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Kickboxing (キックボクシング?) refers to the martial art and sport of kicking and punching.[1][2] Kickboxing is a standing sport and does not allow continuation of the fight once a combatant has reached the ground, although certain styles of Muay Thai make exceptions to this rule.[3]

Kickboxing is often practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a full-contact sport.[4][5][6] In the full-contact sport the male boxers are bare-chested wearing shorts and protective gear including: mouth-guard, hand-wraps, 10-oz. boxing gloves, groin-guard, and optional shin-pads, kick-boots, protective helmet (usually for those under 16). The female boxers will wear a sports bra and chest protection in addition to the male clothing/protective gear. In European kickboxing, where kicks to the thigh are allowed using special low-kick rules, use of boxing shorts instead of long trousers is possible. In addition, amateur rules often allow less experienced competitors to use light or semi-contact rules, where the intention is to score points by executing successful strikes past the opponent's guard, and use of force is regulated. The equipment for semi-contact is similar to full-contact matches, usually with addition of headgear. Competitors usually dress in a t-shirt for semi-contact matches, to separate them from the bare-chested full-contact participants.[7]

There are many arts labelled kickboxing including Japanese kickboxing, American kickboxing, Indian boxing, Burmese boxing, as well as French boxing. The term kickboxing is disputed and has become more associated with the Japanese and American variants. Many of the other styles do not consider themselves to be 'kickboxing', although the public often uses the term generically to refer to all these martial arts.

The term kickboxing (キックボクシング) was created by the Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi for a variant of Muay Thai and Karate that he created in the 1950s. The term was later used by the American variant. When used by the practitioners of those two styles, it usually refers to those styles specifically.

Kickboxing is often confused with Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing. The two sports are similar and people always regard the main difference between them as whether elbow is allowed by rules. This is a typical misconception actually. Elbow is also allowed in New Japan Kickboxing Federation, Shin Nihon Kickboxing Association and ShootBoxing. The first significant discrepancy between Japanese kickboxing and Muay Thai lies in the scoring system followed by judges to give points to each corner at the end of each round. Under Muay Thai rule, knees, middle and high kicks are easier to score than punches and low kicks, whereas they all have the same chance to score under kickboxing rule. Second, from the standpoint of fighting style, the stance of Japanese kickboxing is easier for a kickboxer to take advantage of the valuable arts from boxing than Muay Thai , so a Japanese or Dutch kickboxer (Dutch learned kickboxing mostly from Japanese, albeit some people call it Thaiboxing/Muay Thai.) usually delivers more effective punches than a Thaiboxer, especially the combination. The smooth and various punch-kick combos which derive from Kyokushin Karate also characterize kickboxing and differentiate its style from Muay Thai. Based on these above, most kickboxers and MMAers with the so-called style of Muay Thai in Europe especially Netherlands, got the virtual style of Japanese kickboxing.

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