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Combat sports have become extremely popular in the modern era, and with the inclusion of professional platforms like One Championship, all athletes are building formidable striking form. Kick boxing has become an iconic part of the combat sports world, as high level strikers have become a dominant force in Mixed Martial Arts. There are a lot of similarities between a kick boxer, and a Muay Thai boxer, as well as a few significant differences. Both styles have a dominant display of high impact kicking techniques that include front kicks, side kicks, spinning back kicks, switch lead kicks, and rear leg kicks. Employing these kinds of combative striking techniques, can be instrumental for an athlete in winning MMA fights.

What this article covers:

A modern kick boxer that competes against a Muay Thai boxer, will usually happen in a Mixed Martial Arts fight. This means there are always different variables involved like their ability to utilise takedown maneuvers, and the cohesion between their striking and the submission game. This can seriously affect the outcome of a fight between these two styles of Martial Arts. There are fights that take place in the K-1 organisation that have more modernised kick boxing athletes taking on Muay Thai fighters, and this is because the K-1 organisation have recently allowed their athletes to employ the Thai clinch, as well as elbow, and knee strikes. A fight between these two highly advanced combat athletes is guaranteed to have sparks flying, as the winner is often a hard one to pick. 


Muay Thai boxing is the traditional sport of Thailand, and is one of the most fiercest combat sports on the planet. Muay Thai athletes are synonymous with mental toughness, and they are the epitome of physical excellence. The art of Muay Thai is a full contact version of kick boxing that incorporates punches, kicks, knees, and elbows. In Muay Thai an athlete will use a Thai clinch to control the posture of their opponent, as they set up different striking combinations that involve hard, and brutal knees to the body, elbows to the head, or hard low kicks to the thigh. A Muay Thai fighter has more of a squared up stance in comparison to the side on stance that a traditional kick boxing athlete will use. This is because they are always looking at coming forward with composure, posture, and aggressiveness.

Learn the MADGE MUAY THAI SYSTEM from combat athlete and coach Don Madge and DynamicStriking.com!

boxing vs kickboxing vs muay thai

In Muay Thai competition an athlete will not take a backward step, and this is in the nature of all Thailand fighters. Muay Thai employs an eight limb philosophy, which means they use eight different limbs as their main weapons in a fight, their punches, their kicks, their elbows, and their knees. Full contact Muay Thai is considered to be the most brutal form of kick boxing outside of Burmese boxing, and with the high calibre of Mixed Martial Artists using Muay Thai, and the already heavily stocked divisions in Muay Thai boxing, the sport is continuing to grow, and impress. It takes a serious athlete to develop their Muay Thai boxing into a high level of striking, and with all of the training regimes, and high calibre sparring training, this form of combat has a serious impact on anyone who begins training.


There have been many ancient forms of kick boxing that date back to the ancient Greeks, and many Chinese cultures. One of the earliest depictions of kick boxing combat comes from early Sumerian culture in Iraq, which dates back to the early bronze age. Forms of kick boxing also existed in ancient India, with the earliest references to the art of musti yuddha coming from classical poetry written as early texts, such as the Ramayana, and the Rig Veda, which were written in the middle of the second millennium BC. The Mahabharata showcases two athletes boxing with clenched fists, and using kicking techniques, finger strikes, knee strikes, and headbutts. Mushti Yuddha has been responsible for giving many influences to other cultures like Thailand, Cambodia, and many other southeast Asian cultures, in their pursuit for a divine hand to hand combat. 


Nowadays the modern form of combat has taken several different pathways, with the UFC becoming a platform for many Mixed Martial Artists to showcase their kick boxing ferocity. When athletes that train in kick boxing vs mma athletes, there is always a high element of dynamic technical skills. The flexibility, and showmanship of a high level kick can be both audacious, and brutal. Once upon a time K-1 kick boxing was the most prolific combat organisation in the world, with champions like Ernesto Hoost, Semmy Schilt, Mark Hunt, Peter Aerts and Mirko CroCop showcasing their kick boxing excellence in the middle of the ring. Nowadays One Championship has become the premier organisation for both MMA, and Kick Boxing, with over 400 million viewers tuning in worldwide. 

One Championship is a Singaporean combat sports promotion that was founded by the entrepreneur Chatri Sityodtong, and the former ESPN senior executive Victor Cui. In their modern platform of Martial Arts, they promote fights in Mixed Martial Arts, Kick Boxing, Muay Thai Boxing, Submission Grappling, and Lethwei. It is not uncommon to watch kick boxing vs boxing fights at this level of professional combat, and the cohesion between all of these striking elements are seen monumentally in Mixed Martial Arts. The modern kick boxer, or Muay Thai fighter are all trending towards this formidable organisation, that was built to house fair fight conditions for all competitive athletes. 


There are multiple forms of kick boxing in the world of combat sports, and aside from the major styles which are Muay Thai boxing, Japanese kick boxing, and American style Olympic kick boxing, some of the other forms can be extremely brutal. Lethwei is one of the most fiercest forms of kick boxing, which is extremely similar to Muay Thai boxing, apart from one major difference. Lethwei incorporates a nine limb philosophy, where the athletes will incorporate punches, kicks, knee strikes, elbow strikes, and headbutts as their main weapons of combat. Muay Boran was another formidable form of combat that is the predecessor to Muay Thai boxing. Muay Boran was the traditional combat used in the king's Royal guard in Thailand, and incorporated not only striking techniques, but a comprehensive wrestling game, which was an extremely deadly form of combat.

The French were also pioneers of kick boxing combat, as their form of Savate was another highly functional system of striking. Savate, or otherwise known as French foot fighting was derived from more of a Taekwondo background, where the athletes will use a side on style, as well as a more energetic form to execute highly technical kicks. In Savate there are a lot of head kicks like spinning hook kicks, question mark kicks, spinning back kicks, and jumping roundhouse kicks. One of the most ancient forms of kick boxing is Karate, and this Martial Art is another old traditional style that was used in ancient China, and ancient Japan during war conflicts. Karate was once a full contact, and brutal sport that included many different techniques, but throughout the evolution of combat sports Karate has been filtered down into a more carta based Martial Art. Karate is an art form that is governed by many different rule sets, and this was mainly to help build a pathway into the Olympic Games. Karate is still one of the most iconic forms of kick boxing combat in the world, and was popularised by the former UFC champion Lyotto Machida.


Training to become a Muay Thai fighter takes some serious dedication, and extreme mental and physical conditioning. There are a lot of different elements that go into competitive Muay Thai training, and all of these athletes will speak about how systematic, and grueling the training sessions are. All training sessions begin with extensive warm up conditioning, which includes running, skipping, shadow boxing, and a range of various other functional exercises to help athletes understand the systematic nature of Muay Thai striking. Shadow boxing is one of the most prolific ways that an athlete can warm up their system, as it involves a high repetition of cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular endurance, all combined with fight strategy, balance, coordination, speed, and footwork. All athletes can enhance their fight systems by incorporating shadow boxing techniques as a part of their training regimes.

Physical conditioning is a crucial part of Muay Thai striking, and all athletes will need to toughen up their shins, in order to have more formidable weapons to attack with. These athletes will kick the heavy bag, and the Thai pads, and focus on power within their striking combinations. Building strength within an athlete's bones will make their kicks deadly, but will also deter an opponent from attacking with kicks due to the formidable nature of how they check the kick. Physical conditioning also means to build a comprehensive core strength, and cardiovascular ability. A lot of Muay Thai fights can go for many rounds, meaning all athletes need to have a high level of endurance, resilience, and mental toughness. Spending hours going through training components will help to build a significant level of all of these attributes, and all an athlete needs to do is fuel their body the right way, and stay consistent within their training goals.

In Muay Thai there has always been a high element of full contact sparring. This is what makes Muay Thai so traditional, as it calls upon the old styles of Muay Boran. Before an athlete can jump into full contact sparring, they should be working hard on their fluency of striking, which can be done through shadow boxing drills, or through light sparring work. Athletes can play sparring games, where they only strike a certain part of the body like the shoulders, and this will help to promote footwork, and evasive maneuvers. Once an athlete has a reasonable level of conditioning, and confidence within their training structures, they can move into more intense sparring sessions. Full contact sparring with a training partner is one of the best ways to receive real fight experience, while implementing their relevant skills, as they explore their fight strategy.


Kick boxing is one of the most popular forms of Martial Arts in the world today, and a kick boxer vs marine combat, or a kick boxer vs a submission specialist are regularly seen in professional competition, and real life self defense teachings. Training to become a good kick boxer is like all combat sports, it takes dedication, hard work, perseverance, and resilience. To effectively train in kick boxing an athlete needs to use functional movements, and this may be maneuvers that suit the athlete's body type, or movements that are designed for competing against a certain type of opponent. Footwork is vital for any striker, because all the power in a kick comes from the rotation in their hips. Working on footwork drills like shadow boxing, or agility training by side stepping through the rungs of a rope ladder, are leading innovations of the modern kick boxing training regimes.

Learn the MADGE MUAY THAI SYSTEM from combat athlete and coach Don Madge and DynamicStriking.com!

muay thai vs kick boxing

Employing circuit training is highly beneficial to all combat athletes, and a kick boxer can develop their game style significantly by adding cardio, and strength workouts to their skills training. Athletes can work through routines like punching combinations on the focus mitts, then moving into shadow boxing combined with burpees, and multi directional lunges, working on power with the heavy bag, then hitting the Thai pads with high level combinations, before sparring with a real life training partner. There are so many different combinations of circuits that an athlete can design, and the best part is they can sculpt the workout to specifically fit the needs of what they want to achieve. As long as the athlete is working through balance, reaction time, posture, agility, speed, power, and striking fluency, they will be well on the way to building an extensive game style that can hold up against quality opposition.


All styles of combat have their strengths, and their weaknesses, and on any given day any style can win. The biggest variable in a fight is each athlete's individual skill set, and this means that a kick boxer or a Muay Thai fighter could win easily. Breaking down both styles of combat will show that each style is very similar, the only significant difference is the stance, and the fact that Muay Thai fighters can utilise the Thai clinch, elbow strikes, and knee strikes. A kick boxer has a more side on stance, as well as a more energetic movement base, as they will typically bounce around on their feet. A Muay Thai fighter is the opposite, as they take a different approach that consists of walking forward with composure, with a squared up stance, and this is so they can trap their opponent into a clinch, before applying their devastating series of attacks. 

Of course a kick boxer has a realistic chance of winning a fight against a Muay Thai striker, but the formidable nature of a Thai fighter gives them a considerable advantage. The fact that a Muay Thai fighter can control their opponents posture with a Thai clinch, and their ability to use knee, and elbow strikes makes them an extremely difficult task for any opponent. What makes this worse is the reputation of Thailand fighters, as they are well known for their ability to take punishment, and their composure under pressure. The conditioning of Muay Thai boxers is impeccable, and they have a devastating series of fast and powerful striking combinations, which seem like too much to handle for a typical kick boxer. A fight between a kick boxer, and a Muay Thai boxer will be a hard task for the kick boxer, and will be won more times by the traditional Muay Thai boxer.

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