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What is the Difference Between Muay Thai and Kickboxing?

Many people mistake Muay Thai for kickboxing, and vice versa. These two popular martial art forms are different, especially in the techniques used. 

As the name suggests, kickboxing is a sport that combines kicking and boxing in a full-contact environment. On the other hand, Muay Thai entails stand-up striking and several clinching techniques. 

The most significant difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing is that the former uses an 8-point striking system, using a combination of arms, legs, elbows and knees, while the latter uses a 4-point striking system, consisting of kicks and punches. You can also grapple your opponent’s upper body during Muay Thai fights.

When training for Muay Thai, your instructor emphasises the importance of patience. You have to wait until you get a clear opportunity before striking the opponent. Such chances usually present themselves after your opponent attacks, which is why counterattacking is an effective strategy in Muay Thai. On the contrary, kickboxing mainly involves head movements, weaving, and circling.

As mentioned above, kickboxing entails movement and a combination of kicks and punches, whereas Muay Thai is mostly about the timing of counterattacks. Generally, kickboxers exhibit more defensiveness when fighting than Muay Thai fighters. Simply put, kickboxers rely more on angles and footwork when attacking their opponents, while Muay Thai fighters prefer coordinated and aggressive counterattacks.

Another difference between these martial arts lies in the execution of fighting techniques. For instance, you need to turn your hip and make a connection to your shinbone to execute the Muay Thai kick. Contrarily, kickboxing involves snapping the knee and connecting it with the foot.

The spot you hit in kickboxing differs from where you target in Muay Thai. You can hit the shin and the area below the waist in Muay Thai, but you can not hit the groin area. In kickboxing, fighters can execute a broad range of kicks using their lower shin, a rarity in Muay Thai. Also, kickboxing rules prohibit fighters from hitting each other below the waist.

Muay Thai and kickboxing have different defence techniques. Thai fighters check every kick using their shins to earn more points during contests and prevent serious leg injuries. This is because Thai kicks are so powerful that they can cause severe damage to your legs.

Most kickboxers don’t use their shins to defend against kicks. Actually, many of them don’t block kicks entirely. Instead, they let the kicks pass by because it allows them to launch punching counterattacks.

Which is Better?

Kickboxing and Muay Thai martial arts come with their advantages and disadvantages. Since they have similarities, it isn’t easy to classify one above the other.

However, many people like Muay Thai because it involves eight body parts. On the other hand, Kickboxing proponents believe that it’s better because it involves movements, footwork, and a bit of boxing. In reality, the two sports complement each other well.

For kickboxers, Muay Thai can help improve their clinching skills and how to use knees and elbows to hurt the opponent. It also enhances the powerfulness of their strike and makes them efficient at counterattacking. 

Likewise, Muay Thai fighters can use kickboxing to become better at boxing, head movements, and footwork. Learning kickboxing broadens their striking skill set.

Wrapping Up

Regardless of your preference, success in martial arts mainly depends on your discipline. To become a master, you need to dedicate time for training and focus your attention on learning the different techniques. More importantly, learn gradually – avoid the desire to develop too many skills at once, as this often leads to confusion and eventual failure.

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