Boxing Vs. Kickboxing: Which One Should You Learn?

Two kickboxers fighting against each other in a boxing ring

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Boxing and kickboxing are both famous combat sports. They are excellent options for people looking to get in shape and learn self-defense.

While they are fairly similar in design — except for the kicking — they share some areas that deviate. Here is the difference between boxing vs kickboxing and the one you are better off learning.

The Art of Boxing

Boxing has been around for years. It is often referred to as one of the oldest combat sports. While the exact origin of the popular sport is unknown, several pieces of evidence show people competing in some form of boxing throughout history.

It mainly focuses on punching, head movement and footwork. In a boxing match, two people wear protective equipment such as gloves and use a combination of strikes to best their opponent. For a fighter to be declared the victor, they either need to knock out their opponent or outscore them.

In boxing, fighters can only throw punches from the waist up. For this reason, footing and head movement — evasion — play a massive role in the sport. The amount of boxing rounds is usually between four and twelve.

Over the years, this combat sport has evolved a lot. Because the sport’s history is complex, it is often disputed who the father of modern boxing is. However, many people believe that honor lies with Jack Broughton since he introduced the first set of rules.

That said, boxing as people know it today, was first implemented in 1867 with the Marquess of Queensbury rules. This made the sport more civilized. Previous versions of boxing allowed for wrestling, kicking the fighter when down and even eye gauging.

The Art of Kickboxing

Kickboxing is very similar to boxing and utilizes several of its techniques alongside various forms of kicking. As the name applies, in kickboxing, kicking, punches and knees are allowed. In terms of utilizing the legs, this sport borrows a lot from Muay Thai and karate.

However, unlike Muay Thai, kickboxing fighters are prohibited from using their elbows — depending on the rules. Kickboxing, as most people know it today, was first introduced in the 1990s with the K-1 kickboxing rules. In matches, fighters wear protective gear like gloves, mouthguards and ankle wraps that can sometimes offer some protection for the shins.

Boxing Vs. Kickboxing: Comparing the Two

As stated, while both sports are similar, they share some key differences. Here is a quick rundown:

Fighting Gear

The equipment used in both sports is mostly the same. Both rely on gloves, hand wraps and mouthguards. The biggest difference comes with shoes. In boxing, the fighters wear shoes that provide them with more traction in the ring.

On the other side, kickboxers don’t have any footwear and instead fight bare feet. This is to accommodate for all the variety of kicks they throw. In training, more gear is often used, such as shin guards.

Rules of the Sport

In boxing, bouts take place in a ring and rounds last for three minutes. Between rounds, there is a one-minute rest period. However, rules do vary between professional and amateur boxing. In amateur boxing, men fight for three rounds lasting three minutes.

Whereas women fight for four but only last two minutes. In pro boxing, this does differ. The number of rounds depends on the boxer’s skill level and the situation. Most championship fights last for 12 rounds.

In the past, this used to be for 15 but was reduced to only 12 due to several safety reasons. Both professional and amateur fights are scored the same way with a ten-point system. However, in pro boxing, the primary objective is to knock out the opposing fighter.

If a knockdown occurs, the fighter has limited time to get back up again without any assistance. In kickboxing, matches are fought in the same boxing ring. The total number of rounds is between three and five — K-1/ unified rules.

Rounds last for three minutes and have a rest period of one minute between them. Kickboxing also utilizes the same ten-point scoring system as boxing. As with boxing, the main goal is to knock out the opponent.

With kickboxing, fighters can punch and use their legs and knees — this can depend on the rules. In some kickboxing matches, clinging is also allowed. However, the fighter can not strike their opponent from it and elbows are entirely forbidden.

Fighting Technique and Footwork

In boxing, one key part of a defense that many fighters utilize is quick head movements to evade strikes. This is less used in kickboxing because the use of legs makes it more risky and dangerous. Besides that, both sports rely on the same techniques to avoid strikes.

Same as head movements, footwork plays a much more significant role in boxing than in kickboxing. Kickboxers have the advantage of using their feet to open their opponent for follow-up attacks. Boxers don’t have this luxury. They use quick footwork to find different openings and advantageous positions for their punches.

Pros and Cons

Looking at the pros and cons of the two fighting styles can help people decide which one to learn. Both sports have added physical benefits such as improving someone’s mood, increasing self-confidence and enhancing overall mental health. Because boxing is all about quick movement and heavy punches, it teaches people how to get the most out of their striking.

That said, boxing does limit a fighter to only using their fits. In other words, the individual would have a limited skill set compared to other fighting styles, such as kickboxing. A boxer only knows how to defend against punches, but in kickboxing, this is not the case.

The fighter would also learn to protect themselves against opponents using their legs. With that in mind, both sports are at a significant disadvantage regarding ground game. Neither teaches you how to fight on the ground or defend against a takedown.

Therefore, some fighters decide to learn another fighting style, such as judo or jiu-jitsu, to avoid having a gap in their fighting abilities.

Boxing Vs Kickboxing: Which One Should You Choose?

This entirely depends on personal preference. In most cases, it is better to choose the one that appeals to you more. Both kickboxing and boxing are excellent choices for self-defense. However, in real-life situations, fights tend to go to the ground.

If the attacker has some experience in grappling, you might be in trouble. Thus, it is better to take some classes in how to respond against a fighter on the ground in addition to the style you selected. Consider the difference between boxing vs kickboxing alongside why you want to learn one of the sports and base your decision on that.

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