The History of Kickboxing

Kickboxing is a Japanese hybrid martial art basically comprising of elements of punching and kicking. It was developed by adapting fighting techniques from Karate, Western boxing, and Muay Thai. It originated in 1960s in Japan and gained practitioners in America during the next ten years. By 1974, its popularity in the United States was symbolized with the first World Championship being held by Professional Karate Association. By the 1990s, with the addition of more ground fighting techniques adapted from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it contributed to the development of Mixed Martial Arts.

Birth and evolution

Kickboxing is said to be an evolved version of Thailand’s martial art form Muay Thai. During the 13th and 14th centuries, the Siamese soldiers of Thailand practiced a kind of boxing known as Muay Boran. The martial art continued to develop as a combat system until the 19th century when it was popularized as a form of recreation, self defense, and physical fitness. It also evolved into a kind of sport event with rules and use of safety accessories including gloves. By the 1920s, the style was prominently known as Muay Thai.

Some years later, a Japanese boxing expert Osamu Noguchi came across the art of Muay Thai. He always wanted to develop a kind of fighting technique that had the soul of Karate but allowed full striking. After studying Muay Thai, he merged it with full contact techniques of Karate and boxing, which eventually became what we know today as Kickboxing. A few years later,
the first kickboxing organization, called Kickboxing Association, was formed in Japan. Today kickboxing is being practiced with a number of unique movements all over the globe.

The development of kickboxing

When kickboxing started emerging as a sport in the U.S. in the 1970s, fighters had to learn through a trial and error process. Most fighters came from Karate backgrounds and fighting full contact bouts highlighted certain shortcomings. The amount of energy required for kickboxing was enormous and they found they were not as fit as they had believed. Their punches and kicks were not effective enough and also they struggled to stay in the ring to fight 10 rounds. This was partly because the traditional martial arts schools taught students to pull back their kicks and punches and also contact sparring using gloves was extremely rare.

To improve the sport, kickboxers turned to fighting, training, and conditioning of professional Western boxing. They increased the number of rounds for sparring before a bout. They took up full contact sparring and took a lot of punches to their body, including head. This strengthened both their body and mind to endure virtually any kind of challenge on the ring. The sport became more powerful as the practitioners grew fitter and stronger. And thus, the dynamic modern version of kickboxing emerged into an action packed bout. It soon reached the international sport circuit and started expanding across the globe.

Unlike most other martial arts, kickboxing is about using your energy, agility, and reflexes to outmaneuver and dominate opponents over time, which is why its championship matches are always a treat to the spectators.

A Brief History of Judo

Judo, meaning “gentle way,’ is a popular and venerable Japanese martial art that has spread in popularity so far as to become an Olympic sport. The main objective of the martial art is to pin an opponent to the ground, or force a submission by applying a chokehold or joint lock. Judo allows strikes, thrusts, and weapons defense to throw or take down your opponent. The three main techniques involved in Judo are throwing techniques or nage-waza, grappling technique or katame-waza, and striking technique or atemi-waza. Judo is the predecessor of several modern martial arts such as Sambo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Before the birth of Judo

Japan was under the rule of group of professional soldiers known as Samurais from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. This was an era that witnessed the development of various martial arts and combat techniques throughout Asia. The Samurais made modifications to Jijisu, or jujitsu, a hand-to-hand combat style that was used extensively in military training.

However, with the fall of Samurais in 1868 and the restoration of imperial rule in Japan under Emperor Meji, jujitsu started losing its sheen and popularity. Even though no bans were placed on the martial art, with increased westernization, people started losing interest in both training and practicing of it. The martial art would have been extinct during this era were it not for the contributions of Jigoro Kano.

The father of Judo

The story of Judo cannot be narrated without attributing the pivotal role served by Dr. Jigoro Kano.

Kano was born into an affluent family as the son of a head priest in 1860. Even though Kano
was good at his lessons, he constantly worried about his weak physique and the bullies who used to give him a tough time. He decided to learn jujitsu but had difficulty finding a good trainer. Most people who knew the art were not enthusiastic to pass them on as they considered them useless. Finally, he started training with Yanosuke Fakuda, a jujitsu master at a school. He grew so passionate about martial arts training that at the age of just 21, he started a new school to teach a new martial art called Judo, consisting of some of the best moves of several prominent jujitsu styles. And that was the birth of Judo!

In late nineteenth century, Kano traveled to Europe to spread Judo outside Japan. Kano tirelessly worked to spread Judo across the globe, even while serving in the Olympic Committee. It
was a dream come true moment for Kano when men’s Judo was officially announced as an Olympic event in 1964 Tokyo Olympics. At the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the women’s contest was introduced as a demonstration, but it was at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics that women’s Judo was added as an official contest.

At present, more than 180 countries have registered as members of International Judo Federation and France is currently said to have more Judo experts than Japan. The art is still being promoted by Japan in places like Africa and Oceania that are still unfamiliar with its techniques.

A Brief History of Jiu-Jitsu

Jiu Jitsu or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art that was developed from judo and involves grappling and ground fighting. Although Carlos Gracie, a contemporary figure, is regarded as the founder of modern Jiu-Jitsu, the martial art’s original presence can be traced back more than 2,000 years. According to the concepts of Jiu-Jitsu, a smaller or weaker person can defend himself against a larger or stronger enemy with leverage and proper applications of joint locks and chokeholds. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not only a highly effective martial art, but a discipline meant to build character and physical fitness.

Traces from the past

The martial art is estimated to have emerged in India long before the time of Jesus Christ. Ancient Indian monks formulated these exercises to defend themselves from regular barbarian attacks. As some of these monks migrated to China, they carried these techniques with them. The martial art evolved within China before spreading to Japan. In 1914, Japanese martial arts champion Esai Maeda played a key role in spreading Japanese Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil.

Maeda taught the martial art to his friend Gastao Gracie’s eldest son Carlos Gracie, who in turn taught the techniques to his four brothers. In 1925, the brothers opened the first ever academy teaching Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil.

From Gracie brothers

For the Gracie brothers, Jiu-Jitsu was more of a passion than an occupation. Among the brothers, Helio Gracie was instrumental in bringing revolutionary changes in the martial art. Unlike his brothers, Helio was short was light. By emphasizing on leverage, he made Jiu-jitsu adaptable to short people and formulated techniques that would give the shorter ones an advantage. He went on to become one of the world’s best fighters, including the accomplishment of being a part the longest fight – 3 hours and 45 minutes non-stop – against Japan’s greatest fighter, Masahiko Kimura, in a historic battle.

Helio Gracia also set up the first Jiu-Jitsu federation in 1967, with the system of colored belts prevalent today. It was around this time that a split happened in the Gracie family between Helio and Carlos. The brothers chose their own methods of practicing the martial art even though there was no much change in the core rules. In 1993, Carlos Jr. founded the Confederacao Brasiliera, which is today among the most active martial arts organizations. This federation was instrumental in establishing the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world championships.

The martial art was carried far and wide across the family tree, passing from one generation to another. With Brazilian instructors spreading the martial art across the world, Jiu-Jitsu is now used for many purposes including military, sports, competition, and self defense. It came into prominence internationally during the early 1990s, when Royce Gracie won the fourth Ultimate Fighting Championship. In the match he fought against champions who were experts in other martial arts disciplines including Karate, boxing, Taekwondo, and Muay Thai. Since then, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has played an increasingly important role in Mixed Martial Arts training and competitions, which now frequently require skill and prowess in ground fighting to win.

A History of the Martial Arts

Martial arts originated more than 2000 years ago and since have developed and split into more than 200 styles existing today. Since the beginning of time, the need to fight was a necessity for man’s survival, which gave birth to these organized styles. The world has seen many celebrated fighters such as Alexander the Great, Hercules, Richard the Lionheart, and Gautham Buddha, who practiced systematic and refined ways of fighting. Besides these, there were the Shaolins of China, Samurais of Japan and Hwarangs of Korea, whose contributions to martial arts cannot be overstated.

So where did martial arts originally emerge? Did it some from China, Japan, or India? How do we explain the Egyptian murals dating back to 3000 BC that depicts hand-to-hand combat? No one has a clear picture regarding the date or place of origin of martial arts. However, there are many details available about the development of martial arts in various countries around the medieval through modern periods.

History in Asia

Indian vedic (knowledge) texts that are as old as 1700 BC contain references and details regarding martial arts. It is said that ancient Indian martial arts developed by Buddhist monks were the inspiration for other Asian martial arts.

China’s presence in martial arts training dates back to 1122 BC with the Zhou dynasty that promoted boxing techniques. The influence of Buddhism to China in the 5th and 6th centuries inspired development of martial arts in the Shaolin monastery of China. However, there are also records that a few of the earliest monks of the monastery were already familiar with martial arts even before the arrival of Indian monk Bodhidharma in China. With the efforts of many modern practitioners such as Yang Luchan, Wong Fei Hung and Huo Yuanjia, the techniques gained popularity.

In Japan, the Samurai clan was responsible for the development of martial arts. Though these techniques were initially used for self glorification, they gradually transformed into a philosophy of gaining spiritual goals. Later on, some martial arts including Judo were developed from the prevalent techniques of Jujitsu that were spread by Samurais.

Europe and the Middle East

Boxing was accepted as a sport in Greece in as early as 688 BC. Gladiatorial combats of Rome are documented from 260 BC. By the late middle ages, fencing had started gaining popularity in Germany and Italy. Efforts of some fencing masters including George Silver and Joseph Swetnam lead to the martial art’s popularity. Wrestling was considered suitable only for the proletarians in Germany till its emergence as a modern sport in the 19th century.

The traditional Persian grappling, known as Koshti, is a contribution of Middle East to the martial arts world. Through expression of intercultural interest and the efforts of many over
time, martial arts broke national boundaries to reach a wider audience. Several have now been accepted as Olympic sports. Who would have thought at the time of development that a means of
personal self defense would ultimately become competitions for gold medals and national pride thousands of years later!