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From Mental Memory to Muscle Memory: Mastering The Kickboxing Number System

Even if you’ve gone to kickboxing classes that your gym offers and have all the routines down by memory, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a kickboxing guru. However, even if you have been in kickboxing for a while, you still might need a little help remembering what kind of numbering system you’re working with when it comes to combinations and knowing which kick or punch goes after another.
 
While in the heat of the moment during training when your coach is shouting out certain numbers and you have to remember them on the fly, don’t get discouraged. Being able to execute a certain move within milliseconds of your coach telling you which takes a ton of practice — it’s not simply about mental intelligence. However, to be able to really nail and connect with those numbers and get them correctly, you have to first start off by knowing them.
 
boxing ring
 
In this guide, we’re going to take you through the kickboxing number system. From boxing punches numbers 1-8 to kickboxing combination numbers, we’re going to lay out the foundation you need to be able to memorize and execute the moves right when you need it — and not a moment too slow — when it comes to kickboxing punches, seconds are crucial.
 
Before we begin to go through the kickboxing number system, we want to introduce to you the various styles of kickboxing that can take you through not only its origins but the differences between them so you can choose not only which suits you better but also which one might be easier for you to learn.
 

Different Styles of Kickboxing

 
Since there are so many different styles of kickboxing throughout the world, we thought we would start you off with introducing you the differences between the three categories, ranging from one continent to the next. That way, when you first start off kickboxing, you can pick the style that most interests you.
 
Varying from fighter to fighter and gym to gym, the style of kickboxing can be as individualized as they come but can also be different simply from fighter to fighter or from region to region. Each style of kickboxing has its own details and reason why it sets it apart from one another. When we’re talking about kickboxing, there are various different regional styles. But we’re just going to pinpoint three.
 

European Style Kickboxing

 
Also described as a Dutch style, the hands are used a lot more often than other styles of kickboxing. The combinations found in the European style normally have hand combinations involving punching and chopping, then followed by a kick. These fighters normally focus their footwork in their fighting strategy and emphasize avoiding strikes to set up their combinations.
 
European Style Kickboxing is drawn from the origination of two different styles — Muay Thai and Japanese kickboxing. However, what sets it apart is that European Style Kickboxing has three separate disciplines: full contact, semi-contact, and light —or medium— contact. In European style, punches and kicks are taken and given from the front and the side of the head and body. Also, in this style, you cannot strike with the elbows, knees, throw or head-butt. The European style, since it does refer to Dutch style is not only fond in Holland but found all across Europe and throughout the world today.
 

Japanese Kickboxing

 
Japanese or Muay Thai Kickboxing focuses centrally on kicks and clinches. This style avoids usage of hands more than the other styles. Rather than using hands in holding ways, they are normally used for blows. If you are encountering the Japanese kickboxing style, you’ll also find that the head moves much less than other styles and it focuses on other concepts more than defensive footwork.
 
However, there are other differences that may attract you to this style. Kicking is worth more points than punching is and in Muay Thai, fighters are allowed to strike with the elbows and knees, which isn’t seen in other styles, and they are also allowed to kick at the lower half of the opponent’s body.
 
You can refer to our other article which outlines the various styles of kickboxing and other fighting fields in more detail and goes through each of its origins if you are interested in learning more.
 

American Style Kickboxing

 
Lastly, American Style Kickboxing encompasses a few of the former kickboxing styles and modernizes it. This is the style of kickboxing you will probably find in most classes, especially those generalized in gyms, with music playing in the background. American Style Kickboxing boxers are allowed to strike using their fists and their feet. However, hits can only be made in contact with their upper body.
 
In this style, clinching is generally not allowed, so the athletes that are trained in American Style Kickboxing use karate style kicks and boxing style hands.
 
Now that you’re familiar with a few different styles of kickboxing, it’s time to cover the kickboxing number system. Instead of searching for the perfect boxing combinations list pdf, striking number system, southpaw boxing numbers, boxing punch numbers 1-10 or boxing punches 1-6, the following list of the ten common moves in kickboxing and their labeled numbers can help anyone go from being a newbie to conquering the kickboxing scene.
 
As we mentioned in previous articles with the boxing punch number system 1-6, odd numbers are carried out from the left side of the body and even numbers are from the right side of the body.
 

Here is the Kickboxing Number System from 1-10:

 
1. Left Jab
 
To start us off, we’re going to introduce you to the jab. This common punch is often number one in most gyms and is executed with the left hand. In kickboxing, the jab is quick and direct. Thrown correctly, it is a straight punch at the opponent’s face and nose, withdrawn then swiftly afterward.
 
One of the most basic and most important punch to learn, the jab helps you establish your distance and timing from your opponent, which sets you up for more combinations that follow. That means the jab is the perfect starting punch not only to learn but also to insert into any combination.
 
Since it is quick and effective, a jab in kickboxing covers itself in its own way, able to set you up for the next part of the combination and leaves a minimal amount of space between you and your opponent. As with all the punches, you should keep guard of your chin with your other hand and as soon as your punch meets its target (or doesn’t meet it but has gone its range), quickly retract your fist and place it back in its original, defensive position. This is equally important as the punch itself.
 
2. Right Cross
 
This power punch is a straight punch thrown directly across the body from the right hand towards the opposing side — hence the name cross as it crosses your body. When you throw this punch, your upper body should be rotating towards the left side with the heel of your dominant foot lifted to fully follow through with your body.
 
The cross is seen as the second punch in the numbering system because it normally, in combinations, follows the jab. Since the jab and the cross are done with alternating hands, it’s easy to see why.
 
The target with the cross is also your opponent’s facial area, which is aimed for in a straight line. Seen from a full-body standpoint, the right cross is much more powerful than the jab because of the body rotation and the transfer of weight from your back foot to your front.
 
You can also use the right cross as a target for a body shot, as well. Although you might not associate powerful punches with a hit on the body, if you make the body a target, it is easy to then set up a hook, which can be No. 3 in your combination.
 
3. Left Hook
 
One of the most dangerous punches out there is No. 3 on the number system. The left hook is harder to execute because it needs a close ranged distance, however, when it is done — it is deadly. The left hook is made in a semi-circular punch from the bottom up. To visualize, try and think of a fishing hook as it is rounded at the bottom — that’s your arm motion, and the pointy, deadly end of the hook — well, that’s your fist, which should be connecting to the primary target area of the jawline of your opponent.
 
When your opponent is in range, after a small step, you can throw your entire body into a rotation —aside from your head — that uses your full force and places it behind your punch. The fist is rolled completely upright and the elbow must be completely and perfectly in line with the fist to use its full force (and not cause any self-inflicted injury).
 
As with all the other punches, your other hand, the right one on this punch, should be guarding your chin firmly. After the hook should end after impact and an interruption in the motion, the punching fist should be quickly snatched back into guarding position with your other hand.
 
Also, although it is most efficient when the face is targeted, the hook punch can also target the lower body in something called a “body rip”. If hits to the lower body is allowed, this punch is also extremely effective.
 
4. Right Hook
 
Since No. 3 used the left hand, No. 4 will focus on throwing the hook with the right hand. This surprise punch is the same as the left hook — a curved punch generally associated with being aimed at the cheek and jawline, the right hook can actually be seen as even more effective since it is thrown with the (normally) dominant hand. This change of hands, literally, between the left and right hook can make all the difference in the power packed behind the punch. Even though you should always train to make the two hands even when it comes to technique and power, your dominant hand will almost always have an advantage of your non-dominant hand.
 
Throwing a right hook is extremely difficult to master but can be done if focusing on technique and following through with your body and pivoting the back foot. As always, your guard is extremely important, especially since throwing this punch will put you in a vulnerable position. Not only are these hooks thrown from a short distance which means that your opponent can quickly counter if they aren’t as effective as you had hoped but also throwing the punch with your dominant hand means your non-dominant home is left at home, taking any counter-hits.
 
5. Left Uppercut
 
The left uppercut, when done correctly, can lift the opponent’s body which ultimately will place them off-balanced, which is a perfect situation for you to set up your next part of a combination. When an uppercut is performed, the punch itself might not actually be an effective power but what follows, since it’s such a great set up, might give you the edge you’ve been looking for to finish your opponent off.
 
In a combination, the left uppercut is generally followed through with a right hook, since opposing hands are being used. As always, once a punch is thrown with one hand the other should be guarding the chin. So, therefore, when you transition punches, one hand should always be guarding automatically since after the punch the hand retracts immediately.
 
As an offensive boxer, if you’re heading into this combination, you would be throwing the left uppercut to expose your opponent’s chin and then follow through with a right hook to fully knock them out.
 
While performing the punch, your torso and bodyweight should shift to the right and with your knees bent, throw the left hand upwards in a hook, as we mentioned before — a rising arc towards the target area. As your punch approaches your target, your knees should also straighten as your full force, torso, and hip rotation are all thrown into the punch. Once you’ve made impact, your left elbow should roll into the ribs.
 
6. Right Uppercut
 
The uppercut done with the right hand is a punch which is thrown with the opponent’s chin as a target in mind. This uppercut motion has its origins around the puncher’s midsection and is then directed straight upwards, with their upper midsection and face as its goal. These uppercut punches, right or left are generally not included in a punching combination but can be extremely effective when used specifically as a surprise punch.
 
Since the uppercut comes from a bend in the body towards the opposite direction and is usually done after you’ve gotten your opponent at a close range it is not only strong in the punch alone, through the rising arc towards the target area but also kicks in with a shocking hit. Your opponent will normally not expect it, especially since its origin comes from out of his or her line of vision. This makes the uppercut extremely effective when used at the opportune moment.
 
No. 6 on the kickboxing number system is done with the right hand since it is an even number but can be just as effective with the left hand. However, you might want to consider the fact that it might be more effective because it is normally thrown with the dominant hand which might mean more power in the punch.
 
7. Left Front Kick or Push Kick
 
Since it is kickboxing, we should focus on the fact that there is kicking involved. Just as the boxing number system, No. 1 through 6 solely focused on punching and didn’t stray far when it came to being similar to the boxing number system. However, now that we reached No. 7, we have to realize that in kickboxing, you can throw in a weapon that you normally wouldn’t have in regular boxing: your legs.
 
In some cases, extremely more powerful than any punch, a leg can do ample amounts of damage to your opponent and really be the lasting impact during a spar or fight. There are a few different types of kicks to master in kickboxing but to start you off, we have the front kick or push kick.
 
Since it is an odd number, No. 7, the kick will be carried out with the left leg. As one of the first ones on the list, it is pretty simple to learn and easy to carry out. Facing your opponent, lift your left leg, bend it at the knee and then kick straight out, aiming for the opponent’s midriff, thigh or chest. You need to aim the kick enough so that the ball of your foot (not any other part, like the top) will be the part that makes contact with your opponent.
 
8. Right Front Kick or Push Kick
 
The same as the left front kick, No. 8 is done with the right foot since it’s an even number. Executed straight out from the standing position on your left foot, the right leg is lifted into the air, bent at the knee and then kicked out using the bottom of the foot, targeted straight at your opponent.
 
It’s important to deliver the ball of the foot directly in contact with your opponent. This is because the extremities of your body deliver the hardest hits. When it comes to kickboxing, you want to be able to deliver your hardest hit.
 
9. Left Round Kick (High, Middle, Low)
 
One of the most powerful kicks in kickboxing, a round kick is delivered by raising your foot and kicking in a smooth, semicircular motion. Your target area should be your opponent’s head, chest, midriff, or shins.
 
The left round kick, done with the left foot because of the odd number is performed using the curve of the front side of the ankle, which is called the instep. Since the kick uses the momentum of the movement, it is the easiest to perform when it comes to power and packs a punch because of the angle.
 
10. Right Round Kick (High, Middle, Low)
 
Same as the left side, the right round kick is extremely powerful. When done correctly, you won’t even have to put much power behind it because the movement itself is strong enough. When you perform the kick, you have the choices to aim high, towards the middle of the body or low, at the lower half of the body or midsection to really nail your opponent.
 
Another kick is the side kick, which usually isn’t incorporated into the kickboxing number system. With the side kick, you want to raise the leg, turn it around at the knee and then after you bring it back slightly, shoot it out straight and hard at the moment. Aim with your heel or outside of the fact at impact. Where you make impact with your foot is important in this kick because done ineffectively can cause self-inflicted harm to the ankle.
 
The kickboxing number system is most important in combinations. Instead of having to say “Jab-right cross-left hook-right kick”, a coach can easily shout out “1, 2, 3, 10”, and then the fighter will know what to do. It is very effective in training.
 

Popular Kickboxing Combinations

 
Some of the most popular combinations are 2-count and 3-count, which means they are combinations containing two or three different moves in a row. Until you get to the more advanced level, these should be your bread and butter. Once you practice enough, they should be second nature.
 

Some Basic 2-Count Combinations:

 
1-2: Jab Left, Right Cross
1-1: Jab, Jab
 
These 2-count combinations are perfect for beginners and being able to start out memorizing punches, kicks, and their respective combinations. These 2-count combinations are easy to memorize, which you already might have heard of. For example, “give him the ol’ 1-2” are easy instructions to follow since they are only two steps. They are also simple to carry out because, like most combinations, they are done with the opposing hands. For example, the 1-2 is done with the left and then the right. These are easily seen when alternating odd and even numbers.
 

Some Basic 3-Count Combinations:

 
1-1-2: Jab Left, Jab Left, Right Cross
1-2-3: Jab Left, Right Cross, Left Hook
2-3-2: Right Cross, Left Hook, Right Cross
 
When you’ve mastered the simple, basic 2-count combinations, you can carry on to the 3-count. These are only just a few examples of the possibilities when you’re carrying out combinations that go beyond two moves and then set you up for longer, more advanced combinations. These are also alternating opposing hands but also can be the same side of the body.
 

Some Advanced Combinations:

 
kick boxing advance
 
1-2-3-2: Jab Left, Right Cross, Left Hook, Right Cross
1-2-5-2: Jab Left, Right Cross, Left Uppercut, Right Cross
1-6-3-2: Jab Left, Right Uppercut, Left Hook, Right Cross
 
Once you master the two and three count combinations, it’s time to take it to the next level. These advanced combinations take a lot of practice so don’t get discouraged when you can’t remember them on the fly, especially when you’re in the heat of the moment and coach has yelled them out to you. It might take a little longer to master these. Especially in kickboxing, you will come across advanced combinations that will involve not only punches but actual kicking. Some gyms even implement elbow and knee shots into their kickboxing number system, which also might take a while to memorize. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t know them from the get-go.
 
Your training also doesn’t have to just involve you and your coach, solely. Even your youngest daughter can simply yell out numbers that you then have to follow. There are various tools that can help you memorize the combinations and specific punches and kicks that go with certain numbers. Practice makes perfect, so you can never practice too much.
 
We hope that this guide has served you well in introducing the kickboxing number system to you. If you are a beginner and are just learning what those numbers mean which are being shouted out all the time in the gym or if you are more advanced and just want a refresher, we hope that the guide has helped you in some way.
 
As we took you through each of the different moves, it’s important to know not only what each of the numbers signifies but also how it differs from one another. If you know the basics to each of the moves, from the beginning onward, it will come easier and easier for you to become more advanced. Before you know it, you will be dishing out punches and kicks simply by numbers with ease.

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