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Knockdown and Thai Boxing compared

Posted 09-27-2008 at 05:01 PM by tmd
Knockdown and Thai Boxing compared

Firstly I would like to note that I got the basis of this thread from a 19 year old Kyokushin magazine article written by a third dan who also competed in Thai Boxing. The other point to note is that this is comparing Knockdown to Thai Boxing, not Kyokushin Karate.

Thai Boxing is a sport, so is Knockdown. Both train at certain techniques to win within a certain set of rules. When rules and prizes are involved then it is a sport.
The toughest Karate competition is Knockdown and the toughest ring sport Thai Boxing. Both types of fighters train very hard and are well disciplined, therefore both deserve respect.

Some problems Knockdown fighters would have in the ring

The major differences in Thai Boxing are that you are constantly attacked with head punches, grabbed and thrown. The head punches cause you to always be aware that you could be cut or knocked out by a punch at any time, therefore the delivery of your own attacks have to start from a greater distance away. You can’t just march forward until you are in range to attack, without putting your head in danger. Also you cannot always deliver your kicks with full bodyweight and power because sometimes you may have to lean backwards instead of forward, to avoid the head punches. Grabbing and throwing drains your energy fast, because you are trying to tie your opponent up to prevent him from punching or throwing you and at the same time you are trying to punch and throw him. Whilst this is happening both fighters are also attacking with knees to the body and legs in order to wear each other down. Points are also awarded for throws and the amount of work you do when you are in these clinches. This is why ring craft is very important – to avoid the amount of times you get caught up in clinches or trapped in the corner. This type of fighting looks very untidy, but you need to experience it to realise how hard it is. These differences change the whole structure of the fight, compared with Knockdown.

Stamina, conditioning and diet are just as demanding as in Knockdown.
Most other defences, attacks and combinations are also in Knockdown.

Problems Thai-Boxers would have in Knockdown

Thai- fighters biggest problems would be: Fighting range, being punched with bare fists to the body, sweeps, a much greater diversity of kicks to deal with, less round time to get to the win and having to fight many different fighters on the one day.
Where Thai-Boxers always fight with gloves on, they do not do as much damage to the body conversely they are not used to receiving as much damage as a knockdown fighter. These attacks to the body would open them up for other techniques to get in such as head kicks or knees. Also wearing gloves restricts skilful open hand blocking techniques and the use of skilful sweeps. Because they cannot punch to the head, a Knockdown fighter would close the fighting range down to his advantage and use more close in techniques.

In Thai-Boxing you know before hand who your opponent will be and how many rounds you will have, therefore they would have problems coping with having many different opponents in one day and coping with the accumulation of injuries common in Knockdown and uncertainly as to how many rounds will be fought.


There are some beneficial points to be gained form training in Thai Boxing, the main things being: Repeatedly training head punches, learning to dodge head punches, constantly blocking and countering head punches and learning holds and throws – all things that can come up in a street fight.

There are also great benefits to training for Knockdown tournaments, the need to be very well condition, to be explosive, to be able to fight at different ranges including up close, used to taking bare fist punches and using evasive blocking and movement.
As with all form of competitions there are limitations so there is not perfect competition.

It is highly recommended that once a Kyokushin fighter has gained sufficient a proficient level in fighting and a reasonable grade that they experience training and fighting in the Thai-Boxing style to expand their knowledge of fighting to be able to be more adaptive in their own fighting but also more able to defend against similarly trained individuals in a self defence situation.

Karate training goes a lot lot deeper than just competitive fighting but should include it. In competitions there is always a limit to the number of techniques you can use, so therefore it takes a limited amount of time to learn where as Karate is a way of life and the learning is limitless.

I believe that a Karateka who thinks and trains only for competitions must be careful not to lose the true essence of the fighting arts.
Total Comments 9



Nice write up and good points to consider on both sides!

I dont think I will ever compete in Thai Boxing but Enshin style knockdown I would love too!

Posted 09-30-2008 at 12:06 AM by MilkManX MilkManX is offline
Great article.
Posted 10-04-2008 at 06:16 PM by wessel wessel is offline
Brad's Avatar

Great write up.
Posted 10-13-2008 at 11:41 PM by Brad Brad is offline
supergroup7's Avatar
Osu Thank you for this comparison! It is very interesting to see the differences, and to understand them better.
Posted 10-30-2008 at 12:21 PM by supergroup7 supergroup7 is offline
powerof0ne's Avatar
I've competed in both(Enshin knockdown, Kyokushin knockdown, Intl. rules kickboxing, modified muay thai, and muay thai rules) and honestly do much better in kickboxing & Muay Thai competition over knockdown competition but I still like knockdown kumite a lot. I pretty much agree with this write up 100%.
I still haven't met the person that can simultaneously do good at knockdown kumite and thaiboxing. Everyone I have trained with that has competed in both or competes in both "takes a break" from the other to focus on what rules they're competing under. However, I have noticed that Thaiboxers may have problems doing well in knockdown kumite competition but typically don't get hurt much. Just my own observance. In my opinion it's because a Thaiboxer is trained to keep their hands up to block head kicks but you're spot on about them being easy to land bareknuckle tsuki on to the body.
Great read.
Posted 11-03-2008 at 05:38 PM by powerof0ne powerof0ne is offline
Osu! Great blog!
I have trained and competed in knockdown karate and modified Thai and regular Thai.
I also competed in Golden Gloves boxing for 3 years. I took 2nd place in the 1999 Great Northwest Sabaki and 2nd place in the 2002
IKF kickboxing national tournament.
I found boxing to be my hardest test as most boxers, this is all they train in, so it is their element. However, I found my boxing training and competition helped me in my timing, distancing, footwork and conditioning for knockdown karate and Muay Thai.
Posted 12-10-2008 at 11:03 PM by 49ers1970 49ers1970 is offline
Great article! Very well thought
Posted 05-22-2009 at 07:36 PM by agulluni agulluni is offline
great article, i think a lot of discussions regarding which MA is better could be prevented if they read this article....
Posted 01-05-2010 at 08:36 AM by btk btk is offline
tmd's Avatar
OSU! BTK - I 100% agree which is why I don't tend to like getting drawn into such discussions as it always feels like I'm repeating myself, repeating myself... If I knew how I would just post a link to this blog each time...
Posted 01-05-2010 at 10:43 AM by tmd tmd is offline