Maybe you’ve never taken a kickboxing class, but really want to try it out. Or, maybe, you walked into a class, and had the instructor tell you to do things in what must have been a different language. Although there are a few GREAT kickboxing instructors who will pause the class and make sure everybody knows how to do what they’re talking about (which I have been fortunate to have) there are others who forget that people walk into their class not knowing how to properly throw a punch or perform a roundhouse kick.

Don’t doom what could be a great workout to failure (or doom yourself to injury) by not knowing what the instructor is talking about. Here is your guide to kickboxing terminology (with all examples being given using the right arm/leg):


Although the names seem to contradict one another, it really is the same punch. A cross has a lot of power behind it. To start, place your right leg back with your toes pointed out to the side; your left leg stays put, facing the bag. Second, draw your right arm back, and throw it in a straight punch toward the bag. When you do this, your right leg should pivot, heel up, so that it’s facing the bag. You’ll know you’re doing this right if you feel twisting in your abs (which should be tight), and if the power is coming from your knee and hip, not just your arm. The pivoting protects your knee-crucial on all power punches like this!

PC: HowcastSportsFitness YouTube


Much simpler than a cross, a jab is your stereotypical boxer’s punch. It can be done with feet in several different positions (such as ‘squared up’ to the bag, sideways with simply the arm extending, or doing high knees while throwing jabs as well). If you were to throw a jab from a squared up position, you would stand with both feet pointing to the bag, about arm’s distance away. Then, simply draw your arm back, and throw a very straight punch into the bag.

PC: Monkeysee


A hook starts from a squared up position with both feet pointing the bag. Draw your right arm back, and then, bring your arm around in almost a bent position (picture below), hitting the side of the bag with your knuckles. Your right leg should pivot, with the toe going left and heel going right, so that your knee is brought in and protected, and so that there’s more power behind this punch. Make sure you swing your arm around at shoulder height!

Bring your arm a little lower than mine was in this picture! PC: Kelvey Vander Hart


Uppercuts are much lower punches, and can also be done from a variety of starting foot positions. For a basic uppercut, start from a squared up position. Draw your right arm, palm up, back, and then bring it forward to hit the bag in a way that almost resembles a bicep curl. Squeeze your bicep when you hit the bag for extra power! It should strike at about stomach height.

PC: Monkeysee


A roundhouse is a kick with some major power! Stand with left hip facing the bag, and plant your left foot. Twist away from the bag, and then release toward it, using that twist to bring your right leg up and around, striking the bag with the side or top of your foot.

Good demonstration of a roundhouse into sparring gloves instead of a bag. PC: South Prospect Gym


This kick is as easy as it sounds. Standing squared up to the bag, bring your right knee up, and then kick it into the bag, keeping as much weight in the heel as possible.

PC: Marinobles


Also simple, side kicks are done by standing on your left foot with your right hip close to the bag, raising your foot, and kicking it sideways into the bag while keeping as much weight in the heel as possible.

A high side kick. PC:


Finally, even though chances are you won’t be seeing the inside of a boxing ring any time soon, you should still have proper form while kickboxing, and that includes the block. A block is done with whatever arm you have free (or both arms if you’re kicking). Hold your gloved hand, palms toward your face, a few inches in front of your face. This is to protect your face in case anybody were to swing at you, and while not completely necessary, any good instructor will encourage you to ‘keep your free hands up in guard’.

Demonstrating the need for guard. PC: ExpertBoxing

Happy kickboxing!

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