Muay Thai and karate are forms of martial arts derived from many ancient forms of self-defense and protective arts that have Asian origins.
Both are used for self-defense in two different methods and are also used in combat mode.
As any firms of ancient martial arts, both have varying methods of Demobilizing the opponents and many strategic defenses.
Muay Thai vs Karate
The difference between Muay Thai and karate is that while Muay Thai is all about the aggressive counterattack on opponents, karate focuses on self-protection and defensive methods that don’t harm either the opponent or the martial artist. Both are combat forms widely accepted by martial artists both within Asia and all over the world. the strategies, though at first glance show huge differences, their basic idea comes from ancient Asian martial forms.
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Muay Thai is a method of martial arts that represents in a major way, the modern combat method of kickboxing. It has since times immemorial been used as a self-defense mode and later on has been used as a combat sports event.
While the stance is all about providing maximum effort directed to the feet, the elbows and knees play their major role in overpowering the opponent rendering them weak.
Karate is more commonly known to a major part of the world population owing to its similarity with the ancient kung fu, giving its roots to be traced back to the old Japanese Empire.
As of late, it has been employed as a sports form for entertainment and pleasure just as much as horse riding or Polo.
This combat method is the one preferred by those seeking a self defensive form while under attack to prevent hurting the opponent while at the same time protecting oneself.
|Parameters of Comparison||Muay Thai||Karate|
|Origin||Thailand||Okinawa Island, South of Japan|
|Also known as||Thai boxing||Te|
|Similar to||Kick-boxing||Kung fu|
|Century of Origin||16th century||17th century|
|Use of Elbows and Knees||Yes||No|
What is Muay Thai?
Muay Thai is an old martial arts form that is a native of Thailand. Even though it was developed centuries before its actual introduction to the masses, it became known to all the people within Thailand by the year 1548.
By the time it was the 18th century, this self-defense method was ordered by the then residing Empire that ruled over Thailand to be made mandatory in all school classes.
Muay Thai is usually confused for the modern combat form of kickboxing as the form and usage of the body are almost similar.
It was truly made to reach the world by the year 1921. The world acceptance leads it to be held in the form of matches and tournaments.
The initial fighting form was bare-armed and it included bare fights that proved hard on the knuckles.
Gloves weren’t a part of the hand gear for combat games back then for Muay Thai and instead bandages were used to wrap around the hand to give cushioning protection to the wrists.
Most of the tournament-like matches back then had 11 rounds that were of 3 minutes each giving the players a level of exertion that seemed brutal.
But now, modern martial forms have been incorporated into the olden methods giving the players an edge.
Professionals now use gloves and the matches are of 5 rounds each the same 3 minutes. Most rules remain the same as of the century-old form.
Muay Thai is one of the most brutal forms of martial arts, where the players tend to be tougher and use brutal means to overcome opponents.
The training series includes hard play-offs such as kicking trees down with the shins and being constantly hit on the gut for practice.
The elbows and knees are more readily used in Muay Thai while it is a no-go area in most other martial arts. Other than these parts, the shins are the next most dangerous for Muay Thai professionals.
One common overpowering method is a low kick aimed for the front leg of the opponent that buckles and hence giving the kicker a head start.
What is Karate?
Karate is quite a famous form of martial arts followed through centuries of method modifications and strategies.
It has a common ground with that of kung fu.
The strikes are carried out with precision and effective speed to catch the opponent unguarded.
Theoretically, karate teaches the use of elbows and knees as weapons.
But once in a karate ring, all that theoretical lessons just remain in theory, for in reality karate doesn’t go beyond self-defense and into aggression.
Karate translates to ‘ empty hand’ which implies the fact that the techniques used don’t include weapons or unconventional fighting.
It was introduced and perfected on the Okinawa Island that is found South of Japan.
Okinawa island has had years of martial arts history due to the Shaolin influence on the island.
This created a massive Chinese martial arts collection on the island and eventually led to the creation of karate, then called “Te”.
By the time the martial arts had been perfected, it had reached the Japanese mainland.
In the year 1930, “Te” had been recognized by the Japanese Emperor as a useful method for soldiers to enhance their physical stance and stabilize their mental fighting capabilities.
Next, the Emperor asked the renowned martial artist from Okinawa, Gichin Funakoshi to demonstrate the skill levels of “Te”. Funakoshi later added the prefix “Kara” to the martial form.
Funakoshi is today known as the father of modern karate.
Main Differences Between Muay Thai and Karate
- While Muay Thai is more in tune with the form of kickboxing, karate has a more familiar method that is in the form of kung fu.
- Muay Thai strategies include teaching the disciples to use the elbows and knees both as a defense mechanism and as weapons, whereas in karate, neither the elbows nor the knees are taught to be used for defense or attack as it is considered unethical in combat.
- While for Muay Thai, due to the kickboxing motions, the primary stance involves giving the feet a lot of concentrated effort to create a maximum impact by the feet while in attack mode, for karate, as the dependence on the ancient Chinese arts include creating a greater stance on balance and fluidity of motion.
- Karate fighters are taught to use the ball of their feet as the major strategy for the attack that depends on leg strikes and due to its less aggressive form, no punches to the face or head are targeted. Muay Thai includes kicking with shins and the use of elbows and knees with targeted attacks on the head and face aiming at the maximum injury.
- The techniques adopted by both forms are in vast contrast. While in Muay Thai the opponent is beaten up with the thought of inflicting maximum damage, karate methods are in use only to defend oneself by the use of hands covering the face from the opponent’s blows.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.