Have you ever told someone that you train Muay Thai and they say “Ohhhhh! So you do Kickboxing?”. It’s an understandable mistake as there are many similarities between these two sports but there are also many fundamental differences which separate them from one another.
Kickboxing can be used as an umbrella-term for all stand-up striking sports. In this case, Muay Thai can be classified as a type of Kickboxing, although it is descended from an ancient Thai form of fighting called “Muay Boran”. Competition style Kickboxing is borne out of a fusion of karate and boxing where practitioners would compete in a ring using karate kicks and punches.
One of the more obvious differences between these two combat sports are the rules pertaining to what strikes are allowed to be thrown. Muay Thai is sometimes referred to as the “science/art of eight limbs” which is an indication of the strikes permitted during a fight. Muay Thai is fought with knees, elbows, kicks and punches. Kickboxing, on-the-other-hand, utilises only kicks and punches.
Another major component which differentiates Muay Thai from Kickboxing is the clinch. In Muay Thai, clinching is a pivotal part of both training and fighting. Fighters are able to gain control of their opponent by pulling down on their head to deliver knees or elbows. Once in the clinch, fighters can also use the weight and momentum of their opponent against them to catch them off-balance and “sweep” them to the ground. However, in Kickboxing these maneuvers are not permitted.
Muay Thai is a sport which is deeply shrouded in history and a rich culture. There are various customs which are specific to Muay Thai which must be honoured by practitioners. One of which includes the Wai Kru Ram Muay. Muay Thai fighters will seal the ring to banish any bad spirits and ask for good luck and then perform the Wai Kru Ram Muay to pay respect to their gym and to their trainers.
When Muay Thai fighters enter the ring they will wear a mongkon, which is a sort of headband that has been blessed and worn by all the other fighters from the same gym. It is a very sacred piece of headgear which is not allowed to make contact with the ground as it is believed that it will lose its worth and powers. Muay Thai fighters will wear armbands during their fight called the “prajioud”.
Traditionally, Thai soldiers would tear a piece of their mother’s sarong and tie it around their arms to wear into battle in order to bestow themselves with good fortune. Also, during a Muay Thai fight, traditional Thai music is played throughout the rounds.
Muay Thai and Kickboxing are both effective and stunning sports with many similarities yet there are also many differences which set them apart from one another.
If you’re ready to try your hand (and feet) at Muay Thai, then you can join the Bailey Fight Team.