Muay Thai vs Capoeira  -  Which One is Better in 2021?

Muay Thai and Capoeira are two fighting styles that do not share much in common. But still, there are many people wondering which one is better? This is not an easy question to answer as these two arts differ in many aspects of fighting with each one having its pros and cons.

Muay Thai is a brutal striking art that teaches you how to use all limbs as weapons. It puts a lot of emphasis on hard kicks, punches, as well as vicious knee and elbow strikes. Capoeira, on the other side, is a much softer style that is a mix of music, dance, and martial arts.

Keep reading this article to find out more about how Muay Thai and Capoeira differ from one another and which one is better.

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Muay Thai vs Capoeira  –  What are the main differences?

Emphasis

Muay Thai is a full-contact martial art that is often seen as a complete striking style. This is because it teaches you how to fight at distance, in the clinch, and even some basics of grappling like trips and throws. You will develop solid boxing skills, but the emphasis is on explosive counter attacks, powerful kicks and clinch fighting.

Capoeira differs a lot as it is a mix of dance, music, and martial art techniques. It is all about footwork, body motion, staying at distance, and throwing various kicks. Unlike in Muay Thai, you won’t learn how to block punches or check leg kicks. The emphasis is on staying out of range and avoid any type of close range fight or clinch.

Rules and Competitions

Muay Thai is a very popular sport in just about every part of the world. The matches are often brutal but also very exciting to watch at the same time. They usually last from three to five rounds with each round being three minutes long. Each match includes three judges sitting beside the ring that are using a 10 point scoring system to score fights. A fighter can win via KO, decision, or the match can end in a draw. 

There are many promotions and organizations around the world. But Thailand is still the home of the best fighters and winning a title over there is a dream of every fighter in the world. Beating Thai fighters in their own game means you are truly the best in the world.

Capoeira matches are the total opposite of the ones in Muay Thai and are far less popular. They are much safer, do not include two people trying to hurt or knock each other out with strikes and they usually last just around 90 seconds. The focus is on dancing, light contact, and acrobatics. In some way, you are not even allowed to hurt the opponent in a match.

Training

Muay Thai training is cardio intense and it will push both your mind and body over the limits on a daily basis. It puts a lot of emphasis on endurance, endless drilling of techniques, and intense sparring. Each class is around 1h long and what you do in classes depends on your skill level:

  • warm-up (stretching)
  • Learning techniques (stances, punches, kicks, combinations, etc)
  • Hitting the pads or heavy bag
  • Sparring with the partner
  • Strength exercises
  • Stretching

Capoeira may look easier to train but don’t let dancing and singing fool you. Training is really hard and cardio intense just as in Muay Thai. The focus is on stretching, footwork drills, kicks, and body motion. In some way, it is a softer style, playable and you will have a lot of fun in training. I mean, who would not have fun executing various acrobatic kicks while dancing at the same time. Since music is a big part of Capoeira, it also teaches you how to play various instruments and sing.

muay thai kicking bag

Which one is better for self-defense?

Muay Thai is better than Capoeira when it comes to self-defense and it’s really hard to argue against that. This doesn’t mean Capoeira isn’t any good, but it’s far less useful in street fighting, and here is why.

Muay Thai is better since it trains you for most fighting scenarios you may face on the streets. You will learn how to fight at distance using punches and kicks, in the clinch and how to trip or throw the attacker to the ground. 

But the best thing about it is that training includes a lot of sparring sessions. Sparring is great as it gives you a feeling of how it looks like to be in a real fight with a person trying to hurt you. It also triggers various emotions like fear and rush of adrenalin which you will learn how to control. Keeping your head cool in the heat of the moment is a big advantage in any type of fight.

Even though Capoeira is limited in some areas, it still good for self-defense to some extent. It teaches you how to keep your distance using footwork, and do damage with kicks and some basic punches. But if you really want to join martial arts classes for self-defense, then Muay Thai should be your choice.

muay thai fight

Muay Thai vs Capoeira – which one would win?

Muay Thai is superior to Capoeira in most fighting scenarios. If we put a puncher’s chance aside, Capoeira fighters do not stand a high chance against Thai boxers in a street fight.

This is mainly because the concept of Muay Thai is much different. It is more versatile and focused on doing damage and finishing the opponent. You won’t spend any time learning things that do not work in real life. In Muay Thai, every kick, punch, elbow, or knee is thrown with violent intentions.

Capoeira is a mix of dance and martial arts that focuses too much on movement and kicks which are not enough to beat a Thai boxer. For instance, they would all look lost once the fight gets in the clinch.

They can use footwork and kicks to deal with the Thai boxer while fighting at distance. But they would be in serious trouble during the close range fight as Capoeira doesn’t teach you how to fight in the clinch at all. Not to mention the lack of hard sparring and competition.

Of course, Capoeira fighters can beat Muay Thai fighters in their sport and vice versa. But if we talk about a match without rules in which fighters from both arts can use all the skills they know, then Muay Thai is far more superior.

Which one is better for fitness?

Muay Thai and Capoeira are great for fitness and they both offer a really good workout. Training in both of these arts will get you in top shape in a very short time span and it’s really hard to say which one is better.

Muay Thai offers you a full-body workout that will improve your upper and lower body strength. Still, the focus is on endurance and this is why training sessions are often exhausting. For instance, a study has shown that just an hour of Muay Thai training burns around 800–1000 calories. This makes it ideal for people who want to lose weight or improve their cardiovascular health.

On the other side, Capoeira might be even better for fitness. All students must work hard on improving their core, upper body strength, balance, and of course, do a lot of stretching. Like Muay Thai, it is also cardio intense and it burns around 700+ calories per class which is a lot.

If your goal is to get your body in top shape, then you won’t make a mistake choosing any of these two arts.

muay thai fighter body

Muay Thai vs Capoeira – Which one is better for MMA?

Muay Thai plays a key role in modern MMA, certainly much bigger than Capoeira. In fact, some of the best MMA fighters in history have had a strong background in Muay Thai like:

  • Anderson Silva
  • Jose Aldo
  • Edson Barboza
 

Muay Thai is a great base for MMA as it covers all the elements of standup fighting. For instance, you can use kicks to keep the distance, target the body, head, or lead leg. In close range, you can always pull a clinch, throw knees and elbows or take the opponent down using trips.

It is so versatile you can’t expect to succeed in MMA without Muay Thai skills. Sooner or later, someone will destroy you with kicks or in the clinch and that would be a very painful experience.

On top of that, Most Muay Thai fighters arrive into MMA with a lot of matches on their record. There are plenty of competitions where fighters can test their skills and get used to fighting on the big stage.

Capoeira isn’t that good for MMA as it lacks some important elements like advanced punching techniques, hard sparring, and competition. Over the years, there have been a couple of good MMA fighters with a strong base in Capoeira. One of them was Anderson Silva, but to be honest, he never used it that much to win fights.

mma fighter

Final Thoughts  -  Which one is better for you?

As we have seen in this article, Muay Thai and Capoeira are both great fighting styles. But which one is better for you really comes down to your personal preference and what you want to achieve.

Muay Thai is a better option if you want to learn self-defense tactics and it is also very popular as a sport. It teaches all you need to know about fighting, and it is also great if you want to transition to MMA later. But bear in mind that training is hard and often exhausting. 

Capoeira is good for people who want to socialize, get in shape, and have a lot of fun in training. The classes are very dynamic and can rarely become boring or monotone. It is better than Muay Thai for improving your core strength, coordination and balance.

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Timmy

Timmy

Sawasdee krap! I'm Timmy and I'm the chief-editor and co-founder of Muay Thai Street. When do you don't see me kicking pads of heavy bags, you can also find me training BJJ and functional fitness. I created Muay Thai Street as a passion project and also to help grow the community and share this sport with the world.

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