Check This Chronology Of Kickboxing That Goes Well Beyond “Bloodsport”

While combat sports and martial arts hit a pop culture pinnacle (especially in the United States) during the 1980s, many artforms date back decades prior. Kickboxing, the subject of a popular 1988 Jean-Claude Van Damme film Bloodsport, and a host of other Hollywood films to varying successes, goes back to 1950s Japan.


The Shadow League, looking at some resonant pop culture touchstones, begins a series looking at the origins and diaspora of the sport, and what it took to get the US sports community to the point where things are today.

“However, during the 70’s and 80’s, America developed a gradual obsession with all martial arts and some adherents, either out of boredom or sheer curiosity, began to combine the striking elements of a few to train for a new sport. “Blood Sport” highlighted the brilliance of the kickboxing movement and traditional martial artists Stateside wanted to capture the lethal beauty of the art in their studios.”

While success was being witnessed overseas, back in the States the newly minted practitioners of kickboxing were attempting to organize but weren’t experiencing the same positive results. The initial competitive form of kickboxing in the U.S. had no real rules or weight classes and could hardly be distinguished from full contact karate. It was then that governing bodies like the World Kickboxing Association and the International Sport Kickboxing Association were founded and with them the true differentiation was established between the two art forms.

Beyond the films, the researched article looks at the promoters, the event venues, and the media necessary to take a burgeoning competition, and spoon-feed it to league-driven television consuming sportsgoers. Get some context, and even more to think about the next time you put a Bruce Lee flick up on the big screen.

Read The History Of Kickboxing- Part 1 at TSL, and you can find Part 2 here.

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