History of Kickboxing

The Kickboxing | Cardio Kickboxing | Kickboxing Origins | History of Kickboxing | What is Kickboxing | Kickboxing Basics | Evolution of Kickboxing | Kickboxing Combinations | Kickboxing Rules

In many martial arts, the true origins or starting point is usually murky or unknown. This is also true for the martial art kickboxing, however, can be traced back to a creation point of sorts. During the early to mid 1950’s, a man by the name of Osamu Noguchi was a prominent boxer and boxing enthusiast in Japan.

He traveled the world to watch popular boxing matches and became fond of the style of boxing used in Thailand – Muay Thai. At that time, a man by the name of Tatsuo Yamada (the creator of Nihon Kempo Karate-do) took an interest in Muay Thai as well – he sought to find a form of fighting in which opponents could aim their strikes directly at each other and make contact with the targeted area of the opponents body.

In Karate, the opponents are never permitted to make contact with each other directly. Around the year 1959, Tatsuo Yamada created what he called “Karate boxing” its popularity had not quite taken off at that point because it was still a fairly unknown sport.

Tatsuo Yamada and Osamu Noguchi met (they were one of the few people interested in the sport of Muay Thai) and worked together to create “Muay Thai vs. Karate” matches in which opponents could participate.

It was actually Osamu Noguchi that coined the term “kickboxing” and after several matches, popularity of this new martial art spread fairly quickly.

Before his death in 1967, Osamu Noguchi also created the Kickboxing Association and it was after this that kickboxing began to take its true place not only among Japan, but in other countries as well. However, when Tashadi Sawamura (one of the most popular kickboxers during this time) kickboxing experienced a short lull in popularity but bounced around the year 1993 when neck and elbow wrestling were banned from the sport by Kazuyoshi Ishii (creator of the martial art Seidokan Karate). It was shortly after this that kickboxing’s popularity spread to the countries of North America, Australia and Europe.

Japanese kickboxing has differed very little from its parent art of Muay Thai. The rules are very similar in both sports – such as the continuation of neck and elbow wrestling (the American version does not allow such moves) and one minute intervals. American kickboxing took on a more modern form, allowing only strikes with either the hands or feet and sometimes the shins, but very rarely is this allowed. It is generally thought that American kickboxing (or freestyle kickboxing) is more of a mixture of Karate and regular boxing than a form of Muay Thai.

The presence of certain kicks, punches and strikes in each form of kickboxing derive directly from founders Tatsuo Yamada and Osamu Naguchi – such as the uppercut, the hook and the roundhouse kick. There are, however, many techniques that have developed since the Yamada and Naguchi’s inception of the sport – such as kneeing techniques (including the straight knee thrust and leaping knee strike). Kickboxing has evolved into one of the most popular sports and martial arts today, credit for which can only be given to its founders – Yamada and Naguchi.