Muay Boran Vs Muay Thai: Where They Differ?

Muay Boran is a term that refers to ‘ancient boxing’ when translated to English. Both Muay Boran and Muay Thai are ancient martial arts which trace their origin to Thailand.

Muay Thai has evolved to become more of a fighting sport with some rules to be followed while Muay Boran is used for close combat martial art with fewer regulations.

In today’s post, we’ll take you through the SIX main differences that set the two Thai martial arts apart.

These differences will help you understand each art better and also decide which one you’d want to learn.

Let’s get into the details…

1. Muay Thai uses 8 points of contact (hence the name ‘the art of 8 limbs’) which include 2 fists, 2 elbows, 2 knees, and 2 legs. Muay Boran, on the other hand uses all these 8 weapons in addition to the head attack. The head-butt isn’t a surprise given that Muay Boran has fewer rules and fighters enjoy more freedom when fighting.

2. The second difference between the two martial arts is that Muay Boran fighters have a centerline to follow—where their fists get aligned to their body centerline. This is unlike in Muay Thai where their fists usually appear outside their head.

There has been different explanation on the centerline stance. The most accurate ones point out that it helps them block the incoming limb easily; others say that it helps turn the defense move into grapple. It is also believed to help the fighters evade coup-de-grace attacks easily.

3. The overall stance between the two martial art styles also differs. The Muay Boran stance usually looks broader and lower than that of Muay Thai. Despite the fists being along the centerline (as we’ve just explained above), the rest of Muay Boran fighter’s body is wide and defensive to help keep off vulnerabilities like groin attack.

This unique stance comes from the fact that there are fewer rules to be observed in Muay Boran, meaning the fighter should protect all their body parts against potential attacks. As for the Muay Thai, groin attacks aren’t allowed, so Muay Thai fighters assume a stance that helps them protect areas that are more likely to get hit.

4. Muay Boran also has more knee and elbows attacks, with the fighters’ intensively using flying elbows and flying knees which inflict heavy damage to their opponents while taking them down easily.

The Muay Boran practitioners focus on achieving as many strikes as they can, even if it means taking a risky move.

And unlike in Muay Thai, you should avoid pacing yourself during a fight. If you do, you risk getting yourself in real trouble. That’s why the fighters are always taught to assess their opponents as they approach to help them to respond immediately.

5. Another distinct difference between the two arts is the use of additional techniques. Muay Boran fighters will concentrate on attacking against limbs to help ‘disable’ the opponent limbs. They are also allowed to use grappling, throw to the ground and even grip and twist an opponent’s limbs to damage or break their limbs

This isn’t the case when it comes to Muay Thai as attacking the limbs will not earn the fighters a score. Grappling too isn’t allowed. Likewise, breaking your opponent’s limb is prohibited and considered unethical in Muay Thai world.

NOTE: if you damage your opponent’s entire limb, it’s seen as a way of completely taking out a full weapon that would have been used against you, giving you an edge in the match.

6. Then, of course, we have the fighting environment. The Muay Boran fighters usually fight in a wide open space, with the fighters’ hands being wrapped in thick ropes (which not only protect their hands but can also injure the opponent.

As for Muay Thai the fighting sport, the fighters are confined in a boxing ring, and they wear proper boxing gloves which help reduce injuries and deaths during fights.

If you’d like to learn more about Muay Boran, you can watch the video below on how to execute different Muay Boran techniques:

Final Word

These are the SIX key differences between Muay Boran and Muay Thai. Though the two styles are martial arts with Thai origin, they’ve got distinct differences that set them completely apart.

The Muay Boran is more of close quarter combat skill with more freedom and less rules. Muay Thai is regarded as a fighting sport with rules and a more controlled fighting environment.

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