Boxing vs Kickboxing: Which Is Better and What Are The Differences?

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2018)

So you want to learn about boxing? Well, it’s not so simple. Which type? There are several different kinds, with unique differences. Take boxing and kickboxing, for instance.

While it sounds like the only difference between the two styles would be one involves kicking and the other doesn’t, it’s more complex than that. From technique and strategy to which one is healthier option, the two sports, while similar in some ways, can also be vastly different.

Read: How To Start Training for MMA


Boxing was first originated in Greece, where it became apart of the Olympic Games in 688 B.C. But it has changed dramatically since then. The modern day  style we see today was developed in the United Kingdom.

Kickboxing is a much more modern sport, but also with ancient origins. In the 1950s, Osamu Noguchi, son of a Japanese champion boxer, coined the term “kickboxing.” The sport was based off of the 2,000 year old Thai fighting style, “Muay Thai.”

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Differences: Techniques


In boxing, you want to stay close to your opponent so you can land effective punches. If you are too far, then you have to lean in and leave yourself susceptible to a counter-attack. But in kickboxing, you want to keep more distance. The hardest hits come from your kicks, and if you’re too close, you can’t fully extend your leg, limiting the power you get behind it.

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The typical boxing stance is more sideways to limit the amount of available space for an opponent to punch. A kickboxing stance is generally more square, since fighters have to be prepared to defend against incoming kicks and punches. If a kickboxer tried to use a classic boxer’s stance, they would leave themselves more open to kicks, which are the more serious danger to kickboxers than punches.


Possibly the biggest difference between the two are the defensive and offensive strategies. Since boxing is restricted to only punches above the belt, you have more ability in defending yourself as a boxer.

While in kb, you can use punches along with kicks, giving yourself more offensive opportunities to strike.


As a boxer, one of your typical defensive moves is to duck down and avoid incoming punches. But if you were to duck in a KB match, your face would likely be met by your opponent’s foot.

Step Back

Likewise, if you were to take a step away to dodge punches in a KB fight, you would only be giving your opponent more of an opportunity to get a full, hip-rotating kick that would be hard to deflect if you leave too much distance between the two of you.


Clinching, in boxing, is simply grabbing your opponent with both hands, typically around the shoulders. It is a technique used by boxers to bring their opponent close in and to keep them from landing full-extension punches.

It also gives a tired boxer a brief rest during a bout. But KB also allows opponents to throw one another, like in judo or other martial arts. If you tried to clinch in a KB fight, chances are that you’re going to get thrown to the mat by your opposition.


In both, strikes with the hands are basically the same. The most common one, the jab, is a straight punch with your leading hand, which depends on the angle of your body. The jab is mostly used mostly to read your opponent’s reaction.

If he moves either of his hands guarding his head, the next move is generally a hook, a punch that “hooks” around your oppositions defending hands and makes contact on the side of their head.

The hook is considered the second strongest punch, behind the uppercut. The uppercut is generally used when you are in close quarters, and is landed below the chin of whoever you are fighting, and is the most common knockout strike in boxing.


Obviously the most notable difference between the two sports, kicking is a big element to — you guessed it — kickboxing. Using a combination of punches and kicks, you are opened to a whole new offensive dimension that gives you more opportunities in counter-attacks.

The most popular kick used is the back kick because you can execute it quickly, but it can also build up a lot of power. But when a spin is added to the back kick, the power generated can deal a devastating blow, and if good contact is made, it can often result in a knockout.

Other common kicks used among fighters are the front kick and the roundhouse kick.

Protecting Yourself: Self Defense

For self-defense, which style would be the most beneficial to you? Well, it all depends on the context. Both fighting styles give you adequate defense skills if you ever found yourself in a street fight.

As a kickboxer or a boxer, you know how to deal a proper punch, and how to protect yourself correctly, especially in regards to your head.

While both will help you, they still have their own distinct advantages. The main advantage kickboxing has in a street fight is it’s versatility and range. Since you’ve been trained to work with your hands, feet, elbows and knees, you have a whole arsenal of attacks at your disposal.

Kicks allow you to keep a distance from the attacker, who is likely to use more punches than kicks. Boxers, on the other hand, tend to be a bit quicker when defending punches, and since they only train with their hands, can land more powerful punches.

The only downside both of these will have in a street fight is that out of the ring, there are no rules. You may have to deal with someone who has a weapon, or you may have to defend yourself from someone who is trying to wrestle you to the ground.

O maybe something else you won’t ever encounter in either sport.

Which Is Better For Losing Weight?

Of course, while most people are interested in the fighting aspect, both sports also burn calories like crazy. According to a Harvard Medical School study, if you weigh 125 lbs. and box for half an hour, you’ll burn 270 calories. 400 calories if you weigh 185 lbs.

But if you kickbox for the same amount of time, you’ll burn roughly 300 calories and 444 calories respectively. So if you’re looking at the two solely from a weight-loss perspective, KB would be the way to go.

While both have many similarities, they also have a vast number of differences.

The goal of both of them is the same: to beat the other person, but the strategy, technique, origin and how many calories you burn while doing that are quite different from each other.


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