How I survived a Thai boxing camp (and felt like a Muay Thai hero)

We all know Thailand by now. We all agree it’s an amazing country, with friendly & fun-loving people, beautiful beaches, lots of sacred places to visit and let’s not forget the delicious food.  But have you ever considered visiting Thailand from a different angle? Well, try the Muay Thai experience!

It was a bizarre and unexpected phone call: would I like to go on a 1-week trip to Thailand and learn everything about Muay Thai? And represent Belgium at the 10th World Wai Kru ceremony?

Say what? I’ve never practiced Muay Thai (Thai boxing) before and what the hell is a Wai Kru ceremony? After reading the program and consulting my friend Google about Muay Thai and Wai Kru I couldn’t be more exited. This was a unique opportunity to experience Thailand in a different way. I packed my bags and off I went to Thailand!

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Muay Thai (Thai: มวยไทย) is a combat sport from the muay martial arts of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. This physical and mental discipline which includes combat on foot is known as “the art of eight limbs” because it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet, being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient. An entire Muay Thai training session combines a warm-up along with flexibility, balance, coordination, stamina and strength workouts. A Muay Thai workout, therefore, can help increase agility, speed, cardiovascular endurance and concentration. It also has some added benefits that it will help with self-defense and stress relief. (source: wikipedia)

thaibox01The setting

The week started in Kanchanaburi (Thai: กาญจนบุรี), a popular resort town near the river Kwai. Depending on the traffic it takes about 3h drive by bus from Bangkok airport. This region is a playground for the active traveler. Examples of things to do? How about canoeing, mountain biking, bird watching, (bamboo) rafting, playing golf, elephant and jungle trekking or just gazing at the stars at night…Kanchanaburi offers it all.

My place to stay for the next 3 days and nights was The River Kwai Bridge Resort, a comfortable resort with charming bungalows in a picturesque setting, a great place too for exploring Kanchanaburi. Facilities are good and I especially enjoyed the pool: perfect to relax and having fun before and after a busy day.

Getting my ass (and everything else) kicked

On our to do-list on how to become a Muay Thai-hero: get to know the history, see a fight, practice…and fight. We were invited by the K. Glanboot Boxing Camp (in Tamakha district) to witness a complete traditional fight, learn about the rituals and backgrounds and to take part in workout ourselves.

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First thing I’ve noticed about a Muay Thai fight: it’s very intense and spectacular. Muay Thai fighters are real athletes, no need to ever doubt about that. The atmosphere, the many rituals the fighters perform, the respect, philosophy and fair play makes a fight a beautiful (and sometimes touching) spectacle to see.

No pain, no gain

Okay, so now I was ready for my first training session. I knew it was going to be very intense, but I was still stunned about the physical strength a Muay Thai practicer must have. Okay, so I am used to going to the gym, but this was another piece of cake! Every inch of your body takes part in a Muay Thai training. It was definitively the most intensive workout I ever experienced.

 

When I was asked to fight with some of the (very talented) professional fighters in the camp, I had only two options: running away as fast as I could, or getting bruised and battered up. But of-course I couldn’t say no. And of-course I got totally beaten up. But hey, no pain, no gain. 🙂

 

Practicing a sword-fight

As if trying to be a Thai boxer wasn’t already a real challenge, I had to try my luck at sword-fighting. We learned the basics of Thai Sword Fighting or Krabi-krabong (Thai: กระบี่กระบอง). During this brief but intense initiation we experience the beauty of this very expressive self-defense art. A must-do!

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Feeling like a Muay Thai hero

After 3 busy days of training and fighting, it was time to go to Bangkok and to take part in what would be the highlight of the trip: the 10the World Wai Kru Ceremony. This annual event gathers hundreds of Muay Thai fighters from all over the world to pay respect to their master and to the legendary Muay Thai hero Nai Khanom Tom.

This year the sacred ceremony took place at the amazingly beautiful background of Ayutthaya Historical Park, about 80 km from Bangkok. As a ‘newbie Muya Thai-fighter’ I felt overwhelmed and touched by the atmosphere, and proud to be given the chance to learn about this beautiful Thai tradition. Even if you’re not into Thai boxing I would recommend attending next years edition (keep an eye on www.tourismthailand.org for details), since it’s a unique way to experience Thai culture.

ThailandWaiKruJessica (1 van 1)

And here’s why you should try Muay Thai too:

Throughout the three days, visitors will be able to see other forms of Thai martial arts including an ancient Thai boxing competition. There is also an exhibition to teach people about Thai boxing as well as other arts; such as, Thai tattooing and weapon making – visitors can even learn how the famous Aranyik swords are forged.

In addition, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms, which offer everyone the chance to learn a little of the ancient art for themselves. Last but not least, there will be Thai cooking shows and plenty of Thai food stalls.

– See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/protecting-the-traditions-of-muay-thai-at-the-10th-world-wai-kru-ceremony/#sthash.FP7V6aCa.dpuf

Throughout the three days, visitors will be able to see other forms of Thai martial arts including an ancient Thai boxing competition. There is also an exhibition to teach people about Thai boxing as well as other arts; such as, Thai tattooing and weapon making – visitors can even learn how the famous Aranyik swords are forged.

In addition, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms, which offer everyone the chance to learn a little of the ancient art for themselves. Last but not least, there will be Thai cooking shows and plenty of Thai food stalls.

– See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/protecting-the-traditions-of-muay-thai-at-the-10th-world-wai-kru-ceremony/#sthash.FP7V6aCa.dpuf

Throughout the three days, visitors will be able to see other forms of Thai martial arts including an ancient Thai boxing competition. There is also an exhibition to teach people about Thai boxing as well as other arts; such as, Thai tattooing and weapon making – visitors can even learn how the famous Aranyik swords are forged.

In addition, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms, which offer everyone the chance to learn a little of the ancient art for themselves. Last but not least, there will be Thai cooking shows and plenty of Thai food stalls.

– See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/protecting-the-traditions-of-muay-thai-at-the-10th-world-wai-kru-ceremony/#sthash.FP7V6aCa.dpuf

Throughout the three days, visitors will be able to see other forms of Thai martial arts including an ancient Thai boxing competition. There is also an exhibition to teach people about Thai boxing as well as other arts; such as, Thai tattooing and weapon making – visitors can even learn how the famous Aranyik swords are forged.

In addition, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms, which offer everyone the chance to learn a little of the ancient art for themselves. Last but not least, there will be Thai cooking shows and plenty of Thai food stalls.

– See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/protecting-the-traditions-of-muay-thai-at-the-10th-world-wai-kru-ceremony/#sthash.FP7V6aCa.dpuf

Throughout the three days, visitors will be able to see other forms of Thai martial arts including an ancient Thai boxing competition. There is also an exhibition to teach people about Thai boxing as well as other arts; such as, Thai tattooing and weapon making – visitors can even learn how the famous Aranyik swords are forged.

In addition, there will be presentations from various Muay Thai camps and gyms, which offer everyone the chance to learn a little of the ancient art for themselves. Last but not least, there will be Thai cooking shows and plenty of Thai food stalls.

– See more at: http://www.tatnews.org/protecting-the-traditions-of-muay-thai-at-the-10th-world-wai-kru-ceremony/#sthash.FP7V6aCa.dpufAs a ‘newby Muay Thai fighter’ I felt overwhelmed an touched by the whole atmosphere

What’s my final conclusion about combining a trip to Thailand with practicing Martial Arts?

  • It’s a great workout for both body and mind
  • You learn to understand (and respect) Thai culture and its history
  • It’s big fun!
  • You’ll make lots of new friends on your way to become a ‘muay Thai hero’!

Training camps can be found all over Thailand. Check out www.tourismthailand.org for all details.

Extra must do: if you’re in Bangkok don’t miss out on the Muay Thai Live ‘The Legend Lives’-shows. This spectacular show is not only great for a fun night out, but gives you an idea about what Muay Thai is all about (daily shows).

 

So this was how I survived my first Thai boxing camp. What do you think? Would you want to be a Muay Thai hero?

24 comments

  1. Wow! This sounds like an amazing experience! I’m a travel blogger and passionate explorer but also a personal trainer, and this sounds incredible. Muay Thai camp in Thailand would be an amazing cultural experience and an awesome training regimen! Definitely going to look into this!

    1. Hi Heather, it’s just like you’ve said: you’ll get to experience a different culture while exploring a new sport. It’s a great way to dive ‘into’ a culture, especially if you’re into sports. It was my husband who participated in a camp and he still feels this was one of his best travel-experience ever.

  2. I love watching Muay Thai – but don’t know if I’d have the balls to actually do it. Would be afraid of embarrassing myself!
    Enjoyed the post and congratulations for going through with it!
    Frank (bbqboy)

  3. I’ll leave being a Muay Thai hero to you, but I do love the idea of visiting a country to see it differently. Loved this post.

  4. Robb got his ass kicked too while doing some Muay Thai training! It’s pretty intense and those guys can be insanely fast!
    I’m sure you enjoyed every bruises though 😀

  5. The Muay Thai camp and workout looks like so much fun but such a workout! Congrats on roughing it out! We will definitely will be checking out a Muay Thai fight next time we are in Thailand.

  6. I must say that you are quite the brave soul for diving into this new world head first! You may have gotten your ass kicked, but it looks like you had fun doing it and that you learned a lot about an interesting side of Thai culture that not everyone gets to experience. Great post! 🙂

  7. This is amazing! I did a little Muay Thai in a small gym in Bangkok (and got my bell rung more than once!) But this is on a whole other level! May have to go back!

  8. I am not much of a fighter, but I am always impressed with the physical endurance and strength fighters have. Love the one picture and how high off the ground the one fighter is! Nice capture!

  9. It does look like a hard work, but as they say NO PAIN, NO GAIN! Wow, I am impressed by your strength and interest in Thai boxing. How long are you going to train for? Are you planning to change your diet to be move effective?

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