Martial Development

Martial arts for personal development

How to Win at Kickboxing (The Wrong Way)

Tags: ,

By Tim Ferriss, no-holds-barred cage fighter, kick-boxer-pusher, and the author of the bestselling book The 4-Hour Workweek

In 1999, sometime after quitting my second unfulfilling job and eating peanut-butter sandwiches for comfort, I won the gold medal at the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships.

The 4-Hour Workweek

It wasn’t because I was good at punching and kicking. God forbid. That seemed a bit dangerous, considering I did it on a dare and had four weeks of preparation. Besides, I have a watermelon head–it’s a big target.

I won by reading the rules and looking for loopholes, of which there were two:

1. Weigh-ins were the day prior to competition: Using dehydration techniques I now teach to elite powerlifters, I lost 28 pounds in 18 hours, weighed in at 165 pounds, and then hyperhydrated back to 193 pounds*. It’s hard to fight someone from three weight classes above you. Poor little guys.

2. There was a technicality in the fine print: If one combatant fell off the elevated platform three times in a single round, his opponent won by default. I decided to use this technicality as my single technique and just push people off. As you might imagine, this did not make the judges the happiest Chinese I’ve ever seen.

The result? I won all my matches by technical knock-out (TKO) and went home national champion, something 99% of those with 5-10 years of experience had been unable to do.

* Most people assume this type of weight manipulation is impossible, so I’ve provided sample photographs at Do not try this at home. I did it all under medical supervision.

How to survive a physical attack
with Tim Ferriss and Dave Camarillo

Categories: Fighting and Self-Defense · Training Tips

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dojo-Reviews // Oct 21, 2010

    It’d be nice if this post had your opinion on the subject. Obviously you disagree with Tim’s approach, but I was waiting for your take on the subject.

  • 2 Mike // Oct 21, 2010

    Ditto Dojo-Reviews. Does anyone else wish he’d come up with some kind of conclusive evidence as to that kickboxing title? Making that kind of claim reminds me of that one kid I knew in high school with a girlfriend in the next town over who nobody ever met.

    I’m not saying you couldn’t win a kickboxing tournament like that. I just think it’d be nice if he at least gave the year and location of the tournament so interested parties could look into it.

  • 3 chris // Oct 21, 2010

    Dojo-Reviews, in my opinion and for the purposes of this post: the right way to win a kickboxing tournament is by actually kickboxing, preferably within your own weight class.

    Tim has said that “cutting weight is a prerequisite for elite competition in such sports—period.” Yet his account above implies that he was the only one doing it here.

    Mike, Tim says he won the United States of America Wushu-Kungfu Federation (USAWKF) sanshou national championships in 1999.

  • 4 Scott // Oct 25, 2010

    I read the book too, (ok I only looked at the pictures and had my half wife read me the juicy bits but whatever) he could have called it “Doing Indolence Right.” Or, ” the art and science of being lazy.”
    I expect there will be a whole generation of Hobo-nerds coming out of the woodwork one of these days.

  • 5 Mike // Oct 25, 2010

    Awesome. Thanks for the tip, Chris.

  • 6 Wim // Nov 23, 2010

    I used to be the coach of the National Sanshou team here in Belgium (the “Chinese kickboxing” Tim is talking about.) Cutting weight like that is done by some fighters and not by others. It depends on how your body reacts to the dehydration, not everybody who does it fights well the day after. I’ve seen it happen many times over.
    That said, I consider it cheating within the rules. Yup, you’re allowed to do it. They can’t fault you for it. But it’s pretty poor sportsmanship to fight three weight classes below your actual weight. It’s not all that difficult then to win, there are reasons for those weight classes: size matters…

    Personally, I wouldn’t be proud of it. I competed to test myself against other fighters who could give me a run for my money. If I was good enough, I won. If not, I lost. But I never went and picked on guys who were 30lbs lighter. That’s what bullies do…

    Wim Demeere

  • 7 vibram five fingers // Feb 13, 2011

    Do you ever know about the funny vibrams five fingers and what do the vibram five fingers looks like?

  • Tim Ferriss Should Go Clean a Cobra Pit | traumafordummies // Sep 8, 2011

    […] doesn’t cheat the snakes and win a Chinese Kickboxing Championship by pushing his opponents out of the box, and – as far as the video shows – he doesn’t taunt them or traumatize them. He […]

  • Lessons from the Ultra(Running) Fail of Tim Ferriss | at home in..., w| Gerald Zhang-Schmidt // Apr 19, 2013

    […] of strange records (and looking at the “Chinese national kickboxing champion” title, winning “the wrong way”) be content with walking for quite a bit of the distance and finishing somewhere at the back of the […]

  • Why Tim Ferriss is my hero – Laurie McLeod // Apr 20, 2013

    […] (check out this link to how he became the Chinese Kickboxing National Championships gold medalist:, I do enjoy reading his blog to be given a different […]

  • High Time for “Natural Born Heroes” « at home in / w|… // Apr 8, 2015

    […] the shortest time in tango dancing, and having tricked his way into a lower weight class and then technically k.o.-ed, i.e. thrown out of the ring, his opponents in a martial arts tournament, it is more than refreshing to hear such an earnest call for […]

  • “Winning” vs. “Being the Best” | The Paul Gillespie Experience | // May 3, 2015

    […] won the 1999 Chinese Kickboxing championship not by kickboxing better than his opponents…but by pushing them out of the ring – a legitimate, albeit not favored by fans, judges or opponents, way to win). […]

Leave a Comment

Highlighted fields are required; others are optional. Gravatars are enabled.

Supported HTML Tags: <blockquote> <b> <i>