Different Styles Of Kickboxing Explained

Different Styles Of Kickboxing Explained

Kickboxing is a full-contact, relatively new sport and martial art. It has roots in a variety of other martial arts. Kickboxing was a fusion of numerous other striking disciplines combined into a more known American paradigm, mainly by having tournaments in a boxing ring, when it first began in the 1970s in the United States.

What Are The Rules Of Kickboxing

Like other forms of martial arts, kickboxing also has its own set of rules. This is to ensure the safety of every fighter and to guarantee the fairness of the match. If you’re new to this sport, read on to know about its rules.


Kickboxing requires certain pieces of equipment and its own “court” to keep everyone safe. For “court,” kickboxing uses a boxing ring. Its size, however, depends on the associations and promotions that organized it.

As its name suggests kickboxing utilizes boxing moves. Hence, the gloves are regulated too. Here, you can use boxing gloves. Underneath it, you must use hand wraps to keep your wrist in shape and keep injuries at bay – just like in boxing.

Since you’ll be kicking your way to take home to gold, you will also need footpads. This equipment protects your shin. You will also need mouth and groin guards.

During the Match

  • To ensure a fair battle, full-contact kickboxing competitors must compete against a fighter in the same weight category as themselves.
  • Both competitors contact glove after listening to the referee’s instructions, and the fight begins.
  • Rounds typically last three minutes, and the number of rounds varies on the fighters’ expertise. Each round is separated by a one-minute pause. Championship battles normally last 12 rounds of 3 minutes each.
  •  Each fighter should aim to knock out their opponent using punches and kicks to the body and head.
  • In case none of the two fighters is able to knock out their opponent or force the referee to stop the fight, the fight will be stopped by the referee. After that, the fight is scored. The victor is determined by the number of points scored by each fighter. The contest is called a draw if both fighters have the same number of points.


Depending on the kickboxing organization, several scoring techniques may be employed. But typically, kickboxing organizations use the same scoring system as boxing.

In each round, judges (or, in some situations, just the referee) evaluate each combatant based on their performance.

For each round, the better fighter receives ten points. Meanwhile, the other combatant receives nine points. Both fighters are given ten points if they did equally well. However, if one has greatly outperformed the other or knocked them down, the round is scored ten points to eight.


For you to bring home the gold – or the belt – you must knock out your opponent or score points.

  • Knockout – This is when one fighter their opponent, rendering them unable to continue. 

The referee will count to ten to give the other opponent a chance to rise up and continue fighting. If they don’t stand up, the other fighter is pronounced the winner.

  • Total Knockout (TKO) – This happens when one fighter is no longer capable of defending oneself. During this time, the bout is immediately stopped and the other fighter is declared the winner.
  • Points – If there is no knockout or TKO during the fight, the bout is decided on points. On a scorecard, the judge or referee totals the scores. The fighter with the most points wins. The fight is deemed a draw if the points at the end of the fight are equal.

What Are The Different Types Of Kickboxing?

What Are The Different Types Of Kickboxing

Muay Thai, savate, and lethwei are the most popular types of kickboxing. These three, of course, have several differences.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is the most popular form of kickboxing. Plus, it is Thailand’s national sport; hence the name.

The focus of this form is on striking with kicks, punches, knees, and elbows while using all four limbs as weapons. It also emphasizes hard kicks and fighting at close range and in the clinch.


If Thailand has its own kickboxing form, France has one too – and it’s called la savate. This one is a martial art that combines English boxing tactics with foot kicks. 

Its players wear specially designed boots, trousers, and a vest, which set it apart from other types. The fundamental difference between savate and other types of kickboxing is that savate fighters can only land kicks with their foot, not their shin or knee.


Lethwei, on the other hand, is probably the most brutal style of kickboxing among the three. This is because it uses bear knuckles. Plus, fighters can use headbutts.

The rules and methods they employ are extremely similar to those used in Muay Thai, though. They can fight with all of their limbs, including kicks, punches, knees, elbows, and the infamous headbutts.

Apart from that, there are also Japanese kickboxing, shoot boxing, Kun Gek Do, Sanda, Yaw-Yan, and Karate. However, they are less popular.

Japanese Kickboxing

Japanese kickboxing combines Muay Thai techniques and rules with Kyokushin karate techniques. It first appeared in Osaka, Japan, in the 1960s.

Shoot Boxing

Shootboxing uses standing submissions including chokes and joint locks in addition to kicks, punches, knees, and throws.

Kun Gek Do

This is a Korean kickboxing style. It incorporates elements of Taekwondo and Muay Thai techniques.


Fighters can hit with kicks, punches, fight in the clinch, and execute throws and sweeps in this Chinese variation of kickboxing. With the exception of a few competitions, elbow and knee strikes are not permitted.


The Philippines also has its own version of kickboxing – the Yaw-Yan or “Sayaw ng Kamatayan.” In English translation, this means “the dance of death.” In terms of rules and techniques, is extremely similar to Muay Thai.

Full-Contact Karate

There are many different styles and variations of karate, but the majority of them rely on combining kicks and punches. Elbow and knee strikes, as well as throws and fighting in the clinch, are permitted in some styles.

What Kind Of Kickboxing Is The Best Style?

With all of those kickboxing styles, it can be quite hard to choose which one to learn first or use in a fight. So, what many people would often ask is which one is the best? The answer is: it actually depends.

However, experts say Muay Thai is the best style to learn if your goal is to fight in a legitimate mixed martial arts event. As per experienced fighters, it’s much better and more effective than other kickboxing styles.

Some might argue that lethwei should be crowned the best style, though. This is because of how brutal it can be.

However, if we’re going to take a look at the skills that are being taught, muay Thai teaches you the same skills as used in lethwei. Plus, it’s much a safer overall option.

Between K-1 Vs Dutch Style Of Kickboxing? Which Sport Is The Best?

K-1 is actually a set of rules developed by the well-known Japanese “K-1” promotion. Later, it was adopted as a new kickboxing style.

The emphasis of this style is on fighting at a fast tempo and throwing powerful strikes. The bouts are divided into three rounds, each lasting three minutes.

This means that combatants can run at a fast speed without fear of running out of gas. It is, perhaps, the most intense style of kickboxing that is very popular in all parts of the world.

On the other hand, the Dutch style is as effective. The rules are nearly identical to those in K-1, with the exception of the emphasis.

It places a strong focus on western boxing and combines it with kicks. The emphasis is on technique, accuracy, and high output too, instead of throwing each blow with a lot of power.

Fighters in the Dutch style would frequently unleash a five-punch combo before finishing with a leg kick, which is a style that is very different from K-1.

But, overall, both actually have their own pros and cons. OS, at the end of the day, it actually depends.

Muay Thai vs Dutch Style Kickboxing

Muay Thai vs Dutch Style Kickboxing

Muay Thai and Dutch Style Kickboxing look quite the same at first glance. But, they have plenty of differences if you’ll look closer. Here’s a side-by-side comparison.

Muay ThaiDutch Style Kickboxing
Emphasis is on kicks and throwing powerful strikesEmphasis is on the high output of western boxing techniques and strikes
Fighters fully extend leg when kicking and they land with their tibiaCombatants lift their leg up, snap the knee, then connect with their foot
Has 5 roundsHas 3 rounds

What Kind Of Kickboxing Style Is Used In The Movie “Kickboxer”?

One of the most popular movies that showcase martial arts is the Kickboxer. Hence, many are intrigued about the styles used in the film.

It turns out, main actor and martial artist Jean Claude Van Damme used karate, taekwondo, and Muay Thai – three of the popular forms of martial arts.

Kickboxing has different styles. So, beginners would usually find themselves confused about them. But, don’t worry, it’s normal as there are plenty of kickboxing styles used around the world.

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I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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