While many of those who are born to thrive believe that kickboxing and Muay Thai are the same, both arts are vastly different upon a second look. Any personal trainer will tell you that there are universal techniques common to both arts but that’s about as far as the similarities go.
What is the Difference Between the Two?
Kickboxing is the generic term for the sport the uses combined kicking and boxing techniques. More organizations do not allow the use of knees and elbows believe it too brutal for a sport.
As a form of combat, kickboxing is deadly in the sense that it uses all striking techniques you can find in traditional arts like Kung Fu and Karate minus the more traditional moves. Strip of hindering moves from traditional arts, kickboxing set itself apart by incorporating techniques found only in Western boxing, hence, the term kickboxing.
Muay Thai on the other hand sprung from traditional Thai Boran which from the start uses the eight limbs to hurt the opponent. In fact, the term Muay Thai literally means “the way of the eight limbs.” Punches, kicks, elbow strike and kneed strikes are all good in Muay Thai. Some of its techniques are not allowed in kickboxing in fact, some would say that kickboxing is a more tamed version of Muay Thai.
Still the differences does not end there. Signature techniques not only by individual practitioners but also of specific schools, will show more of the specific difference between the two. Punches are delivered differently in both sports. In kickboxing, which borrows its boxing technique from western boxing, punches are delivered in more circular approach. Kicks in kickboxing are delivered more akin to Taekwondo and Karate, depending of course of the background of the fighter. In Muay Thai, where the roundhouse kick is more popular, it is delivered in a ramming manner as oppose to snapping.
Which One is Best for You?
This question is really difficult to answer. It all depends on you—the purpose for choosing the art and what you envision yourself to be.
As a form of self defense, both are equally viable. While most kickboxing gyms doesn’t allow knees and elbows, you can always develop it on your own and it’s not really that big of a deal. Although these techniques are staple in Muay Thai, there’s really no stopping your from learning it.
You might miss the defense part of these techniques, and I can tell you that Muay Thai really excels here. But close quarter boxing is also where kickboxing excels and where most Muay That fighters struggle with.
As far as workout is concerned, both offer routines that can kill a horse. If fitness is what you’re looking for, you can choose either of the two and you will get there. Aside from that, most gyms nowadays offer cross training and if you’re a keen observer, you will notice that both arts have evolved into becoming more like each other.