One of my favorite experiences while traveling was training Muay Thai in Thailand from ex-professional fighters. Read this article to hear my story.
While I wouldn’t quite call myself a Muay Thai expert, I am definitely something of a connoisseur. Alright, so I’m not that either. But I have definitely spent several hundred hours training in Muay Thai gyms in Thailand.
Well, I guess it’s only a few gyms that I’ve trained in. But in this article I’m going to tell you about my experience training Muay Thai in Thailand.
How I got into training Muay Thai in the first place
A little bit of background first:
At the end of 2017 I was experiencing some intense symptoms of burnout. I had just finished an eight months stint working at a mall kiosk in Bankstown, one of Australia’s most dangerous suburbs. At least that’s how they talk about it on the news. I loved Bankstown.
While I could write an entire article on my experience selling hair straighteners to Lebanese gangsters, suffice to say that after working 6 days a week in the same location in a mall I was burnt to a crisp.
Fortunately, I had saved a bunch of money. And in the first week of January 2018, I packed up my stuff, said goodbye to Sydney, and moved to Thailand.
My plan was simple: work tirelessly to figure out a way to make money online before my savings ran out.
Step 1: Moving to Phuket to train Muay Thai
I moved to Phuket, Thailand’s largest island. But not the cool part. I moved to Phuket Town.
I didn’t do any Muay Thai in Phuket Town. In fact, I didn’t do much of anything there. And that was kind of the plan.
Because I wanted so badly to make money online, I purposely moved to a city that had nothing to do. Pretty dumb in retrospect, but that’s what I did.
Two weeks later I was losing my mind. I had to get out of Phuket Town. There was literally nothing to do there.
So I moved to Patong Beach.
For those of you who have never heard of Patong, let me try and break it down for you in one sentence: Patong’s two main attractions are a long 2 mile stretch of beach and a massive walking street where tourists get drunk and do silly Thailand tourist things like take pictures with iguanas. Yes, I’m being serious.
I had been here once before a few years prior with my German ex-girlfriend. We spent a week here doing what all tourists do in Patong: going to the beach, partying, and trying not to get burnt to a crisp by the hot Thailand sun.
But this time I had a new plan: make money online and train Muay Thai.
Initially, I had no interest in joining a Muay Thai gym. It was an itch that I had previously scratched the first time I visited Thailand.
Lanna Muay Thai – my first Muay Thai gym
Back in 2013, I had gone to Thailand specifically to practice Muay Thai. I scoured the internet and found the cheapest Muay Thai gym I could find. It was Lanna Muay Thai in Chiang Mai.
I had a great time training there for three weeks. But all it took was one lazy Thai trainer to smash my knee during some pad work and I was laid up with an injury, unable to train.
Oh, and I also forgot my ATM card in an ATM (why don’t they give you the card back BEFORE giving you the money?).
Anyway, this time around I was prepared. I had my PayPal account, a bunch of Bitcoin, and around $5k in Australian dollaridos that I intended to ration out carefully as I built my online income empire.
I spent a few days in Patong at some crappy hostel. I remember the moment I wanted to leave: when I saw a sign on the door that read,
NO SEX IN THE ROOMS.
It’s like come on bro, it’s a hostel. Isn’t that the point of staying here?
After just a few nights I packed my stuff and started walking towards Bangla Road. Remember that walking street I told you about earlier? Oh, I didn’t actually mention it? Well remember how I told you that Patong is a place where tourists go to get hammered and party? Bangla Road is where that all happens.
Bangla Road, or just “Bangla” as it’s commonly referred to, is a MASSIVE walking street where Thais try to take money from tourists in every way imaginable. Selling bracelets, alcohol, admission to ping pong shows – you name it.
I eventually ended up moving to a hostel very close to Bangla, maybe about a ten minute walk. Shoutout to G&M hostel (not in business any more sadly).
After settling into the hostel, I knew it was time to get back in shape. While I didn’t move to Thailand this time around to do Muay Thai per se, I have always been a fitness buff. And during my year of hardcore work in Bankstown, I didn’t have a lot of time to go to the gym.
I dedicated the majority of 2017 to making money. My bank account was healthy, but my body was not.
Training Muay Thai in Patong (my version of paradise)
But once I got settled in Patong, I knew it was time to join a gym.
The gyms in Patong are not so great, unfortunately. Gyms haven’t really caught on there apparently. From what I understand, gyms in Thailand are either for hardcore bodybuilders or a meeting place for homosexuals.
<insert joke about this being pretty similar to the USA here>
A bit of cursory internet research later, I decided that it didn’t make sense for me to spend a hundred bucks a month to join a normal gym in Patong. I resolved instead to pick up my Muay Thai training again and join a Muay Thai gym.
The hostel I was staying at was LITERALLY next door to a Muay Thai stadium in Patong – the infamous Bangla Stadium. I knew this because 4 nights a week, we would hear the speakers blaring the same recording… over and over again…
MONDAY NIGHT, MONDAY NIGHT. YOU SEE Muay Thai, YOU SEE THAILAND.
REAL FIGHT, THE GREATEST OF THE YEAR.
Man I miss it there so much… such nostalgia.
Aside from the fact that the speakers were so loud that they actually interfered with our wifi, this was pretty cool. A real Muay Thai stadium right next door meant that we could potentially watch Muay Thai fights whenever we wanted for the low low price of 1700 baht (around $50) per night.
Needless to say none of us ever went. We were all broke backpackers.
That said, I knew exactly where to go to ask about getting my first taste in a long time of Muay Thai. I was well on my way to becoming a Muay Thai addict… again.
I remember the day I went over to the Muay Thai stadium to ask about starting some new classes. I asked the guy at the ticket window, “can I train Muay Thai here?”
He goes, “You wan do Muay Thai?”
I go, “Yup.”
“How much you pay?”
I shrugged. “I dunno. How much is it for a month?”
He thinks about it for a second and goes, “Fourteen thousand.”
“Ohhh, too expensive!”
(This is the best answer to any price that any Thai ever gives you for anything.)
Now look, don’t get me wrong: just because I’m a Jew doesn’t mean that I need to skin these people alive in order to make a purchase. I’m all about supporting the Thai economy by greasing the palms of hard working men and women trying to keep the Thai economy alive.
But 14k for a month of training was INSANE. That’s what you could expect to pay at Tiger Muay Thai, one of the most famous Muay Thai gyms in Thailand. AND that would include 3 meals a day, room and board, plus two sessions of Thai kickboxing a day.
And I knew this guy wasn’t talking about taking me to Tiger.
“Okay, how much you pay?”
I thought about it for a second and figured I might as well try to lowball him. “Seven thousand.”
He nodded and told me to hold on, pulled out his cell phone and made a call. He looked at me and asked, “You want now?”
It was 11 AM and I hadn’t worked out in months. “Sure why not.”
Sitja Vien – Where I got the bulk of my Muay Thai training experience
Ten minutes later, a tall skinny bald Thai on a motorbike pulled up and told me to hop on. What followed after was a white knuckle ride up to the place where I would get 95% of my Muay Thai instruction for the next 2 years: Sitja Vien Muay Thai gym.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I would grow to love this place. It’s quirky owner, the lazy instructors, the fact that there was pretty much never anyone there… it was paradise for me.
And that’s no exaggeration. But we’ll get into that later.
After we rode up to the gym, the trainer introduced himself as “Egg.” He gave me a basic lesson in punching and kicking. I was hooked immediately and paid my 7k (just over $200) on the spot.
One thing that I find interesting about training Muay Thai in Thailand is that it’s actually much more expensive than doing it in the United States. I remember when I was in New York, I found a gym that taught Muay Thai and their price was $150/month for unlimited sessions. And that was in New York, probably one of the most expensive gyms in the country.
Sitja Vien, on the other hand, was not in New York. And the trainers definitely didn’t have the American attitude of delivering excellent customer service.
That said, over the next few months, Egg slowly turned me from a soft, flabby hair straightener salesperson into a chiseled freak of nature with a mean low kick.
Muay Thai classes and my own training routine
My daily routine was simple as could be: I’d wake up in the morning, buy coffee from my favorite coffee vendor (conveniently posted up just outside our hostel), poop, and run the 3k up to Sitja Vien.
And yes, I would actually run “up,” as the gym was located up a massive hill in Patong.
It was a grueling ride, but at this point I still hadn’t begun making reliable money in my internet ventures and was hesitant to spend money on ANYTHING other than food, rent, and my monthly gym membership. And that included the 3500/month fee for renting a motorbike or getting a Grab.
My reluctance to spend money actually worked in my favor, as the combined running plus the intense Muay Thai workouts helped to shave off excess fat and carve me into a punching and kicking monster. I was easily the sexiest person on the beach at any given time.
This DEFINITELY came in handy when living in the hostel.
In fact, this was easily one of my favorite aspects of living in Asia.
Despite the fact that I was in my mid 30s at the time, I had absolutely no problem sharing a room with 10 other people. Sure, it could get annoying at times when some idiot comes in at 3 AM and turns on the light like he’s at home. But once you learn how to deal with those minor details (tell him to turn off the f*cking light), the pros far outweighed the cons.
What were those pros? Well, there was really only one: the steady influx of young ladies thousand of miles from home. And what happens in Patong stays in Patong.
My friend put this very well a long time ago: “the further a girl is from her home, the more likely she is to be promiscuous.”
(Of course he says it in a more “locker room talk” type of way, but I’m trying to get this article to rank on Google.)
Anyway, these Muay Thai workouts helped to get me into AMAZING shape. And when you’re living in a tropical climate, your shirt is perpetually off, AND you have a fresh and constant rotation of young female backpackers being personally delivered directly TO YOUR ROOM.. hoo buddy.. it’s like the perfect storm.
Now to be fair, if this had been a few years later when I had made a commitment to improve my cold approach pickup skills, I probably would have preferred to have my own place. Having fresh meat delivered directly to your bedroom is great, but if you don’t have privacy to eat it then it kind of defeats the purpose.
My style of Muay Thai workouts
The Muay Thai workouts in and of themselves were also grueling. I was never a fan of doing cardio, but now I was in a situation where I had to actually run to the gym before a workout (which involved running up a steep hill), train for an hour or two with an authentic Muay Thai trainer, and then run BACK down the hill 3k to get to my hostel. All in the blazing heat of Phuket high season.
That said, I was pretty stoked about all this running I was doing. Before actually going to Thailand, I did a lot of reading on Muay Thai blogs about what to expect from the conditioning. I remember one extremely useful quote:
“If you don’t run, you don’t fight.”
That’s not to say that I had any desire in doing an actual professional fight. But I wanted to train the “correct” way. And if that involved running, then I was going to run.
I toyed with the idea of doing a pro fight, but I had one main concern that stopped me: I was worried that the promoters would set me up with someone who was way better than me and I’d get my butt kicked.
One MINOR concern I had was that I actually had a hard time staying up past 11 PM.
Despite the fact that I was living ten minutes from one of the most lively nightlife scenes in Thailand, I rarely went out. The two exceptions to this would be if I had a friend come visit me, or if there was a particular girl at the hostel that I was interested in spending time with. Preferably under the influence of copious amounts of cheap Thai whiskey.
My overall daily routine in Thailand (including training)
Other than that, I had a pretty set routine:
- Wake up at around 7 am.
- Coffee and poop until 8 am.
- Run to the gym and train.
- Come back around 10:30/11.
- Eat lunch
- Do internet marketing stuff on my computer
- Go to the beach (these last two steps were interchangeable)
- Eat dinner
- Do more stuff on the computer
- Go to sleep
This was a pretty rigid schedule that I set for myself without even really trying. All I had to do was make sure I checked all the main boxes.
Do Muay Thai, go to the beach, and make money online. Throw in some occasional casual relations with attractive young females and I was living the dream.
To be fair, my Muay Thai experience in Thailand wasn’t without its ups and downs.
The most powerful experience I ever had training Muay Thai
In my second year there, I had one incredibly intense experience that made a massive impression on me.
I ran to the gym to do the morning session with one of the new trainers, Kana. Not sure how it works at other gyms, but at Sitja Vien they had a bunch of handwraps and gloves that you could use if you didn’t have your own.
Since I ran there with nothing more than my cell phone, I would always use their wraps.
This one day, I ran to the gym and grabbed a set of handwraps like I normally do. I did my training session with Kana and ran back to the hostel.
Later that day, I went back for the afternoon session. By this time I had broken down and rented a motorbike (which turned out to be an excellent decision, by the way), and I would sometimes ride it to the gym to do the afternoon training class.
Classes in the afternoon are more skill based. Whereas in the morning session the focus would be more on conditioning, pad work and drills, the afternoon session would be more about technique and sparring.
I got there early, grabbed the same set of handwraps that I had used earlier in the day (I had hung them on the rail to dry), and started training.
About thirty minutes later, this Belgian guy spotted me wearing the wraps and goes, “Hey! Those are my hand wraps!”
Obviously I had no idea. “Oh I’m sorry man, I didn’t know. I used them this morning too and I figured that they were the gyms. My bad. I’ll wash them and bring them back to you tomorrow.”
He nodded and was like, “Yeah, wash them and bring them tomorrow.”
I thought nothing of it.
Hard sparring in Muay Thai? I didn’t get the memo
Later in the session I was feeling especially plucky and asked if anyone wanted to spar. Normally Muay Thai sparring isn’t particularly intense. You go maybe 50% to get different looks and try out various moves.
We didn’t wear headgear and most people didn’t even have a mouthguard. It’s not full speed by any means.
The bald guy raised his hand and was like, “You want to spar? I’ll spar with you. But no kicking, only boxing.”
I didn’t see anything wrong with that, so we suited up and hopped in the ring.
Now, this was when I was at the PEAK of my conditioning. I was training twice a day and would occasionally pop 10 mg Anavar or Dbol before a session. I had more energy than I knew what to do with and when I was doing pad work, I felt like I never ran out of energy.
It was actually kind of crazy now that I think about it… in Muay Thai pad work, there’s a drill that you do at the end of a round where the trainer will hold up his hands and you’re supposed to do a nonstop right-left combo – basically punch the pads until you gas out.
Several times at the end of the round I would be hitting the pads I’d feel my arms begin to fill with lactic acid. I’d start to gas, push through it, and somehow I would recover WHILE I WAS STILL HITTING THE PADS!
Eventually Kana would get sick of me hitting the pads and just stop the round.
Anyway, I was pretty much the biggest guy at this gym but by no means the best fighter. I just did hardcore conditioning and had a somewhat aesthetic body. Thanks Anavar.
When we started sparring, me and the bald guy paced around the ring at first. All of a sudden he comes out of nowhere and clocks me with a hook to the side of the head. This was definitely not 50% sparring.
I stopped and dropped my hands and just looked at him. I think I said, “Oh, so you want to go faster than normal?”
We picked up again and I caught him with a straight jab. Looking back, I think he let me catch him with that jab, because after that the dude started to literally UNLOAD onto me like I impregnated his sister.
I legit didn’t want to spar that hard, so instead of trying to hit him back, I just tried to dodge or block all the shots. He eventually caught me with one that stunned me, so I turned my back to him and held out my arm for him to stop.
Instead, he kept hitting me. Popped me right behind the ear with a full force shot.
My first Muay Thai fight.. sort of
I called out, “Whoa whoa whoa whoaaaaaaaaa!”
By now other people in the gym had noticed too and they echoed my call to stop. My head was spinning and my vision was blurry. I don’t think I’d ever been hit that hard in my life.
After a few seconds in the ring my head stopped ringing. When my vision cleared up, I looked at the bald guy. He looked SO ANGRY, like he was pacing around the ring super pissed off.
I go, “What the F*CK BRO! What’s your PROBLEM!”
Instead of trying to play it off, he goes, “You want to go? Come on, let’s go outside in the parking lot!”
“F*CK YOU BRO!”
I was legitimately confused – and I don’t think it was a result of getting my block knocked off. Why was this guy going so hard in the ring with me?
Then I put two and two together.
“Oh my god.. is this because I accidentally took your hand wraps?”
I had climbed out of the ring by now but he was still there. Everyone else in the gym was quiet. I could feel them tense up as if they were ready to get between us at any moment.
“Are you for real? You’re mad because I used your handwraps today? What the f*ck is wrong with you?”
But this guy kept wanting to fight me. I’ll never forget – he looked down at me from the ring and was like, ‘Get back in the ring! Let’s settle this in the ring!”
I go, “F*CK YOU! Why would I waste my time on you? YOU’RE NOTHING!”
I was so angry…
At this point the regulars in the gym had gotten involved and were like, “okay okay okay, you go over there and you go over there.”
I had literally never experienced anything like that before in my life. To me, it was a completely unwarranted reaction to an accident. I don’t know what this guy had against me. Maybe he didn’t like Americans?
I’ll never see Muay Thai hand wraps the same way
I don’t know if it’s because my brain was rattled or what, but my temper had been triggered and I was fuming. I sat in my corner of the gym and unwrapped my hands, glaring at baldy.
I got up and hung the wraps up on the railing to dry out again and said to the guy, “You can wash your own f*cking handwraps.”
He goes, “You BETTER wash those. If you don’t, I’m gonna – ”
I interrupted him, “Yeah, I’ll wash them with MY BALLS! FUCK YOU!”
The Thais were still watching us and tried to calm us down again, but the valve was loose and the pressure just kept escaping.
“I can’t believe you’re actually that mad about me using your hand wraps. You know what? I’ll BUY YOU a new pair and bring them for you tomorrow, you broke *ss b*tch. You know what? I’ll buy you TWO PAIRS you broke *ss m*therf*cker.”
I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry in my life.
“Okay okay okay, come on..” said one of the Thais. “It’s okay, just go over there.”
Having scored my point, I did as he said. My head was still ringing in a way that I’d never felt it ring before. I don’t know the clinical definition of a concussion, but if I had to guess, I definitely had one. I just felt kind of wobbly and dizzy.
I walked over to the other side of the gym and started putting my shoes on. There was still tension in the air as the rest of the fighters started to slowly get back to their training.
After I had put my shoes on, I went to the stereo to get my charging cable. Baldy was sitting down looking frustrated. I could be wrong, but I think he was kicking himself for overreacting. I was still out for blood, so as I walked by him I shouted,
“Yo man, you got a real F*CKIN problem, you know that?”
He looked up at me and goes, “Man.. don’t even talk to me right now.”
After this outburst the owner, an entrepreneurial cock-fighting police officer and Muay Thai gym owner, walked out and shouted, “Hey! That’s enough! No more fighting!”
I grumbled to myself and left. Instead of running the 3k back to my hostel, I walked all the way down the hill. My head was still spinning and I felt.. off.
I kept replaying the events in my head, kicking myself for not sparring with him seriously. Sure, he overreacted, but I still could have used the opportunity to spar at somewhat full speed instead of just trying to duck his shots.
I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but when I spar I always hold back. It sounds dumb but I’m kind of afraid that I’ll hurt the other person. I can go 50% just fine, but when it comes to go all out I just hold back.
If it was a pro fight, maybe that would be different.
When I got back to Patong, instead of going to the hostel I walked straight to the beach. My head was in a daze and started feeling overly emotional. I was still super angry, like my rights as a human being had been violated. That plus the anger of not sparring full power made me hate myself for some strange reason.
I got to the beach and started walking along the coast. The sun was setting now and the tourists were out in full force.
For some reason, I got so emotional that I started crying. I have no idea why. Looking back, there was probably something wrong with my brain.
I got so sad, so depressed, so angry with myself. I felt like I dropped the ball and didn’t stand up for myself. In retrospect that’s a bit strange, especially considering all of the obscenities I shouted at him during our confrontation.
After living in Patong on and off for almost two years, I had gotten to know quite a few workers on the beach, on Bangla road, and the adjacent street leading to my hostel. When I had finally decided to walk back to my hostel, I remember that a bunch of regulars were super nice to me. It was like they could see the sadness on my face. One of the beach workers (a guy I’d never exchanged a single word with before), smiled and patted me on the back as I walked by.
Could they tell there was something wrong with me? It sounds strange, but I think they could.
Why I never took a pro Muay Thai fight
To this day, my adrenaline starts to pump every time I think of that experience. In fact, sometimes in the middle of the night it’ll come to my mind for some reason, and unless I make a conscious decision to think about something else, I’ll get so worked up that I won’t be able to sleep.
“JUST THINK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE,” I’ll tell myself.
The next time I went back to the gym, the owner said to me, “You can fight, huh?”
He didn’t have the best English, but the meaning was that maybe I wasn’t just a pretty face who went to the gym to get in shape. Maybe I did have that inner passion to actually get into the ring and kick some ass.
Ever since I started training at Sitja Vien, these guys were always trying to get me to take a fight at Bangla.
My first week there, the owner said to me, “I can get you a fight in 10 days if you want.”
Forget about the fact that I was a 34 year old pasty and flabby white boy who had no idea what he was doing. He just wanted to get paid for promoting another farang to do a Muay Thai fight.
From what I understand, Muay Thai trainers and gym owners will get paid if they bring fighters to fight in the professional fight nights. And yes, you can technically be a “pro” fighter despite the fact that who have no idea what you’re doing.
That is, if we define the word “pro” as “being paid for fighting in the ring.”
You will technically get paid for fighting, but only if you win. I think the purse is something like 3000 – 5000 baht for new fighters at Bangla Stadium. That’s around $100 – $150.
More experienced fighters can get more, but in my opinion it’s not worth getting your brains knocked around to make a couple hundred (or even thousand) bucks every week or two.
Sure, if you’re one of the best fighters in the world and don’t get hit a lot, I guess it can be alright. But for me to get in the ring with a Thai who has been fighting since he was 8 years old… come on now.
That said, I always kind of wanted to take a pro fight. My level of conditioning was always increasing, as did my mastery of the fundamentals.
When I would do my training at the gym, I had a system where at the end of each session, I would throw 50-100 of each move against the heavy bag for both sides of my body. 100 jabs with the right hand, 100 with the left. Repeat with cross, elbow, knee, low kick, high kick, and teep (front kick).
Over time, this gave me extremely clean moves. I took the “grease the groove” approach to practicing the fundamentals. At first I would do the moves slowly, like Egg taught me in my first weeks at the gym.
My method for quickly sharpening my Muay Thai techniques
Then after doing a few dozen, I would increase the speed and power. By the end of it, I was throwing them full power, but with a kind of relaxed energy that can only be understood by people who have actually trained in martial arts before.
When you’re a beginner in Muay Thai (or any martial art for that matter), you’re extremely tense in the beginning. This is the case ESPECIALLY once you get in the ring with someone and spar.
I remember my first week at Sitja Vien, I got in the ring to spar at about 20% intensity with a Swiss trainer who obviously had years of martial arts experience. You can tell just by looking at these guys – their faces and bodies just look harder.
Anyway, after about a minute of circling each other and throwing a couple moves here and there, I was already sucking wind while he was still fresh as a daisy.
I’ll never forget our conversation:
“You see how you’re already out of breath? And look at me, I’m totally fine. Why? Watch,” he told me.
He then closed his mouth and purposefully took a deep breath through his nose.
“Learn to breathe through your nose when you’re training. Any time you’re doing conditioning, training, running.. ANYTHING. Breathe through your nose.”
I’m so fortunate to have learned that in the beginning of my Muay Thai journey, as it made a massive difference in the rate at which I improved, especially with my conditioning.
When you breathe through your nose, you choose your movements with more purpose. You move more efficiently – there is no wasted motion, because you need all the energy you can muster to perform the movements properly.
Eventually, once you start to gas a little bit, you will suck a breathe or two through your mouth. But training while breathing through your nose will MASSIVELY increase the efficiency of your conditioning work.
My full Muay Thai jump rope training protocol (and more)
My Muay Thai training protocol was pretty hardcore for an amateur that had no idea what he was doing.
Generally what I’d do was run 3k to the gym in the morning. When I got there, I’d do around 5 rounds of skipping, making a point to skip a different way each round. Rounds were 3 minutes on with 1 minute off and were done in this order:
- Two feet
- Alternating one foot (sometimes repeated jumps on the same foot)
- Heel toe
- Double jumps
- Freestyle (everything mixed together)
If I felt especially plucky, I’d do several freestyle rounds. And from time to time I would just skip for 15-20 minutes straight with no set rest period, just periodically as I needed it.
Once that was done, I’d do some pad work with the trainer. In the beginning when I trained with Egg, he’d take extra time to do pad work with me and teach me all kinds of stuff.
Normally when you do pad work, you’ll do it in the round format. Meaning that you’ll do 3-5 minutes of work, followed by 1 min of rest. But when I trained with Egg, we’d just go until one of us was exhausted. Sometimes we’d do 10-15 minutes of pad work at a time, and we’d do 2-3 rounds each session.
He was the one who taught me that it was okay to practice the moves with no power as long as I performed them correctly. I can’t stress how effective this was at making me comfortable throwing punches and kicks with a unique sort of relaxed tension behind them, allowing me to put power into my moves without exhausting myself.
Training with Egg was a special period for me. I got the feeling that he took me on as his pet project. In the beginning he put light pressure on me to fight, but after a while he could tell I wasn’t comfortable with the idea so he let up.
But the problem with going to one of these professional Muay Thai camps is that you end up getting so good after a while that you almost feel bad not taking a pro fight. I got to the point where I was in such good shape and my moves were so clean that I almost felt like I had hit a ceiling.
Sparring in Muay Thai vs taking a professional fight
Of course you can always get better, but without a live human being to test yourself against, it’s hard to measure your level of improvement. Muay Thai isn’t like Tae Kwon Do – there are no belts, no “objective” measurement of how good you are.
Muay Thai is more similar to boxing and MMA – if you’re good, then you’ll win fights. If not, then you won’t.
But when I trained with Egg, he didn’t seem to care. Honestly I think he was just happy that he had something to do instead of sitting in the gym by himself playing on his phone. You gotta kind of feel bad for these Muay Thai trainers man.. I think they make under $1k a month while the gym charges foreigners $200 – $300 for a month of training.
The price for Muay Thai training over there is seriously ridiculous.
I’m not saying it’s not worth it. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything. But I got a killer deal on my training over there and I still paid over $200/month for my sessions.
Sometimes I think about going back to Patong.. it was a very special period for me. I learned all kinds of internet marketing stuff, I polished my skills as a writer, and I made so many friends I don’t even remember who most of them are.
Could I have gotten an equivalent experience in another Muay Thai gym somewhere else? Maybe. But for me, going to Sitja Vien wasn’t to train me to become a professional Muay Thai fighter in Thailand at the age of 35.
For me, it was a way to learn how to actually fight – a valuable life skill, in my opinion – and get shredded in the process.
And if I have to be 100% honest, most of the reason I wanted those two things was to be attractive to women. Being shredded and having the confidence from knowing you could kick someone’s butt in a real fight go a long way to being attractive to girls.
Real world Muay Thai experience – street fights and social justice warriors?
Speaking of which, I’ll tell one quick story about that and then I’ll end this article.
During one of my visa runs, I took a trip to Vietnam. Terrible country, never go there.
The one part of Vietnam that I actually liked was Hoi An. This isn’t really because of anything to do with the Vietnamese people there or the area itself, but while I was there I met a ton of cool backpackers there and the hostels I stayed in were incredible.
Not only was there a nice pool where I could simultaneously get a tan, work on my internet stuff, AND show off my 10% bodyfat – but during this time I started experiencing the Southeast Asian nightlife in earnest.
In other words, I was going out 5-6 nights a week and having a great time in the process.
During one night out, I remember walking with two Australians (one guy and one girl) during a pub crawl. We were talking about which restaurant in Hoi An had the best bahn mi – a traditional Vietnamese sandwich that is very popular. It’s like their version of a burger.
As we were walking, the girl was telling me about one of the restaurants that was apparently famous for their bahn mi.
She goes, “You have to try <this bahn mi place>. It’s amazing.”
I go, “Uh huh, cool.” Then I said to the guy (who was walking on the other side of her) “What’s your favorite bahn mi place? You’re a man, I trust YOUR opinion more.”
Any reasonable human being would have realized that this was clearly a joke. In America, we call this “flirting” or “teasing” or “having a sense of humor.”
But these Australians clearly didn’t get the joke, which is strange because Ozzies are generally happy go lucky fun loving people.
These ones must have been from Melbourne.
Suffice to say, my joke didn’t land. Instead, I was answered with a few seconds of silence until the girl said, “Did you really just say that? That’s so sexist.”
I legitimately wasn’t sure if they were joking or not. I actually had to physically look over at them to see their facial expressions to make sure they weren’t messing with me.
In fact, the guy looked furious that I had even dared to make a joke like that.
I tried to cover my tracks, so I said, “Actually I’m just joking. I just say stuff like that to see who’s sexist and who isn’t. Haha.”
The best way to win a fight is to prevent it from happening in the first place
The guy wasn’t having any of it. He said, “Bro, you can’t just say things like that. It’s 2018 man.”
The girl piped up too, “Yeah, that’s not right. I can’t believe you made that sexist comment.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, and when I looked at the guy again, he started making those little facial expressions that extremely angry people make when they’re trying to maintain composure. Like when you involuntarily move your lips to cover your mouth. I could see that his hands were clenching in front of him too.
When I saw that, my next thought was, Is he going to try and fight me?
I actually got scared – not for myself, but for him. I remember thinking to myself, I hope he doesn’t try anything. I don’t want to hurt him.
You know how people who train martial arts will say that when you learn how to fight, you spend most of your time trying to prevent situations from getting violent? I think that’s why. Because you know that you could actually really hurt the other person. Normal people don’t like hurting others.
That’s when I knew that I could actually fight.
When I realized that my attempted cover up wasn’t going to work, I got irritated. Who did these idiots think they are, playing this virtue signaling game with me? Don’t they know who I am?
“You know what? I actually did mean it. I don’t take it back. And if you guys didn’t get the joke, then you’re idiots.”
Just to finish the story, later that night when we had hopped to a few different pubs, we ended up at a nightclub. This black Danish guy (I only mention it because there are not a lot of black Danish guys out there), said to me, “Hey man I heard you said something really sexist, like ‘women should stay in the kitchen’ or something like that.”
There was a group of people around and I could tell they were all eager to hear the story. I’d heard from some of my other Danish friends that the political correctness situation in Denmark is getting out of control.
I waved off his comment and rolled my eyes. “That’s not what I said at all.”
Did training Muay Thai make me more confident? Looks like it did
I then proceeded to tell the story just as the Australian girl in question happened to walk outside with a friend of hers. Instead of ignoring her, I put her on the spot, “HEY. You told this guy I said that women need to stay in the kitchen?”
Before she could answer, he put up his hands and was like, “No no no! That’s not what I meant!”
I’ve actually written about this before on one of my other blogs. Instead of me trying to retell the story from memory, let me just paste it here:
I refreshed everyone’s memory, emphasizing how it was a joke and how ridiculous it was that some people would get legitimately offended about something so mild.
The Danish guy goes, “Look man, I understand what you’re saying, but it’s 2018 and you have to be careful what you say now.”
I cut him off with another wave of my hand. “No. You’re wrong. That’s the worst thing you can do.”
He looked confused. “What do you mean? Why?”
I felt all the blood start rushing to my face. “Because I don’t care what fucking year it is, a man shouldn’t have to worry about saying that he trusts another man’s opinion over a woman’s ABOUT A FUCKING SANDWICH!”
That got me some laughs. And the fastest way to win an argument is to make your opponent laugh.
Even the girl was smiling. She had this sly look on her face that said, “Yeah, you’re right. I was just fucking with you last night to see if you’d buckle.”
The other guys there were like, “Yeah! Yeah, you’re right. That’s right!”
Most of them were Danish or Dutch, and from what I understand this shit is out of control over there. Plus Europeans are less likely to say outrageous shit, even after too many drinks at a bar, probably because their culture is more socially progressive on average than the US.
In fact, as I made the comment, I looked at the black guy’s face and a huge toothy smile practically split his head in half before he tried (unsuccessfully) to hide it.
“Yeah yeah, you’re right man,” he said.
And then everyone stood up and started clapping.
That black guy’s name? Abraham Lincoln.
Did you like this article about Muay Thai and my time in Southeast Asia? Let me know in a comment!