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Differences between Muay Thai and Thai boxing

Many of you may have come across the word of boxing or come across it while switching channels on your television. It is a sport that involves a special type of wrestling. What most of you might not know however is the fact that there are many different types of boxing in various parts of the world. These include normal boxing, kick boxing, Thai boxing as well as many others. Apart from these, there are other such sports that incorporate some form of wrestling. These include WWE wrestling, TNA wrestling, UFC boxing, Muay Thai etc. Just being in different parts of the world is not the reason for these various sports having different names. There are certain characteristics that make them different from each other and unique in themselves. Let us explore the difference between two such sports, Thai boxing and Muay Thai, that are commonly confused with each other.

Thai Boxing refers to the combat sport between two athletes who engage in a heated contest of strength, endurance, reflexes, will etc. It is a form of wrestling but the only attack allowed in boxing is throwing punches at your opponent with special gloves worn. You may even see some occasional kicks or tackles but that is about it. While the two athletes face off, the match is mediated by a referee who makes sure that there is no cheating, unacceptable means or practices exhibited. The match is divided into intervals that are called rounds and they are usually of 1 to 3 minutes. The match is ended when one of the two competing is deemed incapable of continuing by the referee, breaks a rule or is disqualified. A competitor can also resign by throwing in a towel or be pronounced the winner or loser based on the scoring of the judges that is shown at the end of the contest. In contrast to this, Muay Thai, which is also a combat sport, is what the world knows as Thai boxing, although the two are not exactly the same. It is similar to normal boxing with certain changes. It is popular in Thailand more than anywhere else and has been going on for a lot of time there. Muay Thai allows stand-up striking as well as clinching techniques. It is a physical and mental discipline according to the Thai and is known as the art of eight limbs. This is because it allows the competitors to use (both) their fists, knees, shins, and elbows. It is usually observed that competitors combat on their opponent’s shin.

Many a times, Muay Thai is used as an umbrella term for all martial arts practiced in Thailand; be it kick boxing, Kungfu etc. Thai boxing is a more specific term and refers to the boxing that is done globally.

Muay Thai is different to boxing in some of the styles employed. These include kochsan, krabi krabong, mae mai muat thai etc. One or more of these are used in combats. Furthermore, if you know kick boxing, then you can further differentiate the two by understanding that Thai boxing is merely the boxing practiced in Thailand , but similar to the boxing done globally whereas Muay Thai is similar to kick boxing.

The use of elbows and knees also differentiates the two. Using elbows and knees is not allowed in Thai Boxing although those who practice or compete in Muay Thai rely a lot on using their knees and elbows in dealing blows to their opponents.

Summary of differences expressed in points

1. Thai boxing-combat sport between two athletes, a contest of strength, endurance, reflexes, will etc., the only attack allowed in boxing is throwing punches at your opponent with special gloves worn. You may even see some occasional kicks, the match is mediated by a referee who makes sure that there is no cheating, unacceptable means or practices exhibited, the match is divided into intervals that are called rounds and they are usually of 1 to 3 minutes; Muay Thai is also a combat sport that allows stand-up striking as well as clinching techniques, a physical and mental discipline according to the Thai and is known as the art of eight limbs, allows the competitors to use (both) their fists, knees, shins, and elbows, competitors usually combat on their opponent’s shin

2. Many a times, Muay Thai is used as an umbrella term for all martial arts practiced in Thailand; be it kick boxing, Kungfu etc.; Thai boxing is a more specific term and refers to the boxing that is done globally.

3. Muay Thai is different to boxing in some of the styles employed. These include kochsan, krabi krabong, mae mai muat thai etc.

4. Using elbows and knees not allowed in Thai boxing, allowed in Muay Thai


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