Are kickboxing and Muay Thai the same?

Are kickboxing and Muay Thai the same?

There are many combat sports out there, and each has its own set of rules, techniques, and benefits. And while they may all have their similarities, their differences make them unique and identifiable. Oftentimes, people may confuse them or think of them as the same thing. Two such combat sports are Kickboxing and Muay Thai. 

What is kickboxing?

Kickboxing is a striking style of combat sport that involves kicking and punching your opponent. It is often used as an umbrella term to describe a range of martial arts and combat sport fighting styles. Kickboxing is a stand-up fighting style, which means that fighting on the ground (like with wrestling, for example) is not involved. 

Generally, Kickboxing techniques typically involve standard western boxing techniques, knicks and knee strikes. However, some styles involve the use of elbow strikes, headbutts, and grappling. 

What is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai, otherwise called Thai boxing, is the national combat sport and martial art of Thailand. It was developed in the 13th century out of a need for Thai soldiers to defend themselves and the kingdom when engaging in unarmed combat. 

Muay Thai is considered aggressive martial arts and involves delivering powerful blows from elbows and fists for punching, and knees and feet for kicks. The kicks are designed to damage muscles in the opponent's calves and thighs, while the elbows are used to damage an opponent’s face and gain control of the fight. 

What are the similarities?

Fundamentally, Kickboxing and Muay Thai both have very similar techniques to the western style of pure boxing. They both teach strategic methods and footwork that allows you to attack and protect yourself against your opponent. At the basic level, many of the techniques taught in kickboxing are similar to those taught in Muay Thai. 

They both use a series of kicks and punches as a means of overcoming their opponent. Additionally, both use striking martial art techniques and a strike point system to determine the winner. 

What are the differences?

  • Movement and attack style - Kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters do vary in their fighting styles. Kickboxers will use more footwork and fluid angles to attack their opponents, as opposed to the more aggressive counter-attack forward advance tactics that Muay Thai fighters are taught. 
  • Point System - Perhaps the most obvious difference between Kickboxing and Muay Thai to the untrained eye is the point system. Kickboxing uses a four-point strike system, that involves punches and kicks. While Muay Thai uses an eight-point strike system that involves kicks, punches, elbows, and knees.
  • Strikes - Kickboxing will teach you a range of strikes, and these strikes vary in difficulty. They also require great balance and can sometimes be difficult to pull off. Muay Thai involves more simple, powerful strikes. 


Neither martial art form is “better” than the other. They are both different and are both graded accordingly. Both forms of martial arts require dedication, discipline, and training to become great at the sport. There are aspects of Kickboxing that can be beneficial to people who train in Muay Thai and vice versa. 

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