CombatDocket logo
Boxing / Striking
Buying Guides
The Combat Docket
A collection of MMA events, where to watch and where to get tickets.
CombatDocket logo

Muay Thai Vs BJJ - A Detailed Comparison

Robert Green
Published: July 15, 2021
Updated: July 11, 2023

* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


This article takes a close look at the similarities and differences between Muay Thai and Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ), two immensely popular fighting styles.

Here are the main differences regarding Muay Thai Vs BJJ. Muay Thai is famous for its use of kicks. There are many different kinds of Muay Thai kicks, like a roundhouse kick, an axe kick (also called Muay Thai up-kick), a powerful reverse spinning back kick, andjump-kicks are also common. Muay Thai fighters strike at their opponents with knees and shins just as much as they do with elbows and fists.

Brazilian jujitsu on the other hand is more focused on grappling and ground fighting than Muay Thai which focuses on stand up striking although stand up BJJ can be very explosive too but it takes time to learn it. BJJ is known for its chokes, arm locks and its famous MMA move the guillotine choke where you lock in a choke hold with your arms, legs or both, rendering you opponent unable to breathe.

So: Muay Thai focuses more on stand up striking while BJJ focuses more on grappling.

With that info, let's take a close look at each style, and then compare and contrast the similarities and differences.

Muay Thai

BANGKOK THAILAND- SEPTEMBER 25 : Thai Fight : Muay Thai..World

Muay Thai is an ancient and traditional martial art that originated in Thailand. One of the most famous elements of Muay Thai is its use of fists known as "boxing", "kicks" or "feet". It's also a conditioning training that helps one improve sensitivity, reflexes, muscle tone and stamina. It's made up of several standup techniques including punches (direct and indirect), elbows, knee strikes, kicks (to include shins) and open-handed blows to the body such as slaps or palm strikes. The majority of the fight takes place standing.


Muay Thai generally requires a good pair of wraps for hands, gloves and shin guards. The protective gear is needed for training and competitions and is toughened by the usage. Modern fighters are in fact encouraged to wear a chest protector, mouth guard, groin guard as well as cup for protection.


To start a match, combatants will do a ceremonial dance before being positioned on the corners of the ring. They will wait for the Thai judge to count them out when they're about to step into the ring.

The referee will then begin the countdown starting from 10 and end at 1, as this is when they can start fighting. The round ends when one fighter is either knocked out or yields.

The fight can be stopped anytime by throwing in a towel or if one of the fighters is injured and refuses to go on. Upon agreeing to stop, an announcement will be made by the judges while they hold up their hand, showing it's over. The fighter that yielded will not lose any points.

Here’s a great article about the complete rules of Mauy Thai competition.


Muay Thai has a centuries-old history. It was developed by laborers who had to have a form of self defense. Muay Thai is an intense cardiovascular workout and it is also used as a form of self defense. Training in Muay Thai includes striking, clinching and throwing techniques.

Brazilian Jujitsu

A young woman in a kimono makes a painful reception. Judo, jujitsu. Tatami, gym

Brazilian Jujitsu was developed from Japanese judo. When the art came to Brazil, its emphasis on groundwork was amplified and ground-fighting skills were developed. This is because Brazilian judo, which is a sport, did not include groundwork or submissions. It also involves standing up grappling techniques, with these techniques borrowed from modern Greco-Roman wrestling and catch wrestling.

Brazilian Jujitsu came of age when it was included in international martial arts competitions such as the 2003 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro.


Brazilian Jujitsu focuses on grappling techniques. It is practiced with the purpose of using joint-locks and chokeholds, which result in immediate submission or injury to an opponent.


The original equipment used in Brazilian Jujitsu was a judogi. Unlike most modern day gis, the judogi was intended more for use as a uniform and less for sportive competition. Since its inception, there are different variations of the original design in regards to material, weight and color though the traditional design is a lighter weight kimono made from cotton or cotton-poly blend fabric with wide lapel and draw string waistband.


-The use of the knee in binding an opponent's legs is not allowed.

-Locks performed on standing opponents are considered at a disadvantage, as it is easier for the opponent to "escape" via leg movement.

-A judoka must always have an open hand near his or her face, and may protect his or her ears with his/her arms against elbow strikes by standing more upright than usual so that those structures are less exposed.

-Many types of both offensive and defensive techniques exist in Brazilian Jujitsu such as joint locks, chokes, throws, holds and immobilizations.


The Brazilian Jujitsu culture is grounded in the principle that grappling is a form of self-defense. Training one’s ability to grapple and fight on the ground is encouraged unrestricted as they do not subscribe to the limitations given by most other martial arts. To them, it's about developing the skills required to survive a true street fight. Because of this, Brazilian Jujitsu is often considered a complete martial art in and of itself.

Muay Thai Vs BJJ Similarities

There are few similarities between these two fighting styles. Both Muay Thai and BJJ are very effective when used in MMA competition. Well both are focused on winning the competition, you will find that there are many more differences then similarities.

Muay Thai and BJJ Differences

Muay Thai, or Thai boxing, is a martial art that uses the fighter's standup expertise to defend against a takedown or land a high kick. Unlike judo and jujitsu, Muay Thai forbids the usage of the knees in any capacity. Another difference between judo and jujitsu is that in the latter you can use your opponent's clothes to bring them closer to you while in Muay Thai this is not possible. Lastly, while BJJ focuses on grappling techniques, in Muay Thai there are no such restrictions which means you can use whatever technique necessary without getting penalized for it.

Which One Should I Learn?

We think that BJJ is a good skill to learn first, though it really depends on what you're looking to do in your MMA career/training.

If your goal in training MMA is to go pro, then BJJ will be a great skill to learn first. If you want to get started fighting in the ring, then learning Muay Thai or kickboxing (if you plan on doing K-1) will be your best bet. Obviously if you have more time and want to make it into a career for yourself you should choose both but one of those two would probably be better at the current stage in your development than the other.

But who knows? You might even find that both are equally as good for your career path!

We hope this article has been useful and we wish you luck in choosing what martial art discipline suits you best!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We love comments, and we appreciate the time that readers spend to share ideas. We are always happy for feedback on our content! That said, all of your comments will be reviewed by moderators before they're allowed in order to avoid spamming or promotional messages from getting through.


* If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram