Is kickboxing effective in a street fight?

Many practitioners join a boxing club every year to learn combat sports and martial arts like kickboxing. Kickboxing allows you to develop agility, tactics, defenses, the power of the strikes, or even self-control. So, is it safe to ask if kickboxing is effective in a street fight? 

If this art allows to sculpt an athletic body and acquire kicking and punching techniques, many think that it will help to counter possible aggression. 

While learning a combat sport should not be used as a fight, kickboxing involves the use and skills that may be useful in a street brawl. To see how useful this martial art can be in this scenario, let’s dissect what kickboxing is and its techniques.  

Kickboxing and its history 

Kickboxing is a combat sport of Japanese origin, comprising techniques derived from karate, Western Boxing, and Muay Thai Thai. Kickboxing involves the use of both fists and the feet in combat. It is a martial art used by the soldiers of the Siam empire called Muay Boran with hundreds of years of history.  

In the modern era, this type of martial art ceased to be used commonly in warfare. However, it began to be practiced as a means of personal defense, physical exercise, and recreational purposes.  

At the beginning of the 20th century, the term Muay Thai began to be used separately from Muay Boran and a series of rules began to be established, such as the use of gloves and other means of protection. 

From the 60s, a boxing expert of Japanese origin named Osamo Noguchi began to interconnect certain Full Contact techniques of Karate with Muay Thai and Boxing, seeking to achieve a new discipline in which a wider range of fighting techniques was allowed. From here was born what we know today as Kickboxing. A few years later, the Kickboxing Association was born in Japan as the first association dedicated to this sport. 

Criticism of kickboxing 

Again and again, kickboxing continues to fall into disrepute, and kickboxers are often portrayed as street thugs.  

The lack of tradition certainly contributed to this. The western world extracted the techniques from the various martial arts without adopting philosophy, ethics, or the like. So it is up to you how to use your skills.  

Criminals often use kickboxing. But that doesn’t mean that kickboxers don’t automatically have to have ethics or are even criminals. It just depends on what you do with your skills. For example, a knife can be used to cut oranges or be used as a bayonet. 

Martial arts is one of the oldest sports in the world and fighting was or is an important part of our nature. Boxing events took place in Egypt 5000 years ago.  

The martial arts like boxing, wrestling, etc. were the first disciplines in the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. Fighting and aggression are in human genes. Aggression can be felt to be bad, but our brain stem and hormones still function like that of the dinosaurs and cannot be denied.  

So why not practice combat as a sport and learn to control or reduce the aggressions or limit the situation in which your skills are used? Great fighters are idols for many people, such as B. Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, etc.  

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The art of kickboxing is not only used to defeat the opponent, but also to defeat oneself. It is about body control and discipline against oneself.  

Kickboxers are therefore usually strong characters with a lot of self-discipline and perseverance. “Thugs” do not have the stamina for hard training.  

Even if you fight hard in kickboxing, fairness is the top priority and there is no rivalry after a fight. Every kickboxer has a certain fear of a fight and learns to deal with it and to cope with defeat. 

Self-defense with kickboxing 

What can kickboxing for self-defense do in a sticky situation? How long does it take to even be able to use kickboxing as a form of self-defense? For effective self-defense with kickboxing, one’s abilities must be assessed correctly: 

Knowledge and experience of how to use techniques correctly 

To use a technique effectively, one must first learn its school-like movement sequence. The next phase is about using the technique on the punching bag, in pad training, or in sparring to see what you can do with this technique.  

Nothing can replace this feeling of contact. A technique that is mastered in shadow boxing does not have to have any particular effect when hitting an opponent. You have to train a technique quite often in the beginning until you can perform it quickly and powerfully. 

Combinations and feints instead of individual techniques 

The next important step is to combine the technique with a feint, body deception, and other techniques. A single stroke without preparation is recognizable and easy to counter. The opponent will be led astray.

Depending on your motivation, the entire process, from the first learning phase to realistically applicable techniques, can easily take half a year to a full year. 

Assess your fitness correctly 

Knowledge and experience of techniques are quite useless if you are not fit enough to perform the techniques explosively.  

Above all, fitness means speed and, depending on the length of a fight, also stamina. Every person, including every opponent, has more or less a certain reaction time, which has to be tricked with the speed of the techniques and with creativity in the form of bodily illusions.  

In a poor state of fitness, there is little chance that the techniques will achieve their goals and have an effect. When it comes to the ability to defend yourself, your fitness plays a crucial role. 

So that means: 

Depending on the strength, weight and physical abilities of the opponent, a certain basic level of fitness is necessary. With the knowledge and experience of various techniques in connection with good fitness, you increase your chances of being able to defend yourself effectively. 

Crash courses in self-defense? 

By now it should be clear that effective self-defense requires time and regular training in technique and physical fitness. Can a crash course do that in a few weeks? Hardly likely.  

The training leader can be as experienced and highly decorated. He, too, doesn’t have a magic wand with which to work miracles.  

Save the money on courses that advertise self-defense as a skill that can be learned in a few weeks and then practiced for a lifetime without further ado.  

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Tips for using kickboxing in self-defense 

In a duel, you should always prevent your opponent from getting too close. Opponents can use their strength and weight advantages with handles and clasps. Throwing and levering techniques can then possibly be unusable. 

Kickboxing is a distance martial art. With boxing and leg techniques, you can keep the opponent at a distance or attack from a distance. These techniques are relatively easy to learn and use compared to throwing and levering techniques. Weight and strength also do not play such an important role in boxing and leg techniques. 

The advantages of kickboxing compared to martial arts only consisting of a lever and throwing techniques are: 

  • Hitting and kicking techniques are less time-consuming to learn than lever and throwing techniques and are easier to use.  
  • Kickboxing techniques can also be practiced without a training partner on the punching bag or in shadow boxing. 
  • The weight and strength advantages of the opponent can be offset by speed and technique. 

Other advantages of kickboxing are: 

  • The techniques in kickboxing can be transferred from the training to a real self-defense situation. 
  • The boxing techniques do not limit kickboxing to spectacular leg techniques. Thus, kickboxing can be practiced in old age. 
  • Kickboxing is a comprehensive training program for the whole body and can alternatively be used to improve fitness. 

Note: At the point where the opponent grabs you or throws you to the ground, boxing techniques and kicks become unusable. Then techniques from other martial arts that are specially designed for such situations must be used. 


Kickboxing is a martial art with a spiritual and moral dimension that allows one to acquire techniques of combat with bare hands and kicks. The main objective is to be able to get out of a confrontation by calling on one’s intelligence and skill. 

Although the objectives between combat sport and martial arts are somewhat different, Kickboxing remains a school of life where patience, perseverance, and respect for others are the keywords. 

Kickboxing may have self-defense techniques that make it ideal for the street. However, we think kickboxing is designed more for the ring rather than the street. Especially since it always depends on how good the individual is.

Most of the time, it is not the system that decides the outcome of the fight, but the fighter himself. It is always up to the fighter himself and what he makes of himself and his abilities.  

In principle, any fight outside of fair competition should be avoided. But sometimes words and persuasion do not help to appease aggressors. 


Hi - I'm Jonathan, and I've been passionate about fighting ever since I was a little kid. I did some Karate, Judo, and Kickboxing, and always wanted to try Aikido. I started this site to indulge my passion for Martial arts, answering all the geeky questions I had. Now I want to share all the information I've learned with you guys.

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