Is It Better To Learn Kickboxing Or Muay Thai? (Full Comparison for Beginners)

There are a lot of reasons that people choose to learn martial arts. Some people want to improve their fitness or get stronger. Some people want to feel more confident when it comes to self-defense.

Others want to learn a new discipline or take part in competitions. 

Is It Better To Learn Kickboxing Or Muay Thai 

Kickboxing and Muay Thai are both very popular forms of martial arts regardless of the reason you choose to learn them. They both involve striking and blocking, and they both increase your stamina and muscle strength.

But which one is best?

We have put together this useful guide to tell you all about each type of martial art so you can compare them and decide which one is best for you. Keep reading to find out more. 

What Is Kickboxing? 

Kickboxing is similar to traditional boxing, but you use the lower limbs as well as the upper limbs to strike your opponent. This gives you four points of contact – kicking with both legs and punching with both fists.

A well trained kickboxer should be able to fight a traditional boxing match as well as a kickboxing match, as a lot of the techniques are very similar. 

Kickboxing focuses a lot on moving around the ring and staying light on your feet. You learn how to dodge and duck to avoid your opponent’s strikes, and you need to work on your stamina and precision.

In between strikes the fighters circle each other with intricate footwork, advancing quickly to make a powerful strike. 

Head movements are an important part of kickboxing. You need to be able to move your head quickly to dodge or lessen a blow, whilst not jerking your neck and causing an injury.

Training for kickboxing is very cardio intensive, as well focusing on your flexibility. There is usually sparring, although some teachers will advise not to hit each other too hard in training or to avoid the front of the face. 

Kickboxing has also been used for fitness classes. The movements you learn in traditional kickboxing are completed to music in a form of shadow boxing where you do not fight another opponent.

This is good if you want to improve your fitness and tone your muscles, but if you want to be able to defend yourself then you will need to practice with a punch bag or take part in some kind of sparring. 

What Is Muay Thai? 

Muay Thai is also referred to as Thai kickboxing. It is a fast paced combat sport that uses eight points of contact – both knees, both elbows, kicking and punching. This essentially gives you eight weapons you can use during a fight.

The elbows are usually used to target the opponent’s face in brutal strikes. 

Muay Thai focuses on accuracy- a competent fighter will be able to kick their opponent in a precise point on their head. The movements are powerful and fast, striking the opponent’s body to cause pain and injury.

Muay Thai kicks are specifically designed to cause muscle damage and make it harder for your opponent to continue the fight. 

Although there are a lot of defensive moves that you need to learn, it is a very aggressive style of fighting which focuses on the offense. Ideally, you want to be constantly attacking your opponent so they have little opportunity to strike you. 

There are various fight-finishing moves that you can use in Muay Thai to defeat your opponent once you have worn them out. This ensures that the fight is over before you lose your stamina. 

Muay Thai training is very intensive and focuses heavily on sparring, often with full contact. You can expect to receive some injuries if you want to learn this martial art. 

What Are The Main Differences Between Kickboxing And Muay Thai? 

Whilst kickboxing and Muay Thai have some similarities, there are a few things that set them apart. 

  • Contact Points – Muay Thai is an eight point fighting system whereas kickboxing is a four point fighting system. This means that you have more options for striking your opponent with Muay Thai. 
  • Movement – Muay Thai uses mainly forward movement for aggressive attacks against your opponent. Kickboxing teaches you to move in different directions, change directions, shift your weight, and circle your opponent around the ring with various footwork techniques. 
  • Defense – Both martial arts have elements of defense, but Muay Thai is more focused on the offense. Kickboxing includes a lot of defensive maneuvers and techniques along with the strikes. 
  • Boxing – Kickboxing uses a lot of the same method as traditional boxing, which means that a kickboxer will also be able to fight in a boxing match. This is not the case in Muay Thai, as the rules are completely different. 

So Which One Is Best? 

Is Muay Thai better than kickboxing? Or is it the other way around? It depends entirely on what you are hoping to achieve. 

Kickboxing is arguably better for improving your general fitness and strength.

The footwork, the evasive and defensive moves, and the attacks, give you an all body workout that will help you to control your weight and shift it, and to move around the ring with grace.

Kickboxing is also great for self defense as there are a lot of defensive moves and techniques that you can learn. 

Muay Thai is better if you are looking for an aggressive martial art that teaches you how to overpower and overwhelm your opponent with relentless attack moves. This will still give you more confidence with self-defense, but it focuses more on the offense.

You will learn more about using different parts of your body to attack, such as elbows and knees, which can come in useful if you ever find yourself in a tricky situation.

Muay Thai will also make you very strong, as you need to put a lot of power behind each attack 


Both Muay Thai and Kickboxing are excellent choices of martial art to learn because they will improve your strength and your stamina. 

Christopher Anderson
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