Boxing and Muay Thai: What’s the Difference?

by | Feb 25, 2021

Boxing & Muay Thai

What’s the difference between boxing and Muay Thai? Firstly, there’s more than one difference between the two combat sports. Both disciplines may share the commonality of striking with fists but that’s where the similarity ends and the differences begin. Yes, they’re both standing-and-striking martial arts but apart from this singular combat connection so much is different — let’s discuss the difference or more correctly the  differences in boxing and Muay Thai from the stance to striking options.


The stance is “home base” for both boxing and Muay Thai. A solid stance is necessary to launch attacks and repel incoming strikes. However, be aware that both disciplines have a generic stance that most practitioners of each respective art practice but there’s also exceptions and variances within. We’ll only discuss the differences in generic stances that most fighters adopt.

Boxing Stance

The generic boxing stance is known as the heel toe; the back heel is aligned with the big toe of the front foot. This staggered stance — hips at approximately 45 degrees to opponent — allows for excellent hip rotation for punching and makes for a slightly smaller target which is important from a defensive perspective. Importantly, and once again from a defensive view point, a boxer’s elbows should be positioned directly under his/her shoulders and close — this reinforces and protects the midsection from body shots. Additionally, boxers generally like to stand with feet wider than shoulders and with “soft” or slightly bent knees — this maximises quick footwork and agility. Finally, body weight distribution is equally shared between both feet. Fifty percent weight each on front and back. Boxers have no need to lift their legs to defend against roundhouse kicks — unlike Muay Thai.

Muay Thai Stance

The Muay Thai fighter will generally stand with hips facing opponent. This open stance maximises hip freedom to execute kicks and knees. However, this “openness” does make for a bigger target. Furthermore, the elbows are flared and slightly “winged” to allow for easier catching of opponent’s roundhouse kicks and quicker striking with elbows. Muay Thai fighters tend to have feet closer together than their boxing counterparts (about shoulder width) and don’t stand as “low”. Standing a little talker or upright with narrower feet, helps facilitate the shifting of weight to slightly to the back foot and this allows for quicker lifting of the front leg to defend incoming roundhouse kicks and also helps facilitate the front teep or push kick

Striking Options

Boxers don’t have the repertoire of Muay Thai strikers. Boxers only attack with punches — jabs, cross, hooks, uppercuts and rips to the body. Purely punches. Striking with other body parts is forbidden in boxing.

Muay Thai fighters have more striking options — fists, elbows, knees and kicks. The Muay Thai fighter is a striking all rounder with many choices at his / her disposal.


The difference between boxing and Muay Thai is plural rather than singular and they’re considerable. From stance variations to number of attacking weapons — the gulf between the two striking combat sports is wider than most people realise. That’s why it’s rare for practitioners to excel in both sports.

Yours in Boxing and Muay Thai,