Muay Thai and wrestling are two major options for anyone looking to pick up a combat sport. While many see the former as one of the most lethal forms of martial arts, the latter can also help cultivate strength, speed, and endurance. Which style is better for you?

Muay Thai is better if you want to learn martial arts for self-defense. The goal is to immobilize the opponent quickly using the limbs. Wrestling is better for you if you want to stay fit and perhaps participate in competitions with strict guidelines. 

In this Muay Thai vs wrestling article, I’ll analyze each style to help you decide which is best for you. 

The Arguments for Muay Thai

Muay Thai, also known as the “art of the eight limbs,” focuses on quickly beating opponents using the limbs. The focus is always on landing the most painful hit possible to neutralize an opponent. For this reason, some Muay Thai techniques are not allowed in martial art competitions, including MMA.  

The bulk of Muay Thai skills focus on landing hits on specific parts of the body.

Therefore, it’s unlike other combat sports where experience and mastering certain skills increases the odds of beating your opponents. The best Muay Thai fighters combine techniques, aggression, and speed to overwhelm the opponent. 

The combination makes Muay Thai a perfect sport to pick up if you’re interested in self-defense. You’ll learn how to transform your hands, knees, and elbows into potent weapons against any assailants. 

The Arguments Against Muay Thai

Muay Thai doesn’t teach a few important elements of combat sports, such as ground fighting and fluidity. Therefore, if your opponent is adept at Judo or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, they could take you down quickly and immobilize you. Similarly, agile opponents can dodge hits and counter quickly because Muay Thai “shots” typically require full commitment.

Also, the lack of choreographed moves doesn’t make Muay Thai any less painful to learn. It could take months of intense pain to train your limbs for Muay Thai fighting.

The Arguments for Wrestling 

Wrestling is a combat sport that teaches a blend of speed, endurance, functional strength, and technical skill. It’s a good combat sport to pick up if you’re more focused on improving physical fitness. In wrestling training, you’ll learn grappling skills and how to use your strength in combination with speed and power to subdue opponents.

You’ll need to adhere to set rules if you intend to compete professionally, as wrestling isn’t a no-holds-barred sport. The exact rules will vary depending on your level. For example, high school and collegiate wrestling rules differ from Olympic wrestling rules.

The skills picked up in wrestling can also translate well to the real world. Knowing how to forcefully keep someone under control can be useful in self-defense situations. The mental toughness required to become a wrestler can also help you become better in your chosen fields of endeavor.

The Arguments Against Wrestling

Wrestling is a regimented combat sport you should ideally practice in controlled environments. Therefore, it’s mostly useful to people who want to participate in competitions and win trophies. However, competitive wrestling brings a plethora of pressures with it. 

Apart from having excellent aerobic health, you’ll need to pass weight requirements for your category. Some wrestlers practice harmful eating habits to stay within the weight requirements. There’s also the risk of injuries, as with other combat sports.

As a self-defense combat sport, wrestling comes up short. In real-world conditions, the opportunity to use grappling skills to bring down an opponent may not arise. In such situations, hand combat is likely to come up trumps. 

Muay Thai vs Wrestling: Which Should You Choose?

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to do the Muay Thai v. wrestling comparison. You can learn both to become a well-rounded combat sports expert. However, if you have to choose between them, pay attention to your core motivations.

You should choose wrestling if you’re looking for a combat sport to help you stay fit and occasionally participate in competitions. If you’re looking to pick up a combat sport for self-defense purposes, Muay Thai is the better choice. 

Because Muay Thai techniques combine strength and swiftness, a Muay Thai expert can immobilize an untrained assailant within seconds. A wrestling expert can win medals in controlled environments but may lose against assailants in a “no-rules” situation. 

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see why the Muay Thai vs wrestling has gone on for so long. You can’t ignore wrestling because many believe it’s the foundation of martial arts. On the other hand, Muay Thai has grown to become one of the best methods of self-defense. 

Still, both of them have their strengths and weaknesses. The better style for you is one that aligns with your motivations for picking up a martial art. Wrestling is great for staying at a top-level of fitness, and Muay Thai excels in self-defense scenarios.

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