Often, use of the word kickboxing is used to describe combat sports which involve the use of both the hands and legs. If we were to follow this practice, it would mean that Muay Thai could be classified as a form of kickboxing.
However, whilst there are a number of similarities between kickboxing and Muay Thai, there are also fundamental differences which help identify, and easily separate one from the other. Below, we outline how to spot the difference:
Kickboxing and Muay Thai can be distinguished according to origin. Kickboxing began in the 1970’s, when competitors bought karate and hand striking together to compete in a ring. On the other hand, Muay Thai originated from an ancient martial art called Muay Boran, born centuries ago.
Given the lengthy history of Muay Thai, there are a number of cultural factors and customs which must be honored in Muay Thai competitions. The Wai Kru Ram Muay involves ‘sealing the ring’ to repeal bad spirits and bring good luck, followed by a showing of respect to teachers. A headband called a ‘mongkon’ is worn into the boxing ring, along with armbands called ‘prajioud’, which are worn during the contest. Traditional Thai music is also played throughout a Muay Thai bout.
3. Permitted techniques/strikes
The most obvious difference between kickboxing and Muay Thai, rests in the rules governing legality of strikes. Kickboxing rules allow the use of kicks and punches only; whereas Muay Thai permits the use of knees, elbows, kicks, punches, catches, parry’s and sweeps.
In addition, clinching is allowed in Muay Thai, but is strictly prohibited in kickboxing.. Clinching involves controlling an opponent through weight transfer and sweeping or throwing them to the ground. The head and body can be pulled down, and targeted with knee and elbow strikes.
For those people who have some knowledge of combat sports or martial arts, Muay Thai is quite distinguishable from kickboxing and are totally different sports. However, to the untrained eye, the differences are not so easy to spot.