Kickboxing combines the punching of boxing and the kicking of many martial arts into a sport that a vast cross section of people enjoy. Whether you're a professional mixed martial artist vying for a title or a someone who's looking to stay in shape with cardio kickboxing classes at the gym, the sport provides a fun challenge. As with sports such as karate, kickboxing uses a series of colored belts to grade fighters.
If you take part in a cardio kickboxing class at your gym, you likely won't receive a belt or uniform because the class is all about fitness and self-defense, rather than learning the discipline from the ground up. If you visit a martial arts training center with the intention to enroll in kickboxing, you'll receive a white belt. Like karate and judo, a white belt is the first belt in kickboxing and shows those in the class that you're a beginner.
Just like karate and judo, a kickboxer can earn different belts as she passes grading tests over time. But unlike these martial arts and their standard series of belts, kickboxing belts can differ by country and school. In most cases, however, the order typically goes: yellow, orange, green, blue, purple and brown for intermediates.
The next grade after a brown belt is a black belt, which is a level many kickboxers aspire to reach. A kickboxer who wears a black belt is an advanced fighter who has completed several tests over a period of many years. Once a kickboxer receives a black belt, her chances to be graded aren't necessarily over. Many schools offer additional grades above the standard black belt, including first, second and third "dans," which is the term the sport uses to signify rank. These ranks are represented with stripes on the black belt.
Unlike many martial arts, the grading system of belts in kickboxing is not set in stone. Some schools don't use them at all, while other schools offer their own version of the belt progression. Muay Thai, a martial art that is similar to kickboxing in many ways, uses colored armbands called "prajiets." As with other sports, a Muay Thai competitor works her way up to wearing a black prajiet.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.