Recently I’ve been getting this question quite a lot, is kickboxing a martial art ?
Yes, kickboxing is a martial art because it fills all the requirements to be a martial art. In order for something to be considered a martial art, it has to be able to either improve your self-defence skills or your assaulting skills. Frankly kickboxing can improve both these skills therefore it is considered a martial art. That was the short answer but I’m sure some of you are not yet convinced. Therefore I’m going to explain briefly what kickboxing is and some other common theories that say kickboxing is not a martial art.
Understanding Kickboxing As A Martial Art And Kickboxing As A Category
A common misconception people have is that kickboxing is just a category, this raises their suspicion to the question is kickboxing a martial art ?
To their credit kickboxing is in fact used to categorise martial arts such as Muay Thai, Sanshou, Shoot boxing, etc. Generally kickboxing refers to martial arts that focus mainly on stand up fighting utilising both kicks and punches. Besides this kickboxing is also used to categorise kickboxing organisations such as K-1, Enfusion, Glory, etc. This further rises confusion whether kickboxing is in fact a martial art or just a category.
Another point I’ll give to these people is that, in the past it was just a category and only recently has it become a martial arts. Kickboxing nowadays has nothing to do with what it was. Kickboxings ideology is very similar to that of MMA thought obviously it is much more limited, in spite of that kickboxing provides a very good stand up fighting style for MMA.
What I mean by kickboxing and MMA ideology being similar is that, kickboxing takes a lot of techniques from other stand up martial arts. Techniques that fit in with the official rules and regulations of kickboxing by the WAKO organization. Thus creating a very practical stand up martial art.
Kickboxing An Incomplete Martial Art
After the whole explanation why I classify kickboxing as a martial art, I always get the following comback ”well kickboxing is an incomplete martial art because it only focuses on stand up fighting.
Well given that ideology, wouldn’t most traditional martial arts be considered as ”incomplete martial arts”.
- I don’t remember practicing ground techniques in karate, Aikido, Kendo, etc
- I don’t remember practicing with weapons in Muay Thai, Sambo, Sumo, etc
- I don’t remember practicing full contacting stand up striking in brazilian jiu jitsu.
Now if you agree that all these martial arts are incomplete, I guess you are right kickboxing is an incomplete martial art. ”But that one time we did practice ‘x’ in ‘y’ martial arts”. I don’t see that as a valid argument. Even kickboxing will at one point break character and teach something basic about weapon disarms or ground escapes. Here’s a complete martial arts list you can deem incomplete by this logic.
Martial arts are for self-defense, war and martial ethics. They are not for sport.
I piled up some other less common claims that are used to argue that kickboxing isn’t a martial art. Let’s discuss them.
Martial arts are for self-defence – I’m sure that if two people of the same physique, one being a kickboxer and the other with no experience in any fighting style where to fight. I’m sure the kickboxer would have a superior advantage over the untrained person therefore completely debunking this claim. Now if you said there are better martial arts for self-defence than kickboxing I would completely agree 100%. Though there are better martial arts for self-defence this does not make kickboxing not a martial art. If this was the case there would only be 1 martial art, the rest would all be considered non martial arts because there is a better option for self defence.
Martial arts are for war – For the people that still believe that martial arts have any purpose in war, welcome to the 21st century. No one uses melee weapons nor fists in war any more. In modern times martial arts are great for law officers, anti bullying, self esteem and self defence. These are all things kickboxing can accomplish.
Martial ethics – These are basically Humility, Respect, Righteousness, Trust, Loyalty, Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, Courage. This argument is biased because it all depends on the teacher teaching the style and the students learning the style. Certain martial arts might focus more on these elements but that does not mean being a kickboxer will make you the opposite of these traits. Most kickboxing dojos teach these traits. Furthermore we have seen a lot of martial artists coming from martial arts that preach a lot on martial ethics but do not practice these ethics in reality.
Martial arts are not for sport – What this argument basically means is that. For a martial art to have a sporting element to it, it will requires the martial art to be watered down to fit by the rules. I see this argument more as a way to not put your style on the line, if you don’t compete no one can criticise the style. Sure certain techniques are restricted in sports such as hitting the back of the head, eye poking and small joint manipulation. The reasoning for this is because these techniques are extremely dangerous, I doubt people claiming that because you can’t eye poke in sports they use those techniques while sparring at their dojo. If you only practice the techniques with a motionless opponent and with minimal force how do you know that in a real fight you will be able to execute these techniques. I’m sorry but if your style does not practice these techniques at a full contact sparring level, you have no right to criticize matches for having rules as you too have rules. What better way is there to test your true skill in a safe and legal environment than at a global event.
Well I hope that answers the question ‘ is kickboxing a martial art ?’. Do you agree or disagree with my conclusion, that kickboxing is in fact a martial art. I encourage you to argue with me if you think kickboxing shouldn’t be classified as a martial art, I might change perspective if you provide me a decent argument.
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.