Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Body Toning Benefits of Kickboxing for Women

Learning how to kickbox can not only be empowering for women, it's also an intense workout. You can venture into the realm of kickboxing with only fitness in mind, or you can take it to the next level and train to compete professionally. However hard you want to go, the once-male-dominated sport is seeing many female-friendly clubs popping up across North America.
According to the World Kickboxing and Karate Association, kickboxing developed in the United States in the 1970s. Practitioners of karate and other combat sports demanded a new sport with rules that would allow for full-force striking.
Women have been training in sports such as karate or boxing for decades though were not always allowed to compete. Today there are several title-fight events for women's kickboxing worldwide. A renowned female kickboxer is Lucia Rijker, a four-time world champion who went undefeated with 36 wins, 25 of which were knock outs. Rijker then went on to become a top female boxer and was featured in the documentary "Shadow Boxers."
Rules vary little between men's and women's kickboxing. During a fight, women have to wear breast protection, a sports bra with built-in shell protection, and a different type of groin protector. For both sexes, strikes to the joints, collar bone and spine are prohibited, and in North America, the use of elbows is often restricted.
For women, the amount of protective equipment worn in a fight can vary depending on the rules for that particular fight. Sometimes only gloves and headgear are permitted, other times shin guards are used.
There are different fight classes for women, ensuring opponents are always within the same weight range. The International Kickboxing Federation World Classic Amateur Kickboxing Championships's fight classes for women range from "Atomweight" at 110 pounds and under to "Heavyweight," which is from 175.1 to 200 pounds.
The Physical
Women's kickboxing is an extremely physical sport requiring speed, strength and stamina.Training for women's kickboxing does not vary from traditional kickboxing, although women usually train with other women. Also, women tend to carry more weight around the hip area than males. While this doesn't affect training exercises, a larger person may be slower at kicking and moving because of the extra effort required.
Women will learn the basics before ever starting to spar with other women. Fighting stance, hand placement, punching and kicking come first. Often when training, one woman holds pads that the striker can aim for using both punches and kicks.
The Mental
The mental challenge of kickboxing is a whole other element. Training requires a lot of drive, confidence and willingness to learn. When sparring or fighting, it can be easy to react emotionally, but to continue a fight intelligently, e.g., analyze an opponent's weaknesses, a fighter has to put emotions aside. One of the biggest battles for some women kickboxers is the fear of losing and the effect that has on their physical performance.
Women also have to deal with the fact that the sport can be male-dominated or viewed as masculine. Some clubs may not be as female friendly. Also, since kickboxing requires a significant amount of training, women will develop muscle, which can sometimes be looked at as being masculine by those who expect women to follow more traditional roles.
Participating in a dedicated kickboxing fitness regimen will definitely have you on your way to fit. Women can expect to burn fat and calories and develop muscle tone in all areas of their bodies. The American Council on Exercise reported that a cardio-kickboxing class results in 350 to 450 calories burnt. In an actual kickboxing class, where women are striking with full power against resistance, the amounts may be even higher. Plus, the class environment provides not only support with women encouraging each other during routines, but it can help boost your competitive side and energy.

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