Boxing VS Martial Arts (What Are The Differences?)

Last Updated on October 16, 2023 by Alex PT

Boxing and Martial Arts differ in many ways. Boxing focuses on punching techniques, utilizing mainly hands, with an average of 35 punches thrown per round. Martial Arts encompass diverse forms, integrating kicks, strikes, and grappling techniques, with thousands of variations.

History Of Boxing 

History Of Boxing 

Historically, boxing dates as far back as 3,000 BC among ancient Egyptians where it was cherished and viewed as an intriguing sport. Back then, there were no official rules to regulate the sport. It was just a sport that involved two people throwing punches and jabs. We can also date the game back to the ancient Romans when the very first boxer was introduced by the Olympics in 1904. Ever since, boxing as a sport has been thriving exponentially in various countries in the world today, with boxers now fighting to win high-priced title games. Millions of fans around the world watch fights on TV or even travel abroad to watch live fights of their favorites.  

History Of Martial Arts 

History Of Martial Arts 

Historically, martial arts dates back to ancient China and Greece. The ancient Olympic Games all had boxing, pankration, and wrestling. Nonetheless, the modern-day martial arts of today originated in 527 A.D in India, despite its rich history in China and Greece. Martial arts were practiced as a codified system and tradition to preserve a nation’s intangible cultural heritage. Back then, the Five Animal Styles of Shaolin were known to be the 18 Buddhist Fists. These fighting techniques were facilitated by the Indian monk Ta Mo. People who also practiced martial arts do so for self-defense, spiritual, mental, and physical development, entertainment, and law & military applications. Some aged examples of martial arts include karate, kung-fu, and Hwa rang do. In our world today, ancient myths and historical revolutions have really influenced martial arts. Unfortunately, it is a little hard to track the development of martial arts. But the truth remains that it has been practiced all around the world today. 

Differences Between Boxing And Martial Arts 

Now, let’s go into detail about the differences between these two combat forms. 

Number Of Rounds

In boxing, there’s a total of 12 rounds in which each round lasts only 3 minutes. However, winners of fights can be determined on or before the 12th round. If a fighter is knocked out or deemed unable to continue the fight, the winner will be decided before the 12th round. If the fight continues to the 12th round without any knockout, then the points accumulated will be used to determine the winner. However, martial arts has a total of 3 rounds of which each round lasts five minutes. A fight can also be won if either if the fighter is knocked out or deemed unfit to continue. Besides, points are also used at the end of the last round to determine the winner. Lastly, a fighter can also win the fight if his opponent submits or surrenders. 

Fighting Gloves 

The fighting gloves used for fighting in both spots are another major difference. The fighting gloves used in boxing is slightly heavier than the one used in martial arts. Most of the gloves used in martial arts are more flexible, weighing only 0.1kg. These gloves are designed to expose fingers which helps fighters to accomplish specific strikes, submissions, and chokes. Boxing gloves, on the other hand, weigh around 0.3 to 0.5kg which is considered slightly heavier. It protects the fighter’s fingers when throwing and punching instead of exposing them like the martial arts gloves. 

Boxing Ring & Martial Arts Octagon 

The fighting cage of the two sports is quite different in size and shape. Boxing rings are normally built with a distance between 16 to 20 feet between the ropes and 2 feet outside. The surface from the ground is about 3 to 4 feet and it is normally covered with about 1 inch of padded layers on stretched canvas. However, most martial arts octagons are 750 square feet, measuring about 6 feet in height with a 4 feet circumference. Boxing rings are designed with corners that allow fighters to trap their opponents. These corners are also used technically by some boxers to dodge or deflect punches or any attack using the advantage of the ropes on the ring. Martial arts octagons aren’t constructed that way. 


One thing spectacular about martial arts is that you can fight with almost all of your body parts. It is more like a street fight where you can kick, punch, pin, and do a lot of things to knock off your opponents at a rapid speed. While it might look like you’re allowed to do anything to bring down your opponent, there are still things that are not permitted in the game. The martial arts rulebook is strict and fighters must follow and stick to it. Boxing is quite stricter in terms of what you’re allowed to do during a fight. A fighter can get easily disqualified if he doesn’t follow fighting rules. Boxing only allows fighters to punch the face and the front of the upper body of their opponent to gain some points. You’re not allowed to make certain contacts with your opponent. 


Boxers wear loose-fitting shorts and shoes with a regulated size and weight for gloves. During practices, boxers use headgear to reduce the impact of punches and jabs. However, Martial arts fighters don’t wear gloves and they also fight with bare feet. You’ll always see them in a coat and trousers.

Is Boxing Better Than Martial Arts?

Whether boxing is better than martial arts depends on individual goals and preferences.


  1. Focus: Primarily involves punching and footwork, emphasizing hand speed and power.
  2. Fitness: Excellent for cardiovascular conditioning and upper-body strength.
  3. Self-defense: Effective for stand-up, close-range combat.
  4. Simplicity: Limited techniques and rules make it easier to learn and master.
  5. Competitive: Offers a well-established competitive scene with clear scoring and weight classes.

Martial Arts:

  1. Versatility: Encompasses various styles like Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, allowing practitioners to choose based on personal interests.
  2. Self-defense: Offers a wider range of techniques, including strikes, kicks, throws, and ground fighting, making it more comprehensive for self-defense situations.
  3. Fitness: Develops overall physical fitness, including strength, flexibility, and agility.
  4. Mental Benefits: Emphasizes discipline, respect, and self-control as part of training.
  5. Competitive: Many martial arts have competitive aspects, but rules and formats can vary widely.

Is Boxing The Most Effective Martial Art?

Boxing is effective in its specific domain, which is striking with punches, but whether it is the most effective martial art depends on the context and the practitioner’s goals. Here are some details to consider:

  1. Effective Striking: Boxing is renowned for its exceptional development of punching techniques, footwork, and head movement. It excels in stand-up striking at close to medium range.
  2. Simplicity: Boxing is relatively simple and easy to learn, focusing on a limited set of techniques, making it an effective choice for those who want to develop striking skills quickly.
  3. Self-Defense: In scenarios where stand-up striking is necessary, boxing can be effective for self-defense. However, it lacks techniques for dealing with grabs, holds, or ground fighting.
  4. Fitness: Boxing provides an excellent cardiovascular workout and upper-body strength training, contributing to overall fitness.
  5. Competitive Scene: Boxing has a well-established competitive landscape with a structured point system, weight classes, and a clear set of rules.

However, it’s essential to note that other martial arts offer a broader spectrum of self-defense techniques, including kicks, strikes, throws, and ground fighting. For example:

  • Krav Maga: Specializes in practical self-defense techniques for real-world situations.
  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Focuses on ground fighting and submission holds.
  • Muay Thai: Incorporates powerful kicks, knee strikes, and clinch work.


What Is The Difference Between Combat Sports And Martial Arts?

A combat sport is a competitive contact sport involving one-on-one combat between two fighters. It includes Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Sumo, Muay Thai, and other varieties of indigenous martial arts. The only thing with combat sports is that they can’t be used for fierce combat, self-defense, or even street fighting. 

Is Boxing The Strongest Martial Art?

Yes! Boxing is a classic form of one-on-one combat that has been around for thousands of years. Boxing requires you to throw hooks, jabs, and crosses with a limited hitting area which helps to get you ready for any real-life self-defense situations.

Can A Boxer Beat An MMA Fighter?

Boxers don’t get paired up or fight in the same cage as MMA fighters, so it is hard to tell if a boxer would beat an MMA fighter or vice versa. MMA fighters would still have an advantage since they have little boxing experience through striking. But most boxers don’t have any experience of Muay Thai, karate, or even Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So, an MMA fighter still has a little chance against a boxer in a cage. 

Final Words 

The differences between these two combat sports are evident. Deciding which is better depends on your preferences. Martial arts is the best option for people who want to watch two people fight with brutes in a cage. However, the unsurpassed technical fighting skills of boxing make it ideal for people who love to see punches and jabs flying around. We’ve come to the final chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the differences between boxing and martial arts. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!


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