Muay Thai Training Phuket

Written By: The Planet D

People train at Rawai Muay Thai for months on end. It is amazing the amount of people that return year after year or have been here for several weeks already.  

It explains why we seem so far behind. I have been in awe of people’s skills and how quickly they pick things up. But then they tell me this is their fourth time here or they’ve been training for years.

Muay Thai Training Phuket

As the second week of Muay Thai training starts, I wonder to myself how they can stay here for so long?  

While it is a good workout, it is very monotonous to the both of us.  That is not to say that others don’t love it.

Our neighbour Marcus commented on how he loved the “boringness of it all.”   He is thriving on doing the same thing day in day out.  

It’s the same way that Dave felt cycling through Africa. He loved the simplicity of it all. He knew that all he had to do was get up and ride his bike, Marcus knows that all he has to do is get up and train and relax in between sessions.

Marcus said that he has never felt better, he stopped smoking with ease and hasn’t wanted a drink for the entire time he’s been here.

Muay Thai Kickboxing is agreeing with him!

dave grappling while kickboxing in thailand

A Typical Muay Thai Day

Each class starts off exactly the same. We go into the gym, and begin with skipping or bouncing on tires to warm up.  We then wrap our hands with our wraps, sign in and stretch.

We shadow box for 10 minutes or so and as we are boxing Helm (the instructor) comes around to tell us who will be going into the ring or who will be going to work on the bags.  After we are split into the two groups, we go to our designated areas. One group spends 5 rounds punching a bag, the other spends 5 round punching or kicking the trainers wearing pads in the ring. In between rounds we have to do push ups or sit ups.  We get back up, have a sip of water and start punching all over again.

wrapping hands before muay thai class
Dave’s Toes are badly blistered from carpet burn

The second half of class is where we work on technique.  

We all reconvene to either learn a new move, practice blocking, grappling and kicking with our partners.  If you want to fight one day, this is an important part of class.  

You need to learn how to get out of headlocks, how to take your opponent down and how to block a punch or kick.

We don’t plan on fighting in the future, so this isn’t my favourite part of the day, especially when I have to get up in front of the class to demonstrate the moves that we just learned. Everyone is very supportive and we all clap and cheer for each person, but it is still an awkward moment.

The Workout Cannot Be Denied Though

Deb practices her Muay Thai Kicks

In only one weeks time we have both lost over 3 kilos(almost 7 pounds)  and are back to feeling like our old selves. I am happy for the quick way to start up our fitness program.  Our endurance is stronger already, our energy is high and we feel fantastic.

If you are looking for a weight loss vacation that will keep you focused and force you to stick to your goals, come to Thailand.  For 500 baht a day, you can train for 6 hours a day and watch the fat melt away while your sculpt your way to a new you.  All the students at the gym are friendly and here for a common goal.  We are all looking to stay fit, enjoy life and workout

kickboxing training in Thailand
Dave takes on Sit Rak with his kicks

Taught by ex boxers you have a sense of an authentic experience.  The guys at Rawai Muay Thai used to fight with Tuk (the owner) in Bangkok, he employs ex trainers from Bangkok and young men that still fight today.   We wrote a post about the great work that Rawai Muay Thai is doing for their community, employing loca trainers and helping boxers at Rawai Muay Thai Gives Back.

It is hot training at Muay Thai Kickboxing in Thailand.

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.

Hot and Sweaty at Rawai Muay Thai

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!

kickboxing thailand tourist

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.”

dave kickboxing

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 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 don’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.

dave kickboxing class thailand

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.”

Don’t even get me started on the motorcycle accident injuries. More than one person has wiped out and is training with bandages all over their shoulders and legs. We never rent motorbikes anymore. Deaths and injuries happen regularly in Thailand by tourists renting bikes with little experience in insane driving conditions.  But I digress….

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 gave our camera to Ling Lom (our trainer) and he shot away as we tried to wrestle each other to the ground.  He definitely got a kick out of the two of us concentrating on doing our moves.  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 others necks, we’re falling down and stumbling over each other, but Ling Lom doesn’t care, he’s laughing his head off…And we’re laughing right along with him.

We kick the bag until our shin hurts. We kick some more, everyone kicks.

You would think that kicking a soft bag wouldn’t hurt but kick after kick has caused my shins to ache.  During our Muay Thai Training in Phuket Thailand, we spend 5 rounds a class working on the bags.  Kicking sounds the most impressive and makes the noise. So we kick to make ourselves think that we are doing something, working hard and putting everything we’ve got into our training.

Everyone around me is pounding the bags with their legs. I can hear the power and force behind their every move. People feel good when they make noise. It means they are working. Everyone punches and jabs too, but when you really want to show off  you kick.  Kick, kick, kick.

After five rounds, our groups switch off and I head to the ring to do my best to please my instructor.


Another five rounds are spent punching and kicking our trainer as he yells out different combinations and holds up his padded hands. Today, he is making me kick a lot.   I learn that I am kicking with the wrong part of my leg. No wonder it is killing me.  He fixes my technique and the workout begins.

It goes…Punch, elbow, uppercut, hook, jab, punch.  Kick, Kick, Kick, Kick Kick!…

Just before the whistle blows he yells, “10 ”  I do 10 high kicks and flop on the floor to do 10 push ups.

I chug some water and start all over again.

Kickboxing is all about the kicking and Dave tells me after class that after over a week into it, someone has finally fixed his technique as well. He hasn’t been spinning his hips and hasn’t been able to get optimal power. Now it’s working.

We both have a good morning today.  There is no awful clinching or grappling.  I don’t have to spar with anyone either. This is something I am grateful for because when I have to think for myself I freeze up.  I hate it. I haven’t learned all the skills to be able to spar properly.  I don’t know how to block and trip and put someone in a headlock.

I love the drills of kickboxing, I don’t like fighting.  Hold up a pad and tell me to kick and I will do it until my hearts content.  Put me in a ring and blow a whistle and make me fight. I stand there like an idiot.

Drills of punches during muay thai training
Loving Drills of Muay Thai

We both really enjoyed the class today.  We go back to our room with adrenaline pumping.  We re-live the experience talking about our punches and kicks and how our technique has improved.  Dave even had a trainer tell him he’s getting better.   He was so proud.  He might even have the courage to take the tape off of his blistered toes.

We are seeing an improvement and it’s a lot of fun.

As long as I don’t have to spar or fight for real, I am happy.  My Muay Thai is like “Muay Thai Light.”  I’ll kick the bags and the trainers pads with all my might, just don’t make me have to start punching someone in the face.  That’s when you’ll get a pansy punch from me. When I had to spar one day, I kept apologizing to my trainer every time a hit went through his glove and I tapped him on the face.  It sounded ridiculous, here is a guy that’s won countless full on combat fights and little old blondie is saying sorry every time she taps him on the cheek.

In the Words of Michael Jackson, “I’m a Lover, Not a Fighter.”  Haha! I’m kidding, I just had to put that in.

The two weeks of our Muay Thai Training are coming to and end and after being put into a ring for some sparring, I am not in a good mood. Have I told you I hate sparring?

Kicking I like, sparring, not so much.  Can’t I just do some drills and kick and punch the trainers pads?

I guess not.

Sparring it is. He throws a punch my way, so I throw one at him. He dances around and waits for me to do something. I am supposed to start punching or kicking back?Each time I have had to spar, I am confused and the trainers don’t seem to notice. Even when I tell them “I’m confused” 😕

The problem is that haven’t mastered the art of sparring.  Do I aim for the face? Do I aim for his gloves? Do I just start kicking and punching at anything until my hearts content? Am I supposed to put full force in it? I don’t know, he’s not talking.  I ask what am I supposed to do, but I guess he doesn’t understand.  So I throw a few more punches and laugh nervously.

muay thai kickboxing camp training in Thailand
Learning to Block, I needed more of this for Sparring

What made me think I would enjoy punching someone in a Muay Thai ring anyway?  It looked cool when Jack Osbourne did it on Adrenaline Junkie.

Dave Likes it Though

Dave says that he has excellent trainers who showed him how to spar a couple of days ago.  They took their time and showed him how to protect himself, how to properly block, where to look and where to punch!  He’s having a grand old time.

That just added to my frustration.

student and trainer sparring in Muay Thai Thailand
Dave Loves Sparring

Instead, I spent 5 rounds wondering what was going on.   Dave was in the same ring as me during one particular session and had to deal with my anger in between rounds.  Every break I complained to him I was upset. He told me to settle down and tell the guy to slow down.  I whined, “I did,” “I told him I didn’t know what was doing and he ignored me.”  So Dave had to listen to me complain in between all 5 rounds instead of getting a chance to catch his breath.

Needless to say I was so happy for class to be over.

Muay- Thai-kickboxing-woman-posing
Happy for class to be over

That afternoon, I went to class and snuck out half way through.  As I explained in an earlier post, the grappling and clinching (neck wrestling and pulling your opponent to the ground) weren’t for me and that was what was on the schedule today.  Knowing what was in store, I opted out.  Instead I went an got my camera to take some photographs.

Hehm, the head trainer was very disappointed in me.  “Aren’t you training today?”  He said.  “I have to take some pictures.” I said.” “We need some photos for our blog posts and we don’t have many. I need to do this for our travel blog.” I feebly replied and then snuck away to take some photographs in the corner.

Dave Soldiered On

muay thai training student in Thailand
Dave Soldiers On

The travel blog comes in handy sometimes. I could use the excuse of doing it for the job and taking one for the team. I had to duck out of valuable training to get that all important shot.  Forget that I managed to workout and manage to capture images at the same time the rest of the week.  I’d jump out between rounds or snap a shot during a quick break the other days. Today, I’m taking the rest of the class off and I’m hiding behind the lens.

It’s terrible, but I admit it.  I will never clinch, grapple or spar again. Dave on the other hand is ready to sign up for another round!!!

Have you ever watched a Muay Thai match in Thailand?

We were lucky enough to be in Chang Mai several years ago to watch a major championship match. We didn’t know the first thing about Muay Thai Kickboxing then.

What we remember the most about that match six years ago is the ceremony that happened at the beginning of each match. It is called the Wai Kru Ceremony.

What is a Wai Kru Ceremony?

Wai Kru means respect to the teacher.

At the beginning of each match, fighters walked around the ring praying and pulsing to the beat.  

We thought that since the people of Thailand are very spiritual and that they must be doing a prayer before each match.

But we have since learned that Wai Kru is performed before each match to pay respect to the fighter’s teachers.  

Wai Kru is also meant to pay respect to the trainers and fighters that have come before them and to those coming after.

Things to do in Bangkok: Go see a Muay Thai match
Things to do in Bangkok: Go see a Muay Thai match

An Example of Fighter Performing Wai Kru at the beginning of a fight: Courtesy of DanielCorvino

Anyone is allowed to perform the Wai Kru.

It doesn’t break any rules or disrespect for a foreigner to learn Wai Kru and it is compulsory to perform the ritual by each boxer before each fight.

Hence, we learn the Wai Kru at the gym we trained for Muay Thai.

Every Thursday the final portion of our Muay Thai class breaks into groups follow our an instructor who leads us through the Wai Kru ceremony.  

rawai muay thai practice

Following the Wai Kru choreography was mesmerizing.

I listened to the beat, and followed along. For the first time here at Rawai Muay Thai I heard the words, “Good, Good.”  I was finally doing something right!

I can see how not only this routine pays respect to the teacher, it is also a perfect way to meditate and focus before the fight.

The Wai Kru Ritual

  • The Fighter circles the ring, bowing in prayer to each corner.
  • He then moves to the centre of the ring where he circles three times and then bows on his knees to each of the four sides of the ring.
  • All this is done to the music with other hand gestures and positions.
  • After the centre ring, we walk to each side of the ring crossing at the centre in steps of three with the fourth being a leg raise and rotate.  This takes us to the edge of the ring where we circle our arms to the front, curling our hands in a twirling motion before putting them to our heads in prayer.
  • We end with a pulsating walk to our own corner with a final bow and another to the the centre before starting to fight.

Finishing up the Day after Wai Kru

muay thai training in thailand
Deb practices her Muay Thai Kicks

There’s no getting out of this gym early. If you caught on to the Wai Kru too quickly, you are heading to the bags for more work.

  • 100 Side Kicks!
  • 100 Front Kicks!
  • 100 Situps!
  • Stretch!

Okay, now you can rest.

More posts on Muay Thai Training:

Costs:

For More information visit Rawai Muay Thais Website
Bungalows At Rawai Muay Thai on the Premises
Delux 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

Training

  • 3000 Baht ($100 US/Can) per week- $14 per day.
  • 500 Baht ($16 US/Can) per day

Training includes:

  • 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

More posts on Muay Thai Training:

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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11 thoughts on “Muay Thai Training Phuket”

    • Yes Chrisitine. I think that fitness vacations are becomming very popular. We were surprised with just how many people were taking their 5 weeks off from work to spend in at the gym. But how awesome is it to go home and look and feel great after the Christamas vacations.

      Reply
    • Jill – And it has stayed off too! At first we were sure it was water weight, but felt good about it anyway. But, the inches have stayed off and our bodies tightened up.

      Reply