The Genesis of Kickboxing

Martial arts is mainly seen as a style or system of fighting which meets specific requirements.

Full contact karate (the former name of kick-boxing) isn’t related to any fighting style. Kickboxing is a mix of all styles and techniques of fighting, including boxing, karate, MMA, kung-fu, taekwondo etc. This sport, its techniques of training and ways of competitions had many chances to influence the changes of traditional methods. The goal of kickboxing is a multi-styled confrontation with using full-contact. Only a few people have managed to complete this challenge. They mostly belonged to a group of people who trained traditional fighting styles. It was because they tried to fill the void which was created by a lack of competitions and rivalry.

Being a pioneer is a tough nut to crack and it is why one person succeeds and others can’t. The new style of fighting and its harbingers had a lot of opponents, especially among the conservative masters of traditional fighting styles who weren’t very glad that someone was breaching out of the methods and trainings which had been cultivated for ages.

Kickboxing has an unspecified and very wide definition and it is difficult to write about it because it wasn’t created by one person (e.g. aikido, karate and taekwondo do have). It developed at the same time on the territory of three continents: North America, Asia and Europe. It is why the origin of karate is a subject of many discussions and speculations. This modern fighting style’s roots also are in muay-thai (Thai boxing) which is still trained in Thailand. But the United States are considered to be the official fatherland of kickboxing.

Bruce Lee, who is an acclaimed and world-renowned star, contributed a lot to creating kickboxing. He was a precursor of the free style and the first master who revolutionized traditional fighting styles. He broke with the stereotypes, liquidating the borders of styles: “If you follow the classical pattern, you are understanding the routine, the tradition, and the shadow— you are not understanding yourself” (Bruce Lee in Tao of Jeet Kune Do). He used the most effective combinations of techniques of every style and every technique of fighting during his sparrings.

He is the first warrior who started using full protective equipment: kicking shields, helmets, gauntlets, shin guards – it is very visible in his archival photos from shows, and in his movies (“Enter the Dragon” and “Way of the Dragon”). Then Joe Lewis became the first student of Bruce Lee’s, the contestant who represented the traditional style of karate.

Jim Harrison organized the first official competitions of „American Karate” in February, 1968, according to the new rules of fighting by Mike Anderson in the full-contact formula. The six following contestants entered the competitions: Joe Lewis (the winner of that event), Bob Wall (Ohara in “Enter the Dragon”), Skipper Mullins, J. Pat Burleson, David Moon and Fred Wreh. The lack of protectors and allowing for powerful punches led to injuries and contusions.

But American full contact karate was accepted by the society.

It was at this time when the first professional kickboxing association was founded (PKA – Professional Karate Association). The first professional duel (Greg Bainse vs Joe Levis) with using full protection was held in 1970 in California. That fight evoked great interest in the USA and this date is widely considered to be the moment when kickboxing was created.

The 1st World Championships of Kickboxing were held in Los Angeles, in September, 1974. Many representatives of various fighting styles were present. The event turned out to be a great success. A great part of American karate schools started modifying their training methods, trying to adjust them to the rules of the new fighting form. Kickboxing was on the seventh position of the most popular sports in the USA in the mid-1980s.

The most outstanding competitors of the 70’s and the 80’s were: Joe Lewis, Bill Wallace „Superfoot” and Benny „The Jet” Urquidez.

Nowadays, Joe Lewis and Bill Wallace „Superfoot” are honoured with the special and highest International Title of the Grand Master 10 DAN.

Benny „The Jet” Urquidez is the greatest authority in the field of professional fights. He has 57 victories in ring fights (49 of them by knock-out). He created his own martial arts school, “The Jet Center”, in Van Nuys, near Los Angeles after he had finished his professional career.

The professional masters from various federations have helped kickboxing develop and spread all around the world:

Marek Piotrowski „The Punisher” (the 9-time master of the world – our compatriot =) )
Don „The Dragon” Wilson (starring in the movies: “Ring of Fire” and “Blackbelt”)
Rob Kaman (one of the most successful competitor in the world)
Dannis Alexio (starring in “Kickboxer”)
Rick Roufus (amazing foot technique)

The most important kick-boxing organizations are:

PKA (Professional Karate Association)
WAKO (World Association of Kick-boxing Organizations)
ISKA (International Sport Kick-boxing Association)
WKA (World Kick-boxing /Karate/ Association) in the low-kick formula
PKC (Professional Karate Commission)