Muay Thai Vs. Kickboxing – What is the Main Difference? 

Martial arts has been a hot topic for centuries, and the two most popular combat sports are Muay Thai and KickBoxing. These sports have been around for hundreds of years and are widely practiced around the world. Muay Thai training and KickBoxing are two different types of fighting sports with unique rules and objectives.

Some people think these are the same and confuse them. Well, to avoid all your confusion, let us take a deep dive into the main differences between Muay Thai and KickBoxing.

What Is Muay Thai?

A Thai national sport, Muay Thai is an ancient combat sport that originated in Thailand. It is a form of stand-up striking and clinches fighting, combining various strikes such as punches, kicks, elbows, and knees into one effective martial art. 

It is also called the ”art of eight limbs,” as the fighters use their hands, feet, elbows, and knees to strike their opponent [1]. For spiritual and physical discipline, Muay Thai fighters also perform a ritual dance known as Wai Kru, usually done at the beginning of each fight.

What Is Kickboxing?

Young boxing woman and fighter man isolated on the black backgrond. Sport concept.

Kickboxing is an amalgamation of martial arts and Boxing. This combat sport focuses on punches and kicks, but it also utilizes certain elements from other martial arts, such as judo and karate. 

Unlike Muay Thai training, Kick Boxing does not allow using elbows and knee strikes. It is a form of full-contact sparring that involves two opponents fighting until one gets knocked out or taps out. 

KickBoxing originated in Japan in 1960 and has become a popular combat sport worldwide [2]. The most common kicks in KickBoxing include roundhouse, side, and front kicks. Kick Boxing is most used for self-defense, physical fitness, and competition. 

Difference Between Muay Thai and Kickboxing

Two men are engaged in the sport of Thai boxing. Head to head. Official greeting before the start of the fight. Shot taken in an old gym

We at KMA Academy truly understand that there is a vast difference between Muay Thai and KickBoxing, but for the sake of clarity, let us break down their key differences [3].

Muay Thai Training Vs. Kickboxing: Ruleset

Like every sport, Muay Thai and KickBoxing have distinct rulesets. To start, let us talk about the most obvious contact. In Muay Thai, you are allowed to throw elbows and make use of your knee strikes. 

It is a much more in-depth combat style than KickBoxing, which only allows punches and kicks. In Muay Thai, practitioners wear a special type of glove known as the Muay Thai gloves; these are tighter and denser than regular Kick Boxing gloves. 

KickBoxing generally emphasizes strikes from a distance, while Muay Thai training focuses on close-range striking.

2. Muay Thai Training Vs. Kickboxing: Striking Systems

Determined female boxers having a fight during a kickboxing match in a ring.

Muay Thai involves eight-point striking, using both hands, legs, elbows, and knees to attack your opponent. Usually, the goal is to get close and land a hard elbow or knee strike. On the other hand, Kick Boxing mainly involves four-point striking, emphasizing punches and kicks. 

The main difference between these two combat sports is that Muay Thai uses more weapons than Kickboxing. Regarding striking systems, Muay Thai is more complex and powerful than KickBoxing.

3. Muay Thai Training Vs. KickBoxing: Strategy & Tactics


Muay Thai utilizes offensive and defensive tactics to win a match. It involves techniques such as blocking, parrying, and trapping, as well as tactics like clinching or taking the centre of the ring. 

On the other hand, Kick Boxing is focused on a more offensive approach, with fighters relying heavily on mix-ups in their strikes to score points and knock out their opponents. Fighters in Kickboxing use their footwork and boxing skills to outmanoeuvre their opponents.

4. Muay Thai Training Vs. Kickboxing: Intensity

To encounter your opponent, Muay Thai emphasizes on intensity. It is a high-intensity sport that requires the fighters to be physically fit and mentally strong. In contrast, Kick Boxing has a lower intensity level, with most fights ending in punches or kicks rather than elbow or knee strikes. 

Kick Boxing matches only involve three rounds of three minutes each, in contrast to Muay Thai matches which involve five rounds of three minutes each. If you are looking for an intense workout, Muay Thai is the better option.

5. Muay Thai Training Vs. Kickboxing: Scoring And Fight Formats

Muay Thai and KickBoxing have different scoring systems and fight formats. In Muay Thai, fights are judged according to the fighter’s technical ability, aggression, and defense. A fighter can win by either knockout or decision. 

On the other hand, in KickBoxing, a fighter must score more points than their opponent to be declared the winner. Kick Boxing fights are usually judged in a points system, whereby fighters earn points for landing blows.

Similarities Between Muay Thai Training and Kickboxing

Despite their differences, Muay Thai and KickBoxing have several similarities. These similarities often lead people to confuse one sport with the other.

The aggressiveness and intensity of both styles are one main similarity. As combat sports, both Muay Thai and KickBoxing involve fighters competing against each other in a ring or an octagon.

For starters, both sports involve a lot of kicking. Kicking is often the most important tool in a fighter’s arsenal. This is because kicks are powerful and difficult to defend against. 

Additionally, both Muay Thai and KickBoxing place great emphasis on conditioning. Fighters need to be in top physical shape to be successful in either sport. 

Muay Thai and KickBoxing require a great deal of discipline and commitment. Fighters need to control their techniques and maintain their composure under pressure. Those who are successful in either sport usually have put in the hard work and dedication necessary to succeed.

Self-defense is the prime purpose of both Muay Thai and KickBoxing. Both sports are about learning how to defend oneself and gain a sense of self-awareness.

Is Muay Thai Training Dangerous?

You’ll probably get various answers if you ask someone on the street if they think Muay Thai is dangerous. Some people will tell you that it’s one of the most dangerous martial arts out there, while others will say it’s no more dangerous than any other sport. So, what’s the truth? Is Muay Thai as dangerous as some people make it out to be?

The answer, of course, is that it all depends on how you look at it. Yes, Muay Thai is a combat sport, and there is always the risk of injury when participating in any physical activity. However, many experts believe that the risk of injury in Muay Thai is lower than in other sports, such as football or hockey. 

Muay Thai fighters are trained to avoid headshots and other potentially lethal strikes. In addition, fighter safety is always a priority for promoters and organizers of Muay Thai events. As long as participants are aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions, there’s no reason why Muay Thai can’t be enjoyed safely.

KMA Academy offers both Adult Muay Thai and Kids Muay Thai classes. Our experienced instructors are certified in Muay Thai and will ensure your safety while teaching you the basics of this martial art.


1. Can I do both Muay Thai and Kickboxing?

Yes! Both are great forms of exercise. While there are some differences between the two, it is possible to incorporate elements from both martial arts into your training routine.

2. Which has more risks, Muay Thai Or Kickboxing?

It depends on the intensity at which you are training. Muay Thai can involve more high-impact contact and grapple, so its risk level is higher than KickBoxing. It’s important to understand that both sports come with risks, and it’s important to train safely.

3. How much equipment do I need for each?

Muay Thai requires basic equipment, such as boxing gloves, shin guards, and mouthguards. Kickboxing usually requires boxing gloves and hand wraps. You may also want to invest in protective gear such as headgear or an abdominal guard.





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