Muay Thai vs BJJ For Self Denfense: The Pros and Cons You Should Know

(Last Updated On: July 5, 2019)

There are several different kinds of fighting styles used in mixed martial arts, hence the name. But two of the more prominent forms used are Muay Thai, a Thai based kickboxing style, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a grappling and wrestling technique.

Read: Best BJJ GI that should be on your list

While both are used together to string together attacks in MMA fights, they have stark differences that makes them completely different. So here it is, side by side: Muay Thai vs BJJ pros and cons.

Also Read: Judo vs Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Muay Thai is more of a complement to BJJ then it is an opposition, but that doesn’t mean they are similar in anyway. So to understand how they work together while being vastly different here’s the things you should know about the two:


Well, almost everything is different. BJJ attacks are almost entirely on the ground and consist of grappling and moves from wrestling. BJJ enthusiasts like to keep their opponents close so they can take them to the ground easier.

Muay Thai is all standing moves. Mostly using your feet and hands, but also your elbows and knees. If you’re using Muay Thai, you’ll try and keep your distance so you can get full power behind your kicks and also defend yourself from them as well.

How Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu work together

When you have both styles at your disposal, you can build a more effective plan of attack. BJJ can be used as a great counterattack from a kick from distance.

With BJJ, you’re able to deflect the kick, you can catch your opposition in an unbalanced position , making a takedown much easier. Once you take the fight to the ground, you’ll have the upperhand if you perform your takedown right.

This will give you the advantage as you try and put your opponent in a submission.

Who would win: BJJ or Muay Thai master?

There’s not really a way to predict this. It all depends on who plays to their strengths better. If the Muay Thai fighter could keep the fight off the floor and keep his distance, chances are he’ll get an easy win since the BJJ can’t properly defend himself or counterattack.

But if the BJJ fighter could get the Muay Thai fighter on the ground, call it game over. An inexperienced BJJ fighter against a trained one is completely unfair, you can’t improvise grappling defense moves.

Also Read: What is the difference? Muay thai vs Kung Fu

So they aren’t similar at all. But what about boxing and Muay Thai? Well those are actually very similar.

Muay Thai allows hits below the belt and allows strikes with the hands, feet, knees and elbows. In boxing though, you can only hit above the waistline with your hands.

The only other differences derive from technique and form. So let’s look at those small differences that differentiate the two.

Also Read: Boxing Vs Kickboxing

Foot position and leg stance

Muay Thai fighters tend to a wider base so they can get more power behind their kicks. They also tend to have most of their weight on their back foot so they can use their front leg to defend themselves from kicks.

Since boxers don’t need to worry about kicks, their feet are much closer together. This allows them to be more nimble on their feet, which is crucial for kickboxers as dodging is a crucial part of the game.

Hip position

Boxers try to minimize the surface area they show by using a much more angled stance.

Muay Thai fighters on the other hand have a much more squared stance, which makes you more susceptible to punches, but makes it easier to defend yourself from kicks easier.

Hand position

Muay Thai emphasizes keeping your hands high, much higher than boxing. They also tend to have your outside hand facing towards their opponent.

This helps Muay Thai fighters defend themselves from quick elbow strikes and kicks. Boxers hands are much lower, usually having their back hand at about chin level, and their front hand a little above their chest.

They keep their hands their hands lower to block the abdominal punches.

A square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t always a square. The same logic applies to Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts, with Muay Thai being the square.

MMA is a mixture of different forms of fighting, which can include Muay Thai, but is not exclusive to it. So while both share similarities, there are a lot of differences such as:


MMA fighters generally keep their distance in a fight, making an attack then jumping back out of striking range.

MMA fighters do this to avoid grappling situations and being taken to the ground. But in Muay Thai, fighters are generally closer and always with in distance of making contact.

Speed of the fight

MMA fights tend to be a couple seconds of a lot of fighting, then they keep their distance for awhile before getting back at it. Muay Thai on the other hand has a pretty consistent tempo.

Fighters in Muay Thai generally wait and exchange hits with each other and try to counter attack off one another.

Defensive Strategies

In Muay Thai, defense moves are a little more calm. Fighters will lean away from a kick, or will just slightly raise their leg to absorb a kick with their leg.

But in MMA, fighters will basically jump back until their attacker stops, or will go for a takedown while their opponent is off balance.

Muay Thai draws a lot of similarities to boxing, but is not even close to the concept of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite the district differences, the way BJJ is used for counter attacks in Muay Thai fights is one of the best combos in all of MMA. We hope this muay thai vs bjj article has helped you understand more. How to start MMA training?


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