Thailand is the land of Muay Thai Kickboxing and no adventure to this country would be complete without doing some training.
After checking out a couple of other gyms, we contacted Rawai Muay Thai in Phuket Thailand. We are glad that we settled on Rawai. It is an excellent facility with friendly staff located in Thailand’s most popular tourist beach haven.
We arrived a day early to Rawai Beach to check-in and get oriented, but there was a big Muay Thai tournament on Phi Phi Island the day earlier so nobody was here.
We were on our own until morning.
What It’s Like Muay Thai Training in Thailand
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Mornings of Muay Thai traiaing in Thailand begin at 7:00 am with a 4 km run.
I was very nervous about the run. I am not the fasted runner and to run in a group with people that have already been training for months at a time or for some, all year long was going to be very intimidating.
We awoke at 6:30 and by the time 7:00 came around, there was no one to be seen. We saw a couple of girls walking up ahead so we started our jog in that direction.
They were Muay Thai students all right so we asked them if this was the right route to follow for our run. They gave us directions and we were on our way.
I breathed a sigh of relief, Ah! Everyone is free to run at their own pace. The slower people left earlier and the quicker ones leave later. We didn’t have to run in a group.
The weather was muggy and humid and the run was more than a little difficult for this out of shape traveler.
How on earth was I going to finish this run and then complete 4 more hours of training?
Training in the Gym
We made it back with 10 minutes to spare before class started at 7:30. Just enough time to have our hands wrapped for us since we had no idea what we were doing and to do a little skipping.
At 7:40 they blew the whistle signaling the beginning of class, and we made our way to the sign-in and to begin our 10 minutes of stretching.
Rawai Muay Thai is one of the most popular spots in Thailand for tourists to train in kickboxing.
They can have up to 80 students training at a time. During our stay, we averaged about 50 people at the gym each day.
The groups are divided into beginners and the rest of the gang that have experience.
We joined our instructor Jang, in the beginner’s group where he taught us punches, jabs, uppercuts, elbows, knee kicks, and sidekicks.
The drill went on for an hour as he corrected our technique and checked to make sure that we knew what we were doing.
It is surprising just how tiring shadow boxing can be!
In between drills, we had to stop and do 10 pushups before grabbing water. A couple of weeks of this and we are going to be buffed.
At 9:00 am we all gathered together with the advanced students for more stretching.
With a quick bow in prayer position, we thanked our instructors for the morning and went to our rooms to wait out the rest of the day until the afternoon session began.
About Rawai Muay Thai
Rawai Muay Thai was the first Muay Thai training camp for foreigners in Thailand.
Run by Diana and her husband Tuk, it is well organized and definitely caters to the western market.
It is the most popular place for women to train in Thailand and they have coached more than a few champions in their day.
Where to Stay when Muay Thai Training
The rooms are clean and comfortable, there is free wifi, cable T.V., hot water, refrigerator, kettle, dishes and English speaking staff.
It is the perfect destination for foreigners looking to whip themselves in shape while staying in an exotic destination.
During our stay, we had no other worries but to have wake up, go to the gym, and wonder what we were getting for dinner.
Even dinner is made easy for you.
The Cashew nut restaurant just down the street offers a meal plan of 1800 baht ($60 USD) per week for a multi-course dinner and breakfast.
Their food is delicious and filling. They offer protein shakes and brown rice too!
We went back to the afternoon session gung ho and excited about the days ahead.
It was tiring, to say the least, but it feels good to be forcing ourselves to get back into shape after a year on the road.
Let’s hope we can keep up the rigorous schedule because we have to do it all over again tomorrow.
Hot and Sweaty at Rawai Muay Thai
The temperature is in the 30’s and the humidity is 100%. Most gyms are outdoors and Rawai Muay Thai is no exception.
The gym is an open air building with a hot tin roof.
The carpets on the floor turn your toes into a blistery mess and the smell of yourself and the other students can be a little overwhelming.
It is hot to train in Muay Thai Kickboxing in Thailand
We break a sweat just by entering the area.
Even before I start bouncing on the tires or skipping to warm up, a glow of perspiration has taken over my entire body.
By the time we get to sparring in the ring, I am soaked and sweat flies through the air as I throw punches and kicks at the trainer.
It feels awesome!
Dave is Going Strong.
Dave is holding strong and loves the adrenaline of throwing punches and learning kicks. Maybe it’s a guy thing.
He loves getting in the ring doing his best Mohammad Ali impression. “Float like a butterfly sting like a bee”…or as Daves says, “stumble around and wave his arms trying to hit something.”
I enjoy the drills of kicking and punching the trainer’s pads, but as we learn more and have to break into pairs to learn clinching, I am not the happiest of boxers.
Clinching – Muay Thai
Clinching is neck wrestling. In western boxing, opponents are separated when clinching. In Muay Thai, it is all part of the sport.
You put your hands on the back of your opponents neck and take them down to the ground, or whip them to the side any way you can.
When you don’t know what you are doing, you can pull some nasty muscles.
Our necks were sore for days.
I found out later that a few other people didn’t take part in the clinching and grappling portion of the class.
One guy we know goes for a 7k run during the final half hour of class.
Other’s go and work out on the machines or bags while the rest of us slog it out in the ring.
As soon as the clinching and grappling (getting out of neck holds and arm locks) started, I decided that being a professional Muay Thai fighter wasn’t in my future.
It was a grand idea, but I have no plan on ever getting into a ring and pounding someone to a pulp or more honestly – being pounded to a pulp.
People are starting to get injuries too.
You have to be careful while your here and not push yourself too hard. It is easy to get wrapped up in the adrenaline and go too hard.
One girl fell to the floor with a bad injury during some heavy bag training. She can’t put any weight on her leg and she told me that her knee cap is loose and moved.
It’s too bad, because she was good and strong.
I know I had to grapple with her one day and she flung me to the floor every chance she got!
Another guy tore a muscle in his calf and has been hobbling around for a few days. Others have minor cuts and bruises and some have raw knuckles to the point of bleeding.
It was like being in Rocky’s training gym. I just needed Micky to give me a pep talk to “suck it up Debra and get yourself back in the ring.”
Today I was lucky enough to end up in the ring with Dave for our Clinching and Grappling session.
This was the most comfortable I had been because at least Dave knows what I can take and I know what he can take.
I also don’t care that I smell terrible and am sweating uncontrollably. Note: Dave isn’t smelling the greatest either!
We’re awkward and really have no idea what we are doing, but once the whistle blows we give it our all.
We’re stepping in the wrong direction, we’re tugging on each other’s necks, we’re falling down and stumbling over each other, but our instructor Ling Lom doesn’t care, he’s laughing his head off.
And we’re laughing right along with him.
Rawai Muay Thai Gives Back
Something that drew us to Rawai Muay Thai in Phuket was the fact that they give back to the community.
Owner and operator, Tuk is an ex-boxer and true success story. Starting out with very little as a child, he worked his way through the ranks of Thai Boxing and supported his family through winning prize money.
After meeting his wife Diana, she encouraged him to open a gym.
What sets Rawai Muay Thai apart from other gyms is that it is owned and operated by a local Thai Kickboxer that employs Thai Boxers and Muay Thai trainers.
When coming to Thailand why would you want to train with a foreigner?
Not only is Tuk born and raised locally, he knows the struggles that certain kids can go through in Thailand and offers poor kids a free place to train and learn.
For the serious students, he and Diana rent a house out of their own pocket to put the fighters up in.
They receive free room and board and free training at the gym. They even keep their prize money to be able to send home to their families.
For many poor children in Thailand, Thai Boxing is their only option to stay out of trouble and off the streets.
It gives them discipline and focus and provides them with hopes and dreams.
A portion of all money received from students goes to supporting the Thai Boxers that cannot pay their own way.
Diana (the co-owner of Rawai Muay Thai) was kind enough to take us to an orphanage that they support.
Besides taking in orphans, and training underprivileged children, Rawai Muay Thai takes an active role in the community.
In January they are even hosting a main event boxing match at Nahairn Beach in Phuket where all proceeds go to charity.
The orphanage that we visited was Child Watch Phuket.
The orphanage runs 7 different programs in the area:
- The Holland House – Program that looks after underprivileged children in the neighbourhood.
- The Baan Lung Pitak Prison Program – a Centre that helps children of prison inmates. It is located next to the Phuket Prison.
- Safe House – A shelter home open 24 hours for abused children or children or children who need emergency help, shelter, food, clothes and rehabilitation.
- Case Follow Up Program – Offers legal assistance and advice for poor families having to deal with the legal system.
- Mobile Teaching Program – Provides out of school education for disadvantaged children. Many children in Thailand do not have birth certificates, are slum dwellers or living outside the Thai system. They are not qualified and cannot afford to go to school. The Mobile Teach Program goes to them.
All these programs help families and children in need and living in desperate situations.
Diana brings Thai boxing students regularly to the school where the children are given a chance to play and hug and laugh with their visitors. She brings toys or toiletry supplies and donations.
Child Watch Phuket
Child Watch Phuket makes the bulk of its money from donation boxes set up all around the area and Diana is putting one up at the school as soon as they deliver it.
If you are thinking about taking Muay Thai in Thailand, consider joining a school that makes it their priority to give back.
By choosing a gym that is owned by a local boxer, you can be sure he will give back to the community because that is where he came from. Tuk knows the struggles that kids face growing up in Thailand.
He was one of them and he knows how Muay Thai can give children with little hope an opportunity to do something great with their lives.
Be it a championship fighter, a coach or an entrepreneur opening their own gym when they grow up.
Costs of Muay Thai Training in Thailand:
Bungalows At Rawai Muay Thai on the Premises
Deluxe room with Air conditioning:
- Weekly Rate: 5000 Baht ($166 Can/US) that is only $23 per day
- Daily Rate: 1000 Baht ($33 Can/US)
Shared Twin Rooms – Fan Only
- Weekly Rate: 1500 Baht ($50 Can/US) per person that is $7 per day
- Daily Rate: 300 Baht ($10 Can/US) per person
- 3000 Baht ($100 US/Can) per week – $14 per day.
- 500 Baht ($16 US/Can) per day
- up to 3 group classes per day.
- Classes are two hours in length.
- Unlimited use of weights, and training machines.
- 1 USD and CAD = 30 Baht
Note: Phuket is expensive to get around. Tuk Tuk drivers have joined forces and there are minimum fares everywhere.
To take a tuk tuk to Rawai from Phuket you can pay 400-500 baht ($13-$15) However, you can take a songthaew all over the island for 20 baht per person (less than $1) It may take longer, but you can save a lot of money while getting to chat with the local people.
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