Find everything about Muay Thai in one place

Muay Thai Facts

Muay Thai Vs Judo: A Head-To-Head Comparison

muay thai vs judo comparison
muay thai vs judo

I have always been fascinated with the power of Judo in the clinch. When you meet a Judoka in a street fight, you’ll probably end up on the ground in the split of a second. The slightest contact with your gi or clothes will lead to a spectacular throw and nasty injuries.

Yet, you must think wisely for accurate Muay Thai vs Judo comparison. Yes, Judokas are extremely strong in the clinch, but they turn back a lot. Thai warriors tend to finish their opponents with violent barrages of clinches and elbows from close range.

I will try to analyze every single aspect of the game and show you the good and bad sides of each martial art. Please read on!

Muay Thai Vs Judo – Which Stance Works Better?

Muay Thai stance will give you an advantage from long and mid-range. It lets you defend the majority of the strikes, plus an experienced Thai fighter might sprawl or defend a takedown attempt via knee.

Also, here is another significant advantage of Thai boxing – lateral moves. You’ll rarely see a Judoka pivoting or performing the side step, they mostly fight on the central line. Please look at Ronda Rousey’s highlights, I have never seen her moving sideways.

You don’t believe me? Fine – watch Karo Parisyan, Ricky Hawn, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Katsunori Kikono, Dong Hyun Kim, Hidehiko Yoshida, Shungo Oyama… I am telling you, Judo fighters mostly move forward and backward. Muay Thai fighters brawl and pressure, but advanced Thai dudes are experts of lateral moves. Good examples are Jose Aldo, Gaston Bolanos, and Thomas Almeida.

Muay Thai stance lets you defend hooks, uppercuts, overhands, body shots, even low kicks, and calf strikes. Judo fighters are very vulnerable to knees, leaping hooks, inside and outside kicks to the thigh, spinning back kicks, and especially straight punch counters. If Judoka is unable to clinch up, he’ll lose the bout.

Judo’s stance offers one superb advantage – takedown offense. But if you want to defeat your foe, you should be an all-around fighter.

Try changing levels and side-stepping against a master of the ancient Japanese martial art and you’ll give him a hard time. I guarantee you that!

Which Martial Art Offers More Options From The Clinch?

Judo fighters are masters of throws. When the opponent wears a suit or if the bout takes part in a gi, Judoka should get the advantage off the clinch. Tons of wonderful throws could make the opponent finish on the canvas.

To get to know Muay Thai clinch options, please read this article. I will be frank – you can change positions, but your goal is to finish your opponent with the violent flurry of knees or elbows.

Street And Ring Fight

When the opponent wears a gi or a jacket, Judokas should get an advantage thanks to the power of their grips and grabs. The Judo fighter can lift you, slam you on the canvas, and finish the battle with a barrage of violent fists or an armbar.

But in a no-gi bout, Judo fighter remains dangerous for the first two or three minutes of the fight. A slippery opponent gives him a hard time as the MMA rules do not allow grabbing the opponent’s clothes.

On the other hand, a Muay Thai fighter could initiate the plum and finish the fight via knees in the street battle. Even when you turn your back towards a Thai warrior, he can unload rabbit knees or horizontal/slashing elbows and get the advantage. Thai boxing offers excellent sprawling ability and knee defense, but only elite-level masters of the ancient Siamese martial art move to the side.

I think Judo should give you more options in a 1-on-1 street fight, but Muay Thai works well inside the ring or when you have to deal with multiple opponents. Yet, when the bout gets dragged to the ground, Judokas will most likely win.

Why Is Judo Helpless Against Muay Thai Striking?

The answer to Muay Thai vs Judo dilemma here is quite simple – Judo fighters must grab you to make some damage.

I’ve seen many Judo fighters slapping their opponents, but well-rounded Judokas can box too. Yet, you’ll rarely see a master of ancient Japanese martial art with good kicks. Yoshihiro Akiyama was the exception thanks to his Taekwondo background.

Why Judokas don’t kick properly? Judo’s stance is too wide for very hard kicks. Even if a master of Judo unloads a strong kick, the leg travels slower towards the target. In the best-case scenario, masters of Japanese martial art can learn Dutch kickboxing kicks, which are way weaker than Muay Thai leg attacks.

Oh, Judokas are very bad in blocking attacks too. They can only catch middle kicks or parry some short-range punches. Muay Thai experts can block all kinds of kicks with elbows, forearms, or shins.

For example, Muay Thai low kick could chop you down easily when it lands on the sciatic nerve. Judokas are usually known for very weak kicks under the belt thanks to their stance, their “powerful” kicks are limited to the calf area. Can these strikes slow down the opponent? Yes. Can a calf kick knock the foe down or out? Well, technically yes, but it happens rarely.

What Happens On The Ground?

Even the most skillful Muay Thai fighter stands no chance versus an average Judoka. Why? Well, Japanese martial art is based on grappling. The contact between the fighters means “the advantage of the home pitch” for Judo.

Yet, there are some positions in MMA where a Muay Thai could outclass Judo on the ground (of course, with the assistance of background in some other grappling martial art, preferably BJJ or wrestling).

Muay Thai vs Judo analysis on the ground demands a lot of details. Judo fighters mostly stick to sweep and transition attempts, and potentially boxing punches from the top (more experienced individuals who train MMA). Armbars are a trademark of Judo, but I will forget about it for a sec and describe the positions:

  • Mount – Thai boxing, all kinds of elbows, especially horizontal and slashing ones, can cut the opponent open quickly.
  • Side control – same types of elbows, plus hammer-fists, Muay Thai all the way (ONE FC allows knees to the head of the grounded foe, don’t forget that).
  • Full guard – Judokas should get an advantage, as it is hard to land an elbow when you’re away from the opponent.
  • Stack guard – Judo rocks, better control, and straight punches, plus big overhands.
  • Cage seated position – again Muay Thai wins thanks to horizontal elbows.
  • Crucifix – Muay Thai downward and horizontal elbows are killers, check the fights between Krzysztof Jotko and Alen Amedovski and Valentina Shevchenko’s win over Jessica Andrade.
  • North-south – well, in Pride rules, Muay Thai would be a top-notch choice as it allows knees and kicks to the head of the grounded opponent. In ONE FC, Thai boxing wins, but UFC rules consider those strikes illegal, so victory goes to Judo.
  • Knee on the belly – even chances for both martial arts, Judoka will improve the position or go for the armbar very easily, while a Thai fighter could aim with elbows to the forehead.
  • Full guard and half guard off the bottom – downward elbows and hammer-fists are a great way to score points, while a Judo fighter must fish for a sweep or a transition attempt. I think the score is tied.

I am telling you, Muay Thai vs Judo is not a one-way street. If you have at least basic knowledge of grappling, you could easily finish or outpoint your foe on the ground. Thai boxing is very deadly when you know to use it properly, but Judo wins in the submission/transition aspect of the game.

Who Would Have Greater Chances Of Winning The Fight?

Well, Muay Thai vs Judo result could go either way. Why? I will give you three good reasons:

  1. In the street fight, Judoka could finish the fight with one throw, plus he’ll stick like glue once getting a grip with your clothes. Muay Thai master offers more control from long and mid-range, but he has to stay away from going to the ground.
  2. Muay Thai strikes and clinch techniques are way more deadly. Yet, an educated Judo fighter lands strong strikes then continues the attack with a trip or throw.
  3. In an MMA bout, a Thai warrior gets the initial advantage because it’s no-gi combat, which means turning back might lead to many problems for a Judo fighter. Yet, Judokas are better in ground control and submissions.

The true answer is – as long as the Thai fighter keeps the bout standing, Muay Thai all day unless Judo fighter holds him against the fence. The Japanese martial art works better on the ground.


So, what do you think, who would win in a Muay Thai vs Judo fight? In the early stages of MMA, gi was allowed, so Judo fighters were having an advantage. Nowadays, the sport has evolved, so every fighter learns at least basic aspects of grappling and striking. A slippery opponent is a nightmare for Judoka.

I’d give them even chances in an MMA bout, while Judo should work better in the street. Yet, Thai boxing should be better to deal with two or more attackers, as a Thai fighter is trained to keep the bout standing. What are your thoughts on this topic?

Last Updated on May 21, 2022 by Deni

Picture of Deni


Hi, I started training Muay Thai back in 2016 and fell in love with it. So I decided to create this blog in the pursuit of this passion and share my experience with you.

Related Articles

muay thai vs savate

Muay Thai Vs Savate: A Head-To-Head Comparison

Hello again, I am here for the Muay Thai Vs Savate comparison. Before you start saying that I mixed apples and oranges, I must say that I understand your arguments. Different pieces of training equipment and rules are a perfect argument. But have you ever thought of the similarity between

Read More
muay thai vs jeet kune do

Muay Thai Vs Jeet Kune Do: A Head-To-Head Comparison

I am aware that many people are going to say “wait, stop mixing apples and oranges”. You’re trying to compare Bruce Lee’s kung fu with an ancient Siamese martial art? Well, my answer is “yes”, and I know what I’m doing. I have already compared the most popular sport from

Read More
muay thai vs pencak silat comparison

Muay Thai Vs Pencak Silat: A Head-To-Head Comparison

I’ve always been fascinated with the defensive aspect of Pencak Silat. The Indonesian martial art turns you into a real ninja. It was very useful before firearms, as Silat masters were trained to battle with and against all kinds of weapons. They would’ve had a solid chance of defending themselves

Read More
muay thai vs kenpo comparison

Muay Thai Vs Kenpo: A Head-To-Head Comparison

There are many great martial arts all around the globe, but I believe that a great Muay Thai fighter could piece up everybody on their feet. Street fights are stacked with cheap shots and hits to the weak areas of the body, but in the ring, Thai boxing gives you

Read More

Health habit

Download Your Free Printable Fitness and Nutrition Schedule!