Kickboxing is a martial art which was made for beating Muay Thai by Japanese boxing promotor Osamu Noguchi in 1950. Opponents are allowed to hit each other with fists and feet, hitting above the hip. Using elbows or knees is forbidden and the use of the shins is seldom allowed (except in Thai boxing, where the knee is also allowed).
Forms of kickboxing that have been labelled under this term  include:
- Pradal Serey (Khmer kickboxing) — A predecessor of Muay Thai
- Muay Thai (Thai boxing/kickboxing) — Strong emphasis on knee and elbow strikes
- Savate (French kickboxing) — Allows the use of shoes
- San Shou/ Sanda (Chinese Kickboxing) — Takedowns and throws are legal
- Lethwei (Burmese Kickboxing) — Any part of the body may be used to strike and be struck
- Japanese kickboxing — Similar to Muay Thai, but different point system is taken
- Full Contact Karate (American Kickboxing) — Most of the time padding and in some cases body armour is used
- Shoot boxing — A Japanese form of kickboxing which allows throwing and submission wile standing similar to San Shou
There are many additional derivatives of these forms, as well as combined styles which have been used in specific competitions (e.g. K-1). The rules of 'kickboxing' also vary between these different styles.
The term kickboxing is disputed and has come to become more associated with the Japanese and American variants. It must be noted that many of the above styles do not consider themselves to be 'kickboxing' as such, although the public uses the term generically to refer to all these martial arts. The term itself was created by the Japanese boxing promoter Osamu Noguchi for a variant of Muay Thai and Karate that he created in the 1950s; this term was later used by the American variant. When used by the practitioners of these two styles, it tends to refer to them specifically rather than the martial arts they were derived from.