Muay Thai, along with savate, karate, and taekwondo heavily influenced the development of kickboxing in Japan, Europe, and North America. However, unlike Muay Thai, many kickboxing competitions do not allow elbow strikes, knee strikes, or kicks below the waist. These rule changes have led some martial artists to consider practicing a ‘watered down’ version of Muay Thai.
In Mixed martial arts:
Starting in the 1990s, Muay Thai has enjoyed a boost in popularity worldwide as it has been very effective in mixed martial arts training. MMA artists such as Rua, Wanderlei Silva, and Anderson Silva have combined many striking elements of Muay Thai with grappling, Wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into a hybrid synthesis that has been highly effective in their fights. Other fighters that have used Muay Thai as their primary style in mixed martial arts include Rob McCullough, Duane Ludwig, Melvin Manhoef, Alistair Overeem and Gilbert Yvel. Shoot-fighters and professional wrestlers who have trained and been influenced by Muay Thai include Satoru Sayama and Yoshiaki Fujiwara.
- In 2004, Muay Thai boxer Asanee Suwan was named best actor at the Thailand National Film Association Awards for his portrayal of Parinya Charoenphol in Beautiful Boxer. The movie tells the true-life story of a man who masters Muay Thai in order to realize his dream of becoming a woman.
- The 1971 Shaw Brothers Studio film, Duel of Fists, is set in Bangkok’s Lumpinee Boxing Stadium and stars Ti Lung as a Muay Thai boxer who is the long-lost brother of a Hong Kong martial artist, portrayed by David Chiang.
- Recently the films Ong-Bak, The Protector and Born to Fight helped to popularize Muay Thai. Ong-Bak demonstrates some techniques of Muay Boran and Tom-Yum-Goong illustrates the fighting style of the Thai Royal Bodyguards (Jaturongkabaht, circa 1400-1700s) – Muay Koshasan (Elephant Boxing style). Muay Koshasan is also known as Muay Chang Tumlai Roang – (Smashing Elephant Boxing style) in that it emphasizes a lot of throwing, crushing, and breaking of joints and limbs.
- The film Chok Dee starring Dida Diafat who plays himself in this semi-fictional story of his life. The film covers a lot of the training filmed in the Muay Thai camps of Bangkok.
- The film Kickboxer starring Jean Claude van Damme is about a young fighter who learns Muay Thai to avenge his brother, who was paralyzed by the current champion/thug.
- The documentary feature film Fight or Flight starring Peter J McCarthy and also Andy Tompson of Lanna Muay Thai, based on an epic journey into thailands ring fighting circuit. Premiered in Aucklands Docnz film festival.
- The Contender Asia is a 15 episode reality show featuring 16 Muay Thai fighters from around the world.
- The History channel took a deep look into the history and fighting techniques in Muay Thai on their show Human Weapon.
- In Capcom’s Street Fighter video game series, the character Sagat is a Muay Thai master and a national hero in Thailand. His student Adon is also a practitioner.
- In SNK’s World Heroes 2, the character Naikanom Tom is based on the legendary Muay Thai hero, Nai Khanom Tom.
- In the Dead Or Alive video game series, the fighter Zack is a self-taught Muay Thai master.