Columbia University Kickboxing Club



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Brief History of Kickboxing

    The true roots of Kickboxing can be found to date back 2000 years ago in Far East Asia, where Muay Thai Kickboxing was commonly practiced as a self-defense discipline. However it gradually became more of a sport over the years. Thai boxing soon became the most common and popular fighting sport in Asia. MuayThai - Kickboxing was controlled by the Thailand government, under the name of WMTC (World MuayThai Council). The main proponent that gave way to the rise of Kickboxing was Bruce Lee, making the link with the United States, making way for the future of International Kickboxing. By the late Twentieth century the sport Kickboxing was starting to take its own original form. The strong urge for a Full contact sport, overtaking the rigid rules and boundaries of Karate, led to an all- new evolved version of Full contact Kickboxing.
    Joe Lewis, the first Professional Karate Association PKA World Heavyweight Kickboxing Champion, was a pioneer of full contact karate and fought in the prototype full contact bout in Long Beach, CA in Jan 1970. It was Lewis who contacted karate innovator Mike Anderson with a view to organizing and promoting the new sport of full contact karate, as it was called in those days. Full contact karate, now called kickboxing, was officially born in Los Angeles in September 1974 when Anderson, together with Don and Judy Quine, formed the first world sanctioning body for the new sport and named it the PKA. They promoted the first full contact World Professional Karate Championships. This was the beginning of modern kickboxing.
    George Bruckner from Germany, who was a close friend of Mike Anderson, pioneered full contact karate in Europe. In 1975 Bruckner together with other European martial artists formed the World All Style Karate Organization WAKO. First European Kickboxing Championships were promoted by Bruckner in 1976 in Germany. Full contact karate, or kickboxing, was by this time spreading globally and had become an international sport.
    In USA a number of other kickboxing sanctioning bodies came into being, namely WKA (World Karate Association) , ISKA (International Sport Karate Association), KICK (Karate International Council of Kickboxing), PKC (Professional Karate Commission) and WAKO-Pro (World Association of Kickboxing Organizations - Professional).The WKF (World Kickboxing Federation) was established in London in 1987. With the formation of these sanctioning bodies, promoters in the USA and elsewhere began to promote world title fights as well as international kickboxing bouts. Kickboxing had started to gain in popularity all over the world, to the point where it had become both an internationally recognized sport and martial arts discipline.

Development of Kickboxing

    When full contact karate (now kickboxing) first began as a sport in the US in the early seventies, the fighters of that time had to learn through a process of trial and error. The fighters all came from ranks of traditional karate or other traditional martial arts, and when they fought in professional full contact bouts certain shortcomings and defects became apparent. They discovered that they were not as fit or conditioned as they had thought and they struggled to fight 10 rounds in the professional ring. The full contact fighters also discovered to their dismay that their punches were not as effective in the ring as they had expected. This was partially due to the fact that in many of traditional martial arts schools contact sparring with use of gloves is very rare and students are taught to pull back their punches and kicks.
    In order to develop kickboxing and to improve the sport, kickboxers turned to the training, conditioning and fighting techniques of western professional boxing. Boxers sparred for countless rounds in preparation for their bouts. Their sparring was virtually full contact and they took hundreds of punches to the body and the head during sparring. This toughened, conditioned and tempered their bodies and strengthened their minds and will. They became mentally and physically prepared to do battle every time they entered the ring. They also developed their punching power by hitting the heavy bag and the jab pads every day.
    The pioneer full contact karate fighters therefore went to the boxing gyms and learned all the secrets of the fight game, sparring with boxers and being trained under boxing trainers. Boxing training techniques and strategies were therefore incorporated into and adopted by the sport of kickboxing. Kickboxers began to improve tremendously and their techniques became more powerful as they became much fitter and better conditioned than ever before. The kickboxing bouts became more action packed and exciting. The dynamic modern version of kickboxing had arrived on the international sport circuit and was expanding and spreading all over the world.