Are you ready to kick it with kickboxing? This full-contact sport has roots in several other martial arts, including karate, Muay Thai, western boxing, Japanese kickboxing, Savate, and Taekwondo. However, you need to understand the kickboxing rules, and this guide breaks them down in detail.

Kickboxing is a type of contact sport that takes place in a boxing ring, and fighters use punches and kicks to take down their opponent. Fighters use boxing gloves and must use mouthguards for protection. Also, they’re supposed to wear shorts and must step into the ring barefoot to favor kicks.

While it’s taken a back seat to MMA in recent years, kickboxing is still popular worldwide. Plus, with its multitude of different governing bodies and international associations, there’s always a kickboxing competition to watch!

Kickboxing is a popular combat sport that requires skill, technique, and athleticism. Understanding kickboxing rules is essential for anyone who wants to learn the sport, stay safe, and have a fair and enjoyable fight. 

This guide will explain step-by-step the basic rules of kickboxing, including what to wear and what to bring. We’ll also break down what moves are legal and what aren’t, how to plan and what to do, and some tips for beginners.

What’s The Objective of Kickboxing? 

Like in boxing, kickboxers want to beat their opponent by knocking them out, forcing the referee to stop the fight, or impressing the judges with their superior skills. And since kickboxing is a full-contact sport, fighters must be fit, flexible, and ready to throw punches and kicks with equal precision. 

What are the most effective kickboxing techniques? You guessed it—kicks to the head!

What do kickboxers need to get started? Not much. Just a boxing ring (of varying sizes), regulation boxing gloves (which can be any color), footpads (to protect those kicking feet), groin guards, and mouth guards. Oh, and some serious athleticism and determination!

So, how do you score a kickboxing match?

Judges (or sometimes just the referee) score each fighter in each round based on their performance. If one fighter dominates, they’ll get 10 points, while the other fighter gets 9. If both fighters perform equally well, they each get 10 points. And if one fighter knocks the other down, the round is scored 10-8.

How do you win a kickboxing match?

A technical knockout is where the referee decides one fighter can’t keep going. Points where the judges tally up their scores and declare the fighter with the most points the winner). And if both fighters end up with equal points? It’s a draw.

Kickboxing Rules: The Basics

Here are some of the basic rules of kickboxing:

All Kickboxing Matches Should Take Place in a Boxing Ring

The kickboxing ring is a square or rectangular area enclosed by ropes or other barriers. The ring dimensions are usually about 16–20 feet on each side, and there are four corner posts to mark the corners. 

Fighters must remain inside the ring during the match; if they go out of bounds, the referee may stop the fight. Knowing the ring’s dimensions is essential to helping you prepare and execute your strategies during the match.

Competitors Must Compete Against a Fighter in the Same Weight Category

Kickboxing has weight classes to ensure fair competition. Fighters are grouped based on their weight and must weigh in before the fight to ensure they meet the requirements for their weight class. 

It’s important to know your weight class because it can help you get ready for your opponent and decide how to train. Here is a quick look at the kickboxing weight categories:

  • Flyweight: The flyweight class typically includes fighters weighing between 106 and 112 pounds.
  • Bantamweight: The bantamweight class is for fighters weighing between 115 and  118 pounds.
  • Featherweight: Featherweight fighters typically weigh between 122-126 pounds.
  • Lightweight: The lightweight class is for fighters weighing between 130-135 pounds.
  • Light welterweight: Fighters in the light welterweight class typically weigh between 136-140 pounds.
  • Welterweight: The welterweight class includes fighters weighing between 141 and 147 pounds.
  • Light middleweight: Fighters in the light middleweight class typically weigh between 148 and 154 pounds.
  • Middleweight: The middleweight class is for fighters weighing between 155 and 160 pounds.
  • Super middleweight: Fighters in the super middleweight class typically weigh between 161 and 168 pounds.
  • Light heavyweight: The light heavyweight class is for fighters weighing between 169 and 175 pounds.
  • Cruiserweight: The cruiserweight class includes fighters weighing between 176 and 200 pounds.
  • Atomweight: The atomweight class is for female fighters weighing no more than 112.9 pounds.

Fight Duration

After listening to the referee’s instructions, both fighters touch gloves, and the fight begins.

Most rounds last 3 minutes, and the number of rounds depends on how much experience each fighter has. There is a 1-minute break between each round. Championship fights typically last 12 rounds of three minutes each.

Scoring in Boxing

Scoring in kickboxing is based on the number and quality of strikes delivered. Points are awarded for clean strikes to the head or body with punches, kicks, or knees. When giving a fight a score, judges also look at who controls the ring and who is defending well.

Each fighter has to try to knock out their opponent by punching and kicking them in the head and body. If both fighters fail to knock their opponent out or force the referee to stop the fight, the fight is judged on points. The fighter with more points is declared the winner. The match is considered a draw if both fighters have the same number of points.

Kickboxing Attire and Equipment

Kickboxing requires specific attire and equipment to ensure the safety of the fighters.

Gloves and hand wraps are necessary to protect the hands and wrists during striking. The gloves used in kickboxing are typically lighter than those used in boxing and come in different weights. Most kickboxing competitions are done with 10-ounce gloves.

Fighters also have to wear hand wraps to protect their hands and wrists even more.

Protective gear is also required in kickboxing. This includes a mouthguard to protect the teeth, a groin protector for male fighters, and shin guards for certain types of sparring.

Clothing requirements are also important. Fighters must wear shorts and a shirt or tank top that allows for freedom of movement. Shoes are prohibited in kickboxing, so most fighters train and compete without them.

Legal and Illegal Techniques

In kickboxing, specific techniques are legal or illegal to use during a match.

Legal kickboxing techniques include strikes with the hands, feet, and knees. Punches to the head or body kicks to the body or legs, and knee strikes to the body or legs are all legal in kickboxing. However, strikes to the back of the head or below the belt are illegal.

There are also illegal kickboxing techniques that are not allowed. These include strikes with the elbow or head, and any throw or takedown. Fighters who use illegal moves can be fined or kicked out of the competition, depending on how bad the move was.

Strategies and Tactics

In kickboxing, there are a variety of offensive and defensive techniques that fighters can use to gain an advantage over their opponent.

Offensive techniques include strikes such as punches, kicks, and knees. These can be used to score points or to wear down an opponent over time. Combining strikes with movement and footwork is vital to creating an effective offense.

Defensive techniques are also crucial in kickboxing. Fighters can use blocks, slips, and evasive movements to avoid being struck by their opponent. Countering strategies are also important because they let fighters take advantage of their opponent’s mistakes and turn them into attacking chances.

Kickboxing Tips for Beginners

For those just starting kickboxing, it’s important to focus on building a solid foundation of techniques and staying safe during training and fights. This can include working on your footwork, getting better at your form, and slowly getting stronger and more able to keep going.

It’s also essential to use proper protective gear and to listen to your body to avoid injuries. As your training progresses, you can work on more advanced techniques and strategies to take your kickboxing skills to the next level.

Last Words

Kickboxing is an exciting and challenging sport requiring skill, technique, and strategy. You can build a strong foundation in kickboxing by learning the sport’s basic rules, equipment, and techniques. 

With the proper training and dedication, you can take your skills to the next level and become a formidable kickboxer. So, keep learning, keep practicing, and above all, stay safe and have fun!


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