This is another one of those late posts, but here I am reflecting on my experience training in Muay Thai in Thailand for a month. I stayed in Sam Kamphaeg( probably spelled that wrong) a little town just outside of Chiang Mai at Santai Gym, on of the best gyms out there( although my sample size is only n=1, I felt experience was top notch). The town did not have much in terms of entertainment/ distractions, so all there was to do was train, eat and sleep ( in my case I also had to do my internship). This was a good thing, since I was able to focus and get a lot of bang for my buck from training.
Training was available 6 days a week ( I staggered and spaced out my training to make time for work/rest) at 6:00 am in morning and 4:00 – 7:30 pm afternoon. In the mornings it was typically very self directed, you did your own rounds of shadow boxing and bag work, with instructors of walking around to correct you. in the afternoon sessions you had 5 x 5 minute rounds of pad work and then some clinching practice toward the end. Wednesdays and Saturdays were sparring days. A month of training and accommodation must have cost a little over 400 USD for a single room. That only half of my month of rent when I went to UC Santa Cruz.
The trainers here were wonderful. They had an incredible attention to detail, and I was happy to have them correct my sloppy basics. Some days I would literally focus on one MAYBE two techniques the whole class with a trainer telling me what I was doing wrong (I eventually sort of got the hang it by the end of class). They were also very accommodating, I injured my right hip like an old man after the first day, so we threw right kicks out of the equation for the week and focused on left leg kicks during pad work.
Tips I Picked Up About Technique ( if you aren’t interested in reading about my nerding out about Muay Thai you can skip)
I definitely learned a ton about biomechanics and generating power with proper technique from my training here. I will forever be am amateur at this, but it seems like kicks in Muay Thai ( and perhaps many sports with kicks) have a few key movements for power generation. First in regards to a roundhouse kick, is shifting your weight to your base leg( the leg that isn’t kicking) and firing off of the toe of your kicking leg. This helps get your leg up and generates power with minimal effort. Second is turning your hip and pivoting on the ball of your base foot. Finally is taking the same side arm as your kicking leg and swinging it outward a bit( like you are clearing some branches out of the way), it seems like it helps generate a bit of extra power by pushing your hip inward. It also helps to keep distance from the opponent( probably the main reason). Then again, I am still just getting to figure some of this stuff out. Perhaps if you are reading this as a beginner like myself, some of it will help make sense of things. The best analogies have heard is to pretend you are stepping over a fence, or that you are swinging a bat attached to your hip. Oh, one more thing , as your shift your weight to your base leg and go through on the kick, pushing of that foot/ leg gets some extra power on top of everything.
In regards to push kicks, I noticed some similar principles for power generation. You shift weight over to your base leg, etc etc. You also turn your base foot outward a little bit before you through the kick. This opens up your hip and helps you get more power and reach, ( if you keep your base foot in a standard position, you find yourself straining your hip a bit). Finally you can take the same side elbow as your push kicking leg and swing it down a bit. This opens your hip even more for extra reach and oomph.
My takeaways for next time were that:
- I should have taken advantage private lessons. they cost like 500 baht ( around 15 bucks?) for an hour of one on one. Considering the caliber and experience of the instructors, this is an incredible deal. One on One instruction in the states is crazy expensive
- Working part time while training is either a really great idea or a terrible one. If my internship had been paid, I definitely could have stayed with Santai and trained indefinitely, but because it wasn’t paid, it cut into my training/ resting time. Trade offs.
- I definitely have to come back next year and train for a fight
Thailand itself is a great place to visit/live in, people are incredibly friendly, living cost is low and the weather is ways warm. I got to take a Thai cooking class, roll around in the mud with elephants, and watch some Muay Thai fights. You can get $5 massages and $1-2 meals( at least, that was the case in the small town I was in.) Food is a bit more expensive in Chiang Mai city, but even then, I stayed at a hostel for roughly $4-5 a night and a meal was still only $3-4 USD.
Oh, the photos were taken by my friend Kim because I am the worst at remembering to take photos for myself