Traveling to Thailand in search of something more than just sights? While the country captivates the senses through nature, urban life, ancient history, food, and drink, there might be something a bit more below the surface that you are seeking.
If personal transformation on a physical and spiritual level piques your interest, Muay Thai is calling your name. This ancient form of self defense challenges not only the body, but the mind.
The origin of the sport is under debate, as much of the history was lost to the sacking and burning of Ayutthaya in the 14th century, as we had mentioned in our previous blog post on the World Wai Kru Muay Thai Ceremony. Muay Thai is more than just hand-to-hand combat, as the goal is to have the entire body be a part of the fight. Because of this, Muay Thai is an extremely taxing practice. Luckily, there is an addictive quality to exercising both the body and mind and thusly this sport is widely recognized as a great strength of recreation and fitness in Thailand.
A fascinating and beautiful detail of many Muay Thai practitioners is the Sak Yant, or protection tattoo. These tattoos are done in what is commonly referred to as stick and poke, but with a significant amount of finesse and ceremony. Those who fully practice Muay Thai often attend these appointments to receive elaborate free-hand tattoos created by monks in a very respectful and spiritual environment. These tattoos are believed to bring protection to the fighter, providing what is needed for them to persevere through hardships both during and outside of fights.
Muay Thai Training Gyms
There are countless Muay Thai training camps throughout the provinces of Thailand, many of which have beginner level classes and series for those who want to get an authentic experience without the full-on commitment. Here are a few Muay Thai training camps throughout Thailand to get you started:
Location: Bangkok & Surin
Banchamek Gym was founded by one of the most well known Muay Thai fighters in the world, Buakaw “Sombat” Banchamek. There are two locations of this gym, one in Surin, Banchamek’s hometown, and one in Bangkok. Both locations are open to locals and tourists – all people interested in this art. Training sessions at these locations begin at 6am with a run to warm up, and morphs into shadow boxing and work with both pads and bags. Sparring with the gym’s array of top Thai fighters is a part of the day, and an intimidating one! Be prepared to stay hydrated and focused, as this training session will take a lot out of you! One thing to be sure of with Muay Thai is that there is always much to give back. Many fighters speak of the balance between empowerment and being humbled during training and fighting.
Location: Koh Samui
Superpro Samui has a particularly open-door policy for people who are seeking to find out more about Muay Thai. They posit that Muay Thai is far more than just fighting, and that the benefits are innumerable. Superpro Samui gym offers fitness classes from CrossFit to Yoga, showing how dedicated this facility is to the holistic benefits of exercising. One of the greatest details about this gym is its location. Koh Samui is the home to this gym, where you can access beautiful beaches in an instant. This goes hand in hand with the real-life benefits of Muay Thai, as you can follow up a strenuous training session with complete relaxation next to the water.
Tiger Muay Thai
Tiger Muay Thai, where “…the camp has become a home away from home for enthusiasts and professional athletes all over the world…” stands as one of the most popular Muay Thai camps. Located in Phuket with access to land and sea, this camp brings its training right to the beach! If Muay Thai wasn’t challenging enough, Tiger’s attendants find extra effort while training on the slippery sand. The beauty at this gym is the range of seasoned fighters right on down to complete novices. All who train here get something out of the experience!
KYN Muay Thai
Location: Koh Yao Noi
Photo credit: Tourist2Townie
KYN Muay Thai Gym is a getaway was much as it is a Muay Thai camp. Located on Koh Yao Noi, this camp books up fast! In an effort to keep their classes as high quality and attentive to detail as possible, they require booking ahead of time to train! Well worth the effort, this camp is lead by a three successful Muay Thai fighters that bring different experiences to the table. When booking at this camp, you have access to their restaurant and swimming pool! Muay Thai training is so popular that it often comes with these wonderful benefits to aid in a holistic experience.
Muay Thai is not only a sport, but an activity that quickly becomes a lifestyle for those who seriously practice it. To tap into this intense practice is a gift that many tourists and local Thai people seek to discover. While the intensity may not be for everyone full time, it is an experience that is worth exploring when you find yourself in Thailand. Are you ready to try?