Kickboxing, great for exercise and confidence

Kickboxing is a Japanese hybrid martial art consisting of punching and kicking. It was developed by adapting fighting techniques from Karate, Western boxing, and Muay Thai. It originated in 1960s in Japan and gained practitioners in America during the next ten years. By 1974, its popularity in the United States was symbolized with the first World Championship being held by Professional Karate Association. By the 1990s, with the addition of more ground fighting techniques adapted from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it contributed to the development of Mixed Martial Arts.

In tournaments judges can easily tally the number of punches and kicks landed, without needing to know karate forms. Today, it`s is most closely associated with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and mixed martial arts (MMA).

Birth and evolution

Kickboxing is said to be an evolved version of Thailand’s martial art form Muay Thai. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Siamese soldiers of Thailand practiced a kind of boxing known as Muay Boran. The martial art continued to develop as a combat system until the 19th century when it was popularized as a form of recreation, self-defense, and physical fitness. It also evolved into a kind of sport event with rules and use of safety accessories including gloves. By the 1920s, the style was prominently known as Muay Thai.

Some years later, a Japanese boxing expert Osamu Noguchi came across the art of Muay Thai. He always wanted to develop a kind of fighting technique that had the soul of Karate but allowed full striking. After studying Muay Thai, he merged it with full contact techniques of Karate and boxing, which eventually became what we know today as Kickboxing. A few years later, the first kickboxing organization, called Kickboxing Association, was formed in Japan. Today kickboxing is being practiced with a number of unique movements all over the globe.

The development of kickboxing

When kickboxing started emerging as a sport in the U.S. in the 1970s, fighters had to learn through a trial and error process. Most fighters came from Karate backgrounds and fighting full contact bouts highlighted certain shortcomings. The amount of energy required for kickboxing was enormous and they found they were not as fit as they had believed. Their punches and kicks were not effective enough and also, they struggled to stay in the ring to fight 10 rounds. This was partly because the traditional martial arts schools’ taught students to pull back their kicks and punches and also contact sparring using gloves was extremely rare.

To improve the sport, kickboxers turned to fighting, training, and conditioning of professional Western boxing. They increased the number of rounds for sparring before a bout. They took up full contact sparring and took a lot of punches to their body, including head. This strengthened both their body and mind to endure virtually any kind of challenge in the ring. The sport became more powerful as the practitioners grew fitter and stronger. And thus, the dynamic modern version of kickboxing emerged into an action-packed bout. It soon reached the international sport circuit and started expanding across the globe.

Unlike most other martial arts, kickboxing is about using your energy, agility, and reflexes to outmaneuver and dominate opponents over time, which is why its championship matches are always a delight to the spectators.

Kickboxing and Cardio Kickboxing

When it comes to cardio kickboxing, misconceptions are still common. You may be familiar with these scenarios: you’re hanging out with a friend for coffee and she mentions she’s trying a cardio kickboxing class. You ask. “Are you trying to fight or something?” Or maybe you’ve been eyeing that sign at your gym – “New Class Open! Come try Cardio Kickboxing today!” – with trepidation, wondering how long it’s going to be until you start seeing black eyes and bruises on your fellow gym-goers.

On the flip side, if your goal is to learn a martial art, you may not want to sign up for that cardio kickboxing class just yet. If you’re new to martial arts or just getting back into serious exercise, it may be a good jumping-off point, but it won’t offer what you’re looking for long-term.

Kickboxing places a heavy emphasis on proper technique. This often fosters a deep mind-body connection because of the focus and attention to detail it requires. Forging such a bond also relieves stress by calming the mind. In that respect, focused kickboxing practice is a lot like meditation—but with uppercuts.

During a kickboxing class you’ll learn techniques such as punching, kicking, blocking, counters, and footwork. You may work by striking heavy bags, or by working with a partner holding pads.

So, they both have cardio elements, but cardio kickboxing is just for cardio and not fighting, not self-defense, but fitness.

Exercise experts are split on just who created this popular form of fitness. Some claim the original cardio kickboxing routine was Billy Blanks Tae Bo , which debuted in 1989 and was featured heavily on American television. Though Banks did not call his workout cardio kickboxing, Tae Bo meshed taekwondo (“Tae”) with boxing (“Bo”). Others give credit for cardio kickboxing’s creation to Frank Thiboutot, a martial arts champion and karate judge who devised his own workout in 1992 and trademarked the name Cardio Kickboxing.

What is a kickboxing cardio class like?

Cardio kickboxing classes are offered by many fitness gyms, and they usually combine full-body aerobic exercises with boxing and martial arts moves. Some classes incorporate equipment, too, such as punching bags. Classes don’t include sparring with a partner, although in certain classes, you may still take turns holding targets for one. The best, and most popular, cardio kickboxing classes have participants strike freestanding bags.

The focus of cardio kickboxing is based on movement and fun. There’s little to no emphasis placed on technique, and the boxing and martial arts moves are kept simple. Most classes stick to jabs and crosses, for example, not uppercuts and hooks. While cardio kickboxing classes generally offer little to no resistance training, they do offer a tenacious whole-body workout, stimulate the mind, and build confidence.

So, which one is best?

It totally depends on what you want to get out of the experience and what your goals are! With kickboxing, the goal is to learn a series of skills and techniques, and (optionally) do sport combat at some point. With cardio kickboxing, the goal is to get your body moving, get more fit, and have a ton of fun while you do so.

Put another way, kickboxing is something you learn; the cardio version is something you do. If you want to add some punches and kicks to your workout routine, or if you want to shed some pounds, cardio kickboxing may be the way to go. While kickboxing also offers a vigorous workout, the emphasis on technique may be more information than you’re looking for.

If you’re interested in self-defense or learning how to fight, kickboxing is the more useful approach, classes will teach you how to throw punches and kicks correctly, which is essential to avoiding injury. Because cardio kickboxing emphasizes fitness, it’s not a very useful tool for self-defense. At best, it will let you prove to yourself how hard you can kick and punch and improve your confidence and coordination. These are skills that contribute to self-defense; nevertheless, you should not consider cardio kickboxing a self-defense skill.


Ultimately, the main difference between cardio kickboxing and kickboxing is reflected in what your personal goals are. Both are exciting ways to get fit and stay motivated to move. Neither are boring, and both are solid ways to strengthen your body and your mind. Simply put, both are fun and excellent forms of relieving stress.

What I can offer you at The Backyard Gym

As a certified fitness trainer, kickboxing & self-defense Instructor I have devised a unique style of training utilizing my 10 years’ experience In martial arts complete with a 3rd degree black belt In Japanese Ju-Jitsu and 15 years’ experience In kickboxing to help get you In the best shape of your life! So, if you’re looking for something a little different give It a try! You won`t be disappointed!

This unique fun but challenging program I have developed over the years Is based around kickboxing but involving weights too, all designed to hit every muscle in your body like nothing else will do! If you’re looking for a fun way of losing a few pounds plus relieve some stress, then look no further, here It Is all rolled into one workout. I give you Kickboxing cardio.

Getting In shape shouldn’t be a punishment. It’s an amazing and empowering lifestyle decision that anyone can achieve. I believe In finding the pleasurable side of fitness, and while there may be a sore muscle or two along the way, the amount of fun and levels of energy you will experience will far exceed the discomfort, plus you’ll be learning valuable self-defense skills too.

Author: Nigel Taylor

I`m Nigel Taylor – originally from England – owner of The Backyard Gym in Round Rock Texas. We specialize in personal training, kickboxing cardio and self-defense. With over 25 years experience as a personal trainer, I know what works! From weight loss to bulking up to toning up, I can help you get your desired look and achieve your fitness goals. I can also offer you the privacy of a 100% private personal training studio in which to enjoy and get the most out of your workouts.