The history of American kickboxing is very interesting and is a composite of many international flavors. Kickboxing is a contact sport based upon defeating your opponent using kicks and punches. Contrary to popular belief, it does not only allow strikes to be dealt with the feet—the hands are used as well. Kickboxing athletes wear footpads and gloves for protection. American kickboxing as we know it is derived from Muy Thai—Thai kickboxing—which has also branched off into the French boxing style, Savate. Muy Thai is the basis for all other forms of kickboxing, and also the national sport of Thailand, so you could say that the history of American kickboxing begins in Thailand.
Despite numerous historical documents being lost when villages were razed to the ground throughout Thailand's history, Muy Thai can be traced historically as early as 1584, when the king Naresuan and his soldiers were all well-trained kickboxers. The public caught on to the practice, and soon it was so popular that daily kickboxing matches were held in every town and village. In the 17th century, Muy Thai was introduced to Europe, where it was fondly received.
With the rules being modified all the time, Thai kickboxing was renamed Savate by the French. From there, it was introduced to Japan, where in the 1950s the Japanese blended karate and Muy Thai and introduced that form of kickboxing to America. Thus American kickboxing was born, and it quickly became the number one martial arts striking form in mixed competitions.
Recently, American kickboxing has become popular as a form of exercise. Because of this, a higher number of women have become interested in learning kickboxing, which was primarily a male sport historically. Thanks to the expanded popularity of the sport as exercise, kickboxing is making a comeback in America as one of the more popular martial arts, and the percentage of average people who know kickboxing has grown considerably.