Muay Thai Vs Kickboxing-Know Your Sport

When we talk about kickboxing vs Muay Thai fighting, they seem to be very similar. But in terms of technique and the fighting style incorporated in both of these sports activities, they are very different in many ways.

Although there are some universal techniques shared between both of them, the implementation of the techniques largely depends on the sport and the individual fighters.

muaytahi vs kick boxing
Courtesy of K1 Fighting

Kickboxing has different combat sports and martial arts mainly incorporate kicking and punching. With this broad description, it encompasses different kickboxing styles and various traditional arts and offshoots of karate. Hence Muay Thai can be said to be one of the most popular forms of kickboxing available today.

With both kickboxing(k1) and the Muay Thai growing simultaneously, fans found around the world of one sport are now the same fans of the other. This trend has made it possible for the growth of these both sports.

There has also been a visible change in muay thai sports activity that is worth noting. Muay thai fighters are transitioning to kickboxing, a good example are fighters like Sitthichai, Tiffany Van Soest, Petchpanomrung and much more. This makes them hybrid fighters as they can do both the kickboxing & muay Thai fighting.

Read on as I share with you the differences that you should know between kickboxing vs muay thai and help you know your sport better.

Before we get into the differences, some of the similarities that they have include use of hands to punch and the legs to kick. That just about it…They do not have much in common as you would have expected by seeing the classic Van Damme movies.

KickBoxing Vs Muay Thai – The Differences

Fighting Style and Evolution (The Vs War)

Kickboxing rules are set to use hands and legs for full body contact. The 4 points striking system (that is, use of punches and kicks) is what differentiates from Muay thai which uses 8 points striking system (use of punches, elbows, knees, and kicks and full clinch).

Clinch is a means where one ties up their opponent for positional reset. Although some kickboxing (k1) rules allow for partial clinching in which a 1 single strike can be launched before the referee re-establishes the fighters.

kickboxing vs muay thai

In Muay Thai fighting, competitors do not reestablish once there is a clinch, but they attack and defend themselves while one side is still active. The reset occurs only when both parts become inactive in the clinch.

To confuse you a little bit more, the kickboxing has different martial arts that are grouped under them. To simply put it, It was a style of karate(kyokushinkai), and in the 60s was when the boxing gloves were thrown in and was often referred to as full contact karate.

It was also popularly called the American kickboxing in the 80s and was even featured in various movies, popular ones staring Van Damme.


It’s important to understand that kickboxing that is currently practiced has changed over the past decades in a lot of ways. The kickboxing style that was universal

in the ’60s and’ 80s has evolved much more like traditional Muay Thai. The old kickboxing style A.K.A (American kickboxing) is still there, however, now referred to as Full Contact Karate.

Kicks And Punches Scoring Ratios (The Vs War)

In Muay Thai, the punches are used to set up the kicks and knees hits. This is because one scores more with the kicks and knees compared to the punches. An opponent can throw 50 punches in one round and the other 10 kicks, but it’s common to see the one with the kicks winning. In the traditional Muay Thai, middle kicks score the highest, followed by the knees, elbows, and punches.
One can, however, win with punches if he is able to knock out the opponent or be in a position where he pushes the opponent against the wall and is doing real damage to them with the punches.

In kickboxing more punches with a haymaker’ style or long combinations style of throwing bombs sets up an opponent to win. The score effect in kickboxing can be said to be evenly in the punches and kicks.

Differences In The Stance (The Vs War)

Because of the usual high volume of kicks being thrown and received in a kickboxing game, kickboxing fighters usually have their elbows glued to their ribs. This helps protect against body impacts and helps them box up more. Also, there are no elbows under the kickboxing rules, so you do not have to fight and guard with elbows facing out.

Muay Thai fighters generally use their elbows a lot to block and set for kicks. Additionally, kicks in the arm sometimes count as “blocks” in the kickboxing world, so some fighters will not try to block with their shins as Muay Thai fighters do. A kick in the arm allows the opponent to score in Muay Thai fight.

The Rounds And Pace (The Vs War)

Kickboxing vs Muay Thai fighting has a huge difference in terms of the pace and the number of rounds. In kickboxing, there are 3 rounds in a fight and every round count. Hence the fighters fight in a faster pace compared with Muay Thai.

Muay Thai fight however usually has about 5 rounds. In Thailand, the first 2 rounds don’t count much and are considered as feeling out’ process. The 3rd and 4th is where the action is with the 4th round weighed heavily.

The 5th round gets to more serious as the opponents try to knock out each other. However, the leading opponent can play evasive moves until the round is over.

There you have it, readers, these are the major differences between Kickboxing vs Muay Thai fighting that is worth knowing. So now evaluate your training, if you see that you have been concentrating more on Muay Thai fighting compared to kickboxing, it’s still fine or you can transition to kickboxing if you wish.

The key point is understanding where you fit or understanding what you watch and the rules of engagement. Both the sports are worth being fans of as they are fun and classic to watch and participate.