Muay Thai vs Taekwondo: which style is more effective?


Muay Thai vs Taekwondo: in many ways, this article will be similar to Karate vs Muay Thai comparison. I would like to highlight minor differences between Karate and Taekwondo in this post though. Karate and TKD fighters utilize comparable kicks and punches and are both facing similar difficulties when fighting a Muay Thai practitioner. TDK and Muaythai represent different training and fighting philosophy. Kata versus full contact sparring. 4 limbs vs the art of 8 limbs. Let's get into it.



Muay Thai vs Taekwondo: the strong points and the weak points of each style


Let's take a closer look at it. I will try to write about points that I consider crucial to this comparison:


  • Taekwondo has got some powerful kicks in its arsenal. Most of them hit with a potential knockout power: Tae Kwon Do skipping back kick delivers around 680 kilograms of concentrated force. The problem is that this kick tends to leave TDK fighter off-balance when it miss and that leaves him open to a counter attack. This is a very dangerous place to be when facing an experienced Thaiboxer.

    That said, Takewondo kicks are strong and hard and even a blocked kick is still quite dangerous and may hurt the opponent. Kicks are definitely the most powerful weapons in TDK arsenal.
  • Taekwondo tournament rules don't allow low kicks. That is why it is rarely trained or used in the gym. Low kicks are allowed for a self defense only. You won't be able to practice it much during a standard training. To realize how powerful low kicks are just watch a video of this legendary Muay Thai vs Kickboxing fight:


  • Stamina. typical TDK bout doesn't last long and is focused on a quick KO with kicks in the first round. Taekwondo fighters rarely fight a long, 5 round fight like Thai fighters do. Each additional round works to their disadvantage - they are not physically prepared for this kind of a challenge. They may run out of gas pretty quickly and that leaves them defenseless against a better conditioned Thai fighter.
  • TDK adepts are allowed to punch the opponent in the face but they rarely do so. They rely on heavy kicks instead of punches and they leave their hands down during the fight. They don't protect their faces which in turn may lead to a really painful KO caused by a punches, elbows or a head kick.
  • No throws and no clinch game. Those techniques are crucial when you fight in a short distance. Neck wrestling is very useful to control your opponent and to employ some devastating knee attacks and elbow strikes to the head. Taekwondo adepts don't practice a clinch defense either; it is easy to control them once you get them into this position. This point is valid when fighting under Muay Thai rules, MMA rules or street rules; K1 or Kickboxing rules doesn't allow clinch techniques.


Less strict Muay Thai rules allow for a much more comprehensive training, which in turn makes a Muaythai practitioners more durable, more versatile and more complete fighters. And by that, I mean that they are more prepared for different situations that may happen during a fight and they can adjust more easily to a different outcome.

This comes at a price of more injuries and contusions, but it guarantees that the top contenders will be a tough, versatile and extremely durable fighters.

Is my opinion biased? Yes, it is. Just like everyone else's opinions. But I choose Muay Thai consciously, with a knowledge about strong points and shortcomings of other stand-up combat sports. After many years of practising I can honestly say that Thai boxing is the most complete traditional striking martial art.



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