Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks has launched a new fitness program that can boost revenues for martial arts schools during off-peak hours. “Billy’s Boom Boxing” fuses aerobics with many martial arts customs, including katas, self-defense applications, bagwork, and even a rank system using colored hand wraps and gloves. School owners in the program could draw a new wave of fitness clients from the general public that normally won’t take martial arts lessons.
From 1998 to 2001, the first martial arts-oriented fitness program ever to capture the mass-market participation of the general public took hold. In fact, it became a worldwide fitness phenomenon. Called Tae Bo, a name based on the “tae” in taekwondo and the “bo” in boxing, it was created by retired semi-contact karate world champion and master-level black belt Billy Blanks.
Blanks launched the program at his karate school in Sherman Oaks, CA. It was a high-intensity aerobic fitness routine that fused martial arts and boxing techniques, performed to high-energy background music.
Powered by a potent TV infomercial, the Tae Bo fitness program, sold more than 6 million tapes worth some $400 million, from its initial launch through December 1999 alone, then evolved into an international sensation throughout the Western world. The DVD program lasted for decades and, by the time it ran its course in mass popularity, had reportedly sold some 70 million copies!
Because of its phenomenal success, Tae Bo became a household name and Billy Blanks soared to public superstardom. It made him one of the world’s most famous martial artists of all time.
Now, at age 62, Blanks is unveiling a new exercise program, entitled Billy’s Boom Boxing™, that he hopes will rival Tae Bo’s success. This program, unlike any other fitness routine anywhere, is very heavily influenced by conventional martial arts customs.
According to Blanks, the participants’ response to Boom Boxing has been “terrific.” Now, after three years of perfecting it, he’s taking the program public.
Although Blanks system is infused with his own special brand of fighting skills, Billy’s Boom Boxing uses a formula that includes katas and an accelerated ranking system.
“Another main difference between Tae Bo and Boom Boxing is that Tae Bo is a full-body cardio workout that involves martial arts and kicking,” Blanks adds. “Boom Boxing is a combination of cardio, kickboxing and boxing. It’s a mixed martial arts kind of workout. Unlike Tae Bo, the Boom Boxing workout uses bags and hand pads for striking.
“Boom Boxing is perfect for anyone of any age,” he says. “It’s a fun and safe workout. But then, in time of need, when you really have to use it, you can defend yourself with what you’ve learned in my Boom Box class.”
Putting the boom in Billy’s Boom Boxing is the relentless beat that fuels all is his fitness classes. Music has proven to be the perfect motivator in a variety of exercise routines from aerobics to cycling.
For Blanks, music isn’t just for movin’ to the groove of the tune. Sweating to the oldies won’t improve your punching and blocking skills. But, learning how to count and use the beats in a song can and will deliver a KO punch when needed, he says.
Just as a traditional martial arts system may use kata and sparring to award different belt ranks, Blanks has designed a similar structure for his new workout.
In conventional martial arts, for example, for a student to be awarded a new color belt, he or she would need to demonstrate a series of basic blocks and punches to advance to the next rank. The more complex the techniques contained within the kata, the higher the rank.
At its core, Billy’s Boom Boxing is composed of just 16 basic moves so individuals can move up the ranks faster.
Blanks has given a new look to the conventional martial arts ranking system, as one way of setting Boom Boxing apart from the crowd using different-colored hand wraps and gloves, leading all the way up to black.
Just as in a conventional karate class, each progression in rank gives the Boom Boxing student a new skill set to develop.
Blanks divided these skill sets into offensive and defensive training. Unlike sparring in karate or a boxing match, where individuals will use both skills sets, in these sessions they practice them separately.
Blanks believes his new workout will appeal to a wide range of individuals that may not be interested in a conventional martial arts class. That was the hallmark of Tae Bo’s popularity.
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