In our new series, ‘Showcase your Sport’, in association with the Irish Federation of Sport, we will be giving you a thorough insight into some of the most fascinating sports we have in Ireland.
First up is kickboxing, and to learn more about the combat sport, we put our questions to Roy Baker, the President of WAKO (The World Association of Kickboxing Organisations).
1. How would you describe kickboxing?
“I would describe kickboxing as a dynamic sport. It incorporates the best elements of boxing, karate, and other traditional combat sports. It has seven disciplines, it caters for the child who wants to have no contact whatsoever and the child who wants to go into the ring and have full contact. It is very diverse.”
2. What other sports would you compare it to?
“Kickboxing is unique as a sport because of its diverse function. If I was to blend it, I would have to blend multiple sports, taekwondo, boxing and karate.”
3. What are the basic rules?
“Because it has seven disciplines, it’s hard to convey the rules but I’ll pick two disciplines.
“The first discipline is called point fighting – the objective here is for the athlete to penetrate the opponent’s guard and defence and score a single point. When they score that single point, the athletes are stopped by the referees, three judges make a decision, they will put forward a majority decision which is taken forward and put on a scoring board.
“The second discipline is full contact and K1 – this is done in the ring and it’s the use of the hands and the feet but it’s knockout. K1 is where you use your knees, your hands, your feet, and your objective is to knock out your opponent. ”
4. How many rounds are there in a contest? How many minutes per round?
“There are three rounds, three two-minute rounds with a one-minute break in between. It’s a digitised scoring system, at any moment in a kickboxing fight, you are able to see what each judge is scoring and who they are scoring against.”
5. Is it popular in Ireland? How many clubs are there?
“Yes, it’s very popular. We have 157 clubs with over 12,000 registered athletes, it’s very popular and getting more popular. We’re at a position now where we have to constraint the opening of clubs in certain areas because of its popularity.
“It has surged particularly over the past 10 years in Ireland. We have a small federation of 12,000 members. If you look at Russia they have a federation of 500,000 members, if you look at Turkey, they have 230,000 members, yet we are consistently ranked fifth or sixth in the world and Russia is consistently ranked number one.”
6. Do people compete at an international level?
“At international level we compete really well, we would have one of the strongest teams in the world. That’s because of the hard work of the coaches at regional level who put in the work and the national high-performance coaches that we have in each of the disciplines and the work of the executive board.
“Ireland is consistently ranked in the top five in the world.
7. Is it an Olympic sport?
“I’m delighted to say that kickboxing was recognised by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) on November 30th, 2017. This was probably the biggest movement in the sport. It had taken us nearly 20 years to get this.
“We are currently part of The Combat Games, we are vying to be part of the European Olympic Games, I intend us to be part of the Youth Olympic Games and a long time in the future, possibly the Summer Olympic Games but that’s a very big ask of any sport.”
8. Why should people try kickboxing?
“People can try out kickboxing because of its diversity. It’s good for you, mentally and physically. Physically it’s very demanding because you’re using every single bone in your body. You can lose over 850 calories in an hour, that’s scientifically proven.
“It gives you the ability to express yourself. You can do kickboxing and never compete. Around 80% of the people who do kickboxing never compete, they do kickboxing to feel good and feel healthy, to gain tone, strength and flexibility.
“The physical part is one thing, but it’s the mental part, the releasing of the endorphins, the releasing of the stresses, the distraction management, these are all fundamental things that will enable us to lead us to live a healthy life.”
9. How can someone get involved?
“The best way to get involved is to go to kickboxing.com. That will enable you to see all of the registered Kickboxing Ireland clubs.
“All the coaches are Sports Council qualified, Garda vetted, first aid qualified and have extensive experience in kickboxing. That’s what you get when you come to Kickboxing Ireland, credible coaches who have your long-term future as their interest.
“Our focus is around participation, engagement, and the development of the community. Kickboxing has a fantastic community of individuals.”