Muay Thai vs Taekwondo: Which Is Better?

Everybody loves to see different types of martial arts styles, especially the ones which use kicks.

Because a kick fight can never be boring, it excites everybody with every move. So today in this article, we are gonna compare and explore two of the best kick fighting styles Muay Thai vs Taekwondo.

Both Muay Thai and Taekwondo are two very different art forms, with their different moves, stance, different unique stories.

Both of these martial art forms are great in their way and every time there will be some people who will always suggest one style over another.

Muay Thai is known for its hard, devastating, and brutal kicks, and Taekwondo is known for its fast and flashy-stylish kicks.

Now, read all way from here to the end to know about the detailed difference between a Muay Thai fighter and a Taekwondo Black belt.

Note: Taekwondo has multiple styles and governing bodies, So here in this article we will mainly talk about the WT also known as World of Taekwondo. This Taekwondo style is used in Olympics.

History & Origins

Now first of all let’s start with the origins and the brief history of these combat sports.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as Thai Boxing is originated in Thailand. It is the National sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. It’s a modern form of ancient Thai martial art known as Muay Boran.

Muay Boran was developed for the Thai soldiers to fight in the war.

It’s a close combat fighting style for stand-up striking along with different clinching techniques, which was developed several hundreds of years ago.

Thai Boxing is also known as “The Art of Eight Limbs” because this fighting style uses 8 points of contact “Two hands, Two legs, Two knees, and Two elbows”.

In Muay Thai fighters use their whole body as a weapon for fighting.

Unlike in other combat sports they only use four points of contact.

Later at the time time of the Thai king known as Rama V in the 19th century, the revolution occurred when Muay Boran was converted from a war weapon to a national sport.

This era was known as the “Golden Age Of Muay Thai”.

So many things have changed since Muay Boran, the Muay Thai rope was changed with western boxing gloves and many rules were changed to make it more legitimate to wider audiences.

Mainly muay Thai get worldwide recognition 100 years ago, and today it’s as famous as any other combat sport.


Taekwondo is the national martial art of Korea, which starts around less than 100 years ago during the Three Kingdom Era.

This combat sport also has a martial history like Muay Thai.

The meaning of Taekwondo is in its name…Tae means “foot”, Kwon means “fist” and Do means “a way of” or “the method of”.

So Taekwondo can be properly translated as “The Way of Kicks and Fists” or “The Method of Kicks and Fists”.

This exactly describes Taekwondo, practitioners are only allowed to use Fists and kicks to attack and protect in a fight.

Taekwondo is born from an ancient Korean martial art called Taekkyeon. Then Taekkyeon practitioners influence by Karate while the Japanese work in Korea.

Which create the Korean martial art Taekwondo.

From then Taekwondo becomes the National Sport and the military martial art of South Korea.

The Difference Between Muay Thai vs Taekwondo?

Muay thai vs taekwondo
Source: Pinterest

Both Martial art forms have their different types of fighting stances, different types of techniques, different dressing, different rules, different styles.

So now we’re gonna break down all the differences in detail.

Difference between Muay Thai vs Taekwondo Techniques

Muay Thai has a lot of diverse striking features kicks, elbows, punches, and knees.

Thai Boxing (Muay Thai) focuses on quality hits over quantity, so there every hit is more impactful than the previous one, they constantly increase the power and the speed of their hits.

On the other hand, Taekwondo uses a wide range of super fast kicking techniques and fast combos that are very hard to predict.

In the kicking game, Taekwondo has more control and speed in kicking and Muay Thai has the most brutal and devastating power.

A Taekwondo practitioner is called Kwonkicker and Muay Thai practitioner is called Nak Muay.

So now let’s compare the key striking techniques used in the two martial art forms in detail:-

Muay Thai

muay thai vs taekwondo

Muay Thai only has a total of 55 techniques including punches, knees, elbows, stance, and kicking techniques.

Also, some complimentary tricks have been master and perfected over years.

So, there are about 5 major kicking techniques used in Muay Thai, like the Teep Kick, Roundhouse kick(high, middle, and low kick, sometimes switch kicks), Jumping Kick, Diagonal Kick, Straight Foot Jab.

And some kicks are very simple yet effective like the low kick, Switch Kick.

Muay Thai Fighters can use their different kicks, elbows, knees almost every part of the body.

When an experienced Muay Thai fighter uses their clinch game the competitor won’t able to do anything.

Then the fighter who holds the clinch controls their opponent, he will continue the attack with different variations of elbows, knees or he can sweep or disbalance his opponent.

That’s why Clinch is a very important technique in Muay Thai.

Obviously Except for the Groin area and the low blow shot.

The Muay Thai Stance is also very forward comparing to Taekwondo. And it’s pretty stiff, low mobility stance but very effective for powerful strikes and blocking powerful shots.

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In Taekwondo they mostly focus on kicks, kicks targeted on the head and midsection which makes it very powerful.

And they have almost 3210 techniques including different kicks, hand attacks (include open hand, punches), and also they have different variations in stances like Sitting stance, Walking stance, Parallel stance, etc. other than these they also have a fighting stance which is mostly used in combat and sparring.

Apart from all the martial art forms in the world, Taekwondo has the most different types of kicks in its belt like Axe kicks, Front Kicks, side kicks, round-back, spinning kicks, Hook kicks, all the types of kicks possible in the martial art.

They use punches to set up kicks, the most powerful weapons in their arsenal is their different variation of controlled and super speed kicks.

That they use as a shotgun at a speed of nanoseconds, and you will be knockout before seeing the kicks.

They mostly use ridge hand and reverse punches to set up their kicks.

In Taekwondo they don’t allow Clinch fighting, trips, and sweeps.

The Taekwondo fighters focus on dodging instead of blocking which makes a big difference between Muay Thai and Taekwondo.

Taekwondo fighters used a bladed stance, which makes them more fast, mobile.

Muay Thai mostly focuses on powerful single strikes and Taekwondo focuses on Controlled and speed.


Now that you know the difference between both Muay Thai vs Taekwondo.

You would be wanted to know some fighters that you could check out?

So, here they are…

There are probably some Muay Thai fighters you know. So, check out this for some great fighters:-

And for Taekwondo there are some great fighters to check out like Yair Rodriguez in the UFC, Steven Lopez, Jun Jang, Raymond Daniels in Bellator, Anderson Silva in UFC, Anthony Pettis, Raymond Daniels in Bellator.

Difference between Muay Thai vs Taekwondo Rules and Styles

Both martial art form has their own rules and styles.

The rules and styles were developed by their way of fighting.

It helps them to protect themselves from serious injuries and also unleash their full potential.

So, now the first talk about their rules…


The Basic Rules of Muay Thai are:-

  • A Muay Thai fight will have 5 rounds total, and there will be 2 minutes in between every round, and each round will have 3 minutes long.
  • Gloves are necessary and should weigh around 6 ounces, and should be in their perfect shape and form.
  • Muay Thai fighters can use protectors and mouthguards to protect their groin area and their mouths(especially teeth).
  • They can wear an ankle cap, but they are not allowed to wear shirts or shoes.
  • They can wear only fitted shorts and trunks.
  • In pre-fight fighters wear Mongkhon around their head, but it has to remove before officially starting the fight.
  • No harmful weapons like metals, any sort of weapons are not allowed in the match.
  • The groin or join of the leg area strikes is not allowed.
  • Clinching is allowed as long as 1 fighter is active in the fight. If both fighters are not active then the referee will separate them.

The Basic Rules of Taekwondo are:-

  • Taekwondo competition takes place on 8 meters squared mat.
  • Taekwondo matches have 3 rounds in total, 2 minutes each and in between 1 minute of rest.
  • Opponents try to knock out each other by striking on head and torso areas.
  • Participents can punch each other on the body but not below the waist.
  • Opponents are allowed to attack on Head and Torso areas.
  • Participants can easily lose points by getting penalties, like striking with the knee, striking below the waist, turning back to your opponent while fighting, going out of the competition area with both feet, feigning injury, etc.
  • Taekwondo matches are won by knockout or if an opponent has more points than the other.
  • If a fight becomes a draw, there will be a golden point round, where the fighter who lands the first point becomes the winner.
muay clinch
Source: Facebook

Muay Thai vs Taekwondo Forms/Styles

In Muay Thai, there are very different types of fighting styles. Here are the styles in detail:-

  • Muay Khao: These fighters are known as knee fighters, they are known to use their knees from medium to clinch range. And they are also very experienced in Thai clinching.
  • Muay Mat: These fighters are known for their punching and low kick which work from medium and close ranges.
  • Muay Bouk: These are the aggressive fighters who are known to use different varieties of techniques to knock out their opponents.
  • Muay Tae: These aggressive fighters are mostly focused on different varities of kicks from low to medium ranges.
  • Muay Sok: The fighters with an elbows of blade, mostly use their elbows from close to clinch range.
  • Muay Fimeu: These fighters are very technical, they mostly use elusive, counters, and very tricky modes from medium to long-range.
  • Muay Plam: These are the aggressive clinch fighters, the masters of clinch fighting like Muay Khao.

In Taekwondo, there are mainly three types of fighting, here are styles:-

  • World Taekwondo Federation (WTF): This is the olympic style Taekwondo which is the most common style. They mostly focus on the long varieties of kicks and less importance on punches.
  • International Taekwondo Federation (ITF): This is the traditional style of Taekwondo where they mostly focus on punching and using your fists than kicking or using your legs.
  • American Taekwondo Association (ATA): This is the most popular style of Taekwondo in America. It’s a kind of a hybrid of WTF and ITF which mostly focuses on kicks and using the legs. It also allows using weapons like nunchucks and bo staff.

Belt Ranking System In Muay Thai vs Taekwondo

Another big difference between Taekwondo and Muay Thai is the ranking system.

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Taekwondo has its own belt ranking system, that defines a practitioner’s experience and skillfulness.

They have a coloring belt ranking system that goes from white to all the way black and different colors in between them.

But in Traditional Muay Thai, they don’t have any belt ranking system that defines their skill.

When their coach says a practitioner is ready to fight then he/she is ready.

But World Thai Boxing Association(WTBA) and some Muay Thai hybrids like Bang Muay Thai have their own coloring armband ranking system to identify rank.

Muay Thai vs Taekwondo: Which is More Effective In a Real-Life Situation/self-defense/ Street Fight?

In real life street fighting, there is a lot that helps from martial art techniques because these are the most unexpected fights.

You can’t predict in this type of fighting from where the next jab or kick is gonna come. So, here you’ve to believe in your skills.

So, in real-life situations, Muay Thai will be more effective because of its long variety of body parts you can use as a weapon.

In Muay Thai you can use 8 limbs(parts) of the body and also clinching(very important in a street fight).

So, let’s see all the options we have in a street fight in detail:-


In Taekwondo they only use punches and kicks on the upper body.

And also they don’t allow to punch in the face and they are not used to punch in the face but in street fights, everything goes on the line.

But their kicks should not be underestimated because they produce a very powerful 685 kilograms of concentrated force.

But the only problem is these kicks make the fighter off-balance if the kick misses and that leaves him in a very vulnerable place for counter-attack especially on a street fight.

But unlike Taekwondo Muay Thai has all types of attacks that strike the entire body of an opponent.

And because they use their 8 limbs to attack the whole body that makes it very harder to defense especially in a street fight.


The only defense in Taekwondo is to keep distance and not get hit.

But in Muay Thai they’re heavily trained for defenses like slips, clinches, and blocks to defend from opponent’s strikes.

Because of their brutal attacks on the face and head areas, they always secure their upper area properly.

But In Taekwondo they are not allowed to strike on the face so they don’t protect their face, and this is a very big minus point in street fighting.


In Taekwondo there is no grappling, wrestling, or clinching.

But in a street fight, the fights are very close ranged so clinching is a very important aspect.

In Muay Thai they use standup grappling called clinching, where they use certain techniques to control their opponent’s and set up knee and elbow strikes.

The clinching can also be used against aggressive street fighters to calm them down.


A street fight can last 1 minute to 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes, and it takes a lot of stamina to last that long.

In Taekwondo they have bouts of 3 rounds total and it doesn’t last long. They focused on a quick KO with kicks in the first round.

But in Muay Thai they have 5 rounds of matches that last very long, and it takes a lot of stamina to fight that long.

So Muay Thai fighters are conditioned to fight that long. In stamina, they also have an edge over Taekwondo.

There were some differences and the effectiveness of Muay Thai. But Taekwondo has some of the best kicks to learn.

You can learn the Sidekick or the 360 roundhouse kicks and also many more that can be beneficial in your Martial Art career as well as in your self-defense in a street fight.

Both Muay Thai and Taekwondo are great martial art forms to train, both of them are effective in a street fight but one of them has a slight edge.

Learning either or both would be very beneficial, it helps us to be more disciplined in life, and live a peaceful life.

Final Thoughts

As a martial art form, both are great to learn.

Both are very useful in real-life situations, but Muay Thai gets a point for using 8 body points as a weapon because it can be very helpful in street fighting.

So, now it’s up to you, which martial art form you wanna learn, or it can be better if you just learn both of them one by one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use Taekwondo In Muay Thai?

Yes, Combining both martial art forms will give you an edge over other fighters. Taekwondo will give you speed, flexibility apart from the power, and in Muay Thai you can use punches, low kicks, elbows, knees, and clinching to dominant a fight.

Is Taekwondo Useful In Real-Life Fight?

Taekwondo teaches you the Physical, Mental, and technical skills to win a street fight with an armed opponent. Taekwondo training drills and conditions teach them to be very calm and use basic common sense in a street fight.

Muay Thai vs Taekwondo who would win?

Now, this thing depends on the skill and experience of a fighter. But in this match, Muay Thai has a slight edge over Taekwondo because of its moves, a Muay Thai fighter use 8 body parts to strike the opponent’s whole body.

Muay Thai vs Taekwondo Kicks: which one is more effective?

Taekwondo kicks are all about different varieties of kicks with speed, control, and flexibility and Muay Thai kicks are all about aggressive and brutal kicks.

Thumbnail image source: mx muay xtreme stadium

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