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Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing

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Muay Thai and Kickboxing are two of the most popular martial arts in the world. They are both incredibly effective forms of self-defense but also very different. This blog post will explore the differences between these two martial arts disciplines.

The main difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing is the ruleset. In Muay Thai, you can use your elbows and knees in addition to fists and feet to strike your opponent, while in kickboxing, you can only use your fists and feet.

This article will further discuss the history of both sports, how they differ in techniques, and which one would be more beneficial for you.

What is Muay Thai?

muay thai
In Muay Thai, knee strikes are allowed

Muay Thai is a combat sport that uses stand-up striking and clinching techniques. It is similar to some of the other Asian martial arts, such as Vovinam and Pradal Serey.

Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the twentieth century when promoters from Thailand began organizing Muay Thai boxing matches outside of the country. The sport is now widely practiced and is a popular form of self-defense, fitness training, and competitive sport.

Professional Muay Thai fighters train six days a week, spending several hours each day honing their skills. The sport requires intense physical conditioning and builds strength, speed, and stamina. Muay Thai also teaches practitioners how to defend themselves against opponents' strikes using their elbows and knees.

Muay Thai is a fast-paced and exciting sport with a long history and tradition. It is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a challenging and rewarding martial art to learn.

What is Kickboxing?

In Kickboxing, the moves are more restricted but extremely powerful

Kickboxing is a combat sport that combines elements of karate, boxing, and Muay Thai. It is often used as a form of self-defense or for fitness and recreation.

The first recorded use of the term "kickboxing" was in the 1960s, although the sport has its roots in earlier martial arts traditions. Kickboxing is typically practiced in a ring or roped-off area, with competitors wearing protective gear, including gloves, mouthguards, and protective cups for the men.

There are several different kickboxing styles, each focusing on various techniques. For example, some styles emphasize kicks, while others focus on punches. 

The most common types of kicks used in kickboxing are roundhouses, front kicks, side kicks, and back kicks. In addition to self-defense and fitness benefits, kickboxing is also a great way to relieve stress and promote coordination and balance.

There are also a variety of punches used in kickboxing, including jabs, crosses, hooks, and uppercuts. Headgear is typically worn in training sessions but not during competition.

Main Differences Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing


Muay Thai is a combat sport that originates in Thailand. It is often referred to as "the art of eight limbs" because it uses fists, shins, elbows, and knees. Muay Thai rules allow for a wide range of techniques, including clinching and sweeps. 

In addition, Muay Thai practitioners often wear smaller and lighter gloves than those used in kickboxing, giving them more mobility and speed.

Kickboxing, on the other hand, is a martial art developed in Japan in the 1960s. It combines karate and Western boxing elements, and its ruleset reflects this hybrid nature. Kickboxing generally emphasizes strikes with the hands and feet more than Muay Thai does. 

Elbows & knees are not allowed, nor are clinching and sweeps. As a result, kickboxing fighters tend to rely more on powerful punches and kicks to inflict damage on their opponents.


When it comes to comparing the intensity of Muay Thai vs. kickboxing, there's no easy answer. Both disciplines are incredibly demanding and require significant physical and mental strength and endurance.

However, if I had to choose one that is more intense, I would have to say, Muay Thai. This is because Muay Thai fighters often go toe-to-toe with their opponents for five rounds of three minutes each, with very little rest in between.

In contrast, kickboxing matches usually only last for three rounds of three minutes each except for title matches, which are five rounds. This means that Muay Thai fighters are under constant pressure for longer, which can take a real toll on the body.

Also, in Muay Thai, fighters are allowed to use their elbows and knees, whereas, in kickboxing, they are not. This makes Muay Thai a more dangerous sport, as elbows and knees can cause much damage.


One of the most significant differences between Muay Thai and kickboxing is the stance practitioners take in each discipline. In Muay Thai, fighters adopt a more Western or Thai stance. Kickboxers usually have a more bladed stance which enables them to generate power from their hips when they punch or kick an opponent. 

Comparison Chart: Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing

ParametersMuay ThaiKickboxing
Fighting SystemEight pointFour point
Use of kneesAllowedNot allowed
ClinchingAllowedNot allowed
Use of elbowsAllowedNot allowed


Is Muay Thai better than kickboxing?

It depends on what you're looking for. If you're interested in a Kyokushin style of fighting that focuses on punching and kicking, kickboxing is probably your best bet.

However, Muay Thai is the way to go if you're looking for a more well-rounded combat sport that includes clinch work and elbow strikes. Who knows, you might even end up liking both! Ultimately, the best way to decide which sport is right for you is to try them both and see which one you enjoy more.

Can a kickboxer beat a Muay Thai fighter?

It's a common question - can a kickboxer beat a Muay Thai fighter? The answer, of course, is that it depends. Muay Thai fighters are trained in various techniques, including punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes. As a result, they tend to be well-rounded fighters capable of causing severe damage with any strike.

Kickboxers, on the other hand, focus mainly on kicks and punches. While they may also be skilled in elbow and knee strikes, their primary focus is on delivering powerful kicks. As a result, they may not be as well-rounded as Muay Thai fighters.

However, this doesn't mean they can't be successful against them. Kickboxers who can deliver powerful kicks and avoid taking too many hits can be dangerous opponents for Muay Thai fighters.


So, what is the difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing? In a nutshell, Muay Thai emphasizes clinch work and technique, while kickboxing focuses on using kicks and punches to attack the opponent.


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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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