I asked some of the best muay Thai fighters, kickboxers and MMA fighters in the world their advice on training muay Thai in Thailand. I didn’t ask them anything specific, I left it up to them as to what they thought you should know before you make the trip.
Training muay Thai in Thailand is a personal adventure, but it doesn’t hurt to gather some advice before you go to really get the most out of your time and money.
I got some great replies so thanks to everyone who took the time to get back to me!
Fighter round-up for training muay Thai in Thailand
John Wayne Parr – Boonchu Gym, Queensland AUS
10 Muay Thai world champion, CMT champion, Australian middle weight boxing champion.
Find a gym where you believe you are learning, and not just a number. If you are stuck on a bag every day and lucky to get pads, time to change gyms.
If you get an opportunity to fight always remember everyone is the same, Thai or westerner, they hurt and bleed just like us. Only difference is they have a better poker face and don’t show it. If you find yourself on the losing side of a fight, never give up. It only takes one punch or kick to score a knockout. And if you do lose, at least you know that when you sleep at night you gave 100%. If you give up, you have to live with yourself forever. You do it once, and all of a sudden it becomes an easy way out, so never fall into that habit.
Liam Harrison – Bad Company Gym, Leeds UK
WBC International title, formerly WMC, WAKO and WPMF champ
You need to go to a gym where you feel safe, at home and you know the trainers have your best interests at heart. Many gyms in Thailand don’t care about westerners so choose the right gym with good trainers and you will benefit a lot. Train 100% and learn as much as possible in the time you are there, and most of all – enjoy the experience!
Enriko Kehl – TKO Gym, Wetzlar Germany
ISKA World champion, MixFight World champion
The first thing you should know before training in Thailand is that you need to have respect for every trainer and training partner you meet. When you arrive, you must train hard and not just party the whole time! If you want to be the best fighter, you need to train like the best. There are a lot of very good gyms in Thailand so all I can say is, try out different gyms and choose the one that is right for you.”
“If you want to prepare for a fight in Thailand then you must tell your trainers this on day 1 to make sure that they train you hard and take care of you.
I wish everyone good luck and have a lot of fun in Thailand!
Chaz Mulkey – Syndicate MMA, Las Vegas NV. USA
WBC international title
Make sure you get in the best shape you possibly can before going so that you get the most from the training over there. If not, you waste a lot of time adjusting to how hard the training is once you get there.
Abraham Roqueñi Iglesias – Bushido Gym – Team Roqueni, Cantabria Spain
Training in Thailand is a great experience but the training is tough and the standard is high. If you have a lot of experience in muay Thai you can learn a lot in a short amount of time there as you will already have the basics down and you can progress quickly. However, if you are a beginner and this is your first trip to Thailand, I recommend you stay for as long as possible to ensure you get the most out of your trip.
Cosmo Alexandre II – Blackzilians Gym, Boca Raton USA
Choose the right camp because some camps are just for enthusiasts and not for fighters. When you go to Thailand and you want to be good you have to train just like the young Thais with a lot of discipline! I never trained a lot on the islands and I would suggest the same, if you want to be good go to Thailand and immerse yourself in the sport early in your career and stay disciplined.
Kieran Keddle – Kieran Keddle’s Gym (Double K), Bexley UK
Former 3x world champion, fought at both Ratjadamnern and Lumpinee stadiums.
Gyms have totally changed in Thailand over the last few years especially. Many gyms now have jumped on the bandwagon of attracting “farangs” to increase revenue – which I totally understand but that also means the standard of teaching has changed. It’s nice to have good accommodation and facilities but more important to have top notch instructors that just aren’t there to take your money so finding the right camp for you is important.
I was very lucky in 2004 when I went to Kaewsamrit gym. It just won gym on the year and had many Thai superstars . The coaches were top notch, training was hard-core and I was looked after (thanks to rob cox) – the facilities were then basic but adequate. I learnt so much. One of my students (Charlie Peters) also asked me where to train in Thailand and I sent him to where my coach (Maart) trains, formerly of kaewsamrit but now Singpatong in Phuket. They have French lumpinee champion Damien Alamos at the gym and my student had a tough education there, which was perfect for him. The experiences he had in Thailand like the last minute fights, fighting ex-champions, fights in the middle of nowhere meant that nothing surprised him in the fight game anymore and he a total mindset of what he wanted.
I understand everyone is different but I highly recommend when first visiting Thailand to go round several gyms and find what’s necessary to you, even regards to your style. The old story that all gyms train the same style is a total myth.
Brett “Butcher” Zanchetta – NTG Gym, Queensland Australia
Former cruiser & super cruiser weight Australian & South Pacific champion, Kings Cup champion, WMC Oceania ranked No.1
It depends at what level you’re at. As an amateur I’d say first up, I think it’s very important to plan the trip out in your head i.e. how much time do you want to spend training overseas? Set yourself some goals – strength, fitness, weight, whether or not you want to fight?
Find a good gym that will cater for those needs and go do it. Remember, what works for others might not work for you so do the research and have a look at where the top fighters you may know personally train or recommended places from people you trust. Thailand gyms are open to many foreigners now and be prepared for a strict routine! Fighting & training is an individual act. Of course, you get guidance from your trainers and the people you train with, but be prepared to be punished mentally and physically and push yourself (which is a good thing) but make it work for you. Over there you have no distractions; in Thailand you eat-sleep-train….simple!
I think it’s a great opportunity to train in Thailand but remember; whether you train there or in your hometown you’ll only always get out what you put in! As a professional, you always need to be humble & open minded.
Karim Bennoui, Nasser.K Gym, Lyon France
It’s Showtime, ISKA, WKN World Champion
In my opinion, to find a good gym you should train at a gym without a lot of Thai champions because the trainers and fighters won’t care about you as much when there are lots of superstars there.
Gyms with foreigners aren’t so bad and some foreigners have great skills too. Really drill techniques while you are there and alwaysv be open minded when in Thailand.
Andrew KO Keogh – Corporate Box Gym, Queensland Australia
Former ISKA South Pacific Super Middleweight Title, ISKA Welterweight World Title
I don’t think there is a right when it comes to learning or training Muay Thai, you can learn so much from every single fighter/coach/trainer and you’ll learn something new from everyone out there. If you have the drive, motivation, desire, mentality and ability to listen you will succeed. You just have to stick at it. You can learn from everyone so I just believe get out there and get amongst it. Thais are lovely people.
Kevin Ross – CSA Gym, CA USA
International lightweight WBC champ, national welterweight WBC champ, USMF lightweight champ and National (Mexico) FIDAM welterweight champ
First off, research where it is you want to go, whether that’s talking with people that have been there or are currently there, going online if they have a site so you can get a feel for what they offer, and to keep in mind what it is you are looking for. Are you looking for a serious, legit fight gym or one that’s a little more relaxed or one that’s completley relaxed and mainly has people that are in Thailand to party and be on vacation with a side of Thai boxing.
For me, I always want to go to one that is nothing but fighters. I mean, you will almost always have people there from all levels but the more focused they are on just fighting as opposed to making money off of training foreigners the better, for me anyways. A lot of times the gyms that are most popular, as in the ones you know of, are polluted with foreigners and watered down, of course there are exceptions. In the same way the nicer the gyms are, better the accomodations, cleanliness, the more diluted the training is, whereas the nastier and old school the gym is the better the training is…a lot of times anyway. My two favourite places that had the best accommodations as well as the best most hard core training are Sitsongpeenong and Sitmonchai, but that’s just my opinion.
Daniel Kerr – Sor Borisut/Sitpohom Gym, Isaan Thailand
NZ UMAF middleweight champ and WKA Pacific middleweight champ
Once you’ve chosen a gym don’t be in a mad rush to become a muay Thai master, calm the fuck down! Take your time, be patient and get to know your surroundings and trainers. People too often think it’s the job of the trainer to show them all the secret tricks they have straight away. The fact is you couldn’t learn them even if they did, but why should they? They are there to hold pads, not to show you the skills they have perfected over years of training and hundreds of fights.
Show them that you really want to learn, not by telling them but by showing them. Showing up to training on time and training hard as well as pushing past your pain barrier; once they see you are committed to learn they will be more than willing to teach you.
Become someone they want to teach, not someone they have too because they are getting paid.
These days Thai trainers are used to seeing hundreds of “wannabe muay Thai fighters/tourists” pass in and out of their gym every week so if you are spending weeks, months, years in Thailand then spend the time getting to know one Gym and its trainers. It’s OK to train at other gyms but always remember and honour your teachers and gym for showing you the things you’ve learned.
Nathan “Carnage” Corbett – Urban Fight Gym, Miami Australia
WKN World muay Thai title
Make sure the gym is clean; you don’t want to pick up any bad infections! Outside of that you should find out if they’re open to teaching you their skills. Some Thais will not give away their art. Just kicking pads is not enough if you want to learn true muay Thai. If you’re fighting outside of Thailand you need to remember to not forget about your punches! Very important to have an all-round game to the best of your ability.
Brice Guidon – Mejiro Gym, Amsterdam Netherlands
3x European champ, 2x World champ
I’ve been couple of time in Thailand, I’ve even been lucky enough to fight at the king birthday in 2010 (WPMF world championship).
A lot of foreigners fly to Thailand thinking they will become the best in the world, some have success but a lot of them came back without any earnings.
If you go to Thailand, you have to be focused on Muay Thai. You can easily lose yourself in this country, girls are easy, alcohol is cheap and you can party all day long! But you are NOT going there to do so, or if so, you are not a fighter. I saw a lot of people who were serious and dedicated to train their first few days there but then they started to hang out and they just stopped training. That’s not what you want to… I hope not anyway!
So once you’re 100% in training, you have to choose a training camp where you feel good at. Don’t hesitate to try different camps and when you find a camp that you like, stick with it and start to win the respect of your trainers and partners.
Trainers will likely spend some time with you, gives advices and hold pads if they saw you train like a beast, hitting the bag, clinching with partners or doing a shadow boxing. And most important – be respectful.
But everything is a “balance” story; don’t overtrain and listen to your body. Thailand is a warm and humid country and you need also to recover sometimes. Remember, recovery is part of training!
So, long story short:
-Be focused on training
-Choose a camp where you feel good
-Win the respect of your trainers
-Listen to your body
My advice? Look after number one, be careful who you trust, experience everything, and do what you went there to do. Oh, and have a blast!Follow MuayThaiScholar