Karate vs Muay Thai – Which Style is More Effective

We all have heard much about Karate and how famous it is especially in Japan and China. It is known to be one of the hardest training for self-improvement and discipline. There are many different styles of Karate and Kyokushin Karate is one of them.

The term “Kyokushin” means “The Ultimate Truth”. As the meaning introduces, Kyokushin Karate expresses the trainer’s true character when he is put into hard and tough tests. It shows his dedication and compassion towards what he is being trained for.

Muay Thai is very much similar to the Kyokushin Karate. Muay Thai is also referred to as “Thai Boxing”. It is a Martial Art sport that uses different clinching techniques. Muay Thai is the National sport of Thailand. It started several hundred years ago. In the sport of Muay Thai, the entire body is used as a weapon.

Karate vs Muay Thai: History

Karate was developed from the Ryukyuan Martial Arts. It is around 1400 years old Martial Art and sport was founded by Daruma, the founder of Zen Buddhism. It gradually developed in East Asia over centuries, under the influence of Kung Fu. Mostly, the people who were forbidden to carry the weapons with them learned these techniques for their self-defense.

Even Today, Karate is known to be one of the most popular and tough sports which uses punching, kicking, knee strikes, and open hand techniques as well. Not just this, but grappling, joint strikes, and vital point strikes are also a part of Karate Training. A person who practices Karate is known as the “karateka”.

Muay Thai sport can be traced to the 16th Century. It originated from the special tactics of the Siamese Army on the Battlefield. Due to the threats of war, the training of Muay Thai began to appear more commonly across the Kingdom. During the Burmese-Siamese wars, the Siamese Army was given the responsibility for the protection of its government and people.

People practiced this Martial art for different reasons and the possibility of war was the biggest reason in ancient times. Muay Thai is also referred to as “The Art of Eight limbs”. This is because eight body parts are used as weapons for striking purposes in this sport.

The hands are used as the sword. The forearms and shins act as armor against the blows and the elbows as a hammer. The legs became an ax and the knees act as a staff. So, collectively, the whole body acted as one single unit for its defense, particularly using eight body parts as weapons.

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Karate vs Muay Thai – Styles and Characteristics


There are different styles of Karate being practiced today. The four most common Karate styles are:

  • Goju-Ryu
  • Shotokan-Ryu
  • Wado-Ryu
  • Shito-Ryu


Goju-Ryu means “Hard-Soft Style”. This particular style of Karate was established by Chojun Miyagi in the year 1930. It has an extensive history in connection to the traditional Okinawan style of Karate.

This style follows the counter-strike movements by using offensive and defensive positions. It greatly resembles the Jujitsu Martial Art Sport. It is referred to as the “Hard-Soft Style” Karate because it uses the Open and Closed Hand (Hard) and Circular Movements (Soft) Techniques.

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Shotokan-Ryu style of Karate was developed by Gichin Funakoshi. He named it “Shotokan” after the pen name that he used for his poetry. It was introduced in 1920 in Japan.

This particular style of Karate used the hands, feet, elbows, and knees for amazing strikes in an efficient, quick, and impressive way. It uses Physical Power and the technique of Linear Stances as its main techniques.


Wado-Ryu style of Karate was created in the 1930s by Hironori Otsuka Sensei. Wado-Ryu actually means “Way to Harmony”. It is much similar to the Jujitsu Martial Art.

Wado-Ryu is all about the Harmony movements. It is basically training for students to use their bodies in order to avoid and protect themselves from the attacks. This Karate style uses Shorter Stances as compared to other Karate styles.

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This fourth most common style of Karate was developed by Kenwa Mabuni in 1928. Shito-Ryu is known to be a combination of Shotokan-Ryu and Goju-Ryu, that is, a combination of Style of Linear Movements and Style and Rounded Movements.

Shito-Ryu refers to the strong and powerfully accurate strikes. This Style includes the techniques for attacks and their defense that students must learn. Physical strength and Strong stances are a requirement for the Shito-Ryu style of Karate.

Other than these four most commonly practiced styles of Karate, there are others as well which are not very common. These are Shorinji-Ryu, Shorin-Ryu, Kyokushin-Ryu, etc.

Muay Thai:

Just as in Karate, there are many different styles of Muay Thai as well which are being practiced today. The four most common styles of Muay Thai are:

  • Muay Fimeu
  • Muay Maht
  • Muay Khao
  • Muay Dtae


Muay Fimeu is mostly practiced by the Athletes who prefer being smart over sheer power in the competitions. The Muay Fimeu style of Muay Thai is basically about adapting the boxing techniques according to that of his opponent and using his opponent’s weak points as his own strength.

A trainer or master of Fimeu must have an equivalent mastery of all knee fists, legs, and clinch elbow techniques.

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Muay Matt is a fighting style that uses heavy punches and powerful low kicks to fight. The trainers choose to apply great pressure by pushing the opponent aggressively in the forward direction.

This style of Muay Thai sometimes has devastating results.


Muay Khao refers to “Knee Boxing”. As the name tells, this particular style of Muay Khao is very much similar to the Muay Mat. The trainers deal their opponents with the same aggression but they push forward them with their knees throughout the fight.

Muay Khao fighters are close-range offensive fighters and they trap their opponents into knee strikes by the use of superior clinch powers.


In this particular style of Muay Thai, the fighters use their strong and powerful kicks against the opponent’s arms and body. The masters of Muay Dtae do great against the punchers as they are experts of using their kicks to counter the shorter blows.

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Karate vs Muay Thai – The Differences

Karate and Muay Thai, both are pretty much popular sports of Martial Art. but, they are different from each other in various ways.

Philosophy of Fighting:

Karate and Muay Thai have different philosophies or aims of fighting. Karate is a stand-up style of fighting while Muay Thai is a striking style.

In Karate, fighters use straight punches and different kinds of kicks against their opponent. The elbow and knee strikes are taught the practitioners in Karate but these techniques are not used in tournaments.

While the Muay Thai uses the limbs, that is, the hands, elbows, knees and hands as weapons against the opponent. It is both, a Sport as well as a Defense Art.


In Karate, the practitioners make use of in-and-out footwork. They also make use of powerful strikes in order to prevent their opponent from fighting in a normal way. Most of the Karate styles are for self-defense purposes.

While on the other hand, Muay Thai fighters mostly focus on boxing style movements, elbow strikes, and different kinds of kicks. They compete amazingly in a stand-up fight. Their best technique is to grab the back of their opponent’s neck and then using their knees for the opponent’s inconvenience.


Karate Fighters usually keep up their positions, that is, they keep their hands lower instances for example, in the case of point sparring, the opponent would be unsure about whether the strike would land on the head or body.

In the case of roundhouse kicks, Karate fighters strike not with the shin. Rather, they strike with the ball of the foot. This kick is very much quick and precise but comparatively, less powerful than the Muay Thai kicks.

On the other hand, Muay Thai fighters keep their hands higher. You might have seen the Thai fighters kicking the trees. This is a technique to toughen their shins in order to deliver powerful roundhouse kicks. The main focus of Muay Thai trainers is kickboxing.

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Karate vs Muay Thai – Which is More Effective

The decision about which one of the two Martial Art sports would be more effective would definitely vary across various fighters. But, most people find Muay Thai to be much more enjoyable and effective as compared to Karate.

Muay Thai helps you learn fighting skills and techniques which are super effective and useable in any difficult situation. Karate, on the other hand, makes you practice a lot of strikes in the air and not much of these on the opponent.

If there’s a competition between a Karate fighter and a Thai fighter, no doubt both would be extremely skilled and efficient in what they do, but if they are given a couple of months training in the same disciplines with every other thing set equal, the fighter who would probably win would be the Muay Thai trainer.

So, no doubt that both Karate and Muay Thai are equally effective in their respective ways but if you are bound to tell which one is more effective, then Muay Thai would be the answer.

Karate vs Muay Thai – Pros and Cons


  • Helps you learn various self-defense techniques
  • Sharpens your mind
  • Makes you self-confident
  • Provides flexibility of mind and body
  • Teaches self-control
  • Great for social skills
  • Helps with general fitness
  • You can get injured
  • Time-demanding
  • May teach violent behavior
  • Pretty much expensive if you want to compete

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Muay Thai

  • Much effective in learning fighting techniques
  • Gives you self-confidence
  • Provides motivation to exercise
  • Teaches you self-patience
  • Strongest martial art
  • Can give you serious injury
  • Makes you aggressive and violent
  • Expensive sport

Summing It Up

The Martial Art of Karate mainly focuses on the Forms while Muay Thai focuses more on technical sparring. Moreover, Karate has many different effective styles while Muay Thai is more Unified.

Karate and Muay Thai, both are the most popular Martial Art Sports. Different people practice them for different purposes. Some might practice these as a hobby, while some might practice it as their passion to test their strong self. But most people practice it to learn self-defense techniques.

Both these sports follow different techniques and styles which are all effective in different ways. These techniques sometimes might prove dangerous as well, but what keeps the practitioners going is their passion and dedication to learn different self-defense techniques.

Which is the deadliest Martial Art?
Kung Fu is known to be the Deadliest Martial Art in the world. It has been practiced for centuries in China. Any list of Deadly Martial Arts would be incomplete without Kung Fu being at the top.
Is Karate good for self-defense?
Yes, without any doubt, Karate can be a very much effective and powerful technique for self-defense if trained properly and learned with dedication.
Kung Fu vs Muay Thai. Which one is better?
Due to the fight experience of the Muay Thai practitioners, the Muay Thai has the edge over Kung Fu techniques and styles.
Is punching allowed in Karate?
Punches to the face, groin, or joints are not allowed in Karate. But, kicks against legs, arms and body are permitted.
Is Muay Thai the strongest Martial Art?
Yes, it can be said that Muay Thai is the most effective Martial Art and it has a lot of history as well. For hundreds of years till now, Muay Thai has been as efficient and powerful as it can be.
Can Muay Thai kick kill a person?
Well, the roundhouse kick techniques in Muay Thai hurt so badly in a direct way. But there is no possibility of killing a person with the Muay Thai kick. It is nearly impossible.

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