December 7



If you’re exploring or are new to the world of martial arts, you may find there are numerous names to memorise. Moreover, you may have come across videos, articles or demonstrations of different fights that use similar techniques and movements yet have differing names. For example, Muay Thai and Kickboxing are two of the most challengingdisciplines to distinguish between. So much so that sometimes these terms can be interchangeable.

However, while similar, some subtle differences distinguish each style, thus clearly indicating one over the other. Here is a more in-depth look into the difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing to help give you a better idea of what sets them apart.

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Muay Thai and Kickboxing

Muay Thai

Muay Thai (the national sport of Thailand) is a millennia-old martial art and combat sport. Today, it is primarily recognised as the “Art of 8 Limbs” as it utilises feet, hands, knees and elbows. It specialises in using these “extra limbs” by utilising the knees, elbows and a system of grappling called “the Clinch”.Muay Thai is similar tokickboxing in its use of a ring and rounds for fights.

Gyms in Thailand are renowned for their coaches’ ability to provide their students with specific tools relating to the discipline. For example, some gyms are known for their skill in throwing knees and elbows while others excel in clinch work (simultaneously thrown stand-up, grappling strikes). On the other hand, some gyms are infamous asboxing specialists, demonstrating the ability to use their hands better than their foes.

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Such an open ruleset providesacademies and athletes precious room for innovation. As a result, Muay Thai athletes have been observed combining thiswide range of techniques so beautifullyit often appears dance-like. Consequently, this characteristic often lends a certain poignancy to live matches, particularly when experiencing the Sarama(the pre-fight ritual of paying respect to the audience and coaches).


Kickboxing is not, in essence, a specific martial arts discipline. Unlike other styles, kickboxing is not particularly associated with a single country of origin. Instead, it is an umbrella term for a combat sport more akin to a rule set. Additionally, while kickboxing has numerous different rule sets globally, the mostpopular is K1-style kickboxing.

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K1-style kickboxing, like Muay Thai, is fought in multiple rounds within a ring. Youcan kick and punch your opponent anywhere on the body, with the groin and back of the head being the only exclusions. However, unlike Muay Thai, you cannot hold onto an opponent to deliver a strike or use your elbows while kickboxing. But, there is one interesting rule: you can throw one single knee strike in an exchange; otherwise, it is forbidden to deliver multiple knee strikes. Finally, like Boxing, if you get too close to your competitor or start grappling, the referee will step in to separate you.

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Because there is no ‘clinch’ or grappling in K1 kickboxing, matches are typically more dynamic. Moreover, K1 urges thunderous kicks and fast punches. In addition, the lack of a clinch means less damage protection from strikes. This difference results in a greater number of knockouts in this fighting style.

So which discipline is right for you?

Generally, training in either Muay Thai or K1 kickboxing can give you some skill in the other discipline. However, convention leads most athletes to specialise in one or the other- in which case preference and personality often become the deciding factors.

So, selecting a particular style depends on what captures your interests and which onebest suits your personality. However, if you remain unsure, you can seek a professional trainer’s advice on making the best decision.

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