In Thailand, Muay Thai is a national sport, religion, and entertainment rolled into one.
While Americans fixate on football and the rest of the world on ‘soccer,’ the Thais take things to a new level. Muay Thai is much more than merely a national sport.
Though the Thais enjoy a good punch-up, you won’t see fights readily breaking out in the streets. At heart, the Thais are a peaceful people and respect Muay Thai for what it is – a combat sport. Here, then, are our top 4 reasons to head to Thailand for Muay Thai training.
No.1 – Thailand is the home of Muay Thai
If you wish to immerse yourself, you need to go to Thailand, the spiritual home of Muay Thai. Known as Thai Boxing in the West, the sport can trace its roots back in Thailand to the 18th Century. As a result, Muay Thai is deeply embedded in the culture of Thailand.
Muay Thai is the classic escape route to a brighter future. There are hundreds of young fighters who dedicate their entire lives to the ring.
Nicknamed the “Art of 8 limbs’, Muay Thai earned this label due to the use of fists, knees, elbows, and shins all being permissible. But Muay Thai is equally about defense as much as offense. Its essence is overcoming an opponent through a combination of strength, guile, resilience, and agility.
It truly is an art form and explains why Muay Thai stadiums in Thailand are filled to capacity every week. Almost every Thai you meet will have been a fighter, has a family member who is, or speaks about Muay Thai in the most glowing of terms.
No.2 – Muay Thai training is the best in the world
Such is the worldwide phenomenon around Muay Thai that Thailand is now awash in gyms offering lessons to foreigners. If you haven’t considered taking up Thai Boxing before, there’s nowhere better. Classes for visitors to Thailand allow you to get a grip on the basics.
Thais love sharing Thailand’s culture with visitors. This cultural exchange could be a meal invite to eat authentic Thai food with their family. Or an offer to show you around the sights. But don’t be surprised if the subject of Muay Thai comes up in the conversation. Getting friendly with a local provides you with an ‘in’ to the sport and learning the basics.
In short, learning Muay Thai in its birthplace is a guaranteed way to get a unique insider view of Thailand and its incredible cultural life.
As travelers, you will be aware of how difficult it can be to stay fit on the road. The constant round of eating, drinking, and chatting leaves little time for the daily exercise you vowed to take.
For gap year or long-term travelers, the challenge to stay fit is exponentially tougher. For this reason alone, learning Muay Thai fighting in Thailand is pretty much ideal.
No. 3 – You don’t need to be an athlete
Almost anyone can try out Muay Thai in Thailand. There’s no requirement to be an Olympic-level athlete.
Muay Thai classes are available for all ages, sexes, and abilities. It is not a sport reserved for those with athletic bodies and previous Muay Thai experience. Nor those dedicated to a strict exercise regime.
While there’s no denying Muay Thai is a demanding sport, it is not reserved for the super-fit or those seeking fame and fortune in the ring.
Thai gyms are aware of the universal appeal of Muay Thai. Therefore, Muay Thai gyms in Thailand are geared up to cater to all ability levels.
Be reassured, though; you won’t get to spar with another boxer until your trainer believes you are ready. You will need to get in condition and perfect your technique before a gym in Thailand will let you get involved in real combat.
Most Thai boxers spend the bulk of their time practicing punching and kicking and getting fit rather than sparring or fighting other boxers.
This approach means the focus when you go to a Muay Thai gym in Thailand is first on getting you fit and building up your strength. Ring preparation will come later.
No. 4 – An unforgettable experience
Muay Thai training in Thailand is as much a group experience as a solo pursuit.
Depending on the kind of gym you choose, accommodation may be available and sometimes even food as part of your training package.
It’s possible, therefore, to get immersed in the sport and meet new people. Should you choose to live and eat with other Muay Thai fighters, it’s going to be an unforgettable experience.
This strong social aspect allows you to get to know other beginners from abroad and veteran fighters from Thailand. Not only will you obtain a deep insight into the sport, but you will feel a lot healthier too. Getting to know others at the gym in this way opens up a plethora of opportunities to attend professional fights and learn more along with your new-found friends.
If you have some previous Muay Thai fighting experience at home, a visit to Thailand will be the best place to expand your knowledge and improve your technique. As mentioned earlier, Thai gyms cater to all ability levels and will match you up with a great trainer. They will work with you to draw up a training schedule to help you achieve your goals.
There are a few downsides to Muay Thai training in Thailand. However, there’s a galaxy of upsides and rewards.
It doesn’t matter if you want to try something new on your travels or are a veteran boxer who wants to visit Thailand to study Muay Thai in its homeland. The simple truth is you cannot top Muay Thai in Thailand. Plus, you will come away with more knowledge and a backpack of great stories to tell.
Regardless of whether you plan to train for a week or three months, you will inevitably see an uptick in your health and confidence. And everyone will agree that sounds quite the bargain.
Roberto Villa is the CEO, Founder, Executive Writer, Senior Editor of FightBook MMA. Has a passion for Combat Sports and also a podcast host for Sitting Ringside. He’s also a former MMA fighter and Kickboxer.