Dutch Kickboxing


There are numerous reasons why someone may decide to take a martial arts class, but the most common one is that a person wants to learn how to defend themselves should they get into an altercation with another person. Jiu-jitsu classes will teach you how to do this. Particularly with ground fighting, there is no more sophisticated martial art than jiu-jitsu and knowing jiu-jitsu will give you an enormous advantage should an altercation end up on the ground.

Though jiu-jitsu was initially developed as a complete fighting style, the sport of jiu-jitsu has evolved in such a way that ground fighting techniques have gone from being a central part of the curriculum to virtually the only part of the curriculum. Particularly among students who learn sport jiu-jitsu, they may feel that they need supplemental training to learn how to throw a punch or land a kick more effectively and will begin learning a martial art that focuses more on striking.

There are dozens of different martial arts that will teach students how to both become better strikers and become better at defending against strikes, but this blog will focus on a lesser known martial arts: Dutch kickboxing.

What Is Dutch Kickboxing?

The below video from Combat Culture walks through the basics of Dutch kickboxing, describing it as “a melting pot of Kyokushin karate, Western boxing, and Muay Thai.” Unlike more conventional Western kickboxing, Dutch kickboxing allows kicks below the waist. Knee strikes are allowed but elbows are not. Stylistically, it favors punching and kicking combinations that can leave opponents who are unfamiliar with the technique dumbfounded.

Dutch kickboxing is also known for its unique style of training, which puts more emphasis on hitting the bag and sparring than pad work. The way that Dutch kickboxers spar is also notable. In most martial arts, sparring is meant to be a training exercise that is rigorous but doesn’t demand opponents attack one another with the full ferocity of a real fight. With Dutch kickboxing, the level of intensity is cranked up at all times. Even when you’re sparring, you are expected to give it 100%.

Some of the more famous fighters today include Nieky Holzken and Alistair Overeem and Reinier De Ridder.

Roots in Kyokushin Karate

Though it may look very similar to Muay Thai, the spirit of Dutch kickboxing traces its lineage back to Japan, specially Kyokushin karate. What distinguishes Kyokushin from other forms of karate is its focus on full contact sparring (kumite) that allows kicks to an opponent’s legs, body, and head, and only prohibits punches and knee strikes to an opponent’s head. Kyokushin is also known for its absence of protective gear during kumite sessions and tournaments, where participants are only allowed groin protection and a mouthguard.

Kyokushin is notoriously hardcore largely because of the personality of its founder, Masutatsu Oyama. Perhaps one of the most disciplined and fiercest fighters in the history of Japan, Oyama trained with Gichin Funakoshi, known as the father of modern karate and one of the most respected fighters in the world. After years of training with Funakoshi and winning multiple tournaments, Oyama decided to dedicate his life more fully to martial arts and Zen Buddhism and retreated to a modest house in the mountains where he could focus solely on honing his technique and meditating.

After 18 months of seclusion, Oyama reemerged and began putting on demonstrations to show off the superiority of his technique. The most highly anticipated part of the event was when Oyama would fight a live bull and render it unconscious with his bare hands—typically by punching it between the eyes. Eventually, Oyama began traveling the world to demonstrate the power of Kyokushin karate and even made it all the way to Madison Square Garden.

His demonstrations were not all bull punches, however. According to a November 1962 article from the New York Times, Oyama smashed bricks and stones with his bare hands, but stressed that what allowed him to perform such superhuman feats was a combination of physical and mental training. As he said through a translator at the event more than 60 years ago, “If a man tries to pick a fight with me, if he insults me, if he shoves me, I ignore it. Should my wife be attacked or someone unjustly assailed, I would use my technique for justice. But this is why we, who can kill with our bare hands, must spend so much time in contemplation. For we must be sure that we know when our cause is righteous.”