Kickboxing vs Boxing – Which is Better?

Many people assume that there are not many differences between boxing and kickboxing.

However, this is not exactly true.

As someone who worked as a trainer in many martial arts gyms, I ran into many people who think like this so I decided to write about the differences between these, the advantages and disadvantages of choosing one over the other, and frequently asked questions.

You can use only your hands in boxing and block your opponent with your hands, gloves. However, kickboxing also includes those techniques, various kick types, elbows and knees.

When this is the case, naturally there are more striking types, defensive techniques, and movements in kickboxing. This actually affects how you should move, defensive strategies and more.

Should you learn boxing before kickboxing?

According to my experiences, the short answer is no. You can hear different arguments about it and these may have some valid points. However, I also have a good argument and it is actually more important than any other points.

After reading the following paragraphs I am sure you will understand why that is.

The Differences

When you practice boxing, boxers always assume that your opponent can only punch. So boxer’s arms are positioned for it and they consider it while controlling the distance. And this becomes a habit over time. This is actually perfect if you only train for boxing.

However, many people will make this habit stick after some time. After that, if people start learning kickboxing, they might still move like that they practice boxing. So these people simply can’t counter-attack well or defend well against an opponent’s kicks, elbows, or punches.

It seems like they don’t even expect opponents to kick.

I know you are probably saying that this is not me and I will not do these mistakes. Well, I have seen this happening countless times and can easily say that the following saying is true. The old habits die hard.

Boxers use clinching to rest however kickboxers use it for opportunities to strike. So this is another habit that can cause real problems for you.

So learning boxing first and practicing punches seems like a good idea however if you decide to switch to kickboxing after several months of boxing training, it might set you up for a disaster and can take a while to break these old habits.

You can punch above the waist in boxing however, you can punch, throw knees, elbows, and kicks to your opponent’s head, upper body, and legs in kickboxing.

Boxers tend to be more careful about controlling distance. After all, they don’t worry about kicks so they can focus more on this. So naturally, they practice it more often and get more experience, improve footwork skills more. This also applies to blocking punches and head movements as well.

Kickboxing includes every boxing training type so a lot of gears are similar such as headgears. However, it also includes other training types that require you to train with other equipment. For instance, kickboxers learn different kicking types with kick pads so they can knock out their opponents with head kicks.

Which one is better for fitness?

Boxing drills are not really useful for building stronger legs. Don’t get me wrong you can get faster feet with drills but you won’t be having dense quad muscles.

However, if you train kickboxing, it is vital to learn kicking techniques with punch bags and mitts. As long as you wear well-padded or protective shin guards you can avoid leg injuries and build dense leg muscles.  As you can guess, kickboxing also improves jumping ability, lower body strength tremendously.

It also includes every boxing training type out there so you can get every physical benefit of boxing training with kickboxing sessions. Some of these are improving upper body strength, agility, balance…

So, kickboxing is the clear winner here.

The Similarities

The punching techniques are the same. Even though you need different types of gloves for these martial arts both require gloves for hand and wrist protection. Also, you need to wear headgear if you want to participate in sparring.

In addition to these, both of these offer great upper body workouts and footwork drills to improve your foot speed.

The groin strikes are not allowed in both martial arts.

Boxer Vs. Kickboxer (Who would win in a fight?)

Is this a kickboxing match?

Or are they in a boxing ring?

Do they fight in the UFC?

Or is this a street fight?

Obviously, a decent martial artist would win a match if it is the martial art that he or she knows.

If it is a street fight and there are no rules kickboxer has an edge. Because a kickboxer knows how to defend against more striking types and is readier for them.

As a side note, UFC viewers also seem to want successful kickboxers to be in the UFC as they want to watch more kick highlights.

Which is better for self-defense?

Both have disadvantages for self-defense and let’s talk about this first.

Both of these don’t teach you how to protect against groin shots and this can happen in a real fight more often than not.

Also, both boxing and kickboxing do not include ground fighting and defense. So when you learn either one of them you will not know anything about ground defense and can’t defend against ground strikes.

These are major drawbacks for protecting yourselves in a street fight and even if you choose to learn both of these, it is far from ideal.

However, these have some advantages as well. After you attend boxing classes for several months, you will know how to knock an opponent out with a powerful uppercut and can defend against punches with your hands, gloves. In addition to these, you can control the distance and get the upper hand with footwork tricks in an altercation.

You also learn these in kickboxing as well however you just practice these more if you train for boxing but still you can expect to get to a decent level with kickboxing. Also, learning how to throw powerful kicks can provide you an advantage if you can’t reach your opponent with your arms. You also learn how to counterattack when your opponent kicks or throws elbows etc.

You will be prepared to defend against more striking types with kickboxing and it is a serious advantage as this can help kickboxers to defend themselves, counterattack in a more efficient way, and win a fight.

However, I would not recommend solely learning either one for self-defense as these have many cons. With that being said, if you combine either one with BJJ, wrestling or any effective grappling martial art style then it would be way better for real-life as these also teach you the ground fight, submissions, throws and takedowns which are quite useful for neutralizing opponents.

Which one is more dangerous?

Kickboxing includes every boxing punch type and it also has other striking types such as kicking types which help UFC fighters to knockout opponents and many of these make the list of unexpected knockouts. So kickboxing simply put is more dangerous.

Boxing Gloves vs Kickboxing Gloves

There are many types of boxing gloves and kickboxing gloves. For instance, some are angular some are flatter. However, there are some main differences between these.

Boxing gloves are either hook and loop type or lace-up type. However, kickboxing gloves tend to have hook and loop closure.

Kickboxing gloves are smaller and boxing gloves have a bulkier appearance. The reason is that boxing gloves have way more padding and kickboxing gloves offer less protection for hands.

Why is that?

Boxers only focus on throwing punches and this is why they tend to throw more powerful punches. So wrist and hand protection have vital importance as these are more likely to be injured. This is also the reason that compared to the upper part; the boxing glove’s cuff compartment looks quite small and provides a snugger fit.

Kickboxers need to move fingers easily. So they can protect themselves from kicks effectively and catch them so they can counterattack. Therefore kickboxing gloves tend to have less material in these compartments.  When this is the case, boxing gloves are heavier than kickboxing gloves.

So, kickboxing gloves offer more flexibility for the hand whereas boxing gloves construction helps you make a fist in a natural way and it is quite restrictive.

Both glove types provide airflow with either holes or air channels. In addition to it, some boxing gloves may have mesh panels in the palm. However, thanks to the small construction and flexibility of kickboxing gloves, these are way more comfortable. Thus if you are looking to use lightweight gloves for all-around martial arts training, then kickboxing gloves can be a better choice for you.

The Similarities

Both are great for conditioning, self-defense and offer mental benefits. And these martial arts training sessions can help people get rid of depression and provide cognitive enhancements. Thanks to those benefits, there are many people of all ages who start participating in these.

These also can help you in a street fight. Learning how to counterattack against common striking types definitely is vital for protecting yourself in a fight.

Also, both of these martial arts can help you have thicker hands.

Even though both can lead to injuries, bruises if you have the right gears, learn proper techniques and forms you will be alright.

Conclusive Thoughts

So are you interested in learning all punching techniques and becoming an expert at defending against punching types, head movements? If this is you, boxing is the obvious choice for you.

However, one may prefer developing kicking power and learning all-around defense against more striking types including knee strikes and elbows, then you might want to look for a good kickboxing gym.

With that being said, you can improve your physical fitness with boxing or kickboxing as these both include great workouts that can trigger hypertrophy.

Which one would you pick?

Did I miss any points in this article?

Or you may not agree with some of the points above.

If you have anything to share, please let me know in the comment section.

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