Karate VS Muay-Thai | Which is The Better Martial Art?

muay thai

Karate and Muay-Thai are both effective martial arts. Learning either will naturally attract many benefits into your life, such as better physical condition and improved mental health. However, you may get confused when examining which one to learn. So, let’s compare Karate and Muay-Thai.

While Karate is a more fast-paced martial art, which utilizes punching and kicking, Muay-Thai is a martial art that focuses on greater impact and uses punching, kicking, elbowing, and clinching. Muay-Thai is more effective and suitable for self-defense because of its dynamic nature.

Nonetheless, Muay-Thai and Karate are different in many of their aspects. Yet, they’re also similar. Because of that, if you need to decide which one you want to learn, you may find it difficult to make a decisive and clear choice.

So, what can you do about it? Knowing the differences and similarities between the two martial arts will help you make a wiser choice.

Although they’re both fantastic, you might find one more suitable than the other. As a result, you’re more likely to stick with it and allow it to take part in your life.

Before we dive into the body of this article, I want to mention the many benefits martial arts will grant you. Although you may think it’s not that important, it is. Knowing the benefits will drastically increase your motivation to keep up with your training. Read this article I wrote about the benefits of martial arts.

Which is better, Karate or Muay-Thai?

Comparing two martial arts- is difficult. However, in this case, I immediately knew which one was more favorable. And still, it was challenging to write the following paragraph, as I’m a big fan of both fighting styles. So, which is better, Muay-Thai or Karate?

Muay-Thai is better than Karate because it teaches more effective and modern fighting techniques. The movements Karate doesn’t teach that Muay-Thai does are clinching, elbowing, and kneeing. These are highly practical and effective in self-defense and all fighting situations.

Still, Karate is a martial art I love because it has contributed so much to the martial arts community. Therefore, it was hard for me to state that Muay-Thai is better.

And yet, I stand by my words. Muay-Thai is better because it’s more adaptive and applicable to the modern world. Hence I trust Muay-Thai trainees will be capable of ensuring their safety in any self-defense or fighting scenario.

Next, we’ll discuss the differences between Muay-Thai and Karate.

The differences between Muay-Thai and Karate

Knowing the differences between Karate and Muay-Thai will eventually help you choose which one to learn. As a result, you’ll know which style is more suitable for your desires, increasing your chances of staying consistent.

The differences between Muay-Thai and Karate are the following list:

Next, we’ll examine each difference in greater depth. If you follow along, you’ll instantly know which style has you more excited, an indicator of a suitable fighting style.


Every martial art has its unique pace. While one may be faster, the other slower. Therefore, you may desire to learn a faster-paced fighting style instead of the opposite. So, let’s discuss our case.

Karate is a faster-paced martial art that doesn’t emphasize impactful hits. On the other hand, Muay-Thai is slower and focuses on impactful hits. Thus it’ll be best if you think with yourself about which one you want to learn regarding their paces.

To emphasize the fact pace of Karate, I encourage you to watch the following video.

Although it’s not as exciting as expected, it demonstrates how Karate uses fast movements and punches to catch the opponent off-guard. However, it also shows how it doesn’t utilize impactful hits since the entire point of Karate is to hit the opponent before they do the same.

Fighting techniques

As you’ll see in the future of this article, the fighting techniques are both similar and different. Well, that doesn’t make sense. So, let’s first discuss why it’s a difference, and later on, we’ll cover why it’s a similarity.

While Muay-Thai teaches kneeing, kicking, punching, elbowing, and clinching- Karate is the practice of punching and kicking (in many forms). As a result, you may desire to learn a martial art that utilizes various movements. If that’s the case, the first will be a more suitable choice.

In today’s world, being as dynamic and adaptive as possible is key to self-defense. Generally, the more adaptive a fighter you are, the better you’ll be at handling various dangerous situations.

Therefore, Muay-Thai is more practical for this than Karate. However, it doesn’t mean that it’s better. Some Karate trainees and masters will easily defeat any opponent that comes their way.

Nonetheless, when comparing two martial arts, it’s best to assume 2-fighters in the same skill range. So, in that case, the Muay-Thai trainee will beat the Karate trainee, as the first has more offensive and defensive options.

Notice how the two fighters use entirely different techniques. The shirtless man (Muay-Thai trainee) uses more impactful hits, while the Karate master uses more – less impactful hits.


The origin of the marital art you decide to learn- doesn’t impact as much as some think. However, it does influence many style/pace choices the martial art will have. For instance, some traditional Japanese martial arts are faster-paced.

Karate originates from Okinawa, an island in Japan. The people of Okinawa wanted to learn how to defend themselves. As a result, they constructed a new martial art; today, we know it as Karate.

Muay-Thai originates from the Philippines. It’s most known for its military use in the 13th century. Today, it’s the national sport of Thailand.

Japan and Thailand flags

Essentially, the origin may affect how the martial art will look. Hence because Muay-Thai originates from the Phillippines, its pace is slower.

Contrary, Karate origiantes from Japan. As a result, it’ll be faster-paced than the average martial art.

The similarities between Karate and Muay-Thai

All martial arts have similar traits. Thus it may get rather confusing when trying to decide which to learn. Next, we’ll discuss similar points between Muay-Thai and Karate. Eventually, knowing them- may organize your thoughts about these martial arts, which is critical for understanding them.


Purpose. The primary reason something exists. So, what’s the purpose of martial arts?

Martial arts are here to teach us fighting. A long time ago, people wanted to know about self-defense. Thus they constructed new ways of fighting. Today, these are what we know as martial arts, like Judo, BJJ, and Wrestling.

Karate’s and Muay-Thai’s purpose is to teach people to fight appropriately. As a result, you’ll achieve the same pursuit by learning both; you’ll learn to fight. However, their fighting approaches are different at their core. So, before you decide which one you’ll learn, ensure you understand their differences.

Eventually, they exist for a reason. So, it doesn’t matter that their names are different. Instead, they’re all part of the martial art community, which aims to learn to fight fiercely.

Fighting techniques

The second similarity is the fighting technique they teach. Beforehand, I mentioned this as a difference. So, which is it, a difference or a similarity?

Muay-Thai and Karate teach many alike fighting techniques, such as many punches and kicks. As a result, they’re similar in their movements but different in their approach. For example, both Muay-Thai and Karate teach the front kick, an effective and practical kicking technique.

I promised you the explanation, and here it is. Although Muay-Thai is the practice of additional fighting techniques, such as kneeing and elbowing and Karate doesn’t, they both teach many paired movements, such as kicks and punches.

For example, both Karate and Muay-Thai teach the straight punch, an effective punch.


The last similarity is the difficulties in the learning process. As you may already know, learning every martial art is physically and mentally demanding. Consequently, many people fold their cards before noticing the slightest of results.

Muay-Thai and Karate have incredibly hard-to-learn processes because they’re both intense workouts. As a result, both martial arts trainees experience the same difficulties, such as consistency, dedication, and hardships in learning the techniques.

So, don’t be discouraged when you really don’t feel like attending the next training session. Instead, embrace the hardships, as they’re the primary cause of self-development.

martial arts

Indeed, you can’t expect to develop and improve yourself by sticking with the easy tasks. Instead, try to habituate your body and mind to attending to hardships, the leading cause of development.

If you want to know how to make your training more accessible, ensure you read an article I wrote about how to make your Karate training easier.

I don’t see myself in the same position I’m in today without having gone through many difficult moments. So, the next time you don’t want to attend the following martial arts class, know and embrace it- it’s the only way to get better.

Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.

Helen Keller

Which is better for self-defense, Karate or Muay-Thai?

When discussing self-defense, our pursuit shifts. We no longer aim to learn as many techniques as possible and thus be dynamic. Instead, our goal becomes having the capability and the skill set to disable the opponent as swiftly as possible.

Muay-Thai is better than Karate for self-defense because it focuses on greater hits. Greater hits equal more significant impacts, which is more suitable for disabling an opponent quickly and effectively. That said, Karate is also effective for self-defense if used appropriately.

But again, if you want to study a martial art designed for self-defense, Muay-Thai is your favorable choice. Nonetheless, Karate trainees know how to use the techniques they learned to disable opponents easily and quickly.

The primary difference between the two is the impacts and the pace.

Because Muay-Thai is a somewhat slow-pace martial art, it’s best used for self-defense situations.

On the other hand, Karate is a relatively fast-paced martial art. As a result, it won’t focus on beating the opponent quickly but on catching the opponent off-guard, which may be more difficult in self-defense situations.

Eventually, self-defense is aggressiveness and explosiveness. If you didn’t learn and practice becoming a beast and giving it all in the first few seconds of the fight, you’re unprepared for self-defense.

Should I learn Muay-Thai or Karate?

Picking which martial art you’re about to learn- is a significant choice. While you’ll learn to fight in all fighting styles, there’s a particular tweak and uniqueness each grants its trainees. For example, Judo and BJJ teach grappling movements, which are entirely different from boxing or Kickboxing.

If you want to study a traditional martial art, which is fast-paced and teaches punches and kicks, consider studying Karate. On the other hand, if you desire to learn an aggressive fighting style- suitable for self-defense that teaches punching, kicking, elbowing, kneeing, and clinching, Muay-Thai is favorable.

But again, I want to emphasize the importance of choosing a martial art suitable for your desires. If you select a random one and start training, you may dislike its fighting approach. Eventually, it’ll lead to tiredness and unwillingness to learn, leading to giving up in the middle of the process.

However, if you choose a martial art suitable for your needs, you’ll be solid for the rest of the bumpy ride, as you’ll be eager to learn more and more.

Thus the initial decision regarding which martial art to learn- is important even if it doesn’t seem like it. It can be the difference between mastering a fighting style, knowing to fight appropriately, and giving up in the middle and not gaining anything.

Final words

Muay-Thai and Karate are fantastic and suitable for fighting martial arts. As a result, if you desire a way to learn to fight, start practicing either. Moreover, they’ll provide their trainees with many other benefits, such as better physical condition, increased self-esteem, and lowered stress and aggression levels.

Martial arts can and will be a prominent part of your life. They’ll grant you many benefits, such as better physical shape and confidence. These traits are highly desirable, and they’ll improve your mental health.

That said, although these traits and benefits are incredibly appealing, they’re not why martial arts exist. They’re here for a reason: to teach people how to fight.

Because of that, if you want to learn the correct way of fighting, it’ll be best to choose a suitable martial art and start training as soon as possible.

If you want to read a walkthrough of the different martial arts and how to know which is most suitable, follow the link to an article of mine on the best martial arts for self-defense you should learn.


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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