Muay Thai vs Boxing – Choosing Your Weapon

(Last Updated On: August 2, 2019)

You were almost mugged the night before while on a quick jog around the nearby park, and you want to do something about it.  What will you choose to be able to fend off would-be attackers?  There are quite a lot of combat sports being paraded out there, but often your choice will come between these two– Muay Thai vs Boxing?  So, what’s the difference anyway?

While many associate Muay Thai and boxing together, there really is a vast difference among them.  From rules to fighting style, finding what appeals to you personally always boil down to this– do you want to focus on just punching and fancy footwork, or would you rather want to learn how to use all the other limbs in your body?

Muay Thai

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Commonly referred to as “Thai boxing”, Muay Thai continues to be a top combat sport discipline revered in the East particularly in Thailand where it’s a national sport.  Muay Thai utilizes the body’s eight points– punches, kicks, elbows, and knees– as opposed to mere punches in traditional boxing.  In a way, it utilizes the body as a weapon with movements mimicking various weapons of war while developing “risk areas” like the shin, legs and forearms as armor.  While it offers a wider variety of ways to attack compared to boxing, defensive techniques to employ can be extremely challenging.

Footwork is also not as evasive and often, done with adroitness in mind.  One cannot dance around or have himself chased around in the ring as it will only open up more chances for the opponent to find an opening.  In Muay Thai, it’s all about standing tall with feet planted steadily to quickly address vicious leg sweeps, dumps, and other counter strikes– which, by the way, can happen all too quickly, and often at various striking ranges.  In both offense and defense, Muay Thai offers a sense of explosiveness mainly because of the freedom of movement and the various bodily weapons at your employ.


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Other individuals, however, revered the finesse and gracefulness of boxing as a combat sport.  Born centuries ago, way before Muay Thai was developed, it’s known to be one of the favorite past times of the gods of Olympus.  A lethal sport in its own right, boxing is heavily anchored on punches with strict rules against headbutting, elbow and forearm clinching, shoulder or leg strikes, and kicking, as well as striking below the belt line of an opponent.  It’s main ingredient– footwork, quick reflexes, and yes, lethal punches.

Defensively, boxing is less tedious than Muay Thai with serious focus on footwork.  A boxer can slide, roll, slip, dance, or run around the ring to evade a strike, but this can’t be so when it comes to Muay Thai.  Even a punching stance is different in boxing with only the right hand placed near the lower chin while the left one is kept high for defensive strikes.

The Verdict

If your idea of choosing between Muay Thai vs boxing is mainly to work your arms, back, core, and shoulders, or perhaps to lose extra pounds and flab– I would suggest going with traditional boxing.  It allows less tedious training workouts to go around toning your physique while improving sense of balance.  For a higher, more serious purpose like say self-defense or enhancing fighting skills in MMA or other contact sports with kicking, Muay Thai is a better option as it offers varied fighting ranges for ring advantage.  All in all, both are excellent combat sports, and stress relievers as well.