Is Muay Thai Safer Than Boxing? Important things to know

In martial arts, there needs to be more room for error. Your safety is the top priority whether you like to punch or wrestle. If you are hesitating between muay thai and boxing, knowing which one is more dangerous will be useful.

So, is muay thai safer than boxing? Muay Thai has several types of strikes. There are knees, elbows, and kicks. Despite this, boxing is concentrated on delivering more blows to the head. This may result in permanent brain damage that is reflected immediately or later in life. In that context, Muay Thai is safer than Boxing.

It doesn’t matter whether you are doing it professionally or just as a hobby; practicing these sports will change your life. Both of these are striking martial arts. Each sport has advantages and disadvantages, and each one is unique in its own way. You may better understand these two sports by looking at the details or in general.

General Difference In Both Martial Arts

Paying attention to the basic differences between these sports is necessary to determine what is more dangerous and safer. Those are fighting styles and fighting rules, which can differ in the:

  •  Stances and guards that fighters keep
  •  The distance at which they keep their opponents
  •  In footwork
  •  Use of different shots
  •  Location of shots
  •  Different approaches to the opponent

And even equipment the fighters use. As a result, we have different types of injuries.

Muay Thai Fighting Style And Rules

Muay Thai is much more complex than boxing. But it does not make it more dangerous. The discipline is known as “the Art of the eight limbs.” It is a stand-up fight using kicks, fists, elbows, and knees. Hand combinations with the addition of kicks. It is allowed to hit the areas of the head, torso, and thighs. Techniques from the clinch are included, and sweeping an opponent off his feet is permitted.

Professional matches are divided into 5 rounds of 3 minutes each, where the concentration of blows is distributed over a larger part of the body. The clinch in Thai is much safer because fighters use the knees to the body. Thai fighters use a greater distance and a higher guard because they have to worry about more incoming punches.

Boxing Fighting Style And Rules

In classic boxing, it is allowed to throw punches to the head and punches to the body. It is based a lot on movement and footwork, unlike in Thai boxing, it plays an important role. Professional bouts are divided into 4-12 rounds of 3 minutes each, focusing more on hitting an opponent’s head. Which makes it significantly more dangerous.

Boxers use a shorter distance, and their punches are much stronger. Although limited in their arsenal, boxers have a more strategic approach. It is not an accident that boxing is called “the sweet science.” Unlike Thai fighters, they try not to stay in the center line and use angles to outstrike their opponent.

Comparing Muay Thai And Boxing Injuries

Injuries are an integral part of all sports, especially in martial arts. Another difference between these two sports is their short-term and long-term injuries. If you train as a hobbyist, the fear of injury is inevitable but significantly less than for competitors.

On the other hand, an important safety role depends on whether you are a professional or an amateur competitor. Knowing that better protective equipment is used in amateur matches is necessary. The more protected you are in training, the less chance you have of picking up an injury. It also depends on what kind of approach you have to your training sessions.

Muay Thai Injuries

In the bloody and brutal world of Thai boxing, serious head injuries are not excluded. However, brain injuries are not nearly as common as in boxing due to the placement of blows on the rest of the body. Studies have shown that the probability of injury in Muay Thai is 55%. You can pick up short-term injuries in Thai boxing, even in light training. Minor and short-term injuries can be very common.

Stiff Neck

No doubt that carrying the weight of your opponent, with your back and neck, will take its toll in the morning. But working on your clinch is something your neck must get used to.

Bruised Shins And Thighs

Shins are the most used tool in this sport. They are used for both attack and defense. Throwing kicks but also defending against them. Hitting pads and kicking a heavy bag will also leave its marks. There is no shortcut to steel shins. You will get used to it over time, and microfractures will strengthen the surface of your bones and nerves. Getting used to the pain of low kicks is the least fun part. Work on your defenses to avoid thigh pain.

Bruised Ribs

It is another injury due to clinching. “Hugging” your sparring partner and kneeing each other will leave bruises on your ribs. It will be painful initially, but you will develop tolerance over time.

Sprained Joints

 Hitting the bag or pads, especially if you are a beginner, can be uncomfortable. Having a bad form and hitting technique, this injury can often occur. Even if you are experienced, your thrown punch may land unpleasantly on your opponent’s elbow or knee.


Due to the use of elbows and knees, their sharp tips can cut your face. It is not a common injury in training, although accidents happen. It happens more often in a match. Nothing, a few stitches won’t fix.

Boxing Injuries

Boxing is mainly risky for the upper extremities. Cases of injuries in the lower part of the body are small but not impossible. Unlike Thai boxing, this sport involves greater long-term injuries to the head. Statistics from 1890 to 2019 say that approximately 1,900 fighters died from injuries.

In addition to minor injuries similar to Thai boxing, such as bruises, sprained joints, fractures, and cuts, other common injuries in boxing are:

Elbow Tendonitis

It is a painful condition of the muscles in the elbow. It occurs due to overuse of muscles or even overextension when throwing punches.

Shoulder Dislocation

Shoulder dislocation happens when your upper arm pops out of the socket, mainly when you throw a strong or fast punch. It is the most common dislocation because this part of the hand sits in a very shallow socket. Shoulder instability occurs due to excessive use of muscles and ligaments.

Bennett’s Fracture

The thumb is the finger most often broken in boxing. Its damage can result in a restriction on the overall function of the hand. If it is inadequately healed, it can be reflected as arthritis later in life.


Being hit in the head over and over again can have terrible long-term health consequences. A concussion is the main reason why boxing is more dangerous. Symptoms are dizziness, confusion, headache, and memory loss.

It has been said that 90% of boxers will suffer a concussion at some point in their career. Sometimes minor concussions are not serious, but they have the potential to turn into chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the future.

Is Muay Thai Better For Self-Defense Than Boxing?

It is necessary to know that neither of them specifically teaches self-defense, but they learn how to fight. If you’ve ever been in a street fight, you know that knowledge of any martial art always comes in handy. Anyone with a good foundation in boxing or muay thai will have a good chance of successfully defending themselves.

In answering this question, muay thai still has a slight advantage. They can simply use multiple types of weapons, depending on how far the aggressor is. Thai practitioners have better handling in the clinch and are firmer on their feet. They are also taught to anticipate, and block kicks with both arms and legs.

But make no mistake; boxing is a quality skill for self-defense. It’s known that one solid blow can end a fight. Boxers have a much harder punch and good evasive movement that you can use in self-defense.

Can A Boxer Beat A Muay Thai Fighter?

It is hard to imagine a free-fight scenario where a boxer can win against a Thai fighter. The only thing that could be on the boxer’s side is his punching techniques. But those techniques would be neutralized by long Thai kicks.

There are a lot of factors why it wouldn’t work. One of these factors is the boxer’s legs. Boxer’s lower extremities are not legitimate for receiving painful low kicks. Another thing is that boxers, in their many evasive movements, have a habit of getting down, which would make them vulnerable to receiving a knee strike.

In this case, for boxers to be dangerous, they must approach at a close distance. Shortening the distance would be almost impossible due to the range of the Thai fighter’s legs.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Muay Thai/Boxing?

From the beginning, you should know that your progress depends on your persistence, hard work, and desire to succeed. Quality training and a good gym also play a crucial role. Depending on the person, some people master the movements faster than others. Be reasonable with yourself, and don’t compare your progress with others. You will progress the fastest if you compare yourself to yourself only.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai is notorious for its high-conditioning training and is considered one of the most demanding combat sports. Basic movements, fundamentals, and Thai fitness can be taught in half a year. You can think about your first fight after twelve months if you have been constantly in training.

It takes 3-5 years to train into a professional. It takes about seven years to become an expert. This is by no means the reason to stop learning because we always have to be the student of the game.


For the fundamentals of classic boxing, you need less time to master it, unlike Thai boxing. This is, of course, because you are only using your hands. Everything simple in boxing should be mastered in 6 months.

The real science is hidden in the footwork, dodges, angles, and more advanced combinations while moving out of your opponent’s way. If you have spent the last two years in the gym with great effort, you can be considered a more advanced player, and the doors to competitions could be open to you.

Why Is Muay Thai Not As Popular As Boxing?

One of the answers is the need for more unified organizations for Muay Thai that will attract media attention and, therefore, a wider audience. Boxing is one of the oldest fighting sports in the world, and it has media attention for a long time, which is the reason for the large payments of fighters.

The media is an opportunity to make superstars out of fighters. Still, Thai fighters are used to earning less money and performing on smaller shows. Thai boxing has its way of scoring, ceremonies, traditions, and a different approach to fighting.

These things play a huge role when it comes to popularity. They would have to remove the traditional rituals that are the basic part of their culture, which might be less interesting to the general public. Thailand is full of fighters, but they have yet to build a big name on the world level. Of course, a couple of professionals are promoted through ONE organization, but their fame is far from that of famous boxers.

Should A Beginner Learn Boxing Or Muay Thai First?

You must know their differences if you are a beginner and have decided to train in one of these two sports. That’s where this article could help you. It really depends on you and your will, but to decide what suits you better, ask yourself a few questions. What are your goals? How do you see fighting? What fighting style do you prefer more?

If you are someone who likes to move a lot, use angles and quick punches, sign up for a boxing class and enjoy the beauty of movement. If you are a beginner in fighting and you want to dedicate yourself to combat, boxing is a good and simple step for your martial arts journey.

If you like to be creative with your striking, don’t care about the pain, and like eight-limbed techniques, then the bloody world of muay thai is the right path for you.


We can conclude that muay thai is bloody and brutal but maximally effective when talking about stand-up fighting. It is superior to other striking sports. Boxing is an art in its way, but it is dangerous for an individual’s brain when we look at further paths. Training in martial arts is definitely recommended.

You don’t have to be a professional athlete. Do it for the general health, fitness, self-defense, and other positive things it will bring to your life. Whatever you decide on, you won’t go wrong. Use proper protection and watch out for your sparring partners.

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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