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I started watching fighting sports with this recent grow of the UFC and MMA. I picked Muay Thai because it looks the funniest for my standards, it's explosive and not static so it would be my first choice. I started looking for gyms around my house and I found some Muay Thai gyms and a Muay Boran one. Now I know nothing about Muay Boran, I just read that Muay Boran is closer to the original martial art Muay Thai derived from and that is in fact a "purer" martial art with respect to Muay Thai which is closer to a sport.

What are the differences in the techniques between the two arts?

I wouldn't compete, since I'm already 23 and a total beginner I don't think there's place for me in competition. For the first years it will be a total amateur thing that's for sure.

  • Welcome to the site. I heavily edited your question to remove material that was not relevant to the question and some that was opinion-based. You might want to add whether or not you plan to compete (amateur or professional) or not. I would strongly recommend you took the tour as well to learn how the site works. – Sardathrion - Reinstate Monica Aug 5 '16 at 14:11
  • As to which art is more fun, we cannot answer that question. Why not go to both gyms and see which one is more fun for you? See this or this questions as to how to chose a gym. – Sardathrion - Reinstate Monica Aug 5 '16 at 14:14
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TL;DR - These schools have names that refer to different concepts.


From what I could gather, Muay Boran seems to refer to "Thai martial arts" in a broader sense, while Muay Thai refers to a specific art. This is much like you finding a "Karate" dojo and wondering if this "Karate" is better or more interesting than the rival "Shotokan" or "Kyokushin" dojo.

Etymologically speaking, "Muay" refers to boxing and "Boran" refers to something old, ancient. "Muay Boran" thus refers to traditional, or old-style, boxing. In older times, Thai martial arts were localized and often bore the name of the city or region where it was most known. One such example is Muay Chaiya, originating in the city of Chaiya. The name basically meant Chaiya-style Boxing, not unlike the names of the Okinawan arts that eventually became known as Karate (Shuri-te - fist of Shuri; Naha-te - fist of Naha; Tomari-te - fist of Tomari). All of these styles were eventually grouped under the Muay Boran umbrella, including Muay Thai, which is probably the most commonly known of these arts.

That being said, it certainly doesn't mean that the Muay Boran school teaches less effective techniques. Perhaps the instructor there practices a much lesser known style, and referring to it as "Muay Boran" instead of something no one's ever heard of might be more attractive to people that have at least heard the name "Muay Thai". Perhaps this school teaches a more modern, composite style, such as Lerdrit, the martial arts of the Royal Thai Army, or some Thai version of Mixed Martial Arts, incorporating many techniques from different styles to form a complete art. The only way to know is to go there and ask! Who knows, maybe this Muay Boran school actually teaches Muay Thai but chose to use another name for various reasons...

  • On the naming for various reasons subject, I once talked to instructors at a "karate" school where the beginning curriculum was tae kwon do, and advanced students learned Shotokan karate. They found it simpler for marketing reasons simply to call it all karate. – mattm Aug 5 '16 at 15:09
  • @mattm - Having taught white belts with a former TKD background, I can attest to the fact that TKD entry-level techniques translate really well into karate with very minor adjustments. Tae Kwon Do and Karate have a lot of shared ancestry so, while I've never seen a school such as you describe, I can totally see why a teacher would want to do it. Concentrate on the basics (kicks, punches, basic blocks) with TKD, then delve deeper into advanced techniques and tuidi with karate. Makes sense! – Dungarth Aug 5 '16 at 17:59

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