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Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing: What's better?

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing: What's better?

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One thing we often get asked is to compare the effectiveness between different martial arts. In this article, we are going to compare Muay Thai & Kickboxing, and decide which one is more effective. The answer to this question isn't going to be easy to find, but we'll delve into all areas of the different sports to find the answer!

Muay Thai is a martial art which has always been looked at as one of the deadliest striking art forms on the planet. It's a martial art which allows the use of all limbs and focuses on powerful strikes and perfected techniques with an element of grappling, that is called clinching.

Kickboxing is one of the most popular martial arts and is a combat sport that is competed in all around the world. There are several different kickboxing styles including Dutch-style, Karate, Sanda and Kun Khmer.

Both martial arts offer various different advantages and allow fighters to work in different ranges with different techniques.

What is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai, also known as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, is a traditional Martial Art that originated in Thailand all the way back in the 18th century. A lot of people generally refer to it as Thai Boxing.

Muay Thai is referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs” or the “Science of Eight Limbs”, because it makes use of punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes, thus using eight “points of contact”. This is of course opposed to “two points” (fists) in boxing and “four points” (hands and feet) used in other more regulated combat sports, such as kickboxing. A practitioner of Muay Thai is known as a nak muay.

Now, Muay Thai is a stand-up striking sport where two competitors throw punches, elbows, kicks and knees at each other. A key difference between Muay Thai and many other stand-up combat sports is its emphasis on traditional elements such as the pre-fight dance ritual known as Wai Kru Ram Muay, the head dress (Mongkon) and the Sarama music that accompanies each fight.

What is Kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a Japanese martial art that merges western boxing with elements or Muay Thai and Karate, adding in kicks. It was originated in Japan in the 195'0s with the first kickboxing event to have taken place in Osaka, Japan in the 1960's.

Kickboxing uses a mixture of techniques to ensure that you can defend an attack from any position whilst standing up. Kickboxing does not include any form of grappling techniques.

If done properly, kickboxing is a fantastic form of self defence and a brilliant way to improve your fitness.

What are the differences between Muay Thai & Kickboxing?

Muay Thai and Kickboxing are both very similar combat sports, to the untrained eye they are almost identical. Both martial arts share a lot of techniques and training practices. Although there are a lot of similarities, there are quite a lot of differences between Muay Thai & Kickboxing.

The main difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing is that Muay Thai allows the use of 8-limbs whereas Kickboxing is only 4-limbs. In Muay Thai you not only have the use of punches and kicks, but you also have knees and elbows. Muay Thai also incorporates an element of grappling with the clinch whereas kickboxing doesn't.

The respective combat sports also take a very different approach in how they approach techniques and fight strategies. Kickboxers are generally more prone to being boxing heavy strikers with lots of movement and high volume combinations whereas Muay Thai fighters often focus more on well timed, high power strikes with a big reliance on counter attacking and kicks.

What is better for fitness?

Not everyone who's looking to take up a combat sport is going for the self defence aspects or looking to complete. A lot of people are just wanting to help improve their fitness. The first thing to know is that both Muay Thai and Kickboxing are brilliant for improving your fitness.

Both martial arts excellent forms of cardio due to the fact that your constantly moving and elevating your heart rate, which is essential for burning calories, loosing weight and improving your fitness.

Muay Thai would be our preferred option for improving your fitness. This is due to the fact that it offers a better full-body workout that requires various muscle groups to be engaged at all times, which is not the case with kickboxing. Clinching, which is in Muay Thai and not kickboxing, is an excellent way to build strength in your back, neck and shoulders and then punches, kicks, knees and elbows work the rest of your body muscles and offer great ways to exert your cardiovascular system.

In the end, both are great for cardio and Muay Thai is an excellent way to build strength across all muscle groups. If your looking to start one or the other for fitness, then we'd recommend trying both and sticking with what you enjoy the most. There's nothing more productive for a cardio workout that doing something you love, this will ensure you stay consistent and put your all into your sessions, which is the only real way to really improve your health and fitness with a combat sport.

Is Muay Thai or Kickboxing more effective for self defence?

It's important to know that both Muay Thai and Kickboxing are very effective forms of self defence. We would however say that Muay Thai is the better form of self defence, this is due to the fact that it offers much more variation in it's techniques which allows you to train and be prepared for more scenarios. A street fight is often a fast-paced, chaotic event and Muay Thai offers some simple but lethal moves that could help one crush one or more attackers.

When thinking about self defence we need to think about the different scenarios that you might end up in a street fight. It's likely that you'll often end up in close quarters combat in a street fight and Muay Thai does have an advantage here. You'll learn to clinch, knee and elbow which are all devastating techniques when done correctly and will leave you able to dispose of an opponent quickly and efficiently.

Does this mean that who trains Muay Thai will always beat someone who trains Kickboxing in a street fight? No, of course not! One person may be better trained than the other which means they'd have a huge advantage. Street fights are also situations where anything can happen, meaning that even an untrained person could beat a trained person if luck was on their side.

Ultimately the best form of self defence is to try and avoid the situation as best as possible. Street fights are dangerous scenarios and people often end up seriously hurt in street fights.

Top 3 Muay Thai vs Kickboxing fights

Frequently asked questions

Is Muay Thai effective in a street fight?

Muay Thai is a great form of self defense as the techniques are practical, easy to learn and highly effective, as well as being designed to inflict pain on your opponent.

Regular training in Muay Thai helps to equip you with the physical and mental capacities to defend yourself in any situations that you may require. Due to the variety of strikes it will prepare you to be ready for anything that may happen when you need to defend yourself against an attacker.

Do you learn to kick harder in Muay Thai or Kickboxing?

Both martial arts have a very effective way of kicking when it comes to technique, however you will learn to kick harder in Muay Thai. The primary focus in all Muay Thai techniques is to be able to generate speed and power in your strikes.

Kickboxers can be more fluid in their movements which can lead to reduced power in their strikes, however this does depend on the fighting style of the fighter.

Is Muay Thai kickboxing?

Muay Thai is a form of kickboxing however it is not kickboxing. Both combat sports have many similarities but also many differences, which we've discussed in this article.

Is Muay Thai more punches or kicks?

Although punches are a major part of Muay Thai, kicks are used more and focused on more. When scoring a Muay Thai fight, kicks are seen as higher scoring move which is why they have an increased use over punches.

Is Muay Thai safer than kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a safer combat sport than Muay Thai as it does have a much lower concussion rate than Muay Thai.


The question of what will win between Kickboxing Vs Muay Thai is something that people will keep asking themselves, but from our experience we believe Muay Thai would win.

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