Difference between Muay Thai and Kickboxing
From a historical perspective, kickboxing is an umbrella term used to describe various kinds of standup combat like Muay Thai, Kun Khmer, Savate, Adithada, Sanda and full contact karate. Muay Thai differs significantly from other forms of kickboxing. We are gonna highlight a few of the fundamental difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing and explore each of these differences in detail.
The major difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing can be seen in the rules employed by them.
Elbows are legal in Muay Thai
Perhaps the most notable difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing is the fact that elbow strikes are legal in Muay Thai. Thai fighters are well-known for their use of elbows, it is a very effective form of attack in close range combat which can lead to brutal knockouts. Kickboxing, on the other hand, allows only kick, punches and knees.
Muay Thai fights use clinching
Another major between Muay Thai and kickboxing is the use of the clinching in Muay Thai. Clinching, a form of closed ranged grappling, is used to deliver knee and elbow strikers or perform sweeps on the opponent. It is an integral part of Muay Thai and Thai fighters dedicate a lot of time to clinching during training.
Muay Thai fights last for 5 rounds
The initial 2 rounds in Muay Thai are generally a feeling out process. The fighters study their opponent’s style and gauge distance during these rounds. During rounds 3 to 5, the intensity and aggression of the fight goes up a lot. Most kickboxing bouts are sanctioned for 3 rounds, there are however some exceptions to this rule. Promotions like Glory Kickboxing have championship fights scheduled for 5 rounds.
Style of fighting
Another aspect where traditional Muay Thai differs from kickboxing is the style of fighting. Muay Thai stance can be described as a ‘Marching Rhythm’ where the fighter is constantly shifting weights between legs. The ‘March’ stance allows fighters to easily block and counter kicks. The hips are squared to allow better delivery to roundhouse kicks and push kicks. The guard in traditional Muay Thai is higher than kickboxing with the elbows being flared out. Even though the body is exposed due to the high guard, it’s an ideal way to get into a clinch and deliver knees. The high guard is also used as a bait to catch roundhouse kicks and perform a sweep on the opponent.
Which one for Self Defense? Muay Thai Or Kickboxing
When it comes to self-defense, both are equally effective. You can use either Muay Thai or kickboxing to subdue your attackers. The important thing is that you consistently practice your chosen form of martial art. The more you practice, the better your technique becomes. This ultimately enables you to defend yourself better. So instead of pondering about which one is better, find gyms near you that offer kickboxing and Muay Thai classes. Usually, gyms let you attend a couple of trial workout sessions before making you sign up. This should give you enough time to know what you like. Once you pick one, set up a schedule and practice it consistently. Over time, you will gradually see yourself improving. If you would like a rundown on the basics before you join a gym, check out the videos below.
In addition to the technical difference, traditional Muay Thai places a lot of emphasis on spirituality. Muay Thai practitioners perform a ritual known as Wai Khru where they pay respect to their trainers before a fight. They also wear a headband known as Mongkol for good luck.
Differences aside, you should be training some form of martial, let that be Muay Thai, kickboxing or even boxing for that matter. With enough dedication, you will see tremendous physical and mental benefits. We encourage you to find a gym near you and try out a few trial classes. Since the workouts are performed in a group setting, it’s also a great way to make some new friends. Make sure to pick up a good pair of Muay Thai gloves and Muay Thai shin guards to avoid unwanted injuries, they make a huge difference to your training.