Modern kickboxing history traces its roots to a combination of martial arts styles that developed into one in the 1960's. Taking its form from karate and Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, kickboxing has grown to become quite popular in recent years, with aspects of the sport presented in mixed martial arts training and programs.
Many of the aspects of modern kickboxing, or full contact karate, can be found dating back over 2000 years in Muay Thai—a Martial Arts form originating in Thailand’s military. Originally, Muay Thai techniques were intended for self defense and as wartime combat training; but, over time became one of Thailand’s most popular recreational sports and competitive activities. Full contact karate, or basic kickboxing, was born as combination of Thai boxing, Western boxing and other martial arts, including traditional karate.
To allow for full contact in a karate and martial arts contest, adaptations to the sports were needed. In response to the desire, Osamu Noguchi developed a kickboxing hybrid, combining aspects of Thai boxing and karate to form a full contact, competitive fighting sport. The introduction of this new martial art sport to Japan in the 1960's led to sport governing bodies and tournaments.
A decade later, in the 1970’s, American karate enthusiasts sought to revolutionize traditional karate into the full contact sport emerging in Asia. As interest and tournament play grew in the United States, additional sport governing bodies emerged. Additional rules and protective equipment were added. Over the next few decades, the sport began to receive international interest and competition grew throughout the world.
While kickboxing reached its true prime in the mid 1980’s to early 1990’s, the sport was revitalized and aspects used in the popular Mixed Martial Arts contests. MMA, or mixed martial arts, incorporates many skills, techniques and aspects of boxing, various martial art forms, wrestling and kickboxing in an updated sport style.