Muay Thai vs. Dutch Kickboxing

by Tom Reynolds on January 20, 2011

As we saw in the best kickboxing fight of 2010, kickboxing can be a very exciting and explosive sport.  There is also a great deal of different strategies and styles that play into the sport that we see today. While there are several different styles of kickboxing, the two most dominant are typically seen as Muay Thai and Dutch Kickboxing.

What is Muay Thai?

We covered what Muay Thai is in our article explaining the differences between Savate and Muay Thai. To recap, Muay Thai is an ancient form of kickboxing that uses knees, elbows, kicks and punches.

There is a major emphasis on the clinch and crisp technique. Muay Thai matches are scored with a huge emphasis on kicks to the body and head, clean knees, and technical strikes. Also, there are typically five rounds with the last two rounds being weighed much heavier by the judges than the first three.

What is Dutch Kickboxing?

Dutch Kickboxing has a lot of similarities to Boxing and Muay Thai.  It’s commonly believed that Dutch Kickboxing is simply a mix between the two.  While not entirely wrong, that’s not the real story.

Dutch Kickboxing really came from several Kyokushin Martial Artists. Kyokushin Karate is a devastating full contact martial art that UFC great, Georges St. Pierre earned his blackbelt in. Mas Oyama is the pioneer of this martial art. Before Mas Oyama passed, a good friend of mine, Cameron Quinn, was one of his top students and his main translator.  Cameron has a great website, Budo Karate.

Several high level Kyokushin Karatekas fought in Thailand and found that there karate was being devastated by the Thais.  They decided to train in Muay Thai and add the speed and agility of Kyokushin to the devastating power and clinch of Muay Thai. Later, they held several Muay Thai tournaments in Holland which began the Dutch Kickboxing we know today.

Comparing Muay Thai to Dutch Kickboxing

Punches – Boxing in Muay Thai is very limited as punches aren’t scored very highly.  Most Thai fighters would rather clinch when they get in punching range. Dutch Kickboxers are known to have some of the best hands in kickboxing.

Kicks – Both styles typically use the shin as a point of contact and kick to the leg and head.  Thai fighters tend to kick to the body more than the Dutch.

Movement and Stance – Thai fighters have an upright stance with their weight almost entirely on the back leg. They are rewarded by the crowd and judges for marching forward at a slow pace and constant pressure.

Dutch fighters tend to have much more movement in and out of strikes.  They also tend to  have more of an angled and split boxing stance than the Thai’s.

Clinch – Thai’s emphasize the clinch much more than the Dutch.  The Dutch usually aim to fight in K-1 where only one strike at a time is allowed once you clinch.

In Muay Thai, fighters are allowed to strike from the clinch for a much more extended period of time.  Clean knee strikes are one of the highest scoring strikes in Muay Thai.

Elbows – Very few Dutch gyms even train elbows.  In K-1 and most other organizations, elbows are banned.  Thai fighters emphasize elbows greatly.  Usually two fighters that respect each other limit the elbows as its shown as a sign bordering disrespect.  Elbows end careers temporarily as they tend to leave large gashes.  Most Thai fighters fight often to keep food on the table so when someone throws an elbow, it’s on.

Andy Souwer vs. Buakaw Por Pramuk – K-1 World Max 2009

This is a great fight showing Dutch Kickboxing vs Muay Thai in action.  Although the rules are in the Dutch’s favor, Buakaw held his own.

Here is a nice, short video on the origins of Dutch Kickboxing from some of the pioneers. There are some very cool, historical videos and pictures throughout.  The video also talks a little about the rule changes in K-1.

What are your thoughts on the different forms of kickboxing?

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  • MmaToday

    And all these years, I had the understanding that Dutch Kickboxing was a pure mix of boxing and Muay Thai.
    The kyokushin base makes a great deal of sense.

    Good article

  • Botz Man

    I spoke to the late Ramon Dekkers and have seen him fight in Bangkok. RIP Ramon. He is without a doubt the most legendary Dutch fighter in the sport. When asked what is his style, he will tell you without hesitation – that it’s Muay Thai. Yes, the Dutch emphasizes boxing more, but since when did it become Dutch Kickboxing? And this Kyokushin thing – it’s style was influenced by Muay Thai. Prior to the Japanese encounter with Muay Thai, no karate manual ever showed them kicking with their shins. The late Kru Yodtong slapped the crap out of a Japanese guy when he tried to say the style was created by the Japanese. Lately guys like Hardonk, etc. are trying to say that they’re doing Dutch Kickboxing and not Muay Thai. Well, I heard it from Ramon Dekkers himself – it’s Muay Thai. Muay Thai allows you to emphasize different weapons that you are good at. I am amazed at the disrespect that comes out of people’s mouth especially after they were fortunate enough to be taught the sport.

    • ABA

      Botz Man, I respectfully disagree.
      Ramon Dekkers(RIP) and any other fighter can choose to call himself what ever he wants. Some call themselves after their first martial art, some after most prominent one and others after ruleset they most often fight under.
      Traditional Muay Thai had very limited boxing compared to modern MT and even more Dutch kickboxing. This is said by many martial historians and even legendary MT fighters like Apidej Sit-Hirun have admitted the difference western boxing training made. When Dutch guys started to practice MT it was already hybridized with boxing and they add even more boxing.
      Also regarding shin kicking, do you think that it’s only sign to determine Dutch kickboxing parent arts? MT is NOT everything. Traditional MT had certain rhythm, style and emphasize. Some things where very common, other was very rare or virtually unknown. Things like true short straight punches, slipping, bob n weave, bouncy footwork, lead leg roundhouse kick without switch step, snap front kicks, axe kicks, wheel kicks, different stances, different guards, different jumping kicks’ variations, rolling with punches etc. These things kickboxing got from other sources like boxing karate, TKD, savate etc. I don’t see what’s wrong with calling Dutch hybrid style Dutch kickboxing. Compare different styles between guys like Semmy Schilt, Ernesto Hoost, Buakaw Por Pramuk, Andy Souwer. You want to tell that it’s all just MT. Kickboxing has many different styles, and while MT is great style it is not this all-encompassing term that describes any kind of stand up striking.

  • PJEmmen

    Botz Man is right and wrong. Either way he has a bee in his bonnet.
    One of the Kyokushin fighters who fought against the Thais in the famous challenge in 1964, Kenji Kurosaki, went to Holland in about 1966 to teach and train Kyokushin with Jon Bluming who was mainly a judo guy. Kurosaki was very much Kyokushin but added Thai elements like shin kicks to the body. He was also (I believe) the one who first coined the word “kickboxing”. Before that Kyokushin kicked with the shin mainly to the neck, head and groin. All this was going on WELL before champions like Dekker were even born. Thom Harrinck and Jan Voss were also Kyokushin roots very strongly influenced (more and more as the years passed) by Muay Thai. Sure Kyokushin was influenced by Muay Thai, as is any fighting style that has the sense to take what works and discard the rest. You could also say that Kyokushin has been very influential with a LOT of fighting styles and most of the fighters who have fought Muay Thai but came from somewhere else f

    rst were mainly from Kyokushin or Kyokushin breakaways. Kyokushin in Holland has always been strong. Check out some Kyokushin vids on Youtube and you’ll see that while it has been influenced by MT it still maintains its own unique qualities. All styles are fluent and fluid and serve the purpose for which they were created. Kyokushin has been hugely influential so why diss it?

  • bruski lawton

    muay thai clinch throws ?

    can you pummel and hand fight like a greco roman wrestler ?

    g-r is much like thai clinch entries… you must accept and beleave this .

    there are about five different allowed and used methods of throws from clinch .

    1)first group is over hook– plaaam. single or double collar ties.

    2)next is belly 2 belly .upper- mid- lower=back crack position

    3)mixed grip . i have called half love vs body lock full love .

    4) ***half over collar and other hand on bicept – c-grip-some will call this meat hook-swand grip . cobra grip.!!!

    this is the most desirable grip because you can stear or move into elbow and more.

    you must learn to pummel and hand fight -TRANSITION OUT OF THESE GRIPS.

    slow and light weight pressure -grippings..

    if you cant find a partner to practice with lift weights . bumbells and kettle weights- non-stop for five minute sets..

    them middel eastern wrestlers use indian clubs and spin them all about the body -over head and around for

    strength conditioning.

    GRECO clinch aids every thing about muay thai clinch..

    lets talk about CLINCH throws .

    1 ) there is a knee bump lead in to pull type throw- this is like the one bukow does.

    this is for a fast nimble fighter only. learn about push pull hand action for throws.VERY EXPLOSIVE.

    2) there is a leveraged throw -fulcrum , where you place your knee aside of the opponets thigh just above the knee

    cap and pull them. YOU MAY NEED TO FORCE AND FALL DOWN ON TOP OF THEM-if fulcrum action is

    ineffective or failed..

    3) twist throw -mostly from body lock .LEG POSITIONING MATTERS .

    4) pull down -sit down throw. MOVING FORWARD OR BACKWARD HELPS. backwards is much like a lateral

    drop – but has a knee entry ..

    5) from double collar tie-plumm twist an arm and stear the apponent step direction to twist quickly and jerk

    there head down.

    the majority of the time a knee is a predesessor -lead in and PLANTED in the proper place for the next action to


    therefore you must have and use a good round knee and PLACE it next to the opponents thigh and explode into

    you next move.




    leg grabbing aint allowed in this game sorry dirty boys this is stand up clinch fighting .

    this is a first year out line of needs to be met. there are deeper explanations and supplemental drill to aid development of everything said and more ..

    muay thai clinch in not eazy and it more than hugging each other -as fools will say

  • tumm down

    all them mma fight analysts talking and no one sees the greco roman hand fighting holly holm used to set up that ultimate kick to the head.

    shame on all those paid fools just talking big time poo.
    them worthless commentators are not much more than big time talking heads.

    this was holly holm foot work in greco roman wrestling dressed up and sold as boxing foot work.
    they both share the same lunge step and thats why it look the same ..

    GRECO ROMAN STYLE HAND FIGHTING TECHNIQUES WITH good lunge stepping was employed to the best advantage and set up rousey for her ultimate loss !!

    if any one finds a video with the top -over head camera of the fight they can clearly see a shoulder bump to a SNAP DOWN this definitely disoriented rusey and therefore was going down and facing away – trying to stand up . BUT got a good shin kick across her neck and jaw . lights out

  • mr. machine works well

    you`s need these machines in the gym to help aid rapid development of muay thai clinch throws . and snap down .

    now dont be suprised to see foot ball sleds – throw machine – throw dummy –
    iowa snapper machine for excellent snap downs- _ adam wrestling machine -hug crash mats.

    everything mentioned is great to aid clinch skills development in muay thai and clinch throws .

    remember ! junior leaguess and the high schools use tackle -line backer sleds to aid skill developement and more.

    i say if a gym is expensive and considered up-scale and training fighters these machines will be great aid and supplement to develop and avoid injury as well.
    cross fit versus the quipment in the video`s ??????

    expedite or procrastinate time is against all of us ..

    watch the listed utube links and see what is really needed in a fully supplied gym.

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