There is a lot going on in the world of Kickboxing and we appreciate that it can be a little daunting sometimes, so we put together this FAQ to help you find the information you need as quickly as possible!

We have broken the FAQ up into three main categories to make finding what you need easier: About Kickboxing, Competition Structure and Sporting Governance.

Still struggling? Try searching for what you are looking for or click here to contact us. We are always looking for ways to improve our service, so if there is a question you think we have missed, please let us know and not only will we answer it, we will also add it to the FAQ!



What Would You Like To Know?

Always the most obvious question and always the most complicated answer. Kickboxing is a combat sport combining hand strikes, kicks, blocks, movement and even gymnastic feats. It is typically separated into:


Points – a stop-start style of fighting originating in Karate/Kung Fu, where a bout is stopped each time the officials deem a point scoring technique to have landed. Typically, strikes with the hand score one point, with kicks to the head scoring more and jumping kicks scoring more still. Although the vast majority of Points is done with controlled contact where the goal is timing, speed, technique and accuracy, some Semi-Pro and Professional Points bouts are done where there is no restriction on contact. Continuous – more akin to Western Boxing or Muay Thai, Continuous is a non-stop fighting style where points are accumulated over the course of a round (or several rounds), with the winner being the fighter with the most points or, in the case of a draw, the most dominant. Again, much of Continuous is light-contact, but Semi-Pro and Professional bouts are most often fought under full-contact or even Low-Kick/K1 rules where kicks to the leg and other techniques not typically permitted in a Kickboxing bout can be used. In both cases, knock-outs are only considered an instant victory in full-contact rule bouts; if the contact is meant to be controlled, knocking your opponent out (unless the technique was deemed not to have been thrown deliberately to knock out your opponent) will often result in a disqualification due to excessive force.


Forms – in the same way that most combat sports have their basis in Karate Kumite or Kung Fu Sanda (the sparring parts of their respective arts), Forms has its foundation in Kata or Patterns. Originally a means of teaching and practising a variety of moves in sequence, these choreographed routines are typically passed down through generations. Modern Forms, sometimes referred to as Freestyle Forms or eXtreme Martial Arts (XMA), are choreographed by coaches for individuals or teams of competitors and are typically very fast, dynamic and complex. The closest comparison from other sports would be a gymnastic floor routine. In fact, Forms also typically incorporates Martial Gymnastics, which is to say the dazzling array of advanced flips and tricks typically reserved for Martial Arts films; while some fighters are able to use these in combative bouts, they are generally seen on the Forms areas or on stage as part of a Tricks Battle (basically, who can do the most impressive trick or trick combination). Weapons Forms – A natural extension of Forms, Weapons Forms provides all of the above with obvious addition of a weapon. Typically light-weight (and non-combat ready) variations on traditional Japanese, Korean and Chinese weapons including staffs, swords and nunchucks. Weapons forms requires an incredible amount of dexterity and is a unique way to demonstrate your skills as a Kickboxer. Self Defence – it is widely argued that any student of any combat style or Martial Art should be able to defend themselves. Although providing “street realistic” situations at competitions would be impossible without placing all those involved in serious danger, one way that Kickboxers can display their defensive skills is through choreographed routines. Considered a part of Forms, these Self Defence sections at competitions are performed in front of judges and aim to show both practical defensive manoeuvres as well as more fanciful and complex scenes, similar to those you might see in films.
Kickboxing has three main disciplines: Mat Sports, Ring Sports and Forms. The rules vary between disciplines and also between the sub-categories within the disciplines, but here are a few basic examples for semi-/light-contact disciplines (Points/Light Continuous).
  • all techniques must be controlled; full-contact blows will incur warnings, point deductions or disqualification
  • deliberately knocking out or injuring your opponent will result in an immediate disqualification
  • strikes landing on a target area (head or front/side of body) score 1 point
  • kicks to the body score 1 point
  • kicks to the head score 2 points
  • jumping kicks add a point (i.e 2 to the body and 3 to the head)
  • successful sweeps (must be performed boot-to-boot) score 1 point
Some full-contact disciplines (Full Contact and K1) use a similar scoring system, but obviously do not penalise athletes for excessive contact: knock-outs are not only permitted, but result in immediate victory. They may, however, still penalise athletes for "wild" techniques. If an exact "strike for strike" scoring system is not used, the bout will be judged based on ring-control, technique, variety, damage and aggression (i.e. pressing the action, rather than hanging back). Demonstrative disciplines, including Freestyle Forms, Martial Gymnastics (aka Tricking) and Self-Defence are judged based on criteria such as complexity, variety, technique, power and performance. The exact break-down of each will again vary, but the emphasis is typically on ensuring that each technique demonstrated is performed as accurately and effectively as possible. Forms and Self-Defence demonstrations are usually pre-choreographed, where as "Trick Battles" are more informal, with each practitioner attempting increasingly difficult tricks (or even combinations of tricks).
Definitely! As with any form of exercise, you'll get out whatever you put in, so individual gains will vary, but with such variety within the sport there is plenty of scope for improving your aerobic fitness, strength, power, flexibility, dexterity and agility. Kickboxing is also great fun and the combination of it being an individual sport practised in a positive team environment means you'll be working hard and hardly realise! CASE STUDY: Anna from Surrey joined her Kickboxing club at around 5ft 5 and weighing 20 stone. She worked hard and stuck to the guidelines laid out by her NHS appointed dietitian, and to begin with was losing roughly a stone per month! Within 12 months not only had she halved her weight (meaning the NHS no longer needed to recommend her to a dietitian), but she had also progressed to the point where she no longer required counselling or psychiatric support. She became an ambassador for her club and even started working towards becoming a coach so that she could help others to reap the benefits of Kickboxing training!
Competing in Kickboxing is easy! Although winning will be somewhat more difficult. We generally recommend that you wait until you have achieved at least your first grade in Kickboxing before taking part in competition, but individual clubs will have different policies concerning this, so it is best to check with your coach. There are two main ways to compete in Kickboxing: Tournaments and Fight Nights. You can find a comprehensive list of events at www.fighttime.co.uk!


Most amateur Kickboxing tournaments are "Open" events; this means that they do not require membership to a particular organisation, nor do you have to qualify by first competing at another event. "Closed" competitions, by contrast, have restrictions on entry that will vary from event to event. Some tournaments operate on a round-robin basis, meaning that you get the chance to fight everyone in your section to decide an overall winner, but most are "knock-out" style events. Of course in this case by "knock-out" we don't mean that people will actually try to knock you out (unless you're competing in full-contact), it just means that winning each bout allows you to progress to the next round, whereas losing typically removes you from the competition. There are a few tournament series with a league format, meaning that an eventual Grand Champion winner is decided at the end of the year by pooling together each fighters' performances throughout the year. Almost all amateur tournament focus on Points (Semi-Contact), Continuous (Light-Contact) and the various types of Forms, although some events, like our own British Championships, do also include Full-Contact sections. You will compete in a given category or section (see: "How are competitors matched at tournaments?") against anyone else who entered the same section on the day. You will generally have to pay to take part in these grass-roots style events, although some offer the chance to win prize money or free equipment for winning certain sections. The aim of competing at this level is to gain as much "mat time" (that is to say, experience in a competitive environment) as possible, so they are well worth it! You never know who you are going to be up against at a tournament, which is half the fun, so it teaches you to adapt quickly to different styles and more easily spot (and exploit) weaknesses.


Fight Nights

In contrast to tournaments, Fight Nights pit you against a "matched" opponent; this is typically someone with a similar record to you (e.g. a record of 2-0-1 being two wins, no losses and one draw/no-contest) or, if you're looking to rise through the ranks and challenge yourself, a better record. Not only does fight matching help to ensure that fights are fair, it also allows you (and your opponent don't forget!) to prepare tactically, mentally and physically for the specific challenges posed by that individual. Perhaps your opponent is a renowned kicker, or maybe they have a tendency to counter-punch? By researching your opponent not only do you stand a better chance of claiming the victory, but you also get to work on strengthening specific aspects of your own game. Another difference is that Fight Nights are generally free to enter. Not only that, but most promoters offer up prize money or even an appearance fee. Most Fight Nights focus on Points (Semi-Contact), Continuous (Light-Contact) or Full-Contact/K1, although some also include XMA demonstrations or Tricks Battles between bouts.   reese-hilditch-6-600pxgary-hamilton6 
Before we answer that, remember that this is a question about tournaments. Matching for Fight Nights will vary depending on the promoter and the coaches of the various fighters taking part. The primary aim of all competitor matching is to ensure that bouts are not only fair and entertaining, but safe for all those involved. It is also important to note that some tournaments place additional restrictions on entry to certain sections and that some sections are "Open Grade" or "Open Weight", meaning that competitors of any grade or weight can enter. However, most often competition sections are broken up into ages (e.g. U9, U13, U21, U35 and Over 35) and then into Novice, Intermediate and Senior sections. These are then further separated into height (juniors only) or weight sections. As a general rule, Novice, Intermediate and Senior sections are categorised as follows:
  • Novice = White, Red and Yellow Belts
  • Intermediate = Orange, Green, Blue and Purple Belts
  • Senior = Brown and Black Belts
Height and weight sections will vary, but typically increase in increments of 10cm or 5kg (e.g. <45kg, <50kg, <55kg). It is also worth noting that the BKC has placed a blanket ban on any form of Full-Contact competition for U18s. Finally, most Forms sections are currently separated simply into Juniors (U13) and Adults (Over 13), although some Forms focused events have begun to introduce Novice, Intermediate and Advanced sections within Forms as well. Below is an example category list from the 2013 BKC National Championship. BKC_National_2013_Page_2
We fully understand your concern as a parent. Contact sports, especially Martial Arts and other combat based activities, often get a bad public image when it comes to junior participation. The good news is that Kickboxing is a fantastic activity for children! It teaches key life skills such as discipline, hard work, cooperation and communication, as well as developing a strong understanding of just how important regular exercise and structure is to your health, success and well-being. In addition, while Kickboxing is an individual sport, allowing everyone to progress at their own pace, training and even competing is still very much considered to be a team effort. Of course Martial Arts provide additional benefits in the form of self-defence that no other sport can offer and Kickboxing is no exception. The key aim is to develop a confidence in your child that will mean they wont feel the need to use their skills unnecessarily, but should the worse happen, their understanding of body mechanics, practical techniques and timing will become invaluable. Training can start for children as young as three years old, where the focus is on fitness and technique (partner drills and sparring do not typically play a part until the age of seven). The BKC's recommended grass-roots program is Lil' Dragons, which also teaches important lessons about Traffic Safety, Fire Safety and Stranger Awareness on top of respect, listening, balance and even basic nutrition.
Although some clubs come from a traditional Martial Arts background (typically either Karate or Kung Fu) and therefore have their own variation on the grading system, the most widely accepted and used process is of a 9 grade set-up, with a gap of six months between gradings:
Gradings are used as a way of marking your progress through your club's chosen syllabus. They are also used for categorisation at most competitions.
  1. White
  2. Red
  3. Yellow
  4. Orange
  5. Green
  6. Blue
  7. Purple
  8. Brown
  9. Black
Most styles of Kickboxing also then progress further with "Degrees", so a 2nd Degree Black Belt is a higher standard than a 1st Degree etc. 5th Degree Black Belts are most often considered Masters, although to attain this status will take at least 20 years of hard work and dedication. Although the BKC has recently introduced a Core Syllabus for the grading of Black Belts, there is currently no unified syllabus (nationally or internationally) for lower grades. As such, some syllabi may contain a far greater variety of techniques than another. These often include striped grades (e.g.Red-Black, Yellow-Black etc.), almost doubling the number of gradings required before attempting to attain your Black Belt.
The British Kickboxing Council is an umbrella body made up of voluntary representatives from some of the UK's leading Kickboxing organisations. Our democratic processes ensure fair and neutral governance of the sport, as well as allowing each member body the chance to have a say in the future development of Kickboxing. In addition, through mutual promotion, support and feedback, we are able to raise the overall standards of the sport both within the BKC and outside its jurisdiction. In fact, efforts by BKC representatives have resulted in international rule changes, the formation of unified world championship events and even the production and distribution of the highest level sector-specific coaching qualification available in Europe. A (very) simplified version of our overall governing structure can be seen below: tmp437343444650688514
If you are an athlete, coach, parent or even just a fan, you can join the BKC by visiting www.the-bkc.co.uk/subscribe, the various benefits of which are listed on this page. If you run an association, organisation, federation or other group of clubs, you can apply for Member Body status by visiting www.the-bkc.co.uk/associations/apply-for-membership/. Finally, you can also Get Involved by signing up as a member of the BKC's Volunteer Network by visiting www.the-bkc.co.uk/about-us/projects/volunteer/

Leave a Reply