Kickboxing isn’t just for karate experts and movie stars anymore. Today, anyone can take a fitness class on the martial art, or even train up to begin their competitive MMA career. Whether you’re interested in a cardio workout or some serious self-defense moves, here are five facts about kickboxing to read before you beat up some bags. 1. Kickboxing is many disciplines in one. It incorporates moves and techniques from different martial arts, so punches, kicks, elbows, clinches, and takedowns might all be fair game, depending on the subset of kickboxing being practiced. It remains a flexible sport, with styles varying widely among martial-arts purists, boxers, and fighters who work to cultivate a unique approach.2. Its versatility translates well to fitness.Kickboxing balances upper- and lower-body flexibility with cardiovascular exercise, making for an effective full-body workout. Practitioners also get the benefit of learning self-defense techniques, getting a leg up on their peers who only know how to chuck a treadmill at an attacker. 3. It's not that old.Kickboxing is quite popular in Thailand, which is also home to Muay Thai—a form of boxing, practiced as a regulated sport since the late 19th century, in which fighters don gloves and other pads. In the early 1960s, a Japanese karate promoter became infatuated with Muay Thai—and particularly the full-contact striking that's not allowed in karate—and saw an opportunity to blend the styles. He prepared karate fighters to take on Muay Thai specialists, and the competition was fierce enough to inspire the birth of kickboxing as an organized sport in 1966. 4. The roundhouse is only one of many possible kicks.Most kickboxers will be familiar with staples such as front kicks, side kicks, and the famous roundhouse. But there are other, advanced kicks that are difficult to master, such as hook kicks, crescent kicks, axe kicks, and spinning back kicks. It’s important to note which techniques are allowed if you’re going into a competition, as certain styles (including American kickboxing) do not allow kicking below the waist. 5. If you get good enough at kickboxing, you’re entitled to an awesome nickname.The best kickboxers tend to have the best stage names. For proof, just look at Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Remy “The Flying Gentleman” Bonjasky, and Peter Aerts, known as “The Dutch Lumberjack” for his brutal high kicks. Learn about other intense workouts:CrossFit, DecodedCrossFit trainer Brendan Ziegler explains some of the workout’s out-there terminology.Five Things to Know About TrampoliningDon't even think about trying to flip until you read these trampolining tips from Team USA's Susan Jacobson.
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