Knowing the Difference between Muay Thai and Kick Boxing

Many people often make the mistake of thinking that both Muay Thai and Kickboxing are the same. While similar in some respects, there are quite a few significant differences that’s important to know, especially if you plan on taking up Muay Thai.boxers-652382_640Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a martial arts discipline that’s, at least, a thousand years old and it originated from Thailand. It’s believed that many of its techniques came from Muay Baron, an ancient boxing art that soldiers of ancient times used when disarmed. A century or so ago, it began to peak in popularity and grew into a form of sport and became the self-defense art of choice for both soldiers, as well as ordinary Thai citizens.


When someone says “kickboxing”, it’s a general term for many Indochinese fighting systems, though it often refers to the North American / Westernized version.

The original name for this was “full-contact” karate and is generally believed to be a result of Japanese martial artists studying various arts, such as Muay Thai back in the 1960s.

It’s a bit confusing and it’s no wonder why many confuse kickboxing with Muay Thai and the other way around. It also doesn’t help that many Muay Thai fighters often participate in kickboxing matches as well.

Key Differences

There are quite a few ways Muay Thai and kickboxing are similar and far too many where they are different. It’s quite time consuming to list down all their differences, so here are a few key things that you’ll want to remember.

  • Muay Thai’s core teachings make use of an “eight-point” fighting system, hence why it’s called the art of eight limbs. Kickboxing, on the other hand, uses only a “four-point” system. Both in training and in fights, they’re both different because Muay Thai fighters use their fists, knees, feet and elbows to strike. Meanwhile, kickboxers only use their fists and feet and any attempts to use the knee or elbow will often result in a penalty or in worse cases, disqualification.
  • Clinch fighting and grappling is vastly different between the two sports. In Muay Thai, grappling is a huge part of the sport and is often used when elbow and knee strikes are used. In Kickboxing, grappling isn’t usually allowed and referees are quick to break up any attempt to clinch.

While groin attacks are off-limits for both sports, Muay Thai allows shin kicks and basically, every type of kick, below the waist. This is the reason why many argue that Muay Thai is a much better form of self-defense as compared to Kickboxing.

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