Martial Arts

Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing {Vs}

Muay thai vs kickboxing which is better, how do they relate, who would win, are they the same. Okay so today I’m going to discuss the difference between muay thai and kickboxing. I’ve been getting these questions quite a lot recently, relating to the similarities and differences of muay thai and kickboxing. Therefore I decided to tackle these common questions, just for you guys. So what are the differences between muay thai and kickboxing ?

Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing

What Are Muay Thai And Kickboxing

Muay thai and kickboxing have changed drastically throughout the years. So that we’re all on the same page I’m going to discuss what type of muay thai I’m referring too and what type of kickboxing I’m referring too.

Muay Thai

By muay thai I’m going to be discussing the modern muay thai. By this I mean no muay boran, toi muay, muay chaiya, krabi krabong or some 600 year old muay thai. Simply the modernized 30 year old or something art of eight limbs muay thai. If we are going to compare it to an official combat sport, I think Lion Fights Promotions fits this role.


Like muay thai, kickboxing has changed vastly throughout the years. From simply being a category for martial arts through being a full on martial art. Some people will argue it’s just a combat sport and that’s fine, I still consider kickboxing a martial art. By kickboxing I’m going to be referring to the modernised Glory kickboxing. No dutch kickboxing, american kickboxing, japanese kickboxing or any other type of kickboxing.

Muay Thai VS Kickboxing Ideology

We’ve already established that both martial art’s are modern. Now let’s discuss the difference between muay thai and kickboxing ideology. Muay thai has a more fixed set of techniques if you know what I mean. Though I personally think that muay thai has the best stand up fighting style, I personally prefer kickboxings ideology.

Kickboxings ideology is similar to that of MMA, where new techniques from other styles are encouraged. This creates a style that continuously evolves and improves upon itself. I’m a firm believer that nothing is ever perfect, there is always room for improvement. Therefore even though I believe that the muay thai fighting style is better than that of kickboxing, I’ll have to give the ideology point to kickboxing.

Muay thai 0 – 1 Kickboxing

Muay Thai Or Kickboxing For Self Defense

This is a really controversial question, and I’m sure most of you are going to disagree with me. When it comes to self defence, I again think kickboxing takes the round.

The reason I think kickboxing is superior to that of muay thai when it comes to self defence is that. The muay thai fighting style relies more on close range techniques, when compared to that of kickboxing.

With techniques such as the clinch and elbow strikes which are both amazing don’t get me wrong. Though if you were to get involved in a street fight getting close to your opponent is a bad idea especially the clinch. In the street you don’t know how many opponents there are, therefore getting range from your opponent gives you a better understanding on what’s around you. Being environmentally aware is crucial for self defence. Noticing where treats are coming from while finding possible escape routes, could determine an unfortunate accident or a victorious escape.

The reason why I mocked the clinch technique in street fights, which happens to be one of the best techniques in muay thai. This is because you don’t know if your opponent has a weapon concealed. Even though the average person wouldn’t stand a chance in the clinch against a muay thai fighter. Someone could easily pull out a weapon from his pocket or somewhere and you don’t want to be that close to an armed fighter.

Muay thai 0 – 2 Kickboxing

Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing Aliveness Training Philosophy

When it comes to the martial arts aliveness philosophy I would say it’s a tie. I have never been in either a muay thai or kickboxing gym that’s against sparring or competitions. Techniques are all realistic, and training is done in a realistic environment. Don’t have much more to add on this as both implement the philosophy perfectly, so both muay thai and kickboxing won a point for me.

Muay thai 1 – 3 Kickboxing

Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing Traditions

The next category we’re going to be discussing, is really opinion based. Depending whether you like having that traditional aspect in your martial art. Personally I don’t see the traditional aspect that important in a martial art, though I still enjoy it. Despite that there are many martial artists that love the cultural part of a martial art. I know a lot of martial artists that would never join an MMA, kickboxing or similar dojo just because of the missing traditional element in them.

Without a doubt muay thai takes this round. Even though muay thai is a modern martial art, they still kept a lot of their traditional lineage. For example the Wai Kru Ram Muay ‘dance’ before the start of a fight. The wai bow within the dojo and more similar rituals.

Kickboxing on the other hand doesn’t really have any ‘tradition’ element to it. It’s strictly a combat martial art. You go to the dojo fist bump your friends and start the lesson.

Muay thai 2 – 3 Kickboxing

Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing Entertainment Value

What provides better entertainment, muay thai or kickboxing. As far as I know I believe glory is the most popular kickboxing combat sport, while lion fights promotions is the most popular muay thai combat sport. Though the entertainment value of a martial art doesn’t actually correlate with the effectiveness of the martial art.

<cough> WWE <cough> most popular <cough> ‘combat sport’ <cough>

Were still going to rate these two martial arts on their ability to entertain the masses.

Just by seeing Glory’s ratings compared to that Lion fights promotions, we can easily say that kickboxing wins this division as well. But Why ?

To answer this question we need to dig into human psychology, what do people really want to see.

  • Popular athletes
  • Athletes making headlines
  • Athletes causing drama

People don’t really care whether the fightings legit. My friends argue with me that kickboxing is more popular than muay thai simply because, kickboxing is faster.

To that I say Bull****. How do you explain UFC’s recent increase in popularity, MMAs fighting style is definitely slower than both muay thais and kickboxings. I bet it had nothing to do with Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Jon Jones, etc increase in popularity.

So I’m giving the entertainment division point to no one, If WWE’s roster moved to Lion fights promotions they’d be on top of the ratings charts period.

Muay thai 2 – 3 Kickboxing

Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing Rules

I’ve already shown two videos explaining the rules in the beginning. In order to distinguish the difference between muay thai and kickboxing.


Kickboxing on average has about 3 rounds each lasting 3 minutes, while muay thai fighters on average have 5 rounds each lasting 3 minutes. Though that’s the average sometimes they vary to more or less. I don’t see any superiority in either format. If there are more rounds or time per round focus more on your aerobic fitness if there are less, vice versa and focus on your anaerobic fitness.

Points System / Equipment

There’s not much to add here, I mean their both good points systems in my book. As far as the muay thai equipment and kickboxing equipment goes, it’s quite similar. No shoes, no shirt, wear shorts, groin guard and mouth piece.

Illegal Techniques

This is where my main concern lies regarding the rules of muay thai and kickboxing. In my opinion the rules set by glory limit kickboxing, to their credit other kickboxing organisations have limited kickboxing greater.

It’s not really Glory’s fault to be honest, because if these regulations weren’t set we’d only have one martial art. It’s like complaining that boxing doesn’t have kicks.

Though the reason why I’m writing this article, is to distinguish and compare between muay thai and kickboxing. Therefore not analysing this aspect would stale the article.

I find the lack of the clinch and elbow strikes in kickboxing to weaken the style in general. Creating a weakness in the kickboxers guard stance, one could exploit while fighting kickboxers.

Now you might question why I gave the self-defence point to kickboxing, as I’m clearly contradicting myself. Well no let me explain.

I still stand by my previous statement, that kickboxing is better at self defence. Due to the greater range kickboxing style fighting has and the benefits that come with having a long range style in a street fight. Though in a regulated one vs one match things are different, I’ll talk more about this in the next category.

Muay thai 3 – 3 Kickboxing

Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing 1 On 1 Fight

The score between muay thai and kickboxing is tied. The last question you’ve all been waiting for will determine the winner, who would win muay thai or kickboxing?

Lets first cover the obvious before continuing. The worst martial art style vs the best martial art style, could result in the worst martial art to win. Let’s consider bodybuilding a ‘martial art’ (so we don’t hurt anyones feelings) vs MMA (not stating it’s the best martial art, just picked one at random)

If the bodybuilder is a buffed giant vs some skinny beginner MMA fighter. The bodybuilder without any fighting skills is going to smash the MMA guy by sheer power alone. So what I mean by this is that, you can’t say martial art (A) vs martial (B) will always have martial art (A) deemed the winner.

Other variables play a huge role as well, has the martial art (A) fighter fought other martial arts or strictly his own style. This experience of having fought different martial arts styles, gives the user the chance to build tactics against that martial art.

In order to answer the question who would win between muay thai and kickboxing, we will be assuming that:

  • Fighters have the same body physic.
  • Fighters have had the same amount of training in their respective martial art.
  • There coaches are of equal skill.
  • They have never fought other martial art styles.

If this was the case, I believe that the muay thai fighter would win.

This is due to the kickboxer having inferior close range combat skills, compared to that of a muay thai fighter. The match will most probably go something like this,

  1. They will start fighting long range, due to both fighters being at full stamina no one will make any significant damage.
  2. Due to muay thais nature of fighting close range and the inexperienced kickboxer assuming they have similar skills at close range. They will progressively get closer.
  3. Than there will either be a huge elbow strike on the kickboxer, or worse he gets trapped in the clinch.
  4. Having little to no experience in the clinch, against a muay thai fighter isn’t going to end pretty.

Muay thai 4 – 3 Kickboxing


The winner for the first martial art vs martial art series is Muay thai! At least according to me. Though obviously you might disagree with my perspective on this matter, you might value for example self defence as more important than tradition, therefore not giving a whole point for some categories. Anyways would love to hear your views on this subject, feel free to argue with me in the comments section.

Sources :
All images have been taken from pixabay with a Creative Commons CC0 licence.
Videos are embedded so that the original creator will still gain the views and any monetization they have.

Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing {Vs}
Article Name
Difference Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing {Vs}
Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing, Comparing - {Ideology} {Self Defense} {Philosophy} {Traditions} {Entertainment Value} {Rules} {One On One} Who Wins ?
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Martial Arts Nerd
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