sport taekwondo vs muay thai

Discussion in 'General Taekwondo Discussions' started by michael mckenna, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. michael mckenna

    michael mckenna Active Member

    i get alot of questions when i spar at a muay thai gym and i always get asked why i didnt do muay thai instead of taekwondo. i often say its because i wasnt interested in sport at first and just wanted to learn self defense. i also get asked why taekwondo always looses against muay thai. i remind them that sport taekwondo is not the real self defense taekwondo. but they persist in saying that 9 out of 10 times in the ring between sport taekwondo and muay thai, muay thai wins. i agree with that. i think the reason is because taekwondo doesnt focus on fighting in the ring the sparring is part of the training and is really just 5% of the training and muay thai has a focus on fighting in the ring so they get the most practice from it from the start so they train to fight so they have more experience in fighting in the ring or in competition then taekwondo. i enjoy sparring with the local muay thai gym on fridays so i do it often. what is everyone else's opinion on this. if sport taekwondo focused only on competition in the ring and had less rules to it would it be just as effective as muay thai in the ring ?. now obviously its based on the fighter but most muay thai fighters do have more experience. lets hear some thoughts
  2. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Muay thai fighters have more experience fighting because the atmosphere and the aim of the gym is different. Your average Muay thai gym is a down and dirty fighters gym. It will most likely be filled with 16-30 year olds, all learning to fight, most sparring often. The atmosphere is completely differnet to your average TKD dojo, run every Wednesday and Friday at a local village hall, with no matts, no ring e.c.t. where people of different ages and abilities are training with differnet goals. Some people want to fight, some want self defense, some just want the enjoyment of acheiving a new belt, some socialize, some want to stay fit and some want to learn tricking. and importantly it attractors different people. What I outlined above is a steryotype, but its a commonly held one with some truth to it at least. Enough truth that if someones wants to fight they will go to a muay thai gym before a TKD one.

    But, if you took two guys that both want to fight, both train in a fully kitted out gym with like minded people and with good sparring (good, not always hard) I would still put my money on the namak muay. It would be prehapse more 60:40 than 90:10, but what people forget is that muay thai is actually a clinch fighting system, whereas taekwondo is a distance striking system.​

    The striking in muay thai isnt as advanced as taekwondo because its only half the art. Clinch striking and throwing is the bigger part of the art. This means if a namak muay gets his hands on you, your in trouble. Secondly it means that the striking in muay thai is streamlined. They only train a few, very effective techniques, so what they do train they are good at. It keeps the art grounded, having that grappling element, and means that it doesnt stray too far from real fighting. the way an art like TKD or boxing can.
  3. michael mckenna

    michael mckenna Active Member

    you have been doing taekwondo for over a year now yeh ? you do know a taekwondo training hall is called a dojang not a dojo or do they call it a dojo where you learn ?. anyways mate good answer but what about K1 rules where the clinch is to be kept at a minimum also taekwondo has they're own clinch not like muay thai clinch but just as effective considering i use it during my sparring matches against muay thai practitioners
  4. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    I think this kind of comparison is a) pointless and b) cannot be quantified because it's the person not the art.

    Spent a bit of time sparring with some military people in TKD recently, and would be willing to put money on them in any kind of full contact competition. It's down to who they are and how they train.
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  5. akisbat

    akisbat Member

    I fully agree wuth Gnarlie. When you fight ... YOU fight , not the art , you just use what you have learned. If you are better than your opponent you win , If your opponent is better than you then you lose !
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  6. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    3 years now. I dont call it a dojo or a dojang, I call it activity room A :) In K1 there is no reason that Taekwondo cannot be as effective as muay thai. Like I said the striking is more advanced in taekwondo. K1 is dominated by muay thai fighters though and I attribute this to three reasons.
    1) more people compete in muay thai with the aim of competing in something like k1.
    2) Taekwondo is heavily specialized, so if your not a natural kicker, your in trouble. It also requires much more athleticism to kick than to punch, and the risk of injury is higher. You need to be crazily explosive for taekwondo. Muay thai is not easy, but it is a little bit less demanding.
    3) Taekwondo people primarially fight other taekwondo people. Muay thai people mostly fight other muay thai people. The art is tailored to the specific art. K1 is more similar to muay thai rules than taekwondo rules, so that favors muay thai. Like I said takeondo striking is more advanced, but is advanced in a different direction to muay thai. I guess its up to you to decide which is better for a street fight. I favor muay thai because like said it also has a large clinch component to it, and this goes back to what I said in my other thread. That if you look at taekwondo the sport side is a long distance striking system, and the self defense side is a close range clinch system. I think it would be better if the sport side better reflected the self defense side, but then sport taekwondo would not resemble sport taekwondo.

    And I dont think this debate is worthless. Not all arts are created equal. I could make an art that focused solely on trying to use arm locks from standing or on the ground. Sure it would work, but it wouldnt be the most effective art around, not by a long shot.
  7. teagentleman

    teagentleman New Member

    Well, once you free the TKDer from WTF sparring rules I dare say they would be more or less fine, assuming they come from a club that trains every aspect of the martial art, rather than primarily the sport of Olympic sparring. Never forget that those rules are more and more about the show and drama of a sport - no-one is suggesting that is the ideal way to fight outside those rules. For that, I think we would all agree that punches etc. are fine :)

    My view is that, since in an ordinary club the sparring is only one part of a wider curriculum, we can assume the TKDer would also know all the hand strikes, releases from grabs/holds and a host of takedowns as well as the interesting applications from the poomsae/tul that the grading system demands. Accordingly, once they are told "the gloves are off, forget about WTF rules for this fight" it seems to me they have just as much chance as anyone else. Kicks may well be focused on, as that is our near-speciality, but practitioners would hardly be helpless should other measures be required.
  8. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I would never forget it, but some seem never to know this in the first place.

    Simply knowing hand strikes, releases and takedowns is not enough to be able to use them effectively against a high level fighter though.
  9. michael mckenna

    michael mckenna Active Member

    i doubt thugs on the street are high level fighters
  10. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    How about instead of 'this versus that', 'this and that'.

    There's just no reason to compare arts in this way, they are not mutually exclusive, so it's a moot point.

    If you believe there's a weakness or gap in what you do, take steps to fill it. But what is necessary for one person will not be necessary for another.

    This is a Taekwondo forum, after all.
  11. teagentleman

    teagentleman New Member

    Well, you practice your takedowns, releases etc. on other people in the club, who should not make it easy, so if that is what you mean by a "high level fighter" then you do have that experience...

    As for hand strikes etc. it has never been a problem for me going between long periods of WTF (very limited punching indeed) to ITF, so I assume it must apply to other techniques too. It is harder to go from less restrictive rules--> more restrictive rules, but I don't find much difficulty the other way around. Obviously not quite as stark a difference as between Muay Thai and WTF, but rather different nonetheless.

    Bottom line: I think as long as you know how to spar and react, it is not particularly difficult to add in techniques you know perfectly well how to do, but don't use in your usual sparring practice.
  12. darylb11005

    darylb11005 New Member

    I will agree with Gnarlie that the "this art vs that art" debate is a moot point. We all know that it's up to the individual fighter, the quality of the training before the fight, and so on.

    I will, however, indulge in the debate anyway, as a way to perhaps illustrate this.

    I imagine more than a few of you have seen the video I have linked above. Here we have an example fighter (Kwonckicker, as he goes by on youtube) whose background is primarily WTF/Kukkiwon TKD, and here he successfully engages a muay thai fighter in the ring. Just suppose we take what was previously said here as fact: that the muay thai guy will beat the TKD guy 9 out of 10 times when fighting in the ring. We could then assume that this video is an example of that odd 1 out of 10 case. Why was he successful? What is he doing that the other TKD guys are apparently not doing? Those are the questions we should be asking (assuming you are actually interested in being a successful ring fighter).

    I am going to borrow Rob Redmond's Axiom of Platform Dependency and apply it to TKD (in the original version on his website he is referring to Shotokan karate). It states:

    So if you are one of those 9 out of 10 TKD fighters who is losing to the muay thai fighter, maybe nothing is wrong with the set of instructions you are using, maybe you simply need to upgrade the platform. It's been my observation that muay thai fighters are constantly optimizing their platform by utilizing a high degree of physical conditioning. Having followed Kwonkicker's youtube channel for some time, I am aware that he has done this to the same or similar level as muay thai fighters. Another way to put it, as suggested in Mr. Redmond's Axiom, is that the software (TKD or muay thai, or karate for that matter) can only go as far as the hardware (the fighter) will take it. Processor running slow? Not enough RAM to keep up with what the other guy is throwing at you? Maybe it's time to upgrade the hardware to optimize the usefulness of the software.

    Of course, there is nothing wrong with patching, modding, upgrading, or otherwise adding to the software you already possess if doing so would be to your advantage. Gnarlie said it well:

    I would say that is what the fighter in this video (Kwonkicker) did, and without deleting and writing over his TKD software.
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  13. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    maybe, maube not, but we were talking about high level sport taekwondo practicioners vs high level muay thai practicioners
  14. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Why not? All arts have value, but to say they all have equal value stunts the growth of arts and of artists. There are some arts that are simply more effective than others, and by refusing to engage in the debate why, we are essentially closing our eyes to the fact that there are things that can be improved in our, or anyone elses art. I do as you say though, this and that. I use a muay thai stance, becasue that enables me to punch better and clinch better, but use taekwondo kicks from it.
  15. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    I see what your saying, and yes it will help you improve, but the throws found in taekwondo, although effective, will never enable you to beat a judoka at his game. The ground fighting is effective, but not enough to beat a bjj player. The punching is effective, but not enough to win a boxing match. Likewise the clinch work is fine, but its not excellent to the standard of thai fighters. What we do, better than all other arts is kick. And thats fine. Arts specialize, and it would be stupid to try and be the best at everything, because then you end up as a jack of all trades. Like MMA. Personally I like that about MMA, but I dont think its the direction all arts should travel in. Sadly as humans we have limited time on this planet, and we cannot master every element of fighting. So if you decide that kicking is what you want to be good at, train in taekwondo.
  16. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    No, it doesn't. You can take what you want from where you like, based on your own personal subjective criteria. See below.

    No, we are not. The thing is, that 'better' is entirely subjective, depending on personal criteria and goals. As is 'more effective'. If your art does not meet your personal subjective criteria, then you add or modify. But to say this is better or more effective than that is a nonsense. The water does not have a shape until you put it in the glass.

    Which brings certain disadvantages with regard to the throwing of TKD kicks. The two arts are only partly compatible in terms of their base principles, meaning that mixing them compromises both, in return for filling perceived gaps in one or the other. So in attempting to improve Taekwondo in one way, you've weakened it in another. It's always a trade off, so the questions you have to answer for yourself are 'Is my mix meeting my subjective criteria better than each individual art?' and 'Am I happy to lose what I have lost in order to meet my criteria?'. That's really very much a personal journey, and not about the art(s) in question.
  17. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    Good point about the physical conditioning. Nearly everyone in a fighting gym is in shape. I have only seen a few Taekwondo practitioners that take it to the same level. But, thats because of the culture of the art, not the art itsself. I.e. it attracts more casual practicioners than dedicated fighters. Also, explosiveness and endurance are like white and black, two ends of the same spectrum. Alot of the kicks in Taekwondo require a high degree of explosiveness, and therefore practicioners will have less endurance.

    Secondly, Kwon kicker was using a pesudo-thai style. Thai stance, thai hands, thai clinch, but using more kicks. Both competitors were of a fairly low quality though, and it was sloppy. I thought he was getting the worse of the encounter though, up untill his lucky shot, that the thai fighter wasnt used to. And this is where taekwondo comes into its own. The highly developed kicks. But, sadly highly developed kicks arent the most effective thing for all people.

    Taekwondo and muay thai are different approaches to 'how to fight'. You can make both work, but I think taekwondo is less suited to most people because of the exceedingly high skill and athleticism levels needed to make it work. Its much easier to punch someone in the head than spinning heel kick them.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2013
  18. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

  19. Gnarlie

    Gnarlie Well-Known Member

    It is nothing to do with the culture of the art. These assumptions are the result of your limited exposure to the high level competitors of Taekwondo. There are many, many athletes in Taekwondo who carry an incredible conditioning regime. Explosiveness or no explosiveness, these players can play at full throttle for a very long time before endurance becomes an issue.

    It depends how willing people are to work on developing those kicks highly. Too many people lack the dedication, belief and discipline to take the kicks, footwork, strategy, and mentality to the level they need to be at to succeed.

    Though I appreciate and respect what Kwonkicker is doing as a fighter, I wouldn't view him as a high level Taekwondo competitor or a role model for the skills that a high level player should have.

    It doesn't need an exceedingly high degree of skill and athleticism to work (although at the highest levels those things are prerequisites). It needs a degree of experience, which many people never gain because they judge the art to be ineffective based on limited experience of it's use. How is it that older, retired fighters can still beat the younger generation in many cases, even though the older guys are not as explosive or athletic as they once were? Experience is important. Never fight an old man, they will beat you with treachery.
  20. bowlie

    bowlie Well-Known Member

    There are more that do not. I never once said taekwondo practitioners cant take it to the same level. I know quite a few who do. But I know the vast majority of people I know that train taekwondo dont, becasue they aren't competitive fighters, they are hobbyists that do the art for the love of the art.

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