Is Muay Thai the Same as Kickboxing? | One Key Difference

Muay Thai and Kickboxing have many similarities, that they can seem like they are the same martial art.

In this page, we will explain if Muay Thai is the same as Kickboxing, and if it isn't, we'll walk through the main differences.

Table of Contents

Is Muay Thai the Same as Kickboxing?

Although Muay Thai and Kickboxing are very similar, there's one main difference between the two Martial Arts. Muay Thai uses elbows, knees with their eight point striking system, while Kickboxing only uses hands and feet in their four point striking system.

muay thai kid kicking pads

Another notable difference is that Muay Thai fighters kick with their shins (regardless of where they strike), while Kickboxers use their feet when throwing kicks.

The reason for this is Muay Thai fighters believe that the shin kick can cause more damage and be more effective in close distance, and if your aim is off when delivering a foot kick, the chances of your leg getting grabbed are higher than if you were to kick with shins.

What is the Point-Based Striking System?

The point-based striking system simply refers to each part of your body that you're able to strike with, as a point.

Kickboxing is a four point striking system due to being able to strike with:

  1. Left hand
  2. Right hand
  3. Left foot
  4. Right foot

Muay Thai is an eight point striking system due to being able to strike with:

  1. Left hand
  2. Right hand
  3. Left elbow
  4. Right elbow
  5. Left knee
  6. Right knee
  7. Left foot
  8. Right foot

kickboxer hitting the bag

Differences in Fighting Styles

Kickboxing Stance and Fighting Style

Kickboxers traditionally stand in a '50/50' stance with their weight evenly distributed between both legs.

Their fighting style is tailored around throwing a variety of striking combinations, rather than one or two strikes at a time.

Due to this, you'll see a lot of head movement, and constant circling and changing of positions by Kickboxers.

Muay Thai Stance and Fighting Style

Muay Thai fighters are known to be 'light' on their front foot, with most of their weight on their back leg.

The reason for this is that Muay Thai is a much more kick, elbow, clinch and knee dominant martial art.

This specific stance provides an excellent ability to check kicks and to maintain a more 'back and straight posture' to prevent the fighter from getting clinched.

Muay Thai fighters are taught to be patient, and throw strikes when there are clear opportunities.

Due to this Muay Thai has a huge emphasis on timing, and their movement is mostly restricted to forward and backwards.

What is Better Muay Thai or Kickboxing?

It ultimately comes down to preference, and what it is that you want to learn.

If you're interested in learning how to strike with every limb of your body, you may be more interested in Muay Thai.

If you're only interested in learning how to strike with your hands and feet, you may prefer kickboxing.

Regardless of which one that you choose, they're both phenomenal martial arts that can benefit you tremendously.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Muay Thai Safer Than Kickboxing?

Neither Martial Art is necessarily safer than the other. Just like any sport in the world there are risks involved. It ultimately comes down to training smart, having good training partners, and using the proper safety equipment to minimize your chances of injuries.

Do You Punch in Muay Thai?

You absolutely punch in Muay Thai, as you can punch to the head and/or body using jabs, crosses, hooks, overhead punches and even spinning back fists.

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