I had always wondered if and what differences there were between Japanese Kickboxing and Muay Thai, other than the rules of the respective organizations their fighters mostly operate in.
Well I came across an interesting discussion the other day on another board, and according to some of the members of the particular board (I'd link to discussion, but I found it via google and cannot for the life of me remember it) Japanese kickboxing was created by the Japanese (hurr durr) to beat the Thai fighters at their own game. Apparently the technical differences is that Jap Kickboxing has a larger emphasis on punching and boxing technique, where as Thai boxing was/is largely focused on kicking with very little regard for boxing.
Delving further, one of the members explained something that brought up an interesting point, he said that the reason for this was that, historically, in Thailand, punching was frowned upon because it was easier/quicker to KO another fighter, and therefore long drawn out matches were absent, and weren't suitable for betting/gambling. Another factor was that punches score very low in thai boxing compared to kicks (high kicks that are blocked even score well I'm told).
I'm curious, too, why kicks score so high in Thaiboxing, in a historical, nerdy sense.
I'd assume that the first bouts of modern TB were among rather lightweight opponents. The KO chance with fists goes down a bit in this weight category while kicks can be utilized a lot without tiring too much. Under these assumptions it's not too big a leap of faith to believe that flashier fighters, who kicked a lot, were nicer to watch for the audience, which in turn, lead to more points. Also, they probably wanted to differ it from western boxing, simply because.
When it comes to Japanese Kickboxing, I don't know. It's true that every east asian country wants to make the other traditions look bad. I my time, I've seen so much outright idiotic remarks of pride from asian "masters" a la "Hapkido is the mother of all martial arts", "Karate is the soul of the japanese warrior spirit", Shaolin monastery is the ancestor to all martial arts etc. And they do arrange sometimes "exhibition matches" with fake practitioners. So.. could be. However, this doesn't hinder guys like Buakaw Pramuk to be quite a contender in K1, for example.
The " better for gamnbling theory" is interesting.
Reading more, from what I understand, Japanese kickboxing is largely the advent of a group of Kyokushin fighters trained and sent to compete in Thailand under thai boxing rules. Long story short, 3 of the 4 kyokushin fighters won their fights (4th fighter lost via stoppage due to cut). It seems that at this point in time, being that Thai boxing was not widely spread in Japan, that the kyokushin fighters may (or most likely) have cross trained in western boxing, which would lend credibility to the idea of the japanese style having a higher emphasis on boxing techniques (obviously in this day and age though, there's no way you can say "oh he's a so and so style kickboxer).
To my mind, a good example of this ideal of "Japanese kickboxing" would be Andy Hug or Masato. But yes, Buakaw is a perfect example of a guy who is a kicker, and has excelled in K1. Apparently majority of the Dutch MT schools have a large emphasis on boxing as well, but I wouldn't know.
Regarding the "better for gambling" theory, I imagine it's because punches can be thrown faster and more accurately, which could've possibly lead to an early and not so flashy/subpar (after all, who doesn't love big ass headkicks :P) KO.
Reviving this as I did a bit more half assed research into the subject.
It seems culturally, the perception of fighting makes a big impact as to how fighters, well, fight in the rest of the world compared to in Thailand.
The Thais culturally have little appreciation of things like angles, footwork, evasiveness etc. What they want to see is a test of endurance where two guys stand in the center of the ring and bang until one falls. Infact, if I've understood correctly, fighters can get penalized for being too evasive or moving backwards in Thailand.
Also, it seems Dutch Muay Thai as a "style" is also the advent of Kyokushin pioneers, although I'm having trouble finding out the exact details.
Masato isn't a very good example of your ideal of "Japanese kickboxing"......He didn't come from a kyokushin background, and his trainer is Nuathoranee, a former top level fighter from Thailand. Masato is essentially a muay thai-trained fighter who puts an emphasis on punching technique (He originally trained in boxing before he trained in kickboxing/muay thai).
As for whether there's a preference for non-punching strikes in Thailand, Anuwat Kaewsamrit is a very popular muay thai fighter in Thailand, and the majority of his KO wins were won via punches. Thai fans don't dislike punching techniques. The sport of boxing itself is fairly popular in Thailand, especially after Khaosai Galaxy was champion back in the 80s/90s.
Western boxing had nothing to do with the scoring system in muay thai. Muay thai has been around for hundreds of years, it wasn't something that came about recently and wanted to disassociate itself from boxing.
I will say that boxing has had an influence on muay thai, in that more Thais have been putting more of an emphasis on punching training/techniques in the past 20 years or so.
That's probably the most accurate theory on why punching didn't have much of an emphasis in muay thai in the early days. Due to muay thai originally being bare-knuckle, they predominantly used kicks & knees as they probably didn't feel like fracturing their hands.
You seem to be pretty knowledgeable about this, do you know of any gyms/camps in thailand that teach MT with a high emphasis on boxing?
Also regarding Masato, I would say Masato's kickboxing is very much japanese kickboxing, since his first kickboxing training was with Shigeo Kato at Fuji Gym, who was a prominent Kyokushin Karate-ka. It would've been his first gym that arguably would've had the most impact on his style.
Well, if you want to say that, then one could say his kickboxing style is very much boxing with other things thrown in, because he originally trained in boxing before he went into kickboxing/muay thai. That wouldn't be correct, though.
If you watch Masato fight, he doesn't really use kyokushin techniques. Then again, if you watch Sam Greco fight, you wouldn't think he was originally a kyokushin karateka (Aside from his occasional spinning back kicks).
Speaking of kyokushin, one of the problems with the art, when the practitioners move on to kickboxing (Such as K-1), is their inexperience with punches to the head.
As for a gym/camp in Thailand which has a high emphasis on boxing.......I would assume Kaewsamrit gym would be one, since Anuwat trains there. There's a British guy at that camp who you could correspond with. I assume he's still there, but can't remember his full name. I believe his first name's Rob.