By Alex Zammit
What is Kickboxing? …..Kickboxing (in Japanese kikkubokushingu) refers to a group of martial arts and stand-upcombat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate, Thai boxing and western boxing. Kickboxing is often practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a contact sport. The true roots of kickboxing date back to Asia 2000 years ago. Japanese kickboxing originates in the 1960s, with competitions held since the 1960s. American kickboxing originates in the 1970s. Japanese kickboxing developed into K-1 in 1993. Historically, kickboxing can be considered a hybrid martial art formed from the combination of elements of various traditional styles. This approach became increasingly popular since the 1970s, and since the 1990s, kickboxing has contributed to the emergence of mixed martial arts via further hybridization with ground fighting techniques from jujutsu and professional wrestling.
There is no single international governing body. International governing bodies include World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, World Kickboxing Association, International Sport Karate Association, International Kickboxing Federation, World Kickboxing Federation, World Kickboxing Network, among others. Consequently there is no single kickboxing world championship, and champion titles are issued by individual promotions, such as K-1, It’s Showtime, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, among others. Malta has membership of the World Kickboxing Network (WKN) and World United Martial Arts (WUMA).
Origins and History of Kickboxing
On December 20, 1959, a Muay Thai among Thai fighters was held at Tokyo Asakusa town hall in Japan. Tatsuo Yamada, who established “Nihon Kempo Karate-do”, was interested in Muay Thai because he wanted to perform Karate matches with full-contact rules since practitioners are not allowed to hit each other directly in karate matches. At this time, it was unimaginable to hit each other in karate matches in Japan. He had already announced his plan which was named “The draft principles of project of establishment of a new sport and its industrialization” in November, 1959, and he proposed the tentative name of “Karate-boxing” for this new sport. It is still unknown whether Thai fighters were invited by Yamada, but it is clear that Yamada was the only karateka who was really interested in Muay Thai. Yamada invited a Thai fighter who was the champion of Muay Thai (and formerly his son Kan Yamada’s sparring partner), and started studying Muay Thai. At this time, the Thai fighter was taken by Osamu Noguchi who was a promoter of boxing and was also interested in Muay Thai. The Thai fighter’s photo was on the magazine “The Primer of Nihon Kempo Karate-do, the first number” which was published by Yamada.
There were “Karate vs. Muay Thai fights” February 12, 1963. The three karate fighters from Oyama dojo (Kyokushin later) went to the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Thailand, and fought against 3 Muay Thai fighters. The 3 Kyokushin Karate fighters’ names are Tadashi Nakamura, Kenji Kurosaki and Akio Fujihira (as known as Noboru Osawa). Japan won by 2-1: Tadashi Nakamura and Akio Fujihira both KOed opponents by punch while Kenji Kurosaki was KOed by elbow. This should be noted that the only Japanese loser Kenji Kurosaki was then a Kyokushin instructor rather than a contender and temporarily designated as a substitute for the absent chosen fighter. Noguchi studied Muay Thai and developed a combined martial art which Noguchi named kick boxing, which absorbed and adopted more rules than techniques from Muay Thai. The main techniques of kickboxing are still derived from Full-Contact Karate (Kyokushin). However, throwing and butting were allowed in the beginning to distinguish it from Muay Thai style. This was later repealed. The Kickboxing Association, the first kickboxing sanctioning body, was founded by Osamu Noguchi in 1966 soon after that. Then the first kickboxing event was held in Osaka, April 11, 1966.
Tatsu Yamada died in 1967, but his dojo changed its name to Suginami Gym, and kept sending kickboxers off to support kickboxing.
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