Kickboxing is a form of martial art in which competitors can use their elbows, feet, hands, knees and shins to deliver blows. Unlike such martial arts as karate, however, kickboxing is a sport and not necessarily a type of self-defense.
Kickboxers are classified as either amateurs or professionals. Rules vary, but generally matches last from 3 to 12 rounds, with each round running 2 to 3 minutes.
As in boxing, a kickboxer may win in several ways. In a knockout, one boxer is knocked down and cannot continue fighting after a count to 10.
In a technical knockout, the referee stops the bout if, for example, one fighter cannot defend himself or is seriously cut. In a decision, judges decide the winner through a point system.
Bouts are divided into weight divisions and fighting styles. Under full contact rules, fighters may strike only above the waist.
International rules also allow kicks to the legs. Muay Thai rules permit knee and elbow strikes.
Matches are held in a boxing ring. All kickboxers must wear handwraps, boxing gloves, mouthpieces, and groin protectors.
Kickboxing originated in Thailand and came to the United States in the late 1960’s. Its popularity grew rapidly, and the sport is now practiced worldwide.