Kung Fu Vs Muay Thai: What’s Better? The Differences and Which You Should Learn!

(Last Updated On: July 5, 2019)

Martial arts have been practiced in many forms since long. While we are familiar with the term Kung Fu due to its popularity, Muay Thai is also a very effective boxing technique when it comes to real fighting. While Kung Fu is related to the Chinese martial arts, Muay Thai is the cultural fighting of Thailand.

Both requires hard training and demands blood and sweat from our body. Muay Thai is young and its fighting techniques are more like street fighting which uses a lot of kicks and punches (with muay thai gloves). Let us now discuss the history of these similar yet distinct fighting techniques.

Also Read: The differences between muay thai and brazilian jiu jitsu

About Kung Fu

It is said that Kung Fu originated before 4000 years. Legend states in the reign of the Yellow Emperor (around 2689 B.C), Kung Fu was taught to the military personnel to be victorious in battle. The army men would wear a horned helmet and use it for attack.

The real Kung Fu started with the emergence of Shaolin Monks, who practiced the art in Shaolin Temples. Shaolin Monks dedicated their lives learning this mystical art, which was considered extremely demanding for the body. They used to do rigorous training every day. But after the European dominance over China, it lost its charm.

Even after independence, under Mao Zedong who sponsored communism, several people were tortured and killed, artifacts were destroyed and many Kung Fu masters fled overseas. Later, the rules of Kung Fu were amended, keeping an eye with Communist party doctrine.

Kung Fu was made into sporting event and it was given a new name called Wushu. As of now, it is widely promoted in China and over the world as a traditional Chinese martial art.

About Muay Thai

Muay Thai or Thai Boxing is the traditional martial art of Thailand. The fighters are trained such a way that their entire body acts like a weapon. Though much of the history about its origin has been lost due to Burmese invasion, Muay Thai is thought to have developed from migrating tribes, to defend themselves from invaders.

Due to constant attack from neighboring countries, Muay Thai was taught extensively to train Thai soldiers. When they returned from wars, they engaged in fun fights and it soon gained popularity as a sporting event in the villages.

As per history, there is an interesting narration of King Naruesan who defeated the best Burmese warriors and gained his freedom. Nai Khanom Tom, the father of Muay Thai, defeated ten of the best Burmese fighters and gained his freedom.

In Muay Thai, there is a traditional dance called Wai Kroo, which every student used to perform, to give respect to their teacher and to the art. The training is very hard as it involves making your body tough, thus putting a lot of hardship.

Muay Thai has been termed as the most exciting sport as it uses all eight weapons of the body, i.e., the fists, knees, elbows and the feet.

Kung Fu Vs Muay Thai

Even though both are forms of martial art, it is a highly-debated topic regarding which one is actually better. Kung Fu has been made more popular due to international actors like Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Jet Li. While Muay Thai technique is young compared to Kung Fu, history tells that Muay Thai is much better and useful in a real fight.

In 1959, a good team of Chinese were defeated by the Thai team. None could stay the first round. Seeking vengeance, a team from China including their best Kung Fu masters from Hong Kong arrived in 1974. But they also met the similar fate.

A few months later, a team from Singapore with the notorious fighter named “Black Killer”, challenged Thai boxers. To everyone’s surprise, he was knocked out in the very first round.

In 1970, there was a match between the finest of Kung Fu and Muay Thai fighters. Out of the five rounds, none of the Chinese martial arts teachers could even make it to the second round proving the superiority of the Thai boxers.

In 2013, Chinese fighters, surprisingly had adopted Thai boxing techniques in a national fighting event, speaking volume of Muay Thai. Recently the fight between Buakaw Por Pramuk and Yi Long Shaolin Monk makes a clear winner to Muay Thai.


History has proven that not only Muay Thai is a better technique in fighting, it is also the best when it comes to defending yourself from an opponent. No doubt, Kung Fu is the oldest and practiced by a large number of people. But now some of the Thai boxing techniques are also included in Kung Fu to give more effectiveness to the Chinese martial art.

Both techniques are helpful in defending oneself and if there is an opportunity before you, you should jump at the prospect. But with an experienced trainer, Muay Thai can be useful to you in the long run.

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