Kickboxing Rules

Kickboxing Rules

There are four kickboxing rules used in most kickboxing events in North Carolina and the surrounding States.

These kickboxing rule sets are:

  1. International Kickboxing Rules
  2. Unified Kickboxing Rules
  3. Modified Muay Thai Rules
  4. Full Muay Thai Rules

I’ll provide an overview of these different kickboxing rule sets, and I’ll direct you to the International Kickboxing Federation’s (IKF) for a full description of each rule set.  Please note that we have slight differences between NC rules and IKF rules, which are noted below.


Kickboxing Rule Sets

International Rules (Amateur (a.k.a. Low Kick))

Allowed – all boxing punches are allowed.  Spinning back fists are allowed.  You can kick above the waist and to the inside and outside of the legs.  Foot sweeps are legal, but you cannot strike above the ankle.

Not-Allowed – you cannot clinch, throw knees, or throw elbows and sweeps are not allowed.  There is no striking to the back or top of the head.  You cannot strike the knee.

See IKF Amateur Rules


Unified Rules (Amateur)

Unified rules are the most popular rule set for events in the State and the most widely used.

Allowed – all boxing punches, including spinning back fists.  Knees can be thrown, and you can clinch for up to 3-5 seconds.  Knees must strike below the neck.

Not-Allowed – elbows and sweeps are not allowed.  If you catch a kick, you must immediately counter and drop the leg (you cannot hold the leg).  Cartwheel kicks are not allowed.  No strikes to the back or top of the head are allowed and you cannot strike the knee.  Throws are not permitted.

See IKF Unified Rules

See North Carolina Rules


Modified Muay Thai Rules (Amateur)

Allowed – all boxing punches and all kicks are allowed.  Knees are allowed.  Sweeps are allowed.

Not-Allowed – no elbows.  Dumps are not allowed (cannot pick someone up off the floor).   No hip throws allowed. No spin sweeps.

See IKF Modified Muay Thai Rules


Full Rules Muay Thai (Professional)

Everything included in Modified Muay Thai, but we include elbows.  We do not allow 12-6 elbows.

See IKF Muay Thai Rules


Required Kickboxing Gear

As with all amateur kickboxing rules in North Carolina, kickboxers are required to wear head gear.  The head gear cannot have extra ear padding, it can’t have a jaw protector, nor can it have extra cheek padding.  Male kickboxers must wear a cup.  Female kickboxers must wear a padded athletic bra.   All fighters must wear shin guards with a foot guard, and you are required to wear a mouth guard.  We ask kickboxers to stay away from red or pink mouth guards as to not mistake a mouth guard for a bleeding mouth.

We will continue to revise and update these rule sets so check back before your next kickboxing bout to get up-to-date information on these rule sets.