In Kickboxing front kick, the same side hand does Not go down. In Muay Thai front kick the hand does go down. What is the reason for this difference?


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  • Generally, it's just cultural difference. Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 2:21

2 Answers 2


I think this comes down to different cultures due to scoring systems and should not be generalised.

In kickboxing, it is actively encouraged to keep your guard up at all times, including when throwing a kick. That is because you want to minimise risk as hits taken adding up to dizziness is what is to be avoided at all costs and depending on the rules, even light hits may count as a score against you.

In Muay Thai, on the other hand, a display of dominance is your main goal. Accordingly, fighters more often consciously let their guard down in order to show 'look, I don't even need to protect myself against this guy'. Also, if you are not actively trained to keep your hands in front and up, this is the more natural thing to do to keep your balance.

Thus, it comes down to slightly more power with the help of this counter-movement of the arm vs. slightly more defensive capabilities with a hand out ready for block/parry. I wouldn't say that these differences generally hold between these two sports though, as the emphasis on power or safety respectively isn't tied to the sport as such, beyond the mentioned cultural difference.

Accordingly, you will find both in pictures and technical descriptions of both sports, although Muay Thai that is explicitly trained in the context of MMA tends to have their guard/hand up as well, as goals and demands are similar to full contact kickboxing.

  • which form is used in MMA UFC? Hands up or hands down? trying to look at youtube videos right now
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 13:45
  • in MMA UFC, its same side hands are down it seems youtube.com/watch?v=qDzTKoKf920
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 13:48
  • By the way your answer is interesting, is this something you read articles or more derived from your own research/cognition? I like to spar based on logic technique , and not due to cultural pressure, glad you brought this up
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 0:33

I think you will find that it is simply a stylistic difference. Muay Thai tends to drop the arm and use it to pump in the opposite direction for a few of their kicks, most notably the front kick and the roundhouse.

When I did some (limited) training in muay thai I was told that this pump action in the opposite direction to the kick is to increase power, however based on experience I don't believe the movement itself does add power - it tends to help balance more than anything. As you'll see from kickboxing and karate, the pump motion is unnecessary and you can generate significant power without it, although it does take considerably longer to master the technique. So it could be argued that using the pump motion assists with balance enough that beginners or junior students can increase the power of the kick at a faster rate with less training.

  • thanks, do atheletes not want the arm pump motion for kickboxing?
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 17:03
  • No, I wouldn't say it that way - I would say that they don't need, or get no benefit from the arm pump. The arm pump introduces some risk because it lowers the guard, but that risk isn't great due to the longer range of kicks - so I'd suggest that it all comes down to benefit. If there's no benefit, there's no point doing it. So why do muay thai fighters keep doing it? Simply because that is how they've always trained, it's a hindrance to them if they try and not use it.
    – slugster
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 23:43
  • hi , surprised nobody stood up in Muay thai, and stopped doing that to prevent being hit extra
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 16:51
  • 1
    In my opinion the muay thai practitioners get away with it because both fighters in a match are doing it, and also because they tend to have a backward lean during some of these kicks, which puts the head out of reach of the opponent (so you don't need the hands as a guard).
    – slugster
    Commented Feb 3, 2022 at 22:39

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