A Typical Day of Muay Thai in Thailand
The rise of combat sports in popular culture has led to more people taking up sports like MMA, boxing and Muay Thai. While most people train in their hometowns, the number of people making the journey to practice Muay Thai in Thailand has been steadily increasing over the years. The most significant number of foreign fighters and fight tourists have come from the United Kingdom, with other European countries and Australia making up most of the rest. Over recent years, fighters from the USA and Canada have begun to make the pilgrimage to Thailand in greater numbers. Let’s take a look at a typical day of Muay Thai in Thailand.
There are hundreds of places to train Muay Thai in Thailand. Camps can be found in rural areas, where young farmers’ kids can try to forge an early career in the sport, to the bright lights of Bangkok, where the elite train and fight in the big stadia for the top titles. While there are so many different gyms all over the country, the general routine rarely changes from camp to camp. Tried and tested methods are universally applied throughout Thailand. There are normally two sessions each day; one in the morning and one in the late afternoon. Gyms normally operate 6 or 7 days a week.
The day usually starts around 7am. Fighters go for a 10 kilometer run, then return to the gym. People who are not seriously training for fights can opt to skip the run (literally) and jump rope instead. The trainers, who have in the meantime hosed down the floors and cleaned up, often will wrap everyone’s hands, give them some gloves and send them to different heavy bags that surround the ring. You can wrap your own hands and bring your own wraps, some gyms have wraps, some don’t. You can also bring your own gloves if you are averse to using stinky gym gloves.
The trainers then pad up and await fighters/students in the ring. They will point out people to come and do pad-work with them. In the meantime, everyone who is not with a trainer does bag-work. Training is made up of 4-minute rounds, one minute longer than a standard bout of Muay Thai in Thailand. A trainer will call out each minute for everyone in the gym, so everyone knows how much time is left of a round. The last 30 seconds is heralded with the words “laio laio!” meaning “fast fast!”, encouraging everyone to pick up the tempo. In between rounds, there is a general crush around the water cooler, with everyone drinking cold water and pouring it over their heads.
Once everyone has done pad-work, different gyms will work different things. It might be clinch and sparring, or just setups and conditioning. For many gyms, the morning session finishes after pad-work with some stretching – no sparring or clinching. The session will normally go on until 10 am.
If you are staying at the gym, you will likely have a shower, eat breakfast with your fellow students and trainers, then pass out for a couple of hours. The day is then yours until around 4pm, when the afternoon session starts. The afternoon is a lot like the morning and lasts for about three hours. The main difference is that it is normally a lot busier, with more people training, and the run is often shorter. The afternoon session is more likely to have some sparring or clinching going on after pad-work too.
There are some differences in this schedule in different gyms, but many follow this pattern. FA Group do it a little differently, with the first 30 minutes to an hour of each session dedicated to clinching. Sitsongpeenong normally alternate morning sessions, making one day a sparring day and another a pad-work day. These are exceptions though and most gyms will stick to the traditional way of doing it, with a bit of strength work with weights thrown in occasionally.
Training Muay Thai in Thailand is an experience that every fighter or enthusiast should have in their lifetime. It helps you understand the sport better, as well as the culture it comes from.