Muay Thai vs. Kickboxing: 20+ differences between

Over the past 20 years, proper fighting techniques like kickboxing and Muay Thai have skyrocketed in popularity.

However, these two martial arts appear to many people to be nearly identical at first glance. Still, despite some similarities, Muay Thai and Kickboxing have different histories, training requirements, and rules.

We hope that by explaining the differences between Muay Thai and kickboxing in this post, you will be better able to make an informed choice.

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Key Difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing

Muay Thai:

  • Compared to Kickboxing, Muay Thai is a more traditional martial art.
  • Muay Thai combines kicking, punching, and knee and elbow strikes.
  • Muay Thai fighters concentrate on increasing the effectiveness of their attacks.
  • While Muay Thai is an eight-point striking style that lets a boxer land blows using elbows, knees, kicks, and punches.
  • Muay Thai offers grappling or clinch fighting.
  • Muay Thai is highly aggressive.
  • Clinch, where the fighter locks their legs around their opponents, is performed here.
  • Gloves used in Muay Thai are often more straightforward and more pliable. These were created with a focus on grip for clinching techniques.

Kickboxing:

  • Kickboxing is a newer martial art.
  • Kickboxing only focuses on punching and kicking.
  • Kickboxing fighters are more concerned with the strength and stamina of their assaults.
  • Only kicks and punches are used in the four-point striking system known as kickboxing. Some kickboxing competitions do allow elbows and knees.
  • Kickboxing does not allow clinch fighting.
  • Kickboxing is highly defensive.
  • In kickboxing, the primary maneuver known as the clinch, in which a fighter locks their legs around an opponent, is also prohibited.
  • Due to the padding placement in boxing gloves, the weight distribution is varied. To protect both the wearer and the foe, they are more defensive.

Comparison between Muay Thai vs. Kickboxing:

ParametersMuay Thai Kickboxing
TypeMuay Thai is highly aggressive.Kickboxing is highly defensive 
GrapplingIn Muay Thai, Grappling is the central part  Grappling is banned here.
ClinchClinching is the main move of Muay ThaiClinching is strictly prohibited
MusicDuring a Muay Thai fight, traditional Thai music is performedNo music is performed during the kickboxing
GlovesThe gloves used in Muay Thai are more malleable and minimalistic. The kickboxing gloves are less malleable and minimalistic
Striking Score8 points4 points
GoalsMuay Thai combines kicking, punching, and knee and elbow Strikes.Kickboxing only focuses on punching and kicking.
Moves Primarily forward moveLittle head movement, weaving, and circling
AttacksThe fighters in Muay Thai give counter-attacks, and there are aggressive advance forward and strike.No counterattacks. The kickboxers are more fluid and defensive in nature.
FootworkThe footwork is not fluid and is more aggressive.Little footwork
Type of StrikesIn Muay Thai strikes, there are few artistic or exotic strikesIn kickboxing, the strikes are that are a little more difficult
Kick TypesIn Muay Thai, it’s pretty uncommon to kick with your foot or lower shin. There are numerous kicks used in kickboxing that can hit on the foot, lower shin, or middle shin.
CultureThe fighters put on special headgear and armbands before a Muay Thai competition.The only items worn by kickboxing competitors on their heads and arms are headguards and boxing gloves.
Techniques employedMuay Thai uses special techniques, including gripping and sweeps.Clever footwork and distinctive kicking techniques typically achieve greater mobility in kickboxing.

Major difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing:

Muay Thai:

Muay Thai is a very violent martial art that primarily deals with powerful blows using punches, elbows, knees, and kicks.

It contains powerful leg kicks designed to hurt an opponent’s calves and thighs and make movement difficult, elbows used to open up cuts in an opponent’s face, and using the clinch to dominate a fight, limit the damage you receive, and hit devastating knees and elbows from close quarters. 

While Muay Thai teaches many defensive techniques, the game’s actual name in Muay Thai is an offense. Muay Thai fighters rely on setting up devastating, fight-ending strikes to kill an opponent rapidly.

Though it varies according to the club, Muay Thai training is frequently severe and may include almost full-contact sparring, resulting in physical and mental endurance.

Kickboxing:

Kickboxing offers a variety of the same tactics and concepts as traditional boxing. A great kickboxer would probably feel at ease in a boxing ring competing under standard rules. However, that is difficult to say about Muay Thai fighters.

Kickboxing, like Muay Thai, contains kicks and punches but also focuses strongly on footwork and movement in general. 

Kickboxers are frequently seen wheeling and advancing in and out with ease. Kickboxing incorporates a broad spectrum of attacks, often bordering on nearly exotic blows, such as axe kicks and spin kicks, to name a few.

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Muay Thai vs. Kickboxing- All you need to know:

Muay Thai:

  1. It has 8 points striking system.
  2. Muay Thai uses fists, elbows, knees, and shins/feet to assault opponents.
  3. Muay Thai moves aggressively toward opponents using stand-up hitting and clutching tactics. 
  4. During the Muay Thai competition, counterattacks frequently occur.
  5. Few moves are prohibited during a Muay Thai bout, and fighters can hit opponents with elbows, fists, knees, and shins.
  6. In a Muay Thai battle, there are five rounds. A round lasts for five minutes.
  7. During a Muay Thai fight, traditional Thai music is performed. There is a host who makes loud comments about the fight while using a microphone. The boxers’ coaches also shout.
  8. The fighters put on special headgear and armbands before a Muay Thai competition.
  9. Muay Thai is far superior for self-defense over kickboxing.

Kickboxing:

  1. Kickboxing has 4 points striking system.
  2. Kickboxing only employs fists and kicks (shins/feet)
  3. Kickboxing does not allow clinches, and the referee will swiftly call a timeout if an opponent is knocked out during an attack, punishing excessive use of force.
  4.  As a result, counterattacks are rarely seen in kickboxing matches. Additionally, a stand-up discipline, kickboxing forbids falling over.
  5. In a kickboxing match, it’s against the rules to employ elbows, knees, and even some punches. Throws and sweeps are also prohibited in kickboxing, except for foot-to-foot sweeps.
  6. Typically, a kickboxing match consists of three rounds, each lasting three minutes. Five rounds can be added to some kickboxing matches, mainly to promote the event.
  7. Muay Thai is noisier than kickboxing. Loud music, commentary, coaches, or spectators shouting from the sidelines are absent.
  8. The only items worn by kickboxing competitors on their heads and arms are headguards and boxing gloves.
  9. Kickboxing is a low-contact sport rather than a self-defense system.

The Contrast Between Muay Thai and Kickboxing:

The Origin:

  • Muay Thai: The national sport of Thailand is Muay Thai, popularly known as “Thai Boxing.” It is a form of martial arts with military roots dating back to the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th century.

    The Sukhothai dynasty of Thailand, which reigned from the 13th century through the early 16th century, is when Muay Thai first appeared. The first Thai army was established, according to Thai history, and troops were instructed to use force and weaponry to defend the king.

    The development of this martial art throughout time produced Muay Boran and Muay Thai as we know it today.
  • Kickboxing: Muay Boran, an art that became known as Muay Thai, is where kickboxing started. The contemporary version first appeared in Japan in the 1950s as a fusion of Muay Thai and Karate rules and methods. Tatsuo Yamada and Osamu Noguchi were the two men that created modern kickboxing.

    Kickboxing’s early roots can be found in the art of Muay Boran, which was a forerunner to Muay Thai, and dates to the 13th and 14th centuries. The Siamese warriors employed a battle style that would become a highly well-liked sport.

Type of Game:

  • Muay Thai:– Muay Thai is a very aggressive sport. Few moves are prohibited during a Muay Thai fight, and fighters can hit opponents with elbows, fists, knees, and shins.
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing is a very defensive sport. However, in a kickboxing match, the use of elbows, knees, and even some punches is prohibited. In addition, kickboxing prohibits throws and sweeps as well.

Grappling Technique:

  • Muay Thai: Grappling is the most critical aspect of Muay Thai.
  • Kickboxing:- Grappling is not permitted here.

Clinching.

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai’s main motion is to clinch 
  • Kickboxing:- Clinching is forbidden.

Music: 

  • Muay Thai: Traditional Thai music is played during a Muay Thai battle. There is a host who makes loud comments about the fight while using a microphone. The boxers’ coaches also shout.
  • Kickboxing:- No traditional or any other music is played during kickboxing. Loud music, commentary, coaches, or spectators shouting from the sidelines are absent.

Gloves

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai gloves are more pliable and straightforward. These were created with a focus on grip for clinching techniques. Contrary to boxing gloves, which are aerodynamic, muay Thai gloves tend to be more square at the top as well.
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing gloves, on the other hand, are less malleable and minimalistic. To protect both the wearer and the foe, they are more defensive. In boxing gloves, the thumbs are typically maintained in place by expertly placed stitching.

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The Origin: Muay Thai vs. Kickboxing

Muay Thai:

  • Muay Thai, also referred to as “Thai Boxing,” is the national sport of Thailand. The Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th century gave military roots to this martial technique.
  • The evolution of this martial art over time gave rise to the modern forms of Muay Boran and Muay Thai.

Kickboxing:

  • In Japan in the 1950s, a merger of Muay Thai and Karate techniques gave rise to the modern variation.
  • Two individuals, Tatsuo Yamada and Osamu Noguchi are credited with developing modern kickboxing.

Score on Strike

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai has 8 points striking system
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing has 4 points striking system

Goals

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai is a martial art that incorporates kicking, punching, and knee and elbow strikes.
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing focuses solely on hitting and kicking.

Kick Types:

  • Muay Thai: Primarily forward movement
  • Kickboxing:- Weaving and circling, with little head movement

Counterattack 

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai fighters counterattack and aggressive advances forward strike.
  • Kickboxing:- There are no counterattacks. Kickboxers are more agile and defensive.

Footwork

  • Muay Thai: The footwork is more forceful and less smooth.
  • Kickboxing:- Little movement or footwork is shown during the fight

Strikes:

  • Muay Thai: There are few artistic or unusual Muay Thai strikes. Muay Thai attacks opponents using fists, elbows, knees, and shins or feet.
  • Kickboxing:- The strikes in kickboxing are a little very touchy. Kickboxing only employs fists and foot or shin kicks.

Types of Kicks

  • Muay Thai: Kicking with your foot or lower shin is uncommon in Muay Thai.
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing, on the other hand, employs a variety of kicks that can strike the foot, lower shin, or mid shin.

Culture

  • Muay Thai: The fighters put on specific headgear and armbands before a Muay Thai competition. To honor the crowd and their coaches, the fighters will perform a Muay Thai dance (wai kru ram muay).
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing fighters only wear headguards and boxing gloves on their heads and arms. In Thailand, people often do a Thai wai (a bow) to show respect to the audience, but no dancing or anything inappropriate is permitted.

Techniques Applied

  • Muay Thai: Muay Thai employs unique techniques such as clutching and sweeps.
  • Kickboxing:- Kickboxing often achieves more mobility through clever footwork and specific kicking techniques.

The Summary: Muay Thai vs. Kickboxing:

Muay Thai:

  1. Thai boxers can attack and harm their eight limbs using punches, kicks, knees, and elbows.
  2. There are few artistic or unusual Muay Thai strikes. Muay Thai attacks opponents using fists, elbows, knees, and shins or feet.
  3. The evolution of this martial art over time gave rise to the modern forms of Muay Boran and Muay Thai.
  4. Grappling and clinching Muay Thai follow these two methods of attack.
  5. In a Muay Thai battle, there are five rounds. A round lasts for five minutes.

Kickboxing:

  1. Kickboxers can only “use” four limbs to make punches and kicks.
  2. The strikes in kickboxing are a little very touchy. Kickboxing only employs fists and foot or shin kicks.
  3. Two individuals, Tatsuo Yamada and Osamu Noguchi, are credited with developing modern kickboxing.
  4. Grappling and Clinching are both strictly prohibited.
  5. A kickboxing bout typically consists of three rounds that last three minutes each. Five rounds, primarily for showmanship, can extend some kickboxing contests.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How does Muay Thai compare to kickboxing?

Since kickboxing excludes the clinch, elbow strikes, and knee strikes from its repertoire, Muay Thai is frequently regarded as the more complete of the three martial arts.

However, a person could still benefit greatly from training in both martial arts.

Q2. Kickboxing or Muay Thai: whose kicks are more powerful?

While Muay Thai places a greater focus on direct and potent blows delivered with the hands, feet, knees, and elbows, kickboxing provides a more fantastic range of kicking techniques, some of which are slightly more complex and hence challenging to master and may knock you off the balance if not used properly.

Q3. Should I begin with kickboxing or Muay Thai?

Kickboxing is inferior to Muay Thai for self-defense. However, it provides more options for conflict resolution, which can be a crucial factor in how a street brawl plays out.

A street fight is typically a chaotic situation. Muay Thai has some straightforward yet deadly techniques that can subdue one or more assailants.

Q4. Does kickboxing include Muay Thai?

Kickboxing is a catch-all for stand-up, kicking, and punching-based combat sports. Along with Kyokushin Karate and K-1-style kickboxing, Muay Thai is one of the most well-known kickboxing disciplines.

Q5. What makes Muay Thai so powerful?

The technique uses fists, shins, knees, and elbows. Contrary to most other striking-based martial arts, this enables the practitioner to utilize the human body’s natural weaponry in the clinch, punching and kicking range.

Q6. Does kickboxing permit kneeling?

Punches and kicks are permitted between combatants, including those delivered below the waist but excluding the groin. Knees and elbows are not permitted. Throws, sweeps, and clinch fighting are permitted.

Q7. Does Muay Thai suit newbies well?

Even if you’ve never practiced martial arts before, Muay Thai is an excellent martial art, to begin with. Muay Thai is a traditional martial art.

If interested, don’t be scared by all the elbows, knees, and punches. There will be people around you who want to learn just as much as you do.


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