Those of us a certain age will remember how Ralph Macchio, under the careful tutelage of Pat Morita, learned the mystical skills of Karate through the performance of mundane daily chores, such as car-waxing and fence-painting
It must have been more than just me who was inspired as a young teen to don a heavily starched karate gi to hit the nearest class with a fever for all things Martial-Arty.
However, times have changed a lot and today’s 12 to 16 year olds are much more likely to be found in a Kickboxing class than developing their crane-kicking technique in a dojo.
So, why is that?
Well, there are several reasons. Let’s take a look at the most important of these here.
Karate is great. No doubt about it. It is a beautiful Martial Art that helps participants develop their fitness, focus, and self-confidence, just as any good art does. But for raw striking effectiveness, Kickboxing wins…erm…hands up.
To understand why Kickboxers generally develop superior striking skills we need to look more closely at their training methodologies.
While Karate focuses more on kata, choreographed movements, and striking air, the essence of Kickboxing lies in its aliveness.
Whether hitting the bag, pads, sparring, or fighting, Kickboxing focuses on striking in a dynamic environment that provides constant feedback to the participant.
Poor execution of a technique in Kickboxing will result in immediate negative response from the bag, pad holder, or the opponent in the opposite corner.
Over hours of practice, this helps the kickboxer to refine their technique to its leanest, most effective expression.
Let’s get this right, Karate does offer opportunities for participants to compete against one another in the form of mostly semi-contact tournaments and kata competitions. But, the rules are usually very restrictive and, for most styles of Karate, highly unrealistic.
Kickboxing offers the young Martial Artist opportunities to engage in the challenge of a much more realistic form of striking competition.
And, while competition is certainly not the only reason to train in Kickboxing, the strong combat sports element of Kickboxing provides the young trainee with a clear focus to develop their skills and abilities.
The Mystical Element of ‘Cool’
Back in the ‘80s, things didn’t get cooler than kicking serious Cobra Kai butt with devastating strikes learned from a wise old Japanese Sensei.
But things have moved on since then. The meteoric rise of MMA has seen more traditional striking arts fall out of favour in the face of the demands of this rapidly growing combat sports.
Much of this can be related back to the effectiveness of the various arts as revealed in the early days of MMA when style was pitted against style. More traditional striking systems like Karate were revealed to be largely inferior to combat sports striking systems, such as Kickboxing.
Any of us raising a young person will know that cool has currency, and Kickboxing has that cool!
Alive and Kicking!
Whether to answer the call to test their mettle in the ring, to develop street effective self-defence skills, or just to put a strut of cool in that teenaged stride, Kickboxing will continue to prove an attractive pursuit for our young people for generations to come.