Saturday, April 4, 2009

Muay Thai Training At Fighting Spirit Gym In Bangkok, Thailand

If you’re not into fighting or boxing or any other kind of martial arts you may never have heard of muay thai but it’s one of the hottest trends in international fight circles radiating outward from its home base in Thailand. Basically, muay thai is Thailand’s form of boxing only kicking is a big part of the sport and elbows can be used as well. And with the increase in interest in the sprort internationally has also come an increase in muay thai training and the establishment of more muay thai schools.

One of these schools is Fighting Spirit Gym, a new muay thai training center conveniently located in the middle of Bangkok on Silom Road, one of the major thoroughfares in the city. Fighting Spirit is owned and managed by Dan Lyons, an Australian with a wealth of experience in both the fitness field and also the world of fighting. Dan was a boxer in his native country and also fought in mixed martial arts tournaments in Japan so he has a well-rounded perspective in regard to many forms of training including fitness training as he is also now the chief trainer for California Wow fitness clubs in Thailand. And, to complement his background he has hired top muay thai trainers to work at Fighting Spirit, former muay thai boxers, some of whom were champion fighters and all of whom are very dedicated to the sport of muay thai.

So, to get a first-hand look at what muay thai and muay thai training is all about, I visited Fighting Spirit recently and went through a workout, albeit a brief one, with one of the gym’s trainers. I say brief because when all was said and done I probably only did about the equivalent of one round of fighting but it felt like a lot more. A brief disclaimer here: I do work out on a regular basis and have for many years. However, the ravages of age – I’m 53 – and the rigors of fighting in any style tired me out rather quickly. You really have no idea how physically demanding fighting is until you try it. These guys are in the kind of shape you will probably never be in in your life. Trust me on this.

Anyway, I arrived and changed into my shorts and shirt – no shoes in muay thai – and promptly had my hands wrapped, making me feel like a real fighter, by my trainer, Nan, a former champion muay thai fighter. I reassured him that I wouldn’t hurt him during our workout and he seemed a bit relieved to hear this. After donning my gloves, which fit my hands very tightly, I climbed into the ring and got ready to RUUUUUMBLE.

We started right in with me throwing punches at the heavy hand pads that Nan was holding. They were basically jabs, left and right, straight at the pads. We then shifted to some uppercuts which are more difficult to aim but I managed to make pretty decent contact with some of them, although not as good as the jabs. After taking a short break so that Nan could catch his breath we were at it again only this time it was kicking as Nan held two large pads for me to whale on. There was a nice cracking sound when I hit the pads just right which was rather satisfying. Then it was knees and then on to elbows. Elbows may have been the hardest in terms of making contact squarely. It’s harder to aim your elbows, I found, but you can make some pretty solid contact if you do it right.

All in all, I probably worked for about five or six minutes but it was enough – for Nan. Poor guy was so tired we decided to call it a day. I worked up a great sweat in the open-air atmosphere of the gym, under cover but with two open walls that are chain link. And, I learned one important lesson: this is not easy. It was interesting and exhilarating in a way but fighting is a tough thing to do.

However, if you’re interested in getting a good workout and you’re tired of machines and typical gym atmospheres this is a good way to take a break from that type of scene. Many of the people who come here are not fighters but just ordinary people who like the atmosphere and think it’s fun, both men and women alike. So don’t be intimidated by this place. It’s fun and friendly and the trainers love working with beginners, even with old guys like me. But, if you’re real serious about learning more about muay thai boxing they have the people here who can take you to any level you want. Although this is a new place it’s a good place to be introduced to muay thai training whatever your experience in fighting. To see a video of my experiences go to

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