Kickboxing 101 with Layla Luciano

Here at HBFIT, we’re all about switching up our workout routine, and there’s nothing like breaking a sweat in a badass kickboxing class. For some helpful tips, we reached out to Layla Luciano, the strong, fierce kickboxing martial artist and co-founder of high-intensity kickboxing class, PACT PARK. 

Layla’s training style is all about combining full body moves with MMA strike training, using speed and power to improve your flexibility, strength, and endurance. Here’s what she shared: 

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Traditionally, kickboxing uses the 4-point striking system, in which both hands and feet are used. Some kickboxing gyms, like PACT PARK, incorporate Muay Thai which uses the 8-point striking system, where both hands, feet/shins, elbows, and knees are used to fight.

With such a wide variety of strikes, I recommend beginners to focus on the fundamentals like balance, coordination and stamina in order to develop perfect timing, accuracy, speed and power. Even if you don’t have the intention of fighting professionally, it is very important to develop these fundamental habits because you can take these with you in a variety of other workouts and types of training.

Master the Fighting Stance

Your fighting stance helps keep your spine aligned and keep your balance while you move. There are several stances you can adopt during your training. Everyone is built slightly differently so you will eventually figure out what stance works best for you. In general, you want to keep your legs and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and bend your knees a bit.

Always keep your hands up in front of the sides of your face while your elbows are directly in front of your rib cage. This is where all of your arm motions should start from and go back to. Keep your abs tight! Chin down, hands up! And most importantly, while you begin to move and throw strikes, don’t forget your stance!

Upper Body Strikes

When performing jabs, uppercuts, hooks and other upper body strikes, make sure the punch comes from your body not your arm! Put your bodyweight into each strike you throw using your core, shoulder, back and legs! If your wrists and forearms hurt after your workout, you know you need to work on punching from your body more.

Lower Body Strikes

Kicking is the most fun and the hardest part of kickboxing! There are many different types of kicks: front kicks, side kicks, round kicks, back kicks. When it comes to kicking, think about the muscles in your hips and legs because that’s where your power comes from. I always say “it’s a weapon, not a wet noodle!” Before you get to kicking, start with knees to get used to standing and balancing on one leg. There are some minor variations in technique in regards to posture and stance however, the basic components of the knee strike are similar. Lean back, thrust your hips forward and  the knee arcs upward.

Stamina & Footwork

Don’t skip any exercises in class because they all have a purpose! All of those high knees, fast feets, pylometric exercises, jump rope, ladder drills all help improve your footwork and your stamina.

Lower Body Agility

Stay light on your feet by keeping your weight in the balls of your feet so you can easily pivot your heels when necessary. You’ll be moving forward, back, side to side and up and down. You need to be able to move in all directions and still maintain a strong fighting stance.

Remember to Breathe

Breathing is another important fundamental. Every time you strike, breathe out through your mouth! This will give you more power in each punch. It’s easy to get “gassed out.” Don’t worry about sounding silly, fighters always make a sound when they hit!

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