6 months ago I had my own flat, a respectable job with good career prospects, a car and a decent social life with some great friends. I also had my Thai boxing. Still I couldn’t help but shake the feeling that something was missing. My feet were getting itchy…
I had been training Thai boxing for around 12 months and loved it. It brought about both a physical and mental challenge on a level I had never experienced before. Going to training after a hard days work didn’t feel like a chore, it was a release from the stress and anxiety of everyday life. My only problem was that I couldn’t commit as much of my time to it as I would like. Due to the nature of my work (I traveled… a lot) I could never be sure I could actually attend my Thai boxing training in the evenings. I wanted to throw myself into it. Into the training, into the culture and into the lifestyle. As a great poet of our generation once said… “Go hard, or go home”. So that’s exactly what I decided to do.
6 months later and here I am today, living and training in a Thai boxing gym in Bangkok. I have been here for one month so far and have enjoyed every moment of it. Moving here was definitely the right decision, though there are (and continue to be) many things I wasn’t expecting when I came over here…
Thai Boxing in The Heat:
I arrived here at the end of February, around 2 months before the beginning of the Thai rainy season. I was expecting it to be hot over here but the heat can be incredible at times. It can feel like the Earth has switched places with Mercury. This is a great thing for a pale foreigner looking for a tan but doing Thai boxing in this weather can be an extreme challenge at first.
It’s not just the heat… The humidity levels are so high. You can literally feel the air weighing down around you. It can feel like you’re training in a duvet. It’s easy lose 2-3 kilos of water weight in just one session and there is rarely a breeze to make things feel cooler. It does take time but you definitely get used to it and adapt. Staying hydrated is key.
Thai Boxing Training
Back home in England the sessions would last around an hour. Because of this, the intensity levels started high and stayed there throughout the session. It was very easy to forget about technique and just blast the pads as hard and fast as possible. Many times I would have to be reminded by my trainer, Master A, to concentrate on technique rather than power.
Here at Master Toddy’s gym the sessions last at least two hours and there are two a day. It’s simply impossible to train at the intensity levels I would at home. The weather and length of the sessions combined with the fact that there are two a day means that training at those levels continuously will cause burn-out very quickly. I should know, it happened to me. I am still yet to find my perfect level, though it seems that starting slow and concentrating on technique then slowly increasing the intensity throughout the session is the best option. Also, if you feel you need a rest day, take one. there is little point in training if you are so tired that nothing is working for you. There is no shame in recovering for a day.
One thing that worried me before I came to Thailand was that as this is a professional Thai boxing gym in Bangkok with full time fighters training here, the place would be full of fighter douche bags. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Everyone here from the trainers, fighters to those who train for enjoyment and fitness. Even the maids are all extremely nice people. Everyone here is willing to help each other out, inside or outside the Thai boxing ring. Everyone talks to everyone else and no one is excluded. I’ve only been here one month but I have already made some great friends that I know I will stay in touch with long after I return home. (Not that I plan to return home any time soon…)
It doesn’t stop at the people inside the gym either. I had heard some horror stories about the people of Thailand but they couldn’t be more wrong. Everyone here is so friendly. People smile and say hello while walking down the street. People often wave and try to high-five us while we are running and I haven’t had or seen any trouble while on a night out either.
Thailand is a great place to come whether you want to train to fight or just because you enjoy the sport and want to get fit. There is sun, sun and more sun, the people are lovely and there is a quiet satisfaction in living a simplified life inside of a gym. It really makes you realize that you don’t need all of the material things that come along with a life back home. If you are considering coming over here to train Thai boxing, stop considering it and do it. Book that plane ticket and the rest will just fall into place.
Written by: Dave Elliott