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Muay Thai Fight in Thailand

Exploring Muay Thai in Thailand : A Journey into Martial Arts Culture (2024)

Are you interested in Martial Art? Then, plan a visit to experience the culture of Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) in Thailand.

Muay Thai, aka Thai Boxing or the Art of Eight Limbs, is Thailand’s dynamic and powerful martial arts. It isn’t just another form of martial arts but an ancient culture steeped deeply into the country with age-old traditions and practices. For professionals, Muay Thai is life and if you are a martial art lover, you must live this experience at least once in Thailand.

History of Muay Thai

Formerly known as Siam, Muay Thai evolved somewhere in the middle of the 18th century from a form of military training. This technique was initially used in the Thai military, where soldiers were trained in hand-to-hand combat techniques to defend themselves in battle. Some researchers also claim the origin of Muay Thai during the 13th century in the times of the Sukhothai Kingdom. However, both these claims are subject to scholarly debates.

The modernization and rule standardization of Mauy Thai happened later in the 1920s and 1930s. In the latter half of the 20th century, Muay Thai gained popularity beyond Thailand’s borders, welcoming international players in competitions and championships.

The Art of Muay Thai

Muay Thai is a form of martial arts distinguished by its comprehensive use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins (and that’s how it earned the title ‘Art of Eight Limbs’).

Muay Thai is fought in a ring with a set of rules emphasizing clinch work and striking techniques. The fight typically involves approximately five rounds, each lasting three minutes. Both fighters wear Traditional Mongkol (headband) and Prajioud (armbands) along with gloves, shorts, and ankle support. As the fight begins, fighters adopt a stance that allows for quick movement and effective striking. In Muay Thai, footwork is crucial, although the fight involves fists, elbows, knees, and shins as well. A referee awards points based on the effectiveness of strikes, control of the ring, and successful defensive manoeuvres. At the same time, victory is based upon a knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO), and points decision.

Life of a Muay Thai Professional

Young Muay Thai professionals typically start training around 7-9 years old, with some, like Manachai Yokkaosaenchai Gym, beginning as early as 8. Daily life revolves around rigorous training, starting early in the morning and lasting for hours. These fighters sweat it out in the gym, constantly pushing themselves to improve. Training often becomes a way for young champions to contribute to their family’s income.

Parents sometimes decide to become a fighter for their children. Balancing school (if given the opportunity) with a strict training schedule and strength conditioning makes the life of a young Muay Thai fighter challenging. Many fighters recall their childhood as one of the toughest periods in their lives.

In contrast to Western boxing, where purses can be substantial, professional Muay Thai fighters usually earn modest amounts. Depending on the venue, fighters might earn as little as $150 (SGD) per fight or up to $4000 (SGD) for big superstars in Bangkok. Lower-ranked fighters earn even less. This prompts some to fight multiple times a month to increase their earnings. However, the fighter’s share is often a small fraction of the prize money, as it gets divided among trainers, gyms, families, promoters, and more.

Due to the limited earnings, some fighters are tempted to accept money from gamblers, which can sometimes exceed the actual prize money. This financial struggle is a reality for many Muay Thai professionals, adding another layer of complexity to their challenging journey.

Muay Thai Camps in Thailand

If you are a martial arts enthusiast looking forward to learning a new art form, it is not very late to begin. For learning Muay Thai, there’s no better place than its origin land ‘Thailand’ here are some of the training camps you can consider:

  1. Sit Je Mam Muay Thai, situated in Northern Thailand, is a camp run by a dedicated husband and wife team. Renowned fighters like Ilya Grad, Carlos Coello, Jeferson Oliveira, Silvia La Notte, Miriam Sabot, and Dutch K1 Champion Marloes Merza have trained and won titles at this camp.
  2. In Southern Thailand, Honour Muay Thai Gym, managed by Howard and Ajarn Yodchai Noi, boasts a serene tropical setting. With active fighters nearby, it offers a peaceful yet dynamic training environment.
  3. Combat 360X, located in Southern Thailand, stands out as a top-rated Muay Thai camp. It not only provides Muay Thai classes but also offers training in MMA, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Cross-training, Yoga, and cardio kickboxing. With a focus on high-quality training and techniques, this camp has a team of expert instructors.
  4. In Southern Thailand, Sumalee Boxing Gym is a leading camp that combines high-level Muay Thai training and Yoga with exceptional service, accommodation, food, and proximity to world-famous beaches.
  5. Muay Chaiya Baan Chang Thai, located in Central Thailand, is operated by Kridakorn Sodprasert, a prizefighter turned trainer. This camp offers private or group sessions for both national and international students, catering to all skill levels.
  6. In southwest Thailand, KYN Muay Thai, on the tropical island paradise of Koh Yao Noi, provides high-level instruction from champion trainers for all levels. With on-site amenities such as a beach, a pool, and a gym, it fosters a true community spirit with its restaurant, bar, and social events.

Wai Kru Muay Thai Festival in Ayutthaya, Thailand

The Wai Kru Muay Thai Festival is an annual event held in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. This public event is one of the highest in the world of Muay Thai and thus attracts a large national and international crowd. The festival honours the traditional Wai Kru ceremony, where fighters pay respects to their teachers, ancestors, and spirits before a match. It attracts fighters from various gyms and regions who gather to showcase their skills and pay homage to the roots of Muay Thai. The highlight of the festival is the Wai Kru competition, which features ceremonial dance accompanied by traditional music. The festival also involves Muay Boran demonstrations, cultural performances, and competitions to promote the rich heritage of Muay Thai.

Muay Thai Experience For Tourists in Thailand

In addition to the Wai Kru Muay Thai Festival and training at Muay Thai camps, there are various other ways for tourists to experience Muay Thai in Thailand. Events that cater to tourists offer a mix of genuine fights and entertaining spectacles along with an authentic local experience.

  1. Watch a Fight Night: Several tourist cities host Muay Thai fight nights multiple times a week. Although some of them may not have an entertainment focus, attending one of these nights can offer a fun experience for both Muay Thai enthusiasts and those looking to immerse themselves in local culture. Prices vary depending on the venue, with options like Thaepae Boxing Stadium in Chiang Mai or venues in Koh Samui.
  2. Take a One-Off Class: For a hands-on experience, tourists can take a one-off Muay Thai class. While these classes may seem lengthy at two hours, they provide an opportunity to learn basic kicks and punches. It’s recommended to read reviews before choosing a gym, as the quality can vary. Private classes are available for those seeking a more personalized and potentially confident experience.
  3. Attend a Muay Thai Live Show: This show in Bangkok offers a unique theatrical experience that narrates the history of Muay Thai. The show runs for 90-minute, featuring stories behind the sport and live fights. While tickets are on the higher end, starting at 2000 baht, it’s a family-friendly option for those interested in a production-style showcase of Muay Thai.
  4. Experience Channel 7 Stadium in Bangkok: For an authentic real-life experience, and adrenaline-pumping feel, attend Muay Thai fights at Channel 7 Stadium in Bangkok on a Sunday afternoon. Unlike tourist-focused events above, this stadium caters more to locals, providing an authentic atmosphere. The fights are intense, and you may experience different levels of passion among Thai locals. However, the event is free and offers a genuine and electrifying experience.

Overall, whether you are a martial arts enthusiast or not, if you get a chance to experience Thai Muay Thai, do grab it. Even from a watcher’s point of view, this experience of intensity amongst players and audience altogether is truly impressive. Watching a professional (or competition level) Muay Thai fight in Thailand is an experience as large as watching an International cricket match in India; the seriousness is real.

So, depending on your interests and fitness level, you can choose to either watch or be involved in Muay Thai. Even if you are travelling to Thailand solo and are a beginner in terms of fitness, several local gyms will cater to your needs and comfort. No matter which option you choose, be ready to experience a unique trip into the history, culture and art of Thailand.

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