Black Belt School of Excellence
Established 1994

History & Development of Kickboxing:

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Neil Holden


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School Director:
Neil Holden

Trainer of Several National,
two European and two
World Amateur Champions.

Certified Muaythai
( Thai-Kickboxing )
by Grand Master Sken
( Thailand ).

Certified 6th Dan Black Belt
Japanese Kickboxing
( Shihan - Master Grade ).

Training in the Martial Arts
Over 30 years.

Professional Instructor
Over 20 Years.



For hundreds of years the people from the countries of Asia such as China, Korea, Thailand, and Japan have practised the Martial Arts. 'Martial' is a word that means 'Military', and initially during any 'Military' confrontation, armies would primarily use weapons to defend themselves, such as Swords and Spears. However, there was always a need for an unarmed method of combat should a warrior become disarmed at any point.

Even today the military personal of modern armies, including special forces, despite having advanced weaponary will still extensively practise unarmed combat.

This is generally referred to as Combatives and utilises the various striking techniques as seen in Kickboxing.

( Picture Modern Combatives -
Rising Upper-Cut Elbow )



Thailand : Thai-Kickboxing / ' Muaythai ':

Muay-Boran is a umbrella term used today to describe the unarmed martial art systems of Thailand. Originally these arts were simply know as 'MUAY' which translates as 'Fighting'.

Various regions of the country had their own style, these were 'Muay'-Thasao from the North, 'Muay'-Khorat from the East, 'Muay'-Lopburi from the Central Area and 'Muay'-Chaiya from the South.

During the 1920’s the Thai martial arts systems, ( today collectively known today as Muay-Boran ), were modified into a modern combat-sport. The kicks, punches, knees and elbows were still legal, but under the new rules, strikes to the groin and to the neck were no longer allowed.

Headbutts were banned as was striking a downed opponent, 'ground-striking' being a method used during warfare to quickly disable an enemy, ( for example using a stamp-kick to the limbs/joints of a floored enemy ).

Gloves would now be worn, and to replace the traditional finger strikes, chops and chokes, instead the punching techniques of Western Boxing would be used. Bouts would now be conducted in a ring and weight categories were introduced.

Many of the traditional Muay-Boran techniques were either banned outright or became impractical due to the new 'Ring-Sport' rules.

Additionally a new concept was introduced for the ring, known as 'Clinch-Work', whereby during bouts two fighters can Neck-Wrestle extensively for a dominant position to deliver holding-knee strikes.

( Picture Muay-Boran -
Stamp-Kick to the face )



Clinch-Work is something not practised extensively in Muay-Boran. On the battlefield a soldier would not engage in holding an opponent for any long duration as it would be most likely that there would be several adversarys in combat and one-to-one exchanges for an extended period of time would be too dangerous. Another reason that an extended/long Clinch-Hold would be avoided is that holding an opponent around the neck leaves you vulnerable to a headbutt strike.

Clinch-Work has proved popular however for the Ring-Sport of Muay-Thai as this excites the Thai audiences and encourages more gambling, enabling the fighters to earn greater amounts of money. There is no concern about being hit with a Headbutt strike, being dragged to the floor or thrown ( Judo style ) during a Muay-Thai bout as these methods are specifically not allowed in the rules. Neck-Wrestling / Clinch-Work is literally a Ring-Sport method specifically developed for Muay-Thai.

Around this time due to the clear differences between the two formats the term Muay-Thai which translates as 'Fighting-Thai' became commonly used for the new Ring-Sport while the older martial-arts style was referred to as Muay-Boran or Fighting-Ancient.

Muay-Thai, now became the worlds first sport featuring Kicking and Boxing, which in turn lead to the term Thai-Kickboxing being widely used by foreigners.

Muay-Thai has become so popular that that today it is officially the national sport of Thailand. The consequence of this being that most Instructors operate Muay-Thai training camps solely focused on the Combat-Sport and the techniques/training methods that enable their fighters to win according to the rules of the ring. So much so that there are very few Masters that will teach the traditional Muay-Boran techniques, despite their effectiveness, as a martial art system for self-defence.

Recommended reading...


by Christopher Delph.


Japan : Japanese Kickboxing - ' K-1 ':

Muay-Thai Champions often fought foreigners for increased purses as these bouts would be incredibly popular with gamblers, and in 1962 a challenge was sent out for Japan’s best Karate fighters to compete under Muay-Thai rules. Three Karate fighters from Mas Oyama’s world famous Kyokushin style accepted the challenge, going to the Lumpinee Boxing Stadium in Thailand, and fighting against three Muay-Thai fighters. The three Kyokushin karate fighters names are Tadashi Nakamuru, Akio Fujihira and Kenji Kurosaki. Japan won the International challenge by two wins to one. Tadashi Nakamura and Akio Fujihira both knocked out their opponents with punches while Kenji Kurosaki was knocked out by an elbow strike.

It should be noted that the only Japanese loser, Kenji Kurosaki, a Kyokushin Instructor was supposed to be the cornerman rather than one of the competing team, but was designated as a substitute when the third chosen fighter was unable to compete and he went into this challenge without specific fight training. This negative result was turned into a positive one as the loss lead Kurosaki to further study Muay-Thai, combining this system with his Kyokushin skills.

Returning to his homeland Kurosaki setup a new training camp called Mejiro Gym based in Tokyo. Kurosaki’s system of Japanese Kickboxing was known as Shin-Kakuto-Jutsu ( New-Combat-Techniques ) and many people flocked to train with the Master.

Incidentally it was one such student of Kurosaki's, Jan Plas, that in 1978 then founded Mejiro Gym in Amsterdam, Holland. This gym is considered the birthplace of Dutch Kickboxing with the school producing the Kickboxing legends Peter Aaerts and Rob Kamen making it one of the most famous and acomplished Kickboxing gyms in the world.

Picture The Father of Japanese and Dutch Kickboxing : Dai-Shihan ( Grand-Master ) Kenji Kurosaki.


In the early days of Japanese Kickboxing in order to distinguish it from the Thai style Headbutts were allowed during the a contest as well as Judo-style-throws to counter the Muay-Thai style Clinch-Hold / Neck-Wrestling.

However after a time these were removed as this lead to a lot of injuries from the Head-Butt strikes and the Body-Slams from throwing. Instead the major rule change to differentiate the Thai and Japanese styles was that the Japanese style of Kickboxing simply no longer allowed the Elbows or excessive Clinch-Hold ( Neck-Wrestling ). This in turn lead to much faster paced bouts and greater use of Boxing ( punching in combinations ) rather than Punching ( single strikes with fists ).

The sport went on to become very popular in Japan as it began to be broadcast on three television channels up to three times weekly, with fight cards that regularly included bouts between Japanese and Thai Kickboxers.

Popular Japanese champions during this period were Toshio Fujiwara and Mitsuo Shima. Most notably, Fujiwara was the first non-Thai to win an official title in Thailand when he defeated his Thai opponent in 1978 at Rajadamnern Stadium winning the lightweight championship bout.

During the 1980’s Kickboxing began to lose its popularity in Japan, until in 1993 when Seidokaikan Karate Master, Kazuyoshi Ishii, started a promotion known as K-1.

K-1 become an International success and lead to several Kickboxing legends becoming house hold names across the world, such as Peter Aaerts, Ernseto Hoost, Semmy Schiltz, Mushashi, Andy Hug, Andy Souwer, Albert Kraus, Baukaw, Mosato.


A Black Belt delivers a

'Hiza-Geri = Knee-Kick' during

a K-1 Japanese Kickboxing bout!


Kickboxing – Today an International sport.

Today Kickboxing is practised across the World with audiences regularly attending bouts held using ‘Muaythai Rules’ or ‘K1 Rules’ be it Thai-Kickboxing or Japanese Kickboxing.

These bouts are usually sanctioned by various Kickboxing associations, such as the W.K.A. ( World Kickboxing Association ), the I.K.F. ( International Kickboxing Federation ) the I.S.K.A. ( International Sport Kickboxing Association ) or W.A.K.O. ( World Association Kickboxing Organisations ) with fighters progressing through national rankings as they work towards becoming World Champions.

Both formats allow the full use of Kicking, utilising three parts of the leg, ( the feet, the shins and the knee ), along with Boxing - hence the generic term of Kickboxing. Noteable differrences are the use of the Elbow, which has become the signature move of a Muaythai bout, and for 'K1 Rules' matches the requirement that bouts that result in a draw then go onto contest an extra round!

Generally Japanese Kickboxing ( K-1 ) matches are faster paced being contested over three rounds with extensive use of Boxing combinations where as Thai-Kickboxing ( Muaythai ) bouts are reneown for starting much slower due to matches being contested over five rounds.

Warrington Kickboxer
Mark Matthews

Picture : Mark Matthews on his way
to winning the
British & Commonwealth
Muay-Thai Title!


Titles held by Mark Matthews:

Pro. Inter-Continental Champion ( W.P.K.L.) : K1 Rules
Pro. Commonwealth Champion ( I.S.K.A. ) : Muaythai Rules
Pro. British Champion ( I.S.K.A. ) : Muaythai Rules
Pro. English Champion ( W.A.K.O - Pro. ) : K1 Rules
Pro. Regional Champion ( W.A.K.O - Pro. ) : K1 Rules

The first sanctioning body for Kickboxing World Titles was the W.K.A.
World Kickboxing Association.

Andy Hug
, who won the 2006 K-1 World Grandprix was also the
W.K.A. World
Super-Heavyweight Champion.

KICKBOXING : Understanding the most popular formats.

National Version----------- -- Which was developed from-----------Also Known As

- --------- -( Muay Boran & Western Boxing ) -----Muaythai

Japanese Kickboxing
-----( Kyokushin Karate & Muay-Thai ) ------K-1


At the latter part of the 20th Century the Japanese Kickboxing promotion 'K-1' took the sport to another level, running World Grandprix Tournaments each year to find the who really was the 'best-of-the-best'.

The winner of the 'K-1' World Grandprix tournament would earn a staggering $400'000.00.


Today the leading KICKBOXING promotion is 'GLORY'.

'GLORY' hold events internationally and the best Professional Kickboxers in the World now fight for

is currently one of the World's fastest growing
Combat-sports, lead by the promotion


Click on the following link, this will take you to the official website for

the World's leading
Professional Kickboxing Promotion.


( Click the above link to the official website )



Many schools only have their fighters compete in one Kickboxing rule format. Warrington Kickboxing Studio has champions that compete under both 'K1 Rules' ( Japanese Kickboxing ) or 'Muaythai Rules' ( Thai-Kickboxing ).

Photos of Warrington Kickboxing Champions in action
( Click here ).

K-1 began in 1993 and in 2013 Neil Holden, the founder of Warrington Kickboxing Studio, proudly promoted an actual official K-1 event in the U.K.


K-1 MAX : England Grandprix 2013
21st September 2013, The Parr Hall,
Warrington, ( Near Manchester ), England.

Photo: Left to Right...

International Kickboxing Promoter & Trainer - Neil Holden
K-1 MAX : England Grandprix 2013 'Champion' - Kerrith Bella.
K-1 Director - Ned Kurruc
International Kickboxing Promoter - Daniel Green

Photos and Results from the the official 'K-1 MAX England Grandprix 2013'
( Click here ).