Boxing vs. Kickboxing: 16 Differences (with Explanations)

Boxing and kickboxing are two popular combat sports that are widely practiced by many as a way of staying fit. Although they might look somewhat similar, there are many differences to consider.  

Kickboxing involves kicks and punches, while boxing involves punches only. The strategies for boxing include punches above the belt along with the moves one makes to avoid getting hit. Depending on the style, kickboxing strategies include hitting and kicking above and below the belt. 

Boxing vs. Kickboxing: A Comparison

BOXINGKICKBOXING
1.Punches.Punches and kicks.
2.Focus mainly on the upper-body.Focus on the whole body.
3.Specializes in punches.Is more versatile.
4.One universal type.Various styles.
5.History: Goes all way back to ancient Greece, however, modern boxing was developed in the 1600s in the UK.History: Although it has ancient origins, kickboxing, as we know it today, was created by Osamu Noguchi in the 1960s
6.More chances to defend yourself.More chances to strike.
7.Boxers are great punchers.Kickboxers are great kickers.
8.Stands: usually sideways. Stands: usually square.
9.Stay close to their opponents.Stay far from their opponents (because of kicks).
10.Practice as a contact sport and fitness; sometimes for self-defense.Mainly practice for fitness, but also for self-defense and as a sport. 
11.Boxers tend to be faster.Quickness is important, but it can be argued that boxers need to be faster.
12.Clinching is an effective strategy.Clinching can be counterproductive.
13.Ducking is often used.Ducking might no be useful.
14.Gloves: Thicker.Gloves: Thinner.
15.A boxing class burns fewer calories.
A 30 min. kickboxing class burns about 372 calories (for a 155-pound person).
16.It’s an Olympic Sport.It’s not currently an Olympic Sport.

Several differences between boxing and kickboxing make each sport unique and part of a well-rounded training program. Keep reading to find out more. 

Fighting Styles and Strategies Are Different.

Punches in both kickboxing and boxing are somewhat similar. The jab and uppercut are useful moves to knock out an opponent. The jab uses the leading hand straight out to attack, but if that blow is blocked, a left or right hook might be used.

The difference between kickboxing and boxing comes down to being able to kick an opponent, which leads to knocking an opponent down or giving a surprise attack. Kickboxers need to focus, not just on fists, but also on feet and legs while anticipating the next move. 

Boxers Stand to the Side While Kickboxers Face Each Other Squarely.

Boxers stand sideways in a match to minimize the amount of space their opponent has to attack them. However, kickboxers usually face each other squarely so they can see any incoming attacks. If they were to stand sideways, they would receive too many blows and get knocked out easier.

Kickboxers also need to be reasonably balanced in their stance because if they make a roundhouse kick, they could also go down with their opponent. One way to correct that is by squatting. If you are comfortable and balanced while squatting, you are fine. Otherwise, you may want to work on your balance.

Boxers Avoid Punches, While Kickboxers Avoid Kicks and Punches.

Defensive strategies in both boxing and kickboxing involve moving to avoid getting hit. However, in kickboxing, dodging the kicks is more critical because there are more kicks than punches. Boxing defensive strategies include moving more of the upper body out of the way to avoid blows.

The offensive strategies are also similar in both boxing and kickboxing. With boxing, the only offense is through fists and punches. But in kickboxing, kicks, and punches create the full offensive strategy.

Boxers Stand Close While Kickboxers Stand Further Apart.

During matches, boxers tend to stand close together to be able to reach each other. But when kickboxing, competitors who are to close together do not have the same range of motion that gives the kick the force needed. The distance used in kickboxing allows fighters to deliver the full impact of a kick.

Clinching Gets You Thrown to the Ground in Kickboxing.

In boxing, clinching means to grab an opponent around the shoulders with both hands, to bring them in closer to keep them from delivering full force blows. It can also give them a rest when tired. However, with kickboxing, doing this to an opponent may get them thrown to the ground, since throwing an opponent might be allowed.

Ducking in Kickboxing Gets You Hurt.

Bob and weave work well in boxing, but it is not recommended for kickboxing. If a person ducked to avoid a fist, their face would most likely meet the other person’s foot. Likewise with stepping back–if they were to step back, an opponent would have more of an opportunity to give a full rotating kick. 

Footwork Is Not About Dancing Around the Ring in Kickboxing.

Kickboxing footwork is entirely different from the footwork used in boxing. For one, kickboxing involves protecting shins and being ready to strike an opponent at the same time. So one foot is always stepped back, prepared to strike.

On the other hand, footwork in boxing is more about circling the opponent keeps them from delivering a mighty blow. The boxer steps back, then forward, to the left, and to the right to avoid getting hit.

Boxers Use Numbers for Punching Combinations.

In boxing, punching combinations are referred to as numbers. The famous line “give them the old one-two punch” comes from this reference. (One–left jab; two–the straight right; and three–the left hook.) Punching combinations are useful in boxing because they can throw their opponent off guard. Combinations in kickboxing involve both punches and kicks.

Parrying Is a Key Move for Kickboxers and Boxers.

To parry is to move out of harm’s way when in a fight, such as boxing, kickboxing, or even a sword fight. But parrying is different in different sports. For example, in boxing, punches can go to the left, right, or down. A counter move would be to block a left jab down and then follow up with a left hook.

Boxing Gloves Are Thicker.

Boxers wear heavy, padded gloves to defend the face as much as they are for delivering the knockout blows. On the contrary, gloves used in kickboxing are lighter. Also, boxers wear high collar shoes that protect the ankles while using their footwork to dodge blows. Kickboxers don’t wear shoes, as they are not allowed by kickboxing rules. 

Both Boxers and Kickboxers Gain Many Fitness Benefits.

Boxing and kickboxing offer substantial fitness benefits. Both provide cardiovascular benefits, but in kickboxing, more muscle groups are worked, which creates an overall toned effect. Yet, boxers are known for being faster on their feet, as well as upper-body.

Boxing and Kickboxing Competitions.

In boxing and kickboxing fights are usually won in three main ways: a knockout, technical knockout, or total points. A technical knockout is when the referee declares that one of the fighters are no longer able to fight. 

The most significant difference between boxing and kickboxing competitions is that boxing is a recognized sport in the Olympics, whereas kickboxing is not. Boxing has a long competitive history, while kickboxing not so much.

Boxing and Kickboxing As Ways of Self-Defense.

Both are great for self-defense. Kickboxing, however, prepares you for a street fight in ways boxing cannot. Kicks can help you stay a reasonable distance away from an attacker who may be using fists. Boxers, however, might be a bit quicker defending against punches, as well as delivering more intense blows. In a street fight, both a boxer and a kickboxer have distinct advantages.

Last Word

Kickboxing and boxing have certain similarities, yet are very different in many ways. They both provide cardiovascular and weight training benefits and help its participants to stay fit. Whether you choose boxing or kickboxing, remember that at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much effort you’re willing to put in.