way to get started in kickboxing is to look up martial arts clubs
in the phone book. Visit the clubs, watch a class, talk to the instructor,
talk to participants and ask a lot of questions.
Cardio-kickboxing is a good place to start because you can get a feel for
the sport without getting hit in the head. With cardio-kickboxing, the worst
thing that can happen to you is you'll get fit.
People involved in kickboxing say you really have to look very carefully
at who's doing the teaching. There are a lot of wannabe kickboxing clubs and
a lot of wannabe kickboxing instructors. This is because of the huge popularity
of the sport.
You have to remember that cardio-kickboxing isn't just aerobics with boxing
gloves on. Kickboxing is just as difficult as any other martial art.
There are some people who attend a weekend seminar or watch a video, and
then call themselves kickboxing instructors. While this may not be illegal,
it can be dangerous.
Some cardio-kickboxing videos you might want to look at include two by
Rachel Hunter: Kickboxing Cardio Workout and Power Conditioning, Kickboxing
Cardio. For good kickboxing fights on video, check out Lawrence Miera vs.
Rod Kei or Bridgett Riley vs. Stephanie Curtis, both on SYNC Productions.
If you want to see a martial arts master at work fighting the bad guys,
there are dozens of Bruce Lee movies readily available. Bruce Lee does some
great kickboxing in Curse of the Dragon. Other movie titles to look for include:
Three Ninjas Kick Back, The Next Karate Kid and The Perfect Weapon.
United States Kickboxing Association
Dedicated to the promotion of kickboxing and sport fighting throughout
International Fitness Kickboxing Association
This site focuses on the fitness aspect of kickboxing
A network for fans, enthusiasts, students and instructors