Kickboxing (in Japanese ???????? kikkubokushingu) is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, historically developed from karate, Muay Thai, and Western boxing. Kickboxing is practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a contact sport. Japanese kickboxing originated in the 1960s, with competitions held since then. American kickboxing originated in the 1970s and was brought to prominence in September 1974, when the Professional Karate Association (PKA) held the first World Championships. Historically, kickboxing can be considered a hybrid martial art formed from the combination of elements of various traditional styles. This approach became increasingly popular since the 1970s, and since the 1990s, kickboxing has contributed to the emergence of mixed martial arts via further hybridization with ground fighting techniques from Brazilian jiu-jitsu and Folk wrestling. There is no single international governing body. International governing bodies include International Combat Organisation, World Association of Kickboxing Organizations, World Kickboxing Association, International Sport Karate Association, International Kickboxing Federation, World Sport Kickboxing Federation, among others. Consequently, there is no single kickboxing world championship, and champion titles are issued by individual promotions, such as K-1, Glory, SUPERKOMBAT, Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, among others. Bouts organized under different governing bodies apply different rules, such as allowing the use of knees or clinching, etc.
Since kickboxing is a broad term that can be used both in a wide and narrow sense, this can make understanding the history somewhat difficult. Some of the earliest forms of kickboxing included the various Indochinese martial arts especially muay boran, which developed into modern muay thai. However, in terms of modern competition, it was during the 1950s that a Japanese karateka named Tatsuo Yamada first established an outline of a new sport that combined karate and muay thai. This was further explored during the early 1960s, when competitions between karate and muay thai began, which allowed for rule modifications to take place. By the middle of the decade the first true kickboxing events were being held in Osaka. By the 1970s and 1980s the sport had expanded beyond Japan and had reached North America and Europe. It was during this time that many of the most prominent governing bodies were formed. In Japan the sport was widely popular and was regularly broadcast on television before going into a dark period during the 1980s. In North America the sport had unclear rules so kickboxing and full contact karate were essentially the same sport. In Europe the sport found marginal success but did not thrive until the 1990s. Since the 1990s the sport has been mostly dominated by the Japanese K-1 promotion, with some competition coming from other promotions and mostly pre-existing governing bodies. Along with the growing popularity in competition, there has been an increased amount of participation and exposure in the mass media, fitness, and self-defense.