Most of you might be familiar with Muay Thai, the art of 8 limbs. But in addition to Muay Thai, there is another variant of martial art that is not so common presently, lethwei. Also termed as the art of 9 limbs, we categorize lethwei as the most brutal martial art. Lethwei vs Muay Thai , which will be more effective?
From training to fighting, both lethwei and Muay Thai are similar in terms of KOs, damage, and techniques. But the question arises what the difference between the two variants is, and lethwei vs. Muay Thai- which one is more effective is.
So, without wasting a bit more time, let’s directly dive into more comprehensive details of the two types and explore which one of the two is more effective and better.
WHAT IS LETHWEI?
Lethwei, also known as Burmese boxing, has its roots in Myanmar. Like other martial arts, it also comes from Southeast Asian countries. History has shown that armies used Lethwei effectively for self-defense and protection.
ART OF 9 LIMBS
Lethwei is more commonly termed as the art of 9 limbs, as it is used comparatively with the Art of 8 limbs Muay Thai. We call it the Art of 9 limbs because it actively uses nine parts of the body while fighting:
- Two hands
- Two elbows
- Two knees
- Two feets
Yes, and that is the weapon of lethwei too. The headbutts make it so deadly, brutal, and effective and turn out to be a complete game-changer. This extra weapon gives lethwei the edge over all the other forms of martial arts, even over Muay Thai.
TECHNIQUES USED IN LETHWEI:
Though there is a far-ranging list of techniques used in lethwei boxing, below is a list of a few:
- Knee strikes
- Sweeps and throws
WHAT IS MUAY THAI?
Muay Thai, previously termed Muay Boran, is a type of boxing as well as a martial art. It uses eight parts, instead of nine, of the body in its techniques and strokes. It is famous and recognized at the international level.
Now that we are well up with the basics of the two types of martial arts, let’s discuss their rules, similarities, differences, techniques, and other ways to find out which one is more effective in a specific scenario. Until then, stay tuned and continue reading.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- THE RULESETS
When comparing the rules of lethwei and Muay Thai, the traditional rules of both are almost similar.
- In lethwei or Burmese boxing, the winner is declared when the opponent is no longer in a state to fight.
- These rounds continue for up to 5. It is a draw if both the fighters continue to stand in all five rounds, and none of them knocks down the opponent.
- There is no scoring system found in lethwei. You need to knock down the opponent completely.
- There is an additional 2 minutes timeout that you can take in a lethwei match. Moreover, if the chance of a draw increases, the timeout time also increases.
Muay Thai Rules:
- In Muay Thai, there is a proper scoring system.
- There are a total of five rounds in this type of martial art too.
- No use of any technique that involves any other body part instead of the eight mentioned above.
SIMILARITIES IN TECHNIQUES OF LETHWEI AND MUAY THAI
It won’t be wrong to assert that the similarities between lethwei and Muay Thai are the main reason people often confuse the two as one sport.
Whether the techniques, tricks, effectiveness, or the training session of lethwei and Muay Thai, all are the same. Let’s get a brief detail:
- Stance and Striking
In both forms of martial art, the players form a square stance and use marching rhythm to take and maintain their position in fighting. So, lethwei stance is similar to that of muay Thai.
In addition, both use hand-to-hand combat with the opponent.
- Distribution of weight using same leg work
The fact that both variants of martial art use the same strategies can be quite clearly depicted by seeing their leg placement and weight distribution.
Yes, the players of both lethwei and Muay Thai divide their weight in such a way that:
- The front leg has less weight, so it remains functional for heavy and powerful strokes.
- The rear leg has the most weight.
In both lethwei and Muay Thai, there are a total of five rounds, each of almost three minutes.
Clinching, undoubtedly a game-changing technique used to take down the opponent is allowed in both. The phlum position is more common in MMA fighters, and the world knows it as Muay Thai grip.
The fighters of both Muay Thai and lethwei spend time to make their clinch game stronger and better. However, in Muay Thai, a more extended period of inactivity isn’t allowed. So, the referee usually comes in and separates the players.
NATIONAL SPORTS OF THEIR RESPECTIVE COUNTRIES
lethwei and Muay Thai are the national sports of their counties, Thailand and Myanmar. The Myanmar lethwei and Thailand Muay Thai matches continue for days and weeks, and people continue watching them with great joy.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- THE EFFECTIVENESS AND DIFFERENCES
At this point of the article, you are well abreast of what basically lethwei and Muay Thai are, their origin, and in what terms they resemble each other.
But the question arises, if both are so similar, what makes either of the two more effective than the other? What are the differences between the two martial art variants that categorize them into two different sports?
So, let’s shed some light on those aspects which make Burmese fighting styles different from those of Muay Thai:
Use of lethwei headbutt strikes
The first and the foremost difference to consider between lethwei and Muay Thai is the use of headbutts. While Muay Thai players can only use hands, elbows, knees, and feet to make various techniques and strikes functional, the lethwei players have an additional element of using their heads too.
Although the use of the head can lead to a severe injury or damage, on the other side of the story, it gives a devastating tool to the player. A combination of punches and launching a head butt move simultaneously is a powerful strike.
That is what makes Leth wai or Burmese boxing more effective in self-defense, but at the same time, more brutal too.
Lethwei fighters fight bare-knuckle
Another factor that differentiates lethwei boxing is the usage of gloves. In lethwei martial arts, the players don’t wear proper boxing gloves as protective gear. Instead, they can just wrap their hands with tape or gauzes for a bit of protection. They have to fight and throw all their strikes bare knuckles. This ultimately makes all the moves more brutal and harsher.
On the other hand, the Muay Thai boxers wear proper boxing gloves of boxing, and in some cases, they can wear 4 OZ MMA gloves too.
Obviously, a bare-knuckle punch would be more effective and hit the opponent strongly as compared to the one with gloves.
In lethwei boxing, there are a lot of aggressive stances and brutal elements. Even an injury timeout element is mentioned. In lethwei, you can’t play without being aggressive. Therefore, lethwei boxing is correctly named the wild west of kickboxing.
In contrast to this, Muay Thai boxing doesn’t promote this type of aggression at all. That is why it is a safer sport in professional terms.
The unique scoring system
Last but not least, let’s have some insights into the scoring system of Burmese boxing.
So, in it, in order to finish the game, you either:
- Either need to knock down the opponent completely
- Make the opponent withdraw the match by giving them severe injury.
If neither of the two cases mentioned happens within the five rounds, the match is a draw between the two players. There is no proper scoring system. Therefore, in lethwei boxing, players use more punches and kicks to strike and knock down their opponent.
However, that is not the case in Muay Thai boxing at all. There is a proper scoring system for all the punches and techniques used. Moreover, there are penalties for breaking the rules.
YOE YAR RULES OF LETHWEI BOXING:
In the yoe yar or the traditional rules of Burmese fighting styles, you can only win a fight via KO or TKO. There is no proper scoring system as such.
- KNOCKOUT (KO)
A knockout is when the opponent falls on the ground and cannot stand up again to defend himself within 20 seconds. If the three counts are done in one round even, the fight comes to an end and is declared a direct knockout. If four counts are done in a match, the entire game finishes. It is scored as a knockout.
- TECHNICAL KNOCKOUT (TKO)
A technical knockout is one that includes injury to the opponent such that he can’t continue the match.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- WHICH IS BETTER FOR SELF-DEFENSE?
What can be a better option to opt for than a lethwei fighting style when it comes to self-defense? The art of 9 limbs is the perfect choice to make as it is more brutal and effective for your rescue. Apart from the regular kicks and punches, you also have the opportunity to use your head for defense.
Although Muay Thai boxing is decisive combat, it can’t beat lethwei when the question comes to self-defense in any way.
LETHWEI VS. MUAY THAI- THE BETTER CHOICE FOR MMA
With the success of One Championship, MMA is getting more and more popularity in Asia. Phoe Thaw, a lethwei boxer, also transitioned to MMA.
But the question stands there; what to opt for, lethwei or Muay Thai, to become a better MMA fighter? Where most of you might be thinking of Muay Thai as the perfect option, lethwei is the right option to opt for.
But why? Even the 9th limb, the headbutt, is also banned in MMA, then what makes the art of nine limbs a better choice for MMA rather than Muay Thai. Here is the answer to all your whys. Burmese boxing makes a strong foundation for MMA in the following ways:
- The MMA fighters use 4 oz gloves. On the other hand, lethwei fighters wear no gloves at all, and Muay Thai boxers wear 8 oz gloves. This information clears all the questions completely.
- Secondly, the lethwei fighters are trained to knock down the opponent at any cost, and the same is the scenario in MMA fighting.
So, despite a ban on the use of headbutts, lethwei is the perfect option to go for if you want to become an MMA fighter in the near future, as it is of immense importance.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- WHICH ONE IS EASIER TO LEARN?
A simple rule is that the trickier the steps and techniques are, the harder it is to practice and master them. Therefore, Muay Thai is always easier to learn than lethwei. In lethwei, you need to understand and have grips on:
- How to clinch for a longer time
- Ways to master at headbutts
- Methods and techniques to knock out the opponent at any cost
- Have to stand up with 20 seconds of knockout
- Have to fight without gloves
So, it justifies why the lethwei fighting style is more difficult and time-consuming to have hands-on as compared to Muay Thai. It requires immense practice and a lot of time to incorporate the moves.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- WHICH ONE IS BETTER TO TRAIN?
When it comes to choosing between lethwei and Muay Thai for training, it comes to one’s own preference. But keeping statistics in mind, you should opt for training Muay Thai as it is known internationally worldwide. Although lethwei is also gaining more and more popularity with every passing day, so if you have more interest in it, you can go for it too.
LETHWEI VS MUAY THAI- THE MORE EFFECTIVE ONE:
Generally speaking, Myanmar lethwei boxing is said to be more effective because of the addition of headbutt attacks and resistance to more pain.
Comparing both martial arts is not fair because each has its own ins and outs. If you are looking for sports that help you get into the martial arts domain and help you become swift in attacks but with little to no damage, Muay Thai is all for you.
But, if you want to enter the martial arts field to learn more techniques and fighting sequences that make you more brutal, leth wai is a ready-to-go option for you.
WHERE CAN YOU LEARN OR GET TRAINING IN LETHWEI?
Obviously, the best place to get training in Burmese boxing is where it has its roots, Myanmar. Yangon gyms also offer training. However, since it is a new sport and still in the process of gaining fame, you will not get training easily at any gym.
So, you can also watch online videos to train lethwei fighting.
CONCLUSION – THE FINAL THOUGHT
Now, you are well up with lethwei and Muay Thai, their similarities and differences, and in what terms lethwei is more effective than Muay Thai. The art of 9 limbs and Muay Thai are both good in their own aspects.
So, brace yourselves and learn the sport you want to master!
Chris Bent is a professional MMA Trainer who has expertise in both Martial Arts and Karate and he loves to teach Men, Women and Kids.