Kickboxing is a kind of hybrid martial art. It was created relatively recently, as these things go. Whereas lots of martial arts have centuries-long traditions attached to them, the kind of kickboxing London classes have has only been around for the last few decades, since the Second World War. It was formalised by some of the soldiers who had fought overseas in the Far East and had seen the excellent techniques used by the men they met there. They learned and took back the punching, kicking and blocking and turned it into a simplified discipline suitable for teaching in a Western setting.
This isn’t to say that older martial arts don’t have a lot to offer. However, kickboxing has been carefully designed to be pretty simple and useful for certain situations. Many of the Eastern styles, such as tae kwon do or the different types of kung fu, have long patterns of movements, plus techniques with historic but very specific applications. Some are derived from the kind of setting they grew up in (such as rural farming communities), and are of interest and are part of that style when taken comprehensively but are not directly useful today.
Kickboxing has stripped out much of this material, keeping the basics of punches, kicks, blocks and footwork. In that respect, the ‘syllabus’ is quite brief, meaning that you can learn it fairly quickly, then going on to becoming proficient in these moves, putting them together in combinations, and in sparring, or fighting under controlled conditions (with pads, and to strict rules).
For this reason, kickboxing is excellent for self-defence, as well as all-round fitness – strength, speed, stamina and flexibility. You would rarely find these things in the same discipline, making it fantastic cross-training. With the awareness and self-defence techniques comes improved confidence and lower stress, something valuable in today’s high-pressure work environment.
So, kickboxing offers much besides learning to hit and kick. A kickboxing club is a great place to get fit, socialise (you will meet lots of like-minded people), work out some stress, and gain some confidence. Once you have learned the basics, there will be a chance for sparring, but that’s always up to you – there’s generally no pressure on you to go beyond your comfort zone. At least, not too far: a good instructor will push you to achieve your best without going too far!
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