Kickboxing And Muay Thai, A Comparison.

Mixed Martial Arts has a long and detailed history, with many a fighters bareknuckle blood, sweat and tears poured into the ring floor. Muay Thai and Kickboxing are two relatively different martial arts. Although both have a history between each other that is heavily inset in modern day MMA. They incorporate a variety of knee, leg, elbow and hand strikes (depending on the rulesets) with strong standing defense and multiple angles of striking. Muay Thai has its roots in war time and populace rebellion during the French colonization of Siam. Kickboxing has its roots in French boxing, karate and Savate and unlike Muay Thai does not involve any clinch grappling. Today we look at the history between the two styles and how they have evolved through the ages.

Historical Comparisons And Overlaps 

Muay Thai is an age-old tradition of Siamese culture, dating back to the late 1600s. This fighting style had its part to play in the great Siamese and Burmese conflict. Martially developing through the test of both the metal and mental pressures of that time. It was even performed at every festival and significant event with traditional dances and celebrations following such events.

On the other hand Kickboxing is what may be called one of the first global mixed martial arts. Taking styles from Greek Pankration (wrestling and boxing mixed) to relatively new French Savate, the earliest connecting dots being towards a merger between Karate and Muay Thai. Therefore, accurately we can call Kickboxing a true “mixed” martial arts where Muay Thai is focused around the Thai style of fighting.

Despite this clear difference in the essence, history, evolution and styles of Kickboxing and Muay Thai, both styles showcase very different skill sets and unmistakable differences in technique and form.

Furthermore the styles of training for both Muay Thai and Kickboxing greatly vary when it comes down to hand and elbow strikes. With much greater emphasis being given in Muay Thai to elbow strikes and not as much in kickboxing. When it comes down to kicking, however, the similarities in types and techniques of strikes are much more similar, low kicks, spinning kicks, heel and roundhouse kicks being commonly found in both fighting styles. Similarly the training and combat equipment for both fighting styles are more or less the same. However in training Muay Thai is clearly more relentless in its methodology. Training a fighter’s body to withstand pain and tolerate damage with multiple strikes from the team. Whereas kickboxing pads and training allows the fighter to face the same trial over time and through sparring. 

Rick Roufas (USA) Vs Changpuek Kietsongrit (THA)

During the rise of individual martial arts techniques to a wider world audience, one mixed martial arts match from 1988 stands up above all others. This was between Kickboxing phenomenon Rick and comparatively unknown Changpuek. The fight was extremely favored towards Rick with the rulesets being that of kickboxing, removing most Muay Thai strikes from elbows, knees and high kicks. During the first round Rick dropped dangerous bombs two of which even put his opponent on the canvas. However, Chang began consistently repelling attacks with Muay Thai low kicks known for their dangerous overtime damage to the legs.

As the rounds piled up Chang took a complete and undeniable lead. Rick spent most of the third and fourth round running away from the low kicks, unable to take anymore damage due to the pain. Rick went on to become one of Muay Thai’s greatest supporters and teachers outside of Thailand. The fight was a clear and out-classed display of how depth filled, well thought out and extremely dangerous Muay Thai was in comparison to many other fighting styles.

In the following years Muay Thai would lead the fighting world into a new era of unleashed mixed martial arts where kickboxing led a multi-layered mixture of techniques, one of the first mixed martial arts.

Similarities Between Muay Thai And Kickboxing

Muay Thai and Kickboxing are very similar in their grass roots approach to fighting with all of your body. Where the styles vary is between technique, philosophy and style. Muay Thai believes in using 8 limbs and hardening the body through trials for both the glory of the religion and the trainer. 

Kickboxing on the other hand mixes many styles from Muay Thai such as 8 limbs without the philosophies involved. Both will have very similar striking from punches, elbows, knees and kicks. The style of kicking, however, in Kickboxing takes quite a lot from Karate and Taekwondo with flying and spinning kicks also being incorporated. 

There are also many defensive references to French Savate and French boxing techniques involved in Kickboxing. On the other hand Muay Thai has similar boxing techniques without as much defensive focus.


RDX celebrates both styles with equal love but also accepts that both of these forms are primary to modern day mixed martial arts. Its future is codependent on each other as both hearts are taking over a new generation’s interest and that is the core message behind; Move, Improve And Evolve.

After reading this article if you are interested in Kickboxing Muay Thai Or Both do check out our super awesome collection of products that will give you a kick start (pun intended).


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