The Split Decision: Muay Thai vs Boxing

For many years, martial artists from around the world have debated which discipline is the most effective. Although Muay Thai and boxing are both striking martial arts, they differentiate from one another in many ways. Continue reading to discover the unique aspects of both Muay Thai and boxing, brought to you by Fight Gear Direct. 

A Clash Of Styles

Possibly the oldest form of combat, boxing has been a feature of mankind since its inception. The sport first featured at the Olympics in 688 BC before it evolved into the modern boxing we see currently, in 1904. When boxing, both boxers can only use their hands to strike their opponents and movements such as rabbit punches, low blows and hits to the back of the head are forbidden.  


A professional boxing match that took place at the AIBA 2015 World Championships


Contrary to boxing, Muay Thai was first introduced to Thailand in the mid-18th century and allows fighters to use their hands, elbows, knees and feet to strike their opponent. The sport was a direct offspring of the ancient Thai martial art, Muay Boran that was developed before the use of sanctioned rules and equipment. While Muay Thai fighters are allowed to use a range of different strikes, shots to the throat, groin and back of the head are disallowed during competitions. 


Two female fighters facing off in a sanctioned Muay Thai bout.

What is More Effective in the Ring?

Mixed-martial-arts (also known as MMA), has taken the world by storm in the past decade. Whenever martial arts are compared, many people ask which one would give a fighter the upper hand in an MMA fight. While people could argue that the clear choice is Muay Thai because it adopts a wider variety of strikes, boxing involves more than the ability to throw a punch.

For example, footwork is a key component of boxing and often determines how well a fighter can attack and defend. Much like footwork, a fighter's stance also influences their ability to land and evade strikes effectively. Various stances and footwork also apply to Muay Thai. In contrast to boxing, a conventional Muay Thai stance promotes the use of a square stance which enables fighters to check incoming kicks and move forward with ease.

Since kicks aren't legal in boxing, the traditional stance is slightly side-on to allow for quick footwork and leaves the fighter's torso less exposed to incoming punches. Additionally, the boxer's arms are slightly extended to maximise their reach and punch power. 


A side by side comparison displaying how traditional boxing (left) and Muay Thai (right) stances differ. 

The Final Decision: Both

In a competitive situation, it is beneficial to utilise both Muay Thai and boxing techniques because it expands a fighters skill set and unpredictability. One of the greatest combat sports athletes of all time, Buakaw Banchamek is a perfect example of this. His ability to integrate western boxing with an already outstanding Muay Thai background helped propel him to countless victories. 

Most Suitable Martial Art for Self-Defence?

Many people sign up to martial-art classes to learn self-defence. Boxing and Muay Thai are highly effective self-defence systems as they equip people with the necessary skills to defend, evade and counter in a physical altercation. The vast majority of street fights end in under a minute, so it's important to stay out of your opponents range and time your entries successfully when aiming for a target area. Since these skills are an essential part of boxing, learning the martial art will improve a fighter's self defence significantly. 

Even though boxing focuses on techniques that are useful for self-defence, it doesn't teach practitioners how to defend themselves from kicks or attacks from the clinch. Unlike boxing, Muay Thai emphasises the use of all four limbs and teaches fighters how to attack or defend when engaged in the clinch. It's common for attackers to try to grab their opponent in a street fight. For the person defending, it's extremely important to understand how to break free of someone's grip or even use it against them to improve their position. 

The Final Decision: Both

Similar to a sanctioned fight, whenever a fighter is defending themselves it's always better to have a broad skillset. People who are well-rounded in both boxing and Muay Thai, have a greater understanding of how to defend themselves from a variety of strikes and compose themselves if they are grappled into a clinching situation. 

Which Martial Art Provides the Highest Amount of Cardio?

When it comes to cardio, most personal trainers and fitness experts would highly recommend boxing. During a boxing session, people can burn up to 1000 calories which is more than they would when walking, jogging or even running. Boxing also works a variety of muscle groups because whenever a punch is thrown, each part of the body should be engaged to increase the force of a strike. 


Pad work is a great way to burn calories and increase cardiovascular fitness.

Even though boxing is a great way to engage muscle groups and increase aerobic fitness, Muay Thai offers very similar benefits. Muay Thai workouts include the use of elbows, kicks and knees along with punches. Due to its broad range of strikes, Muay Thai practitioners burn a lot of calories as they constantly use several muscle groups to deliver a variety of techniques.  

The Final Decision: Both

Despite boxing being a widely used form of cardio, Muay Thai is also beneficial. If you want to take your aerobic fitness to the next level, it's suggested that you should include both martial arts into your workout. Creating a hybrid workout will teach you a wider variety of skills and increase the number of muscle groups you use. 

Is There a Superior Martial Art?

In a world where MMA is growing rapidly and most martial arts are being taught globally, more is always better when it comes to a fighters skill set. For this reason alone, it's unfair to say that either Muay Thai or boxing is superior to the other since they are both extremely beneficial martial arts. Whether you want to improve on your self-defence, cardio or fighting skills, Muay Thai and boxing are the martial arts for you. 

If you are interested in becoming, or are currently a Muay Thai or boxing practitioner, check out our wide range of gear here at Fight Gear Direct