MONDAY, March 19th, 2001, 5:00 PM

The Kickboxing TALENT Pool
By Alex McDonald - IKF Japan (3/19/01)

One of the interesting things about the sport of kickboxing is not only the four rule classes but also where the fighters have come from. Some start as kickboxing amateurs then move on to the pro ranks like amateur boxers move to pro boxing but others come from various martial arts to create a fascinating diversity.

The K-1 in Japan claims that its name comes from the combat arts that have the letter K in them: karate, kung fu, taekwondo, kickboxing, etc. Muay Thai fans tend to dislike the name because most K-1 fighters have some training in Muay Thai, a martial art without a K. Some critics have even said the name K-1 comes from its founders name, Kazuyoshi Ishii (K-I). Regardless of whether the top K-1 fighters are primarily from one background or not, the fact remains that the K-1 has embraced all striking sports as a source of talent.

Ernesto Hoost
Muay Thai, full contact, savate, etc
Has made it to the finals four times;
'93, '97, '99 and '00,
winning three times ('97, '99 and '00).

Peter Aerts
Muay Thai
Became the Grand Prix champion three times;
'94, '95 & '98.

Andy Hug

Was the only fighter to make it to the finals 3 years in a row;
'96, '97 & '98,
and the only karateka to win the GP ('96).

Mike Bernado
Has made it to the finals once;

But is best remembered for the savage beatings he gave to Hug in '95, Aerts in '96 and Jerome LeBanner (L) last week (March 17th '01).

Let's now look at some of the different striking arts and see how they might perform in the kickboxing ring.


Let's now look at some of the different striking arts and see how they might perform in the kickboxing ring.


Many spectators view martial arts simply by the techniques used or the rules of their contests. We hear things like 'Why don't karate guys just put on gloves and punch to the head?' The reason is in the approach the martial art takes as its ultimate purpose. Although many martial arts are also competitive sports, they are primarily for self defense. The reason hard karate fighters fight with bare knuckles is simply that if attacked by someone on the street, they will not have time to slip on a pair of gloves. Also, how many of the first UFC fighters trained with gloves then broke bones in their hands fighting bare knuckle? I can think of a few.
The reason TKD fighters throw quick kicks and retreat is because disengaging from a fight is a very safe and sensible thing to do. Think about it. What are referees in the ring for? To make sure there is a fight. (As well as for the safety of the fighters of course) If a fighter stepped into the ring with a strategy of holding and running, he'd probably look okay after the fight (at least until the promoter got a hold of him). So, standing toe to toe on the street with some criminal (it is a crime after all to attack people on the street) is therefore trained out of these students.

Despite all the style bashing we often hear, I believe every style has something to offer the sport of kickboxing and in return the sport of kickboxing may have something to offer martial artists: a pro career.
The purpose of the IKF National Amateur Tournament, is to give amateurs the chance to gain experience with fighters from around the country. It is so sad to see fighters with few amateur fights turning pro due to lack of competition. Or someone with a number of hometown fights challenging for a world amateur title with an irresponsible sanctioning organization. It is also a shame to see very talented martial artists step into a ring for the first time as a pro and oblivious to the dangers they face. It is fine for the K-1 to embrace different fighting styles but it's simply unwise for the athletes to make the transition from amateur to pro at the same time as they make the transition from their style to that of kickboxing.

Having said that, I would like to recommend fighters from the amateur martial arts community to register for future IKF National Amateur Tournaments. I strongly believe that the protective equipment will reduce the risk of injury and give you the chance to showcase your talents. Naturally, I don't expect to see a wave of crossover fighters. Some purists feel the rules of their competitions are as much a part of the art as the techniques and the underlying approach. For those, however, who feel the approach and the techniques could apply to different rule systems, I'm sure the IKF will welcome you. Spread the word.

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