The martial art, Kickboxing, has become increasingly popular in recent years; in 2017 6.7 million people in the USA alone participated in kickboxing classes. 


A variation of the sport was first established in Japan in the 1950s, as a hybrid of karate mixed with boxing. 


Kickboxing is a sport practiced by a wide range of people, from hundreds of professionals in full contact major tournaments to amateurs and enthusiasts who enjoy the everyday health benefits. 


I spoke to Coach Didi, from Wimbledon Kickboxing to find out why people are so drawn to the discipline.


I began our interview by asking her whether she had noticed the martial art becoming more popular in recent years, to which she replied, thoughtfully, "It's all been to do with the media. When Nicola Adams won a gold medal at the Olympics, boxing and kickboxing became very popular. The same thing happened more recently; when they added karate at the Olympics and it boosted lots of people to try the sport."


TV and media coverage of martial arts creates a large scale awareness of the sport, but what encourages them to try kickboxing and subsequently keep at it?


"From my experience, it's just the vast expanse of physical and mental benefits," Didi says "that can help everyone, from all walks of life, with unique goals and situations."


When I asked her for some specific examples of her client's goals, she immediately exclaimed, "There are so many! Some examples are people come to try a new experience, especially after lockdown, to get over a traumatic or difficult time or recover from types of addiction and refocus their mind. Specifically, there are also a lot of young girls and women who come to learn self-defence."


As we came to the end of the interview, I inquired about whether Didi thought kickboxing was helping people achieve these goals. "I remember I taught one of my previous female clients self defence to make her feel more street-safe," Didi replied, pensively, " and one day, after coming to my classes for about a year, two men approached her aggressively on the street and she defended herself; she punched them square in the face and then they left her alone. When she told me you could see her pride and happiness in herself because she felt safe. It is an absolute pleasure to help people like this woman and see the positive changes it is making in their lives."


Kickboxing is clearly becoming better recognized worldwide but more than that it is benefiting people mentally and physically both as a sport and as a therapeutic discipline.