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Muay Thai and Kickboxing – What Are the Key Differences?

If given enough time and unlimited resources, many people would jump at the chance of learning one combat sport or two. Why? Being proficient in martial arts has several benefits nobody can mess with you, you are physically and mentally fit, and more importantly, these sports enhance self-discipline.

However, many people can’t tell most martial arts apart. For instance, many people use kickboxing and Muay Thai interchangeably, although they are different entities. The confusion is somewhat acceptable since novices can’t notice the fine disparities between the two, and many techniques overlap.

But is there a significant difference between Muay Thai and kickboxing? Read on to discover.


The most apparent difference between kickboxing and Muay Thai is the number of parts used to strike an opponent. For example, you can punch your opponent using your fists or throw kicks in kickboxing. Thus, you use four limbs.

On the other hand, Muay Thai fighters use their fists, elbows, knees, and legs to strike the opponent. This explains why it’s known as the art of eight limbs. It was previously nine, but you can no longer use your head due to the associated health risks.

Tactical Approach

The second difference between these two combat sports is in their tactical approaches.

Generally, Muay Thai fighters take the patient approach. They study the opponent and wait for the perfect opportunity to strike. Unfortunately, such changes usually occur after a failed or inadequate attack, meaning counterattacking is a popular tactic in Thai kickboxing.

The laid-back approach means that Muay Thai fighters deliver few but potent strikes during a match. So it’s understandable why the sport has the most incredible damage per strike ratio among martial arts.

Contrariwise, kickboxers prefer being on the front foot. Even if they aren’t actively striking, they’ll move around the ring a lot. Kickboxers use clever movements and agility to find exceptional opportunities rather than waiting for counterattacking openings.

Kickboxers deliver a higher volume of strikes than their Muay Thai counterparts. They also like using a punch and kick combos to knock out the opponent.


There are a few differences between Muay Thai and kickboxing regulations. Muay Thai allows sweeps and wrestling techniques like grappling and throwing while kickboxing bars these moves. You must also use four limbs in the latter unless it’s Chinese kickboxing, where fighters can use knees and elbows.

Other moves permissible in Muay Thai but prohibited in kickboxing include leg trapping and hitting the groin.


Lastly, Muay Thai fighters wear different gloves from kickboxers.

Muay Thai gloves are more open and have little cladding on the palm area to allow fighters to grasp their opponents better. On the other hand, kickboxing gloves are mainly for defending against opponents’ strikes. Therefore, they have padding around the palm for extra protection and a rounded shape to keep fingers comfortable.

Another difference is in the positioning of the thumb. Kickboxing gloves keep it close to the other fingers for protection, while Muay Thai gloves have the thumb separate to enable firmer grappling.

The last difference lies in the side padding. Muay Thai gloves have little cladding to allow freehand movement, while boxing gloves have thick padding to make punches more effective.

Wrapping Up: Which is the Better Martial Art?

Ultimately, it depends on the extensiveness of your skillset in a particular discipline. However, a Muay Thai fighter is more likely to win in a fight between people adept at the two.

Thai boxing slightly trumps kickboxing because it focuses on delivering knockout blows. You can take down an opponent if you get the timing and execution right, regardless of size. On the other hand, most kickboxers can fight themselves out of tricky situations such as robbery or bullying attempts.

Whatever you choose to train for, always remember to hold yourself back when tempted. Don’t unleash your skills unless fighting is the only way out because you could cause severe injuries to others.


World of Medical Saviours (WOMS) is a website formed by a group of medicos who are embarking to provide facts, tips and knowledge related to health and lifestyle. This website proves to be a great platform for the medical enthusiast and also for those medicos searching to outgrowth their knowledge about the medical field.

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