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  • Thailand, the Mecca of Muay Thai

    Thailand, the Mecca of Muay Thai
    by Muay Thai Guy
    Moderator @ www.ironlife.net


    http://www.ironlife.com/mag/issue2/thai.html
    (click on above link for entire article)

    http://www.geocities.com/kickboxer2nv/thailand.html
    (click on above link for pictures)

    Introduction

    It is the dream of most Nak Muay’s, Thai Boxers, to make a pilgrimage to the land of smiles, or the land where the art they so love was developed, honed and where the training and fighters are pretty much the pinnacle and benchmark for the rest of the world. In this article I will highlight and summarise my visit after I graduated from Universtiy back in 2001 where I spent 1 month training at the Lanna Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

    Before leaving

    Ok let me tell you a bit of my training history before I actually decided to go to Thailand. I started out doing TKD when I was 12 and carried on and off till I was about 16 where I quit because of exams and what not, kind of letting myself go and getting very lazy in the process… fast forward… at university I was introduced to Kickboxing and trained hardcore in that for 3 years. In my final year I was left in charge of the University of Kent Kickboxing club as the instructor and president. Well anyway I felt something was missing from kickboxing. It had no real spiritual side which I like about martial arts. As many a naïve Kickboxer perceives, I decided to check out what I thought the roots of kickboxing were so me and my friend who were really into kickboxing decided to go on the net and do as much research on Muay Thai as we could. This was when my friend came across the website for Lanna Muay Thai and said to me, “Fads, We have got to go here… are you up for it?”
    I was a bit hesitant at first but after my exams I felt that this would be the next step up in my training. I had watched a lot of Thai fights up till now and knowing it was a lot more different than kickboxing, the moves seemed to be more devastating and heck you could use your knees and elbows too… I was loving it!
    I thought **** it! I phoned up my mate, Kev and said still up for Thailand? Well unfortunately he couldn’t go but I bit the bullet, booked the ticket and away I was.

    Before I left however, I decided to check out Sandy Holt. Sandy is president of the UK Muay Thai Association and I had heard a lot about him. I felt if I was going to go to Thailand to train, I’d better get some basics in and who better to learn from than the president of the UKMTA. Needless to say, I went away for a few days up to his hometown of Bolton in the UK and stayed in a bed and breakfast for a few days whilst I received some intense Muay Thai tuition and making a great friend in Sandy!

    Sandy took me through the basic moves in Muay Thai including pad work and bag work. The first difference I learnt between Kickboxing and Thai boxing was the fact that emphasis in Muay Thai was on power, to completely devastate hence the meaning of Muay Thai, The Devastating Art and Science of Eight Limbs.

    Ironically, a week before I left for Thailand, some clever bastard decided to forward me that lovely mpeg of Lloyd Van Dams and the classic, “Kickboxing Shin Snap” video, you guys know the one I’m sure… well it didn’t fill me with confidence ha-ha

    My arrival and camp experience

    I think it was about 5 hours into the flight, just after they’d served lunch, that I decided “Oh shit, WTF am I doing???” I had a stopover for an hour in Dubai and I though to myself, I could stay in Dubai, I have relatives there after all… I really wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into! Was this gonna be like the movie Kickboxer? Were they going to tie raw meet to me and release the hounds? Then I realized as a Martial Artist, As A dedicated warrior I had to go through with this and learn from the best… As they say, that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.
    Once the plane had landed in Bangkok I felt an air of calm and ease, I felt at home, even more so when I’m actually back in England… and it’s true, this was the land of smiles! EVERYONE WAS SMILING! (Except for an old man at customs who got agitated that my visa ran out an hour after my flight back to England)
    I waited around a bit, soaked up the atmosphere and got onto the connecting flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai with enough time in between to experience my first taste of Thai cuisine. I think I bought a fish dish and was amazed at the price, I was later to learn by Thai standards this was quite expensive but I think you’d have to expect that from any Airport really.

    Once I had arrived in Chiang Mai, I caught a taxi and showed him my printout of a map to Lanna Muay Thai. The driver could speak little English but, as most of the locals suggested to me during my trip, he made fists and put his guard up, occasionally pointing at me and saying “You, Boxing, Chiang Mai Boxing”… all whilst still keeping his smile intact. My excitement had skyrocketed. Never before had I seen so much friendliness in people. Now being Indian and having visited India on a few occasions, I had it in my head that there would be parallels in the way people would behave and the general atmosphere but I was very surprised by the infrastructure and modern buildings and stores, there was even a skate park near the airport… For some reason this put my mind at ease.

    The Taxi came to a slow down and turned into the camp, The first thing I saw were two sheltered rings, both filled with fighters and pad men, I had arrived just in time to watch the afternoon training session.

    I was welcomed by the Camp Owner’s partner, Busaba (Who was known as Pom)
    Pom welcomed me with the Thai greeting, The Wai and she said “Sawadee Kaa”, having done my homework (Hey, I bought the lonely planet guide, I knew my shit now ) , I Wai’d back and replied “Sawadee Khrab” (Kaa and Khrab have little meaning in English yet they are attached to phrases in Thai in politeness, Kaa being feminine and Khrab, Masculine)

    I took time to look around the camp, watching the Thais and Farang work hard on the bags and pads, I was then approached by a young Thai fighter who said “Hello, How are you”. This was JR and anyone who has seen the documentary, Dream Chasers, might recognize him.

    I was then taken to the temporary accommodation pre arranged for me by the camp owner returning to the camp to get to know the area, the people and to get some food!

    2.1 Training

    Training sessions took place twice a day, the first at 6am to 9pm and the second starting at 4pm finishing at 7pm, both sessions following a similar schedule as outlined below:

    Running (5K+)
    Skipping – 15 minutes, 30 minutes if you didn’t go running
    Shadow Boxing
    Bag Work:
    o Left Kicks
    o Right Kicks
    o Boxing
    o Teeps
    o Knees

    Pad work
    Sparring/Clinch Work
    Body Conditioning:
    o 100+ Sit ups
    o 50+ Press ups
    o Chin ups till exhaustion

    Cool Down

    As you can see the sessions were quite intense, add to this the heat and humidity of Thailand and you have a serious challenge in terms of training both physically and mentally, putting you through your paces

    One of my favourite parts of training was the 5k jungle run. The jungle run was a trail through some very beautiful terrain, passing a gorgeous lake and going through a wild jungle… it really was out of this world however, on my first attempt at going through the jungle alone, I did manage to get lost but I found a trail and ended up back onto the main road J
    Wednesday mornings saw the fighters take on the Doi Suthep Mountain. This was a 5 mile run, halfway up a mountain in intense heat and would be one of the most challenging and grueling part of my training however, upon reaching the checkpoint, the feeling that would overcome you for knowing you made, coupled with the awe inspiring, birds eye view of Chiang Mai, would take your breath away and make you feel so alive!

    The Pad Men, Doi, Pot and Taywin would take us individually, working us on various combinations and tactics. I can still remember Taywin shouting at me “No Fear! No Fear!” as I was trying to block his insanely hard leg kicks with my bruised and bumpy shins however, this was a lesson that’s been instilled in me now, that a true fighter has to show heart at all times.

    All the fighters, both the active Thais and Farang, and the retired fighters would take time to show you if you were doing anything wrong or would answer your questions if you had any. For the most part you’re left on your own to do your thing but you will get told proper technique and maneuvers by the camp staff and fighters. The atmosphere was very relaxed and you would often hear the phrase “Sabai Sabai” which, In Thai, means to relax thus putting emphasis that one should be relaxed when they trained, making the training more effective and making it easier to learn more naturally. Furthermore, to make the atmosphere more relaxing, a radio would play Thai folk and pop music… and yes, the tunes are very catchy!

    Unfortunately, on my trip, I was unable to get a fight however, I was watching the fighters prepare for fights and they would do a lot of sparring and clinch work and would work relentlessly on the pads… I was in awe of their dedication, heard work and heart!

    Accommodation

    Accommodation in Thailand is relatively cheap. Depending on how many creature comforts you want and how close you want to be to the camp. The camp itself offered very basic accommodation for 150 baht a day. This was on the basis of sharing a room with someone else and no hot water (but really you don’t need hot water in the heat of Thailand)

    Close by to the camp was the Up North guest house and a favourite amongst fighters who wanted standard accommodation at reasonable rates. Prices ranged from 250 Baht per night for a room with a fan and 350 baht for a room with air conditioning (electricity units were not inclusive however)

    Andy, The camp owner, Rented out rooms in his own home which offered comfortable living arrangements. You’d share a bathroom but rooms were private. Rooms came with fans and he had cable television as well as an abundance of fight tapes!

    If you’re looking to stay in more comfortable accommodation whilst you’re in Thailand, hotels and apartments are also available. Chiang Mai being a tourist attraction has a host of hotels ranging from cheap to the more 5 star, Westin Hotels. The closest hotel to the camp was the Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel. Rooms featured A/C, En suite shower and televisions. Rooms started from 600 Baht a night.

    Make sure you find out about accommodation before you leave if you are planning on going to Thailand to train. Again many camps offer their own accommodation and even food. Lots of camps are now used to catering for foreigners and will be able to help you find good accommodation.

    Out and About

    Thailand offers an abundance of things to get up to whilst you’re out and about. Obviously, there’s the seedier side of things, Go-Go bars a plenty, clubs, bars etc. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your outlook in life) I didn’t really get involved too much in this side ha-ha, hey, after 6 hours of training, I wanted my damn sleep man!

    Chiang Mai has everything you could possibly want and imagine in terms of entertainment except for a beach. There’s beautiful terrain and scenery, it is in the midst of mountains, Jungle and in the middle, a cosmopolitan city with a shopping mall that puts the one in my home town of Leicester in England to shame!

    Chiang Mai is a popular tourist destination after Bangkok, offering trekking tours, visits to see elephant nurseries, snake farms, waterfalls and Beautiful Wats (Temples) Most hotels and tour operators in the vicinity of the city will offer decent rates on treks and visits, just make sure to haggle!

    Chiang Mai also has an awesome night bazaar where you can pick up a fair deal, clothing, trinkets, even CDs can be picked up for next to nothing… make sure you’re up for being accosted incessantly by the stall owners who will say things like “For you sir, I give you discount, give you good luck!!”
    It’s an experience just to see them try to sell you what their wares but I’m sure that you’ll get more than your fill of being politely pestered by these shop and market owners, who’s eyes gleam in glee at the fact that you have, in your possession the almighty Dollar!

    Dining is a great experience too, the food in Thailand is worth the visit alone J The variety, tastes and colours of the food on offer is simply outstanding however, if you haven’t the yen for hot, spicy foods, or sugar in everything else you eat (Thais tend to put sugar in everything unfortunately), there’s a whole host of international cuisine in Chiang Mai including Indian, Japanese, European and Fast food.

    One of the things to be aware of is to be vigilant at all times, Chiang Mai wasn’t so bad but Phuket and Bangkok was totally different, it was very hard to go anywhere without being accosted, At one stage, me and a backpacker I opted to buddy up with were locked inside a clothing boutique, they duly let us go when I told them I was in Thailand, training in Muay Thai for the past month J.

  • #2
    If you’re in Bangkok, You’re going to have to make sure you pay pilgrimage to the two main stadiums of Muay Thai, The Ratchadamnern Stadium and the Lumpinee. Both stadiums have fight nights on either Tuesdays or Sundays and both will never put the top fights on at the same nights. On other nights they’ll put together a card of lesser known fighters, catering for the foreigners who have come to take a peek at what Thailand is famous for. Again, unfortunately, the Thais will be quick to try and make you part with your money, there will be officials outside in red blazers or waste coats trying to sell you tickets, ringside seats will cost 1000 Baht and they will say crap like “Lots of people today, Lots of gambling, lots of whiskey, we look after you!”. Kindly refuse, if anything you want to be part of the gambling and amongst the Thais and soak up the true atmosphere and, unless it’s a big fight night, it won’t be a sellout crowd like the ticket touts will suggest. The Thais who love to drink Thai Whiskey and gamble at the fights are harmless and in fact, Thais get very erm… affectionate when they get drunk. I remember at a festival we went to where some of our fighters were on the card, the drunk men would firstly challenge us to fights and then rub themselves in affection against us, repeatedly reminding us that “Chiang Mai Boxing, Number 1”

    The excitement and atmosphere at packed out events is awesome and you’ll really enjoy it more if you get into the spirit and join in with all the rapturous cheers of “Oooh Ayeeeeee!!!!”

    Traveling about is also cheap in Thailand and there are various modes of transportation:

    Tuk Tuks - These are the three wheeled rickshaws that take people around, usually they operate to keep tourists happy. They are usually not the cheapest way to travel

    Taxis – The taxis will either be cheap and the drivers good to you or they will try and rip you off left right and center! Make sure the meter is on before you go on a taxi, Especially in Bangkok! And don’t fall for their acts of ignorance when they pretend they can’t understand you!

    Songteaus – These are converted pick up trucks, usually red, that wonder around on routes, you can hail one and share a ride with the people on the back, usually this is the cheapest way to travel, just make sure you don’t look like a complete, typical farang wearing your camera around your neck and hat with corks dangling by string or you’ll get your fare doubled or tripled!

    Motorcycle – You can hire a motorcycle if you dare, these are the cheapest and best way to get out and about but most rental firms will insist you put your passport up as well as money for deposit

    Motor Cycle taxis – Bangkok has motorcycle taxis. Whilst these are the best way to beat Bangkok traffic, they advise tourists not to take these as they can be very dangerous.

    Taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers will have a tendancy to digress your journey especially if you are male and traveling alone at night, insisting you visit their beautiful thai lady friend, they’ll even hand you a menu! Which I had to laugh at! Just inist you’re tired and you want to go back to your hotel if you don’t want to indulge… they will take no for an answer… after the 5th time.

    As with everything, make sure you don’t accept the first price! Haggle, bargain and try to speak some Thai if you can to keep costs to minimum.

    Here’s a list of things you should do whilst you’re out and about:

    Go trekking
    Visit the Elephant Nursery
    Eat at an authentic Khantoke Dinner (it’s a traditional Thai buffet where you watch a thai dance show… it’s very cool!)
    Visit the Lumpinee and/Or Ratchadamnern stadiums
    Get a Thai Massage!
    Visit the Grand Palace, Wot Po and Floating Market in BKK
    Visit an Island (Koh Samui, Koh Phuket etc)
    Get an STD (okay just kidding on that one )

    Oh and watch out for Katoeys!!!

    Cost of training

    The most expensive thing about training in Thailand will be your ticket to fly there, once you are in Thailand, living, eating and training are relatively cheap.

    -Lanna Muay Thai’s costs for training are as follows:

    250 baht / per day
    7,000 baht / per month
    Longer term discounts available.

    Accommodation costs will vary depending on where you stay. The guest houses near the camp will charge between 250-350 baht per day, Hotels will cost from 600 baht in the quiet season but will cost from 900 baht in the peak season*
    If you are planning to stay for more than 3 months, you would be advised to check out apartments and condominiums. The Lanna building is a 10 minute walk from the camp and is located next to all the amenities you will require, there is a Seven – Eleven, Internet Café and various restaurants about. Prices per room start from 250 baht per night for the cheaper rooms, rooms with Air Con, Television and Fridges will obviously cost more.

    * This was the price I was quoted for the Chiang Mai Phucome Hotel, the closest hotel to the camp and very reasonable and nice.


    Food is inexpensive in Thailand. The local street markets on the way to the camp will sell food for as little as 20 baht, 50 baht will be enough to buy you a decent meal and a drink however, if you are going to eat western food, the price can triple but it is still cheaper compared to the prices you will pay at your local McDonalds.

    A list of camps in Thailand

    Lanna Muay Thai (Kiat Busaba)
    Chiangmai
    http://www.lannamuaythai.com
    The camp I trained at, featured in this article

    So Vorapin Boxing camp
    Manager:Surapol Rangsikulpipat
    704/4 Sriyan Soi 1
    Nakornchaisri Road, Dusit, BKK
    Tel: +66 2 2433651

    Sangmorakot Boxing Camp
    Manager/Owner Thitipong Am-anun or Jar-Tui
    87/102 Tedsabansongkrog road
    Lad-Yaw, Chatuchat, Bangkok
    Tel: +66 2 2816468

    Rompo-Gym
    115 Rimtanroadfai Road,
    Klongtay, Bangkok
    Tel: +66 1 6479391

    Mai Moungkorn Boxing Camp
    Sorry no address...
    Tel: +66 1 9156237

    Sityodtong Boxing Camp
    90 moo 6, Nongprue
    Pattaya City
    Chonburi
    Tel: +66 38 730039

    ISS Boxing Camp
    Located in Pattaya on Sukhumvit Highway on the north side of Pattaya City, not far from the bus station to BKK.

    WMC Boxing Camp
    Lamai Beach, Koh Samui
    Provides training and accommodation (bungalows)
    http://www.wmcmuaythaicamp.com/

    Jitty Gym (Ingram Gym) BKK
    near Khao San Road in Bangkok
    http://www.thailandroad.com/jittigym

    Fairtex Gym, BKK
    Fairtex is located in a suburban city of Bangplee. It is about 35 km or 35-45 minutes drive, depending of traffic, from central Bangkok.
    http://www.fairtexbkk.com/

    Of course there are other famous camps like Saengtien Noi's Gym where JWP trained.

    Well folks, I hope you enjoyed the small details of my trip to Thailand, Hopefully I will be returning to Lanna later this year, who knows, I could write up a blog for irolife if anyone’s interested!

    Hope you all found the information in this article of some use and if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

    I would at this point like to thank the guys at Lanna camp, Andy, Tay Win, Den, Chun and the other instructors, fighters and friends I made, To Sandy Holt for introducing me to Muay Thai and to my family and friends for putting up with my obsession, not to mention God who gave me all this!

    Remember to Keep your guard up and Chin Down!

    Till next time, Chok Dee!!

    MTG

    Comment


    • #3
      Weird

      When I saw the title of this post, I thought "Holy crap!". The title the author used "Thailand, Mecca of Muay Thai" caught my attention. I'm considering my Masters thesis as the topic of traveling to kai muays in Thailand as a form of secularized pilgrimage. It's funny that the author chose those words... Mecca...

      On a side note, it was great to see some familiar faces in the pics.

      D

      Comment


      • #4
        Hey great article!

        Damian Mavis
        Honour TKD

        Comment


        • #5
          Taxi and Tuk Tuk drivers will have a tendancy to digress your journey especially if you are male and traveling alone at night, insisting you visit their beautiful thai lady friend, they’ll even hand you a menu! Which I had to laugh at! Just inist you’re tired and you want to go back to your hotel if you don’t want to indulge… they will take no for an answer… after the 5th time.
          Damn... Sounds tempting... But from what I have heard you dont wanna touch women in Thailand with a 10 foot pole... Are most women in Thailand really infected with STD's and what not? Ive heard a lot of stories, but i dont if its true or not.

          Comment


          • #6
            But from what I have heard you dont wanna touch women in Thailand with a 10 foot pole... Are most women in Thailand really infected with STD's and what not? Ive heard a lot of stories, but i dont if its true or not.
            This is an absolutely huge generalization. No, MOST Thai women are NOT infected with STD's. Prostitutes are a different matter. Are Thai prostitutes anymore infected with STD's than any other nations sex workers...? I doubt it, but that very well could be the case.

            Comment


            • #7
              Okli, quick lesson on Thai women! DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are those of MY FRIENDS and are not necessarily those of ME. heh ok,

              There are several different kinds of Thai women:Ho's, Hunters and Good Girls.

              A Ho is a prostitute who straight up wants your money for sex and will forget you by the morning. These girls practice safe sex but I'm sure they still manage to collect their share of STD's like the rest of the worlds prostitutes. TIP: The better the Ho's english the more "experienced" they are.

              A Hunter is a girl who doesn't sell herself for money but looks for a "rich" foreigner to attach herself too and become his girlfriend for the sole reaon of hoping to receive gifts, shopping sprees, expensive meals and anything else they can get out of a man, these women are dangerous! Well, simply because so many dumb fools from around the world fall for these girls who just want STUFF. Beleive it or not there are some talented HO'S that can sucker some dumbass to do the same thing for them, actually the best Ho's have several men sending them money from around the world to keep them from "working". Hunters usually speak some english.

              The Good Girls are regular women that don't usually speak any english and that most foreigners never get a chance to interact with since good girls think most foreigners are scum... which they are so I don't blame them. Most good girls are REALLY good, waiting until marriage kind of good. Honestly if you were looking for a traditional wife that had very high morals you would go to Thailand and try to get involved with a pretty girl that works at 7 eleven, I kid you not. If you see a pretty girl working at 7 eleven (they work 12 hour shifts for peanuts, sometimes 24 if someone is sick) you know she has high morals because she could be ho'ing herself out like so many of the other pretty girls for 100 times what she makes at the 7 eleven for way less work. The other wife material women to look for are those girls in the ugly communist work uniforms waiting for the bus, you see a girl in one of those you think "wow! she's awesome!" because any girl that works in a factory all day and night for next to nothing has to be an angel.

              Just some info passed along from my friends that live there to you.

              Damian Mavis
              Honour TKD

              Comment


              • #8
                Thailand DVD

                The DVD "Muay Thai in Thailand" has some great footage on some of the things mentioned in the above story, including highlights on Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Amazon.com has it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  wiked article edouble, having lived in thailand for a year when i was younger - 12 years old- i never thought of doing muay thai, but now being 19 and doing it at my local gym, and having the opportunity ot go to chaing mai in december, i`m definately gonna make it worth while to train while i can..

                  definately agreed with the topics in your article.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Damian Mavis
                    The Good Girls are regular women that don't usually speak any english and that most foreigners never get a chance to interact with since good girls think most foreigners are scum... which they are so I don't blame them. Most good girls are REALLY good, waiting until marriage kind of good. Honestly if you were looking for a traditional wife that had very high morals you would go to Thailand and try to get involved with a pretty girl that works at 7 eleven, I kid you not. If you see a pretty girl working at 7 eleven (they work 12 hour shifts for peanuts, sometimes 24 if someone is sick) you know she has high morals because she could be ho'ing herself out like so many of the other pretty girls for 100 times what she makes at the 7 eleven for way less work. The other wife material women to look for are those girls in the ugly communist work uniforms waiting for the bus, you see a girl in one of those you think "wow! she's awesome!" because any girl that works in a factory all day and night for next to nothing has to be an angel.

                    Just some info passed along from my friends that live there to you.

                    Damian Mavis
                    Honour TKD
                    Probably a good lesson no matter where you are. The best girls in general are the ones who are somewhat humble, hard working and try to take good care of themselves.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No heh, you misunderstood because I didnt clarify the terminology. I didnt mean good girl as in a good girl to date or a "good catch", Good girl is actually a title of a type of person. GOOD GIRL is the thai term for a girl that doesn't have sex for money. BAD GIRL is obviously a hooker. This is what the Thais call them.

                      When I talked about their crappy day jobs I didnt mean they were hard working, theres NOT alot of hard working people here heh.... but they have high morality to work crappy jobs since they could be lazy like a ton of other girls and just have sex for money and sleep all day. I recently met a girl that has a university degree but wants to be a hooker because she'd rather have sex with fat ugly European guys for money than use her degree to get an office job and work all day. Its not like theres a shortage of jobs..... she can get an office job easy, but that would require getting up and going to work every day and shed rather not. Whyd she go to universtiy is beyond me.

                      We made up our own term for those girls in between, the ones that dont sell themselves but will go home with you possibly the first night they meet you, those we call: naughty girls.

                      All this information is pretty useless unless you plan on coming here... in which case if you do: if you see a woman that looks too beautiful and sexy to be real, its because HE'S not real.

                      Damian Mavis
                      Honour TKD

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Suwit

                        Suwit Muay Thai is just 280 US Dollars a month for training & room .

                        http://www.BestMuayThai.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Chayyai Gym Chiang Mai, personal attention from champions.
                          www.muaythaicamps.com

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thailand is a great place for everyone to go. Its not that expensive and you can enjoy quite a lot there. I have heard they are the ones financing TorontoCoachServices.ca

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