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Kickboxing refers to the sport of using martial-arts-style kicks and boxing-style punches to defeat an opponent in a similar way to that of standard boxing. Kickboxing is a standing sport and does not allow continuation of the fight once a combatant has reached the ground.

Kickboxing is often practiced for self-defense, general fitness, or as a full-contact sport. In the full-contact sport the male boxers are bare-chested wearing shorts and protective gear including: mouth-guard, hand-wraps, boxing gloves, groin-guard, shin-pads, kick-boots, and optional protective helmet (usually for those under 16). The female boxers will wear a tank top and chest protection in addition to the male clothing/protective gear. In European kickboxing, where kicks to the thigh are allowed using special low-kick rules, use of boxing shorts instead of long trousers is possible.

In addition, amateur rules often allow less experienced competitors to use light or semi-contact rules, where the intention is to score points by executing successful strikes past the opponent's guard, and use of force is regulated. The equipment for semi-contact is similar to full-contact matches, usually with addition of head gear. Competitors usually dress in a t-shirt for semi-contact matches, to separate them from the bare-chested full-contact participants.

Kickboxing is often confused with Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing. The two sports are similar, however, in Thai Boxing, kicks below the belt are allowed, as are strikes with knees and elbows. There are many arts labelled kickboxing including Japanese kickboxing, American kickboxing, Indian, Burmese boxing, as well as French savate. The term kickboxing is disputed and has become more associated with the Japanese and American variants. Many of the other styles do not consider themselves to be 'kickboxing', although the public often uses the term generically to refer to all these martial arts.

Many of the Shaolin priests were retired soldiers and generals, thus, Ta Mo’s techings were enriched and refined by these martial arts masters and it slowly developed in to a martial art of the hand also known as Shaolin Ch’uan (Shaolin Fist) or Shaolin Ch’uan Fa[Way of the Shaolin Fist].

Shaolin was not a poor temple by this time and was regularly attacked by peasant armies (since individuals CE no chance to penetrate Shaolin defences and walls). Often, to enrich its knowledge, Shaolin would invite wandering healers, scholars and now also martial arts masters into its walls to learn from these by sharing knowledge and skills

Shaolin become very apt at Kung Fu and in repelling the attacking bandits. Slowly but surly the Shaolin became renown for their martial arts prowess and fighting ability. It is to be noted that not all Shaolin Monks were warrior monks, often they chose to specialize in areas of expertise, much like university professors. Although at this time all practiced Kung Fu, not all were totally focused on the practical aspect of the art, only the Warrior Monks. It is also interesting to note that Shaolin preferred not to hurt their assailants as this
would have ramifications for their spirituality in this life and the next.

A mere 30 years later, Shaolin was closed and forbidden; it took some 30 more years, Around 600 CE, before it was reopened.

Koryu is the Japanese term for all martial arts schools that predate the Meiji restoration (1860s).

The systems of Japanese martial arts that post-date the Meiji Restoration are known as gendai budō. The most well known of these arts include judo, kendo, some schools of iaidō, and aikido. These newer systems are commonly valued as sports or arts for self-improvement.

In many countries local arts like early Okinawan martial art in Okinawa, Kenjutsu and Ju-Jutsu in Japan, and Taekyon and Soobak in Korea mixed with other martial arts and evolved to produce some of the more well-known martial arts in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries like Karate, Aikido, and Taekwondo.

The Western interest in East Asian Martial arts dates back to the late 19th century, due to the increase in trade between America with China and Japan. Relatively few Westerners actually practiced the arts, considering it to be mere performance.

Edward William Barton-Wright, a railway engineer who had studied Jujutsu while working in Japan between 1894–97, was the first man known to have taught Asian martial arts in Europe. He also founded an eclectic martial arts style named Bartitsu which combined jujutsu, judo, boxing, savate and stick fighting.

During the late 19th century and early 20th century, catch wrestling contests became immensely popular in Europe.

During pre-war and World War Two shows the practicality of martial arts in the modern world and were used by Japanese, US, Nepalese (Gurkha) commandos as well as Resistance groups, such as in the Philippines, (see Raid at Los Baños) but not so excessively or at all for common soldiers.

However Asian martial arts remained largely unknown in the West even as late as the 1950s; for example, in the 1959 popular fiction Goldfinger, Karate was described to readers in near-mythical terms and it was credible for British unarmed combat experts to be represented as completely unaware of martial arts of this kind. The novel describes the protagonist James Bond, an expert in unarmed combat, as utterly ignorant of Karate and its demonstrations, and describes the Korean 'Oddjob' in these terms.