Muay Thai, the art of 8 limbs, is nothing to laugh at when facing a competent practitioner. Thailand is known as the ‘land of smiles’ but since the national sport is Muay Thai Kickboxing it can very quickly become the land of knockouts. In America, world class fighters carry a celebrity status with a record of 12-0. In Thailand, it is not uncommon for fighters to have records exceeding 220-50. Not to take away from american fight leagues but there is a stark difference between the two fight cultures.
Training in Thailand as a professional fighter is not for the faint of heart. It’s a grueling daily routine in some very spartan conditions. As a two time vacationing visitor to the Eminent Air Gym in Bangkok, Thailand I received a small taste of what the fighters endure on a daily basis. To say the least it was a very humbling and educational experience both from a cultural and practitioner perspective.
Eminent Air Gym is a small gym with locations in Bangkok, Thailand and a more recent expansion in Singapore. Each location has had its fair share of legitimate champions in the sport. Not only do they turn out some of the best fighters in the world, they also are some of the most welcoming people on the face of the earth. We as foreigners were more than welcome to train side by side with them for the duration of our stay. Many camps host foreign visitors for extra money but not all of them are equally as hospitable with their training.
The days start with 45-60 minutes of running BEFORE the workout begins. The run isn’t exactly a tour of the city either. Essentially, it was about a half mile back and forth side road for the entire run. This is done everyday unless it rains; then you jump rope for the same length of time with what is essentially a garden hose...also known as the ‘Thai Jump Rope.’ The environmental conditions in Thailand are brutal depending on the time of year. Some parts of the year it’s 100 degrees and 98% humidity. The training space is outside under a sun cover but all that does is keep the sun off of you but does nothing for the heat and humidity. No A/C, No Music, only hard work.
The run is followed by multiple rounds on the kick pads with the trainers, all of whom are former multitime champions in the sport. You think you know how to throw a kick, knee, elbow and punch...you don’t. I had been training in Muay Thai for 8 years before my first trip to Thailand and I thought I knew how to strike. I didn’t. Thai’s are the best strikers in the world and the comparable difference was obvious. The trainers at Eminent Air treat you like family though. They correct your technique constantly. They make you practice the same strike over and over until you get it right. It’s brutally difficult, you will be exhausted, you will be bruised, and you will be pushed very hard but you absolutely become better and it is one of the funnest experiences you can have on this earth.
Thai’s definitely prove the standard that size means nothing! It doesn’t matter if they weigh 105 pounds or 145 pounds these fighters are to this day the strongest people I have ever encountered in my entire life. You will have an easier time clinching or teeping a brick wall than you will a professional thai fighter. During what was called a light sparring session, really it was play time for the Thai Fighters, I landed a teep kick on one of the fighters and literally throught I kicked a brick wall. This was followed by me ending up on the mat a second later following a sweep that I still don’t understand how it got executed. The skill difference is literally insane. This is only the first workout of the day. Being a vacation training trip we visited the culture in the afternoon but This camp runs workouts two times a day for its fighters.
We repeat this daily until it is time to return home. Each of the two trips I returned a substantially better practitioner. Each trip I returned even more humbled. Now my goal is to pass on the knowledge I was so fortunate to gain during my short training trips and the skills I have continued to develop. We say at Warrior Meets Scholar that we train in authentic Muay Thai. We do. We don’t water down the techniques. We don’t blend it with other styles. We only modify strategies based on what is standing across the ring with one goal in mind...win by knockout or make it so you regret ever stepping foot in the ring with us.
If you are in the St. George, UT area and want to learn the art of 8 limbs stop in and begin your journey. Who knows where it may lead you one day!
Closing out our trip with a group photo. 2 of the best fighters in the world in front.
Melissa, a former multi-time champion in Bangkok. Fastest Elbows I have ever seen!
Running in the alley before the workout
Trainer Phalep aka Sameron. who was my trainer for my entire first trip. One of the best trainers in the world!