Martial Arts Philosophy : What is Kickboxing?

I’m going to focus on American Kickboxing,
the history of American Kickboxing. In my mind it started with Bruce Lee. He introduced
these concepts of kick boxing back in the early 70’s. His idea of use what is useful
and discard the rest were way ahead of the time. At that time in the 60’s the predominant
competition for karate fighters was point karate. Point karate were two guys fighting
and the first person who scores or hits or kicks the opponent, the match is stopped and
a point is awarded. That hearkens to the old idea in the martial arts that a single blow
would finish the fight, a single kick might kill a man so each shot, often the match was
over so the absurdity of that became relevant through the years and Bruce Lee had a student.
His student was Joe Lewis. Joe Lewis went on to become the greatest kickboxer in the
history of martial arts. He is my instructor. In 1974 he and a friend of mine, Mike Anderson,
co-promoted the first world kickboxing championships. It was a 90 minute special on ABC. It was
the highest rated show of the year and it was the launch of professional kickboxing
in America. Our fear or the controversy leading up to this big event was because these were
such deadly kickboxers and with one kick or with one punch they might actually kill each
other so there is a lot of controversy going into this. Some guys got knocked out but nobody
died. It was an exciting evening of course, it was a great rating success and it launched
the first true superstars in American kickboxing, the first world champions, Isiah Juanos from
Mexico, Bill Superfoot Wallace, Jeff The DC Bomber Smith and of course, Joe Lewis. That
was the origins of kickboxing in America. It has continued to evolve and today it is
kind of like mixed martial arts. We have introduced the grappling elements into it and it is an
exciting sport, it is the fastest growing sport in the world and we are excited for
the success of kickboxing ala mixed martial arts. I’m John Graden. For more information
visit me at Thanks.

5 thoughts on “Martial Arts Philosophy : What is Kickboxing?

  1. Sijo bruce's is like American kickboxing version of Mitsuyo Maeda, Sijo bruce's have his own martial art call jeet kune do, just like Mitsuyo Maeda is not the founder of BJJ bt both of their martial art was inspired to other to create their own martial art. so is bruce lee the father of American kickboxing & MMA? the ans is no, bt he did influence American kickboxing & MMA deeply.

  2. Very old video, but I enjoyed it. In sparring class as I teach it, we do essentially light contact American kickboxing. It is different then what people call kickboxing today as it originated from karate and boxing as compared to a very different flavor of the current Trent which really is more Muay Thai developed.

    Thanks for the brief breakdown. It’s important to the history that many have no idea about.

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