TaeKwon Vs Muay Thai

Taekwondo vs Muay Thai: A Comparison

Muay Thai vs TaeKwonDo

The martial arts of Muay Thai and TaeKwondo are two very different art forms with their own unique stories. In this article, we’re going to take a look at these two disciplines in greater detail.

So, what are the main difference between a TaekwonDo and Muay Thai? The main difference between TaeKwonDo and Muay Thai are their history and Philosophy, their Techniques and Forms, Weapons used and their individual Belt Ranking Systems and Real Life Effectiveness

We’ve already spoken about the history of TaeKwondo in a previous post, but we will still cover some aspects of it to compare to Muay Thai.

Origins of Muay Thai

The art of Muay Thai or Thai boxing is the cultural martial art of Thailand and dates back several hundred years if not a thousand. It was developed for close combat and uses the entire body as a weapon. Unfortunately, the exact origins of the Muay Thai are unknown.

In the 14th century, the capital of Siam(Thailand) Ayudhaya was invaded by the Burmese and lot of the martial arts history was lost. What is known is that it originated in southern China and migrated through various tribes and took root with one of the major tribes, the Siamese(Thai).

This martial art was honed over years of tribal wars with soldiers and fathers passing down fighting techniques. Muay Thai grew into an effective fighting system and is the national sport and martial art of Thailand. It represents the culture of the country and is still one of the most effective fighting systems practiced by millions across the world.

Origins of TaeKwondo

The national martial art of Korea is less than a hundred years, but it’s roots date back to the three kingdoms of Korea. The soldiers of the time used a fighting style similar to modern day TaeKwondo that are depicted in artifacts.

Korea was constantly occupied by foreign nations throughout its history. Nations like Japan tried to erase the culture of Korea and implement their own. After Korea regained independence in 1945, TaeKwondo was able to be formed and grew into a popular martial art practiced all over the world.

Philosophy of Muay Thai

philosophy of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is not just about turning your body into a weapon. It has a deeper meaning. The philosophy of Muay Thai shares similar aspects to the philosophy of TaeKwondo that go beyond just training. 

You are taught principles that will help you live a better life through training Muay Thai.


You’re taught to be present in the moment in front of you. Paying attention to everything that is happening in front of you and the task ahead.


Having respect for yourself, family, friends, and the art of Muay Thai.


You must relax and think calmly. Conserve your energy for the precise moment to act.


To get better at any skill you must continue practicing. Through repetition you will always get better if you put time and effort into the action.

Philosophy of TaeKwondo

Just like in Muay Thai, the philosophy of TaeKwondo teaches principles that help practicioners live better lives.

They are generally taught these five tenets in training.

  1. Ye-ui(Courtesy): Show courtesy and respect to everyone and conduct yourself in a respectful way in/outside of the dojang.
  2. Yeom-chi(Integrity): Learn what is right and wrong and to have the integrity stand up for what you know is right.
  3. In-nae(Perseverance): Persevere and strive to reach your goal until you achieve it.
  4. Geuk-gi(Self-Control): Have control over your physical and mental actions.
  5. Baek-jeol-bul-gul(Indomitable Spirit ): Have the courage to stand up for what you believe in no matter the odds.

Techniques of Muay Thai

Techniques of Muay Thai

There is a reason Muay Thai is called “the art of 8 limbs.” Thai boxing involves attacks and defenses using all eight limbs. Mixing combos of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows together, while maintaining a solid defense against enemy attacks.

  • Choks(Punches): Thai Boxing has similar traits to western boxing. Using the front hand to test the range and set up power punches.
  • Soks(Elbows): These strikes generally come from short range and are designed to either slash or smash an opponent.
  • Teeps(Front Kicks): Teeps are used to attack the chest or face of an opponent. They are used for stopping an opponent’s attack or breaking their rhythm and balance.
  • Te Chiang(Roundhouse Kick): Kicks to the legs, body, and head using the bottom of your shins.
  • Ti Khao(Knee): This refers to knee strikes that either come from the clinch or jumping and flying attacks.
  • Chap Ko(Clinch): Clinching is a defense to control an opponent to set up close range strikes and takedowns.

Techniques of TaeKwondo

TaeKwondo techniques are vastly different from Muay Thai techniques. They are predominantly reliant on long range kicks to attack an opponent’s head and midsection. Students learn to perform the techniques with speed and precision. 

  • Sidekicks/Front Kicks: Sidekicks are thrown with your foot horizontal and front kicks are thrown when the foot vertical. They are used to keep range and strike an opponent from a distance.
  • Punches: Punches are used to generally set up kicks, strikes like ridge hand are used often.
  • Roundhouse Kicks: Snapping kicks with foot/lower shin to the side of an opponent’s face or body.
  • Spinning/Jumping kicks: Spinning or jumping kicks are the most powerful kicks in TaeKwondo. The act of spinning or jumping accelerates power to deliver a devastating attack.

Forms of Muay Thai

There are names given to Thai boxers depending on their style.

  • Muay Mat: A Muay Mat has an aggressive style looking to deliver damage as quickly as possible. Moving forward looking to land heavy shots.
  • Muay Tae: This type of fighter predominantly use a variety of kicks to attack an opponent.
  • Muay Khao: A fighter that prefers to throw knee strikes.
  • Muay Femur: A precise fighter that uses a combination of all techniques that can adapt to an opponent’s style.

Forms of TaeKwondo

In TaeKwondo, there are different organizations and each teach a different number of forms. Each of the five major organizations have 24-30 different forms that are taught to students.

For reference the 5 organizations are: 

  1. Kukkiwon
  2. Jhoon Rhee Forms
  3. American TaeKwondo Association
  4. Global TaeKwondo Federation
  5. International TaeKwondo Federation.

Weapons Used in Muay Thai and TaeKwondo

Generally these two martial arts are used for unarmed combat making the body a weapon. They were developed for when you are unarmed or if your weapon failed. 

Although there are hybrid styles of both TaeKwonDo and Muay Thai that implement the use of weapons. Spears, Swords, knives, bostaffs, etc.

Belt Ranking Systems of Taekwondo and Muay Thai

TaeKwonDo Belt Levels

Another difference between these two martial arts are the ranking systems. TaeKwondDo goes by a belt system that goes from white to black with different intermediate colors in between.

Muay Thai does not have a belt system, but organizations like the World Thai Boxing Association(WTBA) use a system of colored armbands to signify rank.

Which is More Effective In a Real Life Situation?

In a real life situation, Muay Thai definitely has an edge over TaeKwondo for a few reasons.

More attacks

In TaeKwondo there is only punches and kicks to the upper body. Muay Thai teaches multiple attacks the to then entire body of an opponent. Mixing attacks to the head, body, and legs using all your limbs is harder to defend. 

Better defense

Generally the defense for TaeKwondo is to keep the distance and don’t get hit. Muay Thai is a more defensive martial art using slips, clinches, and blocks to defend an opponent’s attacks.


In most fights grappling occurs and there is no grappling in TaeKwondo. In Muay Thai, you are taught to fight from the clinch to defend yourself, while setting up strikes and takedowns.

These three things make Muay Thai a more effective martial art, but TaeKwondo does have great techniques. Learning a TaeKwondo turn sidekick or 360 roundhouse are great techniques to learn that will improve the skill of a martial artist.

Final Thoughts

Both TaeKwondo and Muay Thai are great martial arts to practice. They both provide self defense, while instilling discipline to live a more peaceful life. Learning either or both would be a benefit to your life.