Amateur Kickboxing Rules

Kickboxing is a sport that combines boxing and martial arts, and has grown in popularity over the years. There are two major sanctioning bodies for the sport, the International Kickboxing Federation (IKF) and the World Association of Kickboxing Organizations (WAKO). Both international organizations rank fighters and require safety gear to ensure a healthy competitive environment. WAKO and the IKF sanction several different styles of kickboxing that allow or disallow certain techniques during the bout.


IKF and WAKO sanction several different style kickboxing matches including American Kickboxing that allows only kicks above the waist and no kicks to the legs (front leg sweeps for a knockdown are permitted), International Kickboxing that allows kicks to the leg, Muay Thai bouts that allow knees and elbows to be thrown, and point kickboxing that does not allow full contact punches and kicks.


Both the IKA and WAKO requires that competitors wear regulation headgear to minimize the risk of injury from punches and kicks to the head. Fighters under the age of 18 are also required to cover their faces with a plastic face guard. Men are also required to wear groin protection, mouthpiece, approved gloves, shin pads and foot pads for full contact fights. Women are also required to wear a chest protector.

Safety Measures

WAKO allows a maximum of two matches per day for each fighter. Both IKF and WAKO require that fighters weigh in on the day of the match. Competitors in both WAKO and IKF must meet anti-doping requirements, undergo a medical fitness checkup before competition and have a medical fitness certificate before allowing a fighter to compete. The IKF requires written approval from a licensed physician stating that the competitor is in condition to compete. This approval requires a complete physical, blood test, neurological examination and a pre-fight physical immediately before the fight. IKF fighters who lose a match by knockout must take a mandatory suspension from competition for 45 days to ensure the safety of the fighter.


Both IKF and WAKO bouts are judged by a three-judge panel that scores the fight on points based on clean contact during the bout. In some bouts in both the IKF and WAKO kicks are given more points than punches, and some fights The three knockdown rule is in effect for both WAKO and IKF fighters, both require that amateur fights consist of three two-minute rounds with a one-minute break between rounds. In IKF bouts, front leg sweeps are permitted, but no sweeps are allowed to the back foot. Fighters can win WAKO-sanctioned fights by knockout, technical knockout, disqualification or decision. IKF fighters can win by forfeit, technical knockout, knockout or decision.

About this Author

Keith Strange spent more than a decade as a staff writer for newspapers and magazines in the Southeast United States, where he polished his skills into an award-winning career. He has a B.S. in sports medicine and attended graduate school to study exercise physiology. Strange is a former competitive martial artist and holds a third degree black belt in taekwondo.