Muay Thai in Chiang Mai; Lessons from the House of Pain

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December 18th 2005
Published: January 1st 2006
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"Don't ever show that you are in pain, don't ever show that you are tired. You do that in the ring and it's over, you are beaten. When you are tired, show that you are strong, in pain, breath and focus on your move, that is the way to win. This is not just in muay Thai but life..." - Pedro - Muay Thai Kruu.

My life as an experience junky has become all about variety and experiencing new things, there is a whole world to see and a lifetimes worth of learning available. In each part of the world there are histories, traditions, arts, crafts, languages, skills and sports that can be learned. I wanted an experience in Thailand that was authentic, hard work, and would teach me something about life and myself. Muay Thai, Thai Kick boxing - has a long history, is the most popular sport in Thailand and has a reputation as a very effective martial art for self defence. I'd chatted to a few people who'd spent some time training in muay Thai and they'd said that really to actually learn something significant about a month of intensive training is needed. So a month of muay Thai training in
Sunday MarketSunday MarketSunday Market

Thapae Gate
Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand was the next experience.

I made a tour of a few of the training centres in Chiang Mai, and was really lucky to find the Muay Thai Sangka school. After watching a training session I decided that this was the place for me, I liked the style and philosophy, emphasising the martial aspects, respecting the traditions and involved a little meditation and chanting. I had a good feeling about the school, the instructor and the people I spoke with. I signed up.

Each day involved around 6 hours training, followed a routine, and my life started to revolve around it.

9-11, chanting, warm-up, technique
16-19, warm-up, working the bags, technique and sparring (if experienced), chanting

(over running by about 30 mins on each session to make up the 6 hours)

wake, eat, train, eat, work, train, eat, sleep

wake, eat, train, eat, work, train, eat, sleep

wake, eat, train, eat, work, train, eat, sleep

Week one was very tough, my body had to be taught to move in a new way, the training itself is physically demanding, during the course of the afternoon session I made around 300 pressups, and 400 stomach crunches - on top of the bag work and technique. The most important thing is to not get injured, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to perform a move because of a twisted ankle or bad blisters. I skinned my shins slipping off my bicylce going to the training session and was unable to kick with my left leg for days. In the second week my feet became really sore from all the work on bare concrete and blisters appeared on my toes. In the third week I started to toughen up, the feet no longer hurt, the moves started to come and I could feel how far I had progressed since the first days.

If you are looking for a good place to train and have the time to dedicate to it - I fully recommend the Muay Thai Sangka - everyone I met there was really happy with the training.

I made friends; Jay from England - planning to be come an instructor, Samael from Italy/Brazil - spending a year training to become a fighter, Claire, Josea, Desiree, Zeev, Tyson, Miguel, Carlson and J-J - like me looking for to either further their
Pedro's PartyPedro's PartyPedro's Party

7th December 2005 at the Indian Restaurant.
training or a new experience in life.

Three weeks passed in Chaing Mai, I didn't go trekking, or do a cooking course, or learn massage, trying to work on websites on top of the training took it out of me. I only visited the tourist sights and temples in my final days, but I did have an interesting time; here are a few extracts from my paper and pen journal, small events and stories that became diary moments and I now share...

28th November 2005:
"Went with Phil to the night market, met with Ohm and Ber, Thai friends of Phil's working at the hospital.They're so generous wouldn't let us pay for dinner, talked about Thai language, Germany and England" - when I first arrived in Chiang Mai I met with Phil (another travelblogger) he showed me round the first few evenings.

1st December 2005:
"Today I rest, it's Buddha's day, so no training which is a good thing as I work with aching and stiff muscles, sore bloody knuckles and feeling very tired from going out and trying to have a good time... The club from last night night 'Bubbles' was small, crowded and pretentious, played a style of house trance that made very few people happy. It was the usual mix of Farang and Thai, the Thai's young and female and the Farang being older, male and enraptured by the Thai girls."

7th December 2005:
"Last night I briefly met a Frenchman and a Thai girl at the pad thai street vendor. The Frenchman had a full short beard, long hair held back by a band, must have been about 27 years old. The Thai girl whose hand he held was pretty with perfect hair, very feminine clothes and delicate high heeled sandals. It was only when she spoke I realised she was a lady boy.

'I really like this guy', says the Thai girl/boy, 'he's going to Pai though'. She isn't talking about the Frenchman or me, but someone she met recently.

'Oh', says the Frenchman sprinkling a ridiculous amount of chillies on his pad thai.

'So I'm getting a friend to meet him off the bus', the Thai girl says looking a little guilty. 'He's a policeman, I've been thinking so much about how to stop him'

'I don't think he will like the er policeman, people don't like the police', says the now sweating Frenchman, chillies obviously too much.

'It's ok he doesn't have to, he just has to wait with him until I get there'

'You're having him arrested?!?'

'No... he just has to wait with my friend at the police station, my friend will make something up about drugs to keep him there', the Thai girlboy beams proudly, 'Then I'll come and meet him and get him out. What do you think, is it a good plan?'

Oh to be a fly on the wall at that reunion..."

11th December 2005:
"Training continues to go well, movements that were hard or impossible one week ago are now automatic and fluid"

18th December 2005:
"My last day in Chiang Mia! I've completed my three weeks training in Muay Thai and I'm still able to walk. Yesterday I trained as hard as I could knowing that I have days and weeks to recover, almost got my left kicks correctly made after a week and half of not being able to do them.

Tomorrow I start my journey into Laos, and adventures new."

Muay Thai training was a great experience, one I hope to repeat in 2006, a two week stint in the new year seems likely. Chiang Mai is a great place to base yourself for activities, though the town itself has redeeming features the traffic is crazy, and the night life is dominated by gogo bars. The roof top bar is the best place for backpackers to meet away from the gogo girls and prostitutes.

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


6th January 2006

Savage sent me...
Nice story. Love Kali, Escrima and Muay Thai. Lucky you. Happy trails, Dude.
7th January 2006

Fat Ali!!
Where has Fat Ali gone? Now, you're almost looking fit !
7th January 2006

Sorry bro....
Another case of parental commenting without logging me out... This time from that glorious fountain of wit Dad. Almost as good as the Norfolk blog that one...
1st August 2008

is it true that if u come to this camp you have to bring a shit load of candles/insense/flowers?!?!?!?!?heard d guy that runs it is a mad monk!
1st August 2008

No Mad Monk
Not when I was there - though there was an emphasis on the mind also, we learned traditional chants, a little about Buddhism - and about the history of Muay Thai - I have a lot of respect for Pedro - the school was great - and I hope to go back one day and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in more than just the physical aspects of the martial art.
23rd August 2009

Tres bien
salut j'ai reconnu pas mal d'endroit de Chiang Mai en effet. Par contre le camp m'a l'air difficile à intégrer, je suis bien tenter de passer quelques semaines en formation. J'ai du mal à localiser le camp dans Chiang Mai? Je retourne très bientot a Chiang Mai, ce serait bien que je le vois.
29th August 2009

Awesome story, I wanna try Muay Thai when I go. Am a kickboxer but feel this is a bit nicey nicey in the UK. Muay Thai looks pretty hard core!
21st November 2010

I've so got to do this. I might even skip seeing Cambodia so I can spend a month here. Off to Thailand tomorrow, so just finalising plans.
20th January 2011

Chutgym Muaythai we would like to present our gym nice location full facility and during the training you can see doi-suthep and moutainview . And we also have guesthouse and seafood Restaurant service. We would like to cooperation with your company. So please look at our detail. , facebook at muaythai chutgym or contact k. chut 085-8397713 our gym located NORTH PARAGON Cana l RD. near mae hia market.
27th October 2011

I was in Chiangmai last month. At my first sight on the main walking street of Chaingmai city is Muay Thai gym sign. It has a photo of champion who belong to the gym. I walked entry the hotal gate and saw the nice Muay Thai gym in the center city. All people here look nice with warm welcome. The students in different class are all friend. I had an experience training here. you can look at their gym site here the master name is Burklerk Pinsinchai, he is Muaythai champion at Lumpini stadium. He came over 20 years around the world. After he got the Muaythai ambassador award , he made judment to opened his second gym here in Chaingmai cause he supposted to provide his Muay Thai knowledge to the people who want to learn with him. I loved his teaching and the intelligent method to every classed of students. we enjoyed and touchable how high experience of the trainer team. They are all champion. look their profile in the website

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