What’s the Difference Between MMA and Muay Thai?

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When you hear the term material arts, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, your first thoughts are probably mixed martial arts (MMA) and Muay Thai.

The main difference between MMA and Muay Thai comes down to the technique used to strike, how to counter-attack, and the gear used in training. It’s a bit hard to explain everything in one short answer, so let’s dive into the details;

While these two material art forms certainly have a lot of similarities – including their competitive nature. Let’s explore the difference between these material art forms!

What’s the difference?

Criteria for comparisonMuay ThaiMMA
DescriptionIn Muay Thai combat, elbows, hands, knees, and shins are all used.There are no distinctive characteristics of MMA.
Fighting methodThe main feature of Muay Thai is its striking nature.MMA includes striking, grappling, and groundwork.
TechniquesMuay Thai includes a variety of techniques to combat an opponent.When compared to Muay Thai, MMA contains more techniques.
Gloves requiredBoxing gloves are necessary for Muay Thai fights.Open-fingered gloves are essential for MMA.
Moving aroundThere are not many foot movements in this fighting style.  Fighting in MMA requires a lot of running and defensive movements.
Core focusKicking is known as the basic move in Muay Thai.  In MMA, there is no one basic move that can be labeled as a basic move. Everything goes.

Muay Thai originated in Thailand, while MMA is a global material art that has roots in Japan. Muay Thai was developed for warfare purposes, which means it involves weapons and other non-human equipment including daggers and swords. It also requires participants to wear protective gear such as gloves, shin pads, mouth guards, etc., so they are safe from their opponent’s attacks. This material art form can be brutal, and sometimes even deadly!

By the way, did you check out our guide for fighting gear?

MMA is a material arts that was developed to allow fighters to train in all different areas of fighting without having to specialize in one specific technique or material art. It also allows participants to use both human weapons such as punches and kicks while wearing protective material arts equipment. It also includes wrestling and ground fighting techniques that Muay Thai does not include, making the two material art forms distinct from one another.

Muay Thai is an intense material art form that requires participants to be skilled in several areas of fighting, while MMA allows fighters to focus on a few chosen material arts such as boxing or wrestling, and improve their skill in those material arts.

The material art of Muay Thai uses kicks, punches, knees, elbows as well as clinch fighting techniques. It is a martial art form with its roots in Thailand. Muay thai has been around for centuries and it involves the use of eight points of contact that are used to strike your opponent. Shin kicking is allowed as well as full force headbutts only if you wear material on your forehead. If you do not wear material on your head, any type of headbutt is prohibited.

MMA involves martial art forms that include a blend of all the above-mentioned material arts. It includes wrestling techniques and submissions from jiujitsu as well as strikes from Muay Thai among others. You can use clinches to take your opponent down and once on the ground submissions are allowed as well as striking. Because it includes different material arts and allows for freestyle fighting, there aren’t many rules to follow when practicing this material art.

While Muay Thai has fewer rules, MMA is becoming increasingly popular because it allows for a little more freedom when practicing material arts. Many people prefer to train in both material forms so they can use strikes as well as submission holds if necessary.

A brief history of these two material arts

MMA history is a bit shorter; it has only been around for a little more than 20 years. Muay Thai, on the other hand, is an ancient material art that originated in Thailand hundreds of years ago.. In fact, MMA only came about in 1993 when the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debuted its first event with eight different material art forms. Here, check out what Wikipedia has to say about it:

The first documented use of the term mixed martial arts was in a review of UFC 1 by television critic Howard Rosenberg in 1993. The question of who actually coined the term is subject to debate.

Muay Thai was originally developed as a material art form for real fighting between warring factions in Thailand’s history; however, it quickly became one of the most popular material arts because of its effectiveness when used to fight more than one opponent. Unlike material arts like wrestling or Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai relies on the use of eight points of contact (punches, kicks, elbows, and knee strikes) to defeat an opponent.

Which one should I select to practice?

If you prefer to learn self-defense techniques, then MMA is the material art for you.

If your preference is to learn more about striking techniques, Muay Thai material art might be a better fit.

Another option that could work well for both purposes and styles would be Krav Maga material art practice.

However, you may utilize all of them in tandem to get a fantastic workout while learning material arts. Many fighters begin with Muay Thai and then switch to MMA after they’ve mastered the fundamentals.

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