Kickboxing History

Martial artsmostly are seen as a style or a fighting system placed in a strictly defined frames. A full-contact karate (the original kick-boxing name) is not attached to any of fighting styles. It is claimed that it appreciates all martial arts by using their elements. Indeed it is the mixture of all techniques and fighting styles. Such as: boxing, muay thai, karate,kung-fu, taekwondo etc. Owing to that fact the sport and its new training methods and competitions’ leading had a big influence on many traditional methods.

          The aim of kickboxing was a confrontation between styles using full-contact. Not many people rose to this challenge. They were mostly people who had been training traditional fighting styles. In that way they were trying to fill the emptiness caused by the lack of competition and rivalry. It is not easy to be a pioneer for that reason only few of them succeed but most failed. A new fighting style and its forerunners had a lot of opponents. Especially among conservative, traditional fighting styles masters, who did not approve breaching of training methods and habits cultivated through centuries.

          Kick-Boxing is a broad notion, which is hard to write about. One of he reasons is that there is no only one creator like in aikido or taekwondo. Furthermore it was developing at the same time in few continents: North America, Asia and Europe. That is why a lot of discussions and speculations about the origin of this discipline appeared.  But in fact the United States are considered to be the formal home of this modern fighting system.

          Important contribution to the development of kickboxing has a world superstar Bruce Lee. He was a forerunner of a free style and the first master who revolutionized traditional martial arts.  He broke with stereotypes and in style limitation. ‘When you duplicate classic styles you understand routine, traditions, shadows but you do not understand yourself.’ In sparrings he used the most effective combinations known from various styles and ways of fighting.

          He was the first fighter who started to use a full protective equipment: kicks’ shields, helmets, gloves, shin protections. Which is shown in his old photos from shows and his last movies ( ‘The way of the Drgon’,’Enter the Dragon’). Joe Lewis became the first Bruce Lee‘s student. He is the contestant who represents traditional karate. 

In February 1968 Jim Harrison organized the first official contest in ‘American Karate‘. According to new Mike Anderson’s rules in full-contact formula (full force strikes).  Six contestants took part in theese competitions: Joe Lewis (the winner), Bob Wall (Ohara from Enter the Dragon), Skipper Mullins, J.Pat Burleson, David Moon and Fred Wreh. Lack of padds and full force strikes led to injuries and contusions. However heavy contact ‘American karate‘ met with society’s  approval.

          At the same time the first professional kickboxing organization was created (PKA – Professional Karate Association). In the result in California (Long Beach Arena) the first professional fight using full protective equipment was organized between Greg Bains and Joe Lewis (the winner). The fight brought a lot of attention in the US and the date is formally claimed as the beginning of Kick-Boxing.

          In September 1974 the first World Championship in Kick-Boxing were organized.  In theese contests many various fighting styles contestants appeared. The event was a big success.

          Most of American karate schools started do modify training systems trying to adapt them to new fighting style rules. In the middle of the eighties kickboxing took the 7th place in he most popular sports in the USA.     

The most prominent contestants of the seventies and eighties were: Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace ‘Superfoot’, Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez.

Currently Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace ‘Superfoot’ are awarded special and the highest International Title ‘Grand Master’ 10 DAN. Benny ‘The Jet’ Urquidez is the biggest authority in the field of professional fights. He has 57 victorious fights on the professional ring on his account where 49 were finished by knock-out. After he finished his professional career he opened in Van Nuys, near Los Angeles, his own school of fight “The Jet Center”.


Professional Masters various federations contributed to the development and propagating Kick Boxing all over the world.:

Mark Piotrowski “The Punisher” [9th time Champion of the world- our countryman ;)]

Don”The Dragoon”Wilson  [ movieparts: “Fiery circle” and “Blackbelt”]

Rob Kaman [ one of the most titled contestants in the world]

Denis Alexio [ movie part: “Blood Sport“]

Rick Roufus [ perfect foot technique]


The most important organizations of kickboxing are:

PKA (Professional of Karate Association)

WAKO (World Association of Kick-boxing Organizations)

ISKA (International Sport Kickboxing Association)

WKA (World Kickboxing /Karate/ Association) in low-kick formula

PKC (Professional of Karate Commission)