Kickboxing has a fairly recent history and is one of the few martial arts that originated in the West. Today, however, it is also widespread in Asia and there are variations. It is also interesting to note that a German took a leading role in the creation of the sport.

Kickboxen Geschichte

Origins of kickboxing

The development of this martial art was quite unspectacular and does not have quite as long a history as karate or taekwondo.

1961 FoundationThe German Georg Frederic Brückner is considered to be the driving element in the emergence of kickboxing. He opened a martial arts school in Berlin-Wilmersdorf in 1961 and shortly thereafter met Mike Anderson, an American. He introduced him to the American form of sport karate, from which today’s kickboxing emerged.
1974 Professional Karate AssociationAfter the emergence in 1974 of the “Professional Karate Association” (PKA) as a basis, Brückner founded the “World All-Style Karate Organization” (WAKO) in 1977 with some other martial arts greats, including Mike Anderson. This is due to the relationship with the sport karate at that time, although the fighting style was also called karate in the early years.
The name “KickboxingThe name kickboxing came into being years later, when the sport differentiated itself from karate, and in this move the WAKO was renamed the “World Association of Kickboxing Organizations”.
Influences of Thai boxing on the kickboxing emergence, at the time of the occupation of Vietnam by U.S. Americans, are also often made partly responsible for the new name.
TodayToday kickboxing is spread all over the world under the new name, although some of the federations still show the relationship to karate. For example, the “World Karate and Kickboxing Association” (WKA), based in Karlsruhe, Germany, held separate championships in kickboxing and karate for 20 years.
Important associationsThe main organizations are:
  • World Association of Kickboxing Organizations WAKO (largest organization)

  • World Karate and Kickboxing Association WKA

  • International Sport Karate Association ISKA

  • World Kickboxing and Karate Union WKU

  • World Kickboxing Federation WKF

Distribution and reputation today

The creation of different organizations, each with their own spheres of influence and competing in separate championships, has ensured the rapid spread of kickboxing throughout the world. If we take the numbers of WAKO member countries as the determining factor, then Europe has the most interest in the young combat sport with over 40 countries, followed by Asia with almost 30 member countries. Kickboxing for women has now also established itself.

The brutal reputation that precedes kickboxing is only partially justified. Certain offshoots of it, such as Muay Thai, are actually known by an enormous brutality and also ruthlessness. This is probably partly due to the fact that there is often fought without protection and, in addition, in some countries serious violations of the rules, such as low blows or attacks on already downed opponents, are punished only little or not at all. It is therefore often desirable here to fight “by any means necessary” and to have no regard for health.

In Europe, the situation is different, because here the rules are enforced without exceptions and opponents whose protective equipment does not meet the standard are expelled from the fighting area. This makes kickboxing a well-respected combat sport in the eyes of those who study it a little more closely. However, it will be a long time before the damage done to the image of these martial arts by the karate and kickboxing films of the 1980s is fully repaired, as in these they were always fought without protective equipment and to the point of knockout, or even death.

You can help improve this image by making the distinction between a bar fight and a martial art and passing on this knowledge to those interested.