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What’s the Difference Between Kickboxing and Muay Thai?

boxing fighters squaring off

Muay Thai and kickboxing are closely related, but there are some key differences between them. Let’s take a look at what each one is and what their differences are.

What is Muay Thai?

Muay Thai is a combat sport that originated in Thailand and can be traced back to the 16th century. Preceding Muay Thai is Muay Boran which actually came from a weapon’s based art called Krabi Krabong. It’s often referred to as “the art of eight limbs,” because it utilizes hands, elbows, knees and kicks. You can find more information about Muay Thai here on our blog page.

What is kickboxing?

Kickboxing is more of an umbrella term for martial arts that utilize punches and kicks. Though kickboxing can be observed in the days of ancient Greece, the term “kickboxing” originated in Japan in the 1960s and combines techniques from karate, western boxing, Muay Thai, and Taekwondo.

Key Differences between Muay Thai and Kickboxing

Muay Thai and kickboxing are both combat sports, but they have some key differences.

One of these differences is that Muay Thai fighters can clinch (hold and strike) their opponent, while kickboxers cannot. Another difference is that Muay Thai also utilizes knees and elbows. This results in a different style of fighting between both arts.

The rules regarding scoring and rounds vary between these two sports as well: Muay Thai fights are five 3-minute rounds with 2-minute rests in between them; whereas kickboxing bouts are three 2-minute rounds with 1-minute rests between each round.

Kickboxing also tends to focus on the sport. Although Muay Thai is also competitive in the sport, you’ll find a higher focus on the art and technique rather than just sheer volume and point technicalities.


Kickboxing and Muay Thai share many similarities. They both incorporate striking techniques, but they have their own nuances that influence the methods and strategies you can observe in the fight.

We hope that you have found this article helpful in your journey to learn Muay Thai. If there is anything else you would like to know or comment on please let us know by sending us a message! Feel free to check out our YouTube channel as well for other martial arts related content.

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