Muay Thai, the mesmerizing art of the eight limbs, is no laughing matter when you face a skilled practitioner. In the land of smiles, Thailand, where Muay Thai kickboxing reigns supreme, those smiles can swiftly turn into knockout blows. While in America, a fighter with a record of 12-0 might achieve celebrity status, it's a whole different ballgame in Thailand, where fighters often boast records exceeding 220 wins and 50 losses. Let's explore the striking contrast between these two fight cultures.
Training as a professional fighter in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted. It's a relentless daily grind, often in Spartan conditions. As a two-time visitor to Bangkok's Eminent Air Gym, I got a taste of what these warriors endure daily. It was an eye-opening and humbling experience, offering insights both culturally and as a practitioner.
Eminent Air Gym, a small but mighty establishment with locations in Bangkok, Thailand, and a recent expansion in Singapore, has produced its fair share of legitimate champions. What sets them apart, though, is their warmth and hospitality. As foreigners, we were welcomed with open arms to train alongside these incredible athletes during our stay. While many camps welcome foreign visitors for a fee, not all extend the same level of camaraderie and training support.
The day at Eminent Air starts with a 45-60 minute run BEFORE the actual workout begins. This isn't a scenic city tour; it's a grueling half-mile back-and-forth sprint along a side road. Rain? No problem; you swap the run for a garden hose, known as the 'Thai Jump Rope,' and jump rope for the same duration. The weather in Thailand can be brutal, with scorching temperatures and high humidity. Training takes place outside under a sun cover, providing shade but doing little to alleviate the heat and humidity. No air conditioning, no music, just pure, unadulterated hard work.
Following the run, you dive into multiple rounds on the kick pads with trainers who are former champions in their own right. Think you know how to throw a kick, knee, elbow, or punch? Think again. Even with eight years of Muay Thai training under my belt before my first trip to Thailand, I quickly realized I had much to learn. Thai fighters are renowned as the best strikers globally, and the gap in skill was glaringly obvious. However, the trainers at Eminent Air treat you like family. They tirelessly correct your technique, having you repeat the same strike until it's perfect. It's grueling, exhausting, and at times, painful, but it's also immensely rewarding and undeniably fun.
Size means nothing to the Thai fighters. Whether they weigh 105 pounds or 145 pounds, these athletes are the epitome of strength. Attempt to clinch or teep one of them, and it feels like grappling with a brick wall. During what they call a "light sparring session" (which, for the Thai Fighters, is essentially playtime), I landed a teep kick on one of them and genuinely thought I'd kicked a brick wall. Moments later, I found myself on the mat following a sweep that left me in awe of their skill. This is just the first workout of the day, mind you. For the fighters, this camp runs two workouts daily.
We repeat this grueling routine day after day until it's time to head home. Each time, I return as a vastly improved practitioner and a more humble individual. Now, my goal is to pass on the invaluable knowledge I've gained during my short training trips and the skills I've continued to develop. At Warrior Meets Scholar, we pride ourselves on training in authentic Muay Thai. We don't dilute the techniques, and we don't blend it with other styles. Our sole aim is to modify strategies based on our opponent standing across the ring with one goal in mind: win by knockout or make them regret ever stepping foot in the ring with us.
If you're in the St. George, UT area and aspire to master the art of the eight limbs, come join us to start your journey. Who knows where it might lead you one day? The adventure begins here!