Kickboxing is a generic martial arts term that refers to a modern combative sport rooted in karate, Western boxing and muay Thai. Although practical as a means of self-defense, kickboxing has gained wide acceptance as a fitness method and a competitive contact sport.
Kickboxing was born when Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi and martial artist Tatsuo Yamada took an interest in muay Thai fighting. Frustrated that traditional karate didn’t allow contact on strikes, the duo developed what they first called “karate boxing” and staged “karate vs. muay Thai” fights, in which practitioners of each art squared off against each other. The popularity of these matches grew, and by the early 1960s, the combination of karate’s hand strikes with muay Thai’s emphasis on kicking and no-holds-barred aggression yielded the new sport of kickboxing. Osamu Noguchi and Tatsuo Yamada’s entrepreneurial spirit and creative blending of two distinct arts doubtlessly sewed the seeds for the emergence of today’s mixed martial arts.