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What Is Kickboxing?

Oct 1, 2007

What Is Kickboxing?
Although the true roots of kickboxing date back to Asia
2,000 years ago, modern competitive kickboxing actually
started in the 1970s, when American karate experts arranged
competitions that allowed full-contact kicks and punches
that had been banned in karate. Because of health and
safety concerns, padding and protective clothing and safety
rules were introduced into the sport over the years, which
led to the various forms of competitive kickboxing
practiced in the United States today. The forms differ in
the techniques used and the amount of physical contact that
is allowed between the competitors.

Currently, one popular form of kickboxing is known as
aerobic or cardiovascular (cardio) kickboxing, which
combines elements of boxing, martial arts, and aerobics to
provide overall physical conditioning and toning. Unlike
other types of kickboxing, cardio kickboxing does not
involve physical contact between competitors - it's a
cardiovascular workout that's done because of its many
benefits to the body.

Cardio kickboxing classes are usually comprised of 10 to 15
minutes of warm-ups, which may include stretching and
traditional exercises such as jumping jacks and push-ups,
followed by a 30-minute kickboxing session that includes
movements such as knee strikes, kicks, and punches. Some
instructors may use equipment like punching bags or jump
ropes.

After this, at least 5 minutes should be devoted to cooling
down, followed by about 10 minutes of stretching and muscle
conditioning. Stretching is really important because
beginners can strain ("pull") their muscles, and slow,
proper stretching helps relax muscles and prevent injury.

The Basics
Before you decide to jump in and sign up for a class, you
should keep a few basic guidelines in mind:

Know your current fitness level. Kickboxing is a
high-intensity, high-impact form of exercise, so it's
probably not a good idea to plunge in after a long stint as
a couch potato. You might try preparing yourself by first
taking a low-impact aerobics course or less physical form
of exercise and working up to a higher level of endurance.
When you do begin kickboxing, allow yourself to be a
beginner by working at your own pace and not overexerting
yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Check it out before you sign up. If possible, observe or
try a class beforehand to see whether it's right for you
and to make sure the instructor is willing to modify the
routine a bit to accommodate people's different skill
levels. Try to avoid classes that seem to move too fast,
are too complicated, or don't provide the chance for any
individual instruction during or after the class.
Find a class act. Look for an instructor who has both a
high-level belt in martial arts and is certified as a
fitness instructor by an organization such as the Canadian
Amateur Sport Kickboxing (CASK). Also, try to start at a
level that suits you and slowly progress to a more intense,
fast-paced kickboxing class. Many classes call for
intermediate levels of fitness and meet two to three times
a week.
Comfort is key. Wear loose, comfortable clothing that
allows your arms and legs to move easily in all directions.
The best shoes are cross-trainers - not tennis shoes -
because cross-trainers allow for side-to-side movements.
Gloves or hand wraps are sometimes used during classes -
you may be able to buy these where your class is held. Give
your instructor a call beforehand so you can be fully
prepared.
Start slowly and don't overdo it. The key to a good
kickboxing workout is controlled movement. Overextending
yourself by kicking too high or locking your arms and legs
during movements can cause pulled muscles and tendons and
sprained knee or ankle joints. Start with low kicks as you
slowly learn proper kickboxing technique. This is very
important for beginners, who are more prone to developing
injuries while attempting quick, complicated kickboxing
moves.
Drink up. Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after
your class to quench your thirst and keep yourself
hydrated.
Talk to your doctor. It's always a good idea to see your
doctor and have a complete physical exam before you begin
any type of exercise program - especially one with a lot of
aerobic activity like kickboxing. This is extremely
important if you have any chronic medical conditions such
as asthma or diabetes or are very overweight.

Why Kickboxing?
Besides keeping your body fit, kickboxing has tons of other
benefits. According to a study by the ACE, you can burn
anywhere from 350 to 450 calories an hour with kickboxing!

Kickboxing also reduces and relieves stress. Its rigorous
workout - controlled punching and kicking movements carried
out with the discipline and skills required for martial
arts - can do wonders for feelings of frustration and
anger. Practicing kickboxing moves can also help to improve
balance, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.

Kickboxing is also a great way to get a total body workout
while learning simple self-defense moves. Kickboxing fans
say the sport helps them to feel more empowered and
confident.

So get out there and jab, punch, and kick your way to
fitness!

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