For the average onlooker, Muay Thai and Kickboxing are very much alike since they both are stand-up fighting styles and share a couple of techniques. But on the other hand, these two martial arts actually differ a lot from one another in many different aspects.
This article will take a closer look at both Muay Thai and Kickboxing, where they differ, and which one is most suitable for you to learn.
Differences between Muay Thai and Kickboxing
While it cannot be disputed that there are commonalities, Muay Thai and Kickboxing are more diverse than alike.
The key difference between the two combat sports is that Kickboxing is a four-point striking system that involves the use of kicks and punches only, while Muay Thai uses an eight-point striking system involving the use of not only punches and kicks, but also makes use of knees and elbows.
These two disciplines also have very different takes on several concepts of its fighting styles including footwork and movement, clinching, rules, and boxing techniques, which we will furtherly discuss below.
Footwork and Movement
Muay Thai fighters and kickboxers have very different footwork and movement. Muay Thai fighting demands more patience from its fighters, as opposed to kickboxing, where you should overwhelm the opponent with a burst of blows.
Muay Thai fighters are more patient, flat-footed, and tend to keep their head in the center. In a Muay Thai match, you will hardly see the fighters bouncing or circling around the ring as kickboxers do. Instead, they tend to move forward most of the time and will rarely slip or duck under the strikes.
On the other hand, Kickboxers are putting a lot of emphasis on footwork and head movement. This is one of the reasons why some Kickboxers can easily shift to boxing and vice versa since they are more light on their feet and move from side to side to keep the range or create angles to strike.
The Use of Boxing
Another reason why Kickboxers often do well in boxing is that Kickboxing puts a lot of emphasis on throwing pure boxing combos. Kickboxers use angles, head movement and volume punches much more than Muay Thai fighters.
Contrastingly, Muay Thai fighters put more emphasis on using kicks, and their boxing skills are less technical. However, this doesn’t mean Muay Thai is less useful and that their skills are bad. Muay Thai simply prefers to throw kicks over punches while kickboxers will do it the other way around. Muay Thai fighters use boxing to counter the attack or to set up powerful kicks or knees.
In Kickboxing, clinch work is not that important because the fighters don’t need to worry about knee or elbow strikes from the opponent.
In Muay Thai, it’s the other way around. You need to develop a solid clinching technique in order to sweep, knee, and elbow until you’re able to escape.
Kicks in Kickboxing are different from the ones in Muay Thai in a way of how they throw and land them.
As we mentioned earlier, Muay Thai puts a lot of focus on kicks and using them as their main weapon. Muay Thai fighters throw kicks by turning their hips around and landing them with their lower part of the shin.
In contrast with Muay Thai, Kickboxers prefer to land kicks with their feet. Some of them may land with the middle/lower part of the shin, but they prefer to connect with the foot.
Which one is better for self-defense?
While it could depend on the person’s expertise, Muay Thai is arguably better than Kickboxing when it comes to self-defense. The main reason for this is just Muay Thai offers more ways to fight, which can be a crucial variable in how a street fight might turn out.
The involvement of knee and elbow strikes also gives Muay Thai an edge. Apart from being highly painful, they are also less expected, which means your opponent would most definitely be caught off guard.
Should I learn Muay Thai or Kickboxing?
Well, there’s no definite answer to this and it boils back down to your preference. It also depends on the kind of fighting specialty you are looking for and the circumstances under which you want to take up martial arts.
Muay Thai emphasizes delivering powerful blows to the opponent with your knees, elbows, kicks, and punches. Muay Thai will teach you to throw powerful kicks that give painful injury to your rival’s thighs and calves, which makes them extremely difficult to counter you back at least for the duration of the fight.
By learning Muay Thai, you will have the skill of dominating your opponent by delivering such powerful blows early on in the fight. This also makes Muay Thai training very intense and tough, leading to physical and mental robustness.
While Kickboxing includes kicks and punches like Muay Thai, it also focuses greatly on footwork and the fighter’s general mobility. This allows Kickboxers to circle their opponent more easily to advance on their opponent. So if you’re looking for more mobility of movement, kickboxing may be best for you.
So, are you ready to give Muay Thai a go? Then join our beginner-friendly Muay Thai Introduction Class where you can learn all the Muay Thai techniques, from the basic to the most advanced, from our professional trainers.
Ubud Muay Thai is a Muay Thai Gym in Bali designed for anyone looking to level up their fitness and unlock the limitless power within themselves.