Muay Thai kickboxing
Although the true roots of kickboxing date back to Asia 2,000 years ago, modern competitive kickboxing actually started in the 1970s, when American karate experts arranged competitions that allowed full-contact kicks and punches that had been banned in karate.
Because of health and safety concerns, padding and protective clothing and safety rules were introduced into the sport over the years, which led to the various forms of competitive kickboxing practiced in the United States today. The forms differ in the techniques used and the amount of physical contact that is allowed between the competitors.
Currently, one popular form of kickboxing is known as aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) kickboxing, which combines elements of boxing, martial arts, and aerobics to provide overall physical conditioning and toning. Unlike other types of kickboxing, cardio kickboxing does not involve physical contact between competitors — it’s a cardiovascular workout that’s done because of its many benefits to the body.
Cardio kickboxing classes usually start with warm-ups and gradually increase in intensity. Kickboxing is a full-body workout that includes movements such as knee strikes, kicks, and punches. Some time at the end of class is usually devoted to cooling down, which usually includes exercises like push-ups and crunches for strength and stretching for flexibility.
- Comfort is key. Wear comfortable clothing that allows your arms and legs to move easily in all directions. The best shoes are cross-trainers — not tennis shoes — because cross-trainers allow for side-to-side movements. Gloves or hand wraps are sometimes used during classes — you may be able to buy these where your class is held. Give your instructor a call beforehand so you can be fully prepared.
- Start slowly and don’t overdo it. The key to a good kickboxing workout is controlled movement. Overextending yourself by kicking too high or locking your arms and legs during movements can cause pulled muscles and tendons and sprained knee or ankle joints. Start with low kicks as you slowly learn proper kickboxing technique. This is very important for beginners, who are more prone to developing injuries while attempting quick, complicated kickboxing moves.
- Drink up. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after your class to quench your thirst and keep yourself hydrated.
- Roundhouse kick: Stand with the right side of your body facing an imaginary target with your knees bent and your feet shoulders’ width apart. Lift your right knee, pointing it just to the right of the target and pivoting your body toward the same direction. Kick with your right leg, as though you are hitting the target. Repeat with your other leg.
- Front kick: Stand with feet shoulders’ width apart. Bend your knees slightly, and pull your right knee up toward your chest. Point your knee in the direction of an imaginary target. Then, kick out with the ball of your foot. Repeat with your other leg.
- Side kick: Start with the right side of your body facing a target. Pull your right knee up toward your left shoulder, and bend your knees slightly as you kick in the direction of your target. The outside of your foot or heel should be the part that would hit the target. Repeat with your other leg.
Besides keeping your body fit, kickboxing has other benefits. According to a study by the ACE, you can burn anywhere from 350 to 450 calories an hour with kickboxing!
Kickboxing also reduces and relieves stress. Its rigorous workout — controlled punching and kicking movements carried out with the discipline and skills required for martial arts — can do wonders for feelings of frustration and anger. Practicing kickboxing moves also can help to improve balance, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.
Kickboxing is also a great way to get a total-body workout while learning simple self-defense moves. Kickboxing fans say the sport helps them to feel more empowered and confident.