Is it OK To Train Both Boxing And Muay Thai?

Boxing and Muay Thai are both highly effective martial arts, but can you train them at the same time? I decided to find out.

Can you train Muay Thai and Boxing at the same time? Boxing and Muay Thai while both being striking arts have different stances, fight pacing, and hand positions. Although you can train them at the same time they will interfere with each other and you will lack a true understanding of either martial art.

This doesn’t mean you cannot train them concurrently, but you need to understand the important differences between Boxing and Muay Thai to see the problems of training for them both at the same time.

Stance Differences Between Muay Thai & Boxing

Stance DifferencesBoxingMuay Thai
Front FootFront feet curved in at 10-15 degree angleFront foot will be curved in at roughly a 10 degree angle
Back/Rear FootRearfoot curved out to 45 degrees rising to 90 degrees depending on your stance. In boxing, your back-foot will have a more outward angle than Muay ThaiRear foot will be curved at at roughly 45 degrees
FeetFeet will be a few inches wider than shoulder-widthFeet will be roughly shoulder-width apart
Hip AngleBoxers hip angle is around 50-80 degrees much more narrow than Muay ThaiHip angle is 30-45 degrees, traditional Muay Thai is more 30 but modern stances it’s 45 degrees
Weight Distribution Weight more on the back leg and less on the front legWeight should be evenly distributed between both legs. It changes with the situation. If you’re attacking- more weight on the front, if you’re defending- more weight on the back.
Heel PlacementLifted off the ground sightly, allowing for quicker movementsHeel of the rear foot lifted slightly

The Muay Thai stance is very forward and square with the hands around head height, the forearms and hips forwards and the body facing towards the opponent. This allows you to kick with both legs and check kicks while throwing elbows and knees.

Since Muay Thai involves the elbows, knees, punching, kicking with clinching (standing wrestling), your weight must be evenly distributed on both feet and you need to move quickly.

If you look at the photo above you will see the boxer has a much longer foot stance than the Muay Thai guy. In boxing you will have a longer and narrower stance as they don’t need to worry about leg kicking.

The hip placement is the big difference between boxing and Muay Thai stances, since with Muay Thai you need to check kicks (block kicks with your leg) and quickly kick back with the rear leg.

With Boxing you want to give the opponent the smallest possible target which is why you turn your hips outwards.

This is showing less body for your opponent to hit making you less of a target and more protected. You don’t do this in Muay Thai unless you want to get leg kicked, trust me you don’t, it hurts!

To get a visual example and see the different stances in action, please check out this YouTube video by Fight Vision. Here you can clearly see the differences in the stances.

Why You Should Not Train Boxing & Muay Thai At The Same Time

person wearing boxing gloves in ring

The main differences between the two are the hip position, but since Muay Thai involves kicking, elbow, kneeing, trips, throws and a different clinch game, boxing and Muay Thai are completely different sports.

The biggest problem with training both is that they are fundamentally different things. While boxing will help you with your Muay Thai, Muay Thai will NOT help with your boxing.

Boxing is limited to just punches to the head, the body and the square, while the Muay Thai stance will make you a big open target in boxing.

However, once you have a solid Muay Thai or Boxing base and consider yourself proficient in either martial art, then you can consider branching out and seeing if you can work both styles together.

There’s no harm in occasionally doing a Boxing class if you’re a Muay Thai fighter or vice versa. But, remember fundamentally they are both very different things and have a lot of over lap that can be very confusing to even intermediate martial artists.

Conversely, I highly recommend combining a striking art with a grappling art as they have limited or no cross-over whatsoever, and you cannot get confused with either.

Something like boxing and BJJ or Muay Thai and Judo would be perfectly fine and are fantastic martial arts combinations.

What Is More Effective For Self Defense, Boxing Or Muay Thai?

two men sparring inside boxing gym

Either martial art is fantastic in real life self-defense situations since every fight starts on the feet. But which one is better?

With Boxing, you only have your hands and everything you do is related to the four basic punches, the jab, the hook, the cross and the uppercut. Muay Thai is a lot more complicated with numerous options such as kicking and kneeing being available to you.

This means Boxing is a lot easier to become competent with the time generally being around 6 months, as you simply have less tools to learn. Improving your self defense abilities will be far quicker than Muay Thai.

However, Muay Thai just gives you so many other tools that make you much more capable in a street fight situation. Not only can you strike, but Muay Thai has a fantastic clinch (grappling) game that is a MASSIVE advantage in any street fight.

Most untrained people will use a bulk of their weight on the front leg giving you massive opportunity to kick their leg-which is extremely effective and is a Muay Thai fighters signature tool to use.

While Boxing will improve your self-defense in the short term, I personally recommend Muay Thai as it’s the complete striking and offers so much more than boxing. Yes, it will take longer to get proficient in, but the skill you will have in handling yourself more than makes up for it.

Short term self-defense: Boxing
Long term self- defense: Muay Thai (Winner)

Boxing Or Muay Thai, Which Is Easier To Learn?

They are both very difficult martial arts, but which one would be quicker to pick up?

Since Muay Thai is called the art of 8 limbs, you strike with your kicks, elbows, knees and fists so naturally, it is way more difficult to learn as you have numerous tools available to you.

You may think it’s just about offense but you also need to defend against all the 8 limbs of your opponent making Muay Thai even harder!

Checking a low kick (raising your shin to block) is a staple of Muay Thai. Muay Thai clinching is very important and is almost a martial art in itself and it takes years and years to become proficient in.

Since Boxing has only 2 limbs to hit with (both hands) they rely on superb cardio, head movement and footwork to win fights. It is easier to learn Boxing as you have a smaller toolbox and in 6 months you can reach a decent standard.

Whereas with Muay Thai, 6 months is still in the beginner phase and it’s where I am at right now. If I was boxing for the same amount of time I would be at a way higher level.

Although in my opinion boxing sparring is a lot harder than Muay Thai sparring. Since you only have 2 targets (the head/body) you get hit a lot more often and it’s tougher mentally.

Whereas with Muay Thai you can pretty much aim for the entire body, meaning overall you won’t hurt as much as there is less trauma going to your brain which is damage you don’t want. With Boxing you get hit on the head a lot.

Winner: Boxing

Boxing Or Muay Thai Which Is Better For Fitness?

grayscale photo of woman with gloves touching heavy bags

Both Boxing and Muay Thai are superb for general fitness and superb for cardiovascular (heart) health. No matter which you do you will get a great workout and improve your physical health.

If you have ever fought or sparred before you know how important fitness is in fighting. Any good Muay Thai or Boxing coach will emphasize running and muscle building for injury prevention and recovery.

For example in my gym for a warm-up we skip, do rounds of pushups, squats and burpees in-between the skipping. Calisthenics (bodyweight) exercises are fantastic and will greatly improve your overall fitness level and they should be a staple in either martial art.

However, if you really want to learn the martial arts, focus more on the skill and techniques rather than the fitness and conditioning. Doing a class like cardio kickboxing (see the video below) while good for fitness will not be good for self-defense and dealing with life threatening scenarios. So be aware of that.

Better for Fitness: Both

To see the differences between Muay Thai Gloves and Boxing Gloves see my post and here if you want to know if a Boxer could beat a Thai fighter in a street fight.

Interested in Boxing? Check Out My Recommendations

Looking For Gear To Use When You Train?
If you are interested in training Boxing, here is some of the gear I recommend:
Best Mouth Guard
Best Gloves
Best Headgear
Best Hand Wraps
Want To Learn To Fight, But Don’t Want To Go In Person?
CoachTube has online training videos for Wrestling, Boxing, MMA and more. And best part is you can do it all from your home allowing you to go at your own pace. Check them out here.
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