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  1. So here is an informal list of gyms I'd generally recommend, and a short synopsis why. These are maybe one-month-stay recommendations. These are not reviews, just quick overall impressions. Keep in mind, I don't really spend a lot of time in gyms during regular training hours, and I'm not drawn to mega-gyms with lots of trainers, students and new facilities. I just get asked this question a lot so this is my best answer on my experiences, and sometimes from feedback I've heard from people I've sent there. If you have a question you can post it on this thread, or create a new thread in this Topic. I've included links to filmed sessions with some of the krus that head these gyms, I'd strongly recommend watching them to get a sense of the gym and the teaching style. [updated March, 2022] Sit Kru Thailand (Chiang Mai - contact here) Thailand Pinsinchai is a late- Golden Age fighter, so well rounded in beautiful technique, powerful striking, and a great teacher. He was originally part of the Santai krus, so he has experience with western fighters, but has opened his own gym in Chiang Mai. Importantly, he trains his own son as a fighter, and a handful of young (teenage) fighters who are frequently on Channel 7 and Petchyindee shows. The reason this is important is that gyms can have a sweet spot they hit when a Thai team is being built, which makes them very full of focus. Kru Thailand streams training often, you can find video of it here. The gym is on the premises of a resort, so you have a room right there if you wish. The facilities are nice but not fancy, but mainly Thailand is just an excellent teacher and a funny and sincere man. You can see how great Kru Thailand is as a teacher in my hour long Muay Thai Library sessions with him. Session 1 all about technique, Session 2 on clinch Jor. Apichat Muay Thai Gym - Singburi with Kru Diesel (Singburi) Famed Kru Diesel is the big draw of this gym, his best known for having brought up two Muay Khao superstars at F. A. Group (Petchboonchu and Yothin) but he has moved to be the head trainer of his own gym up in Singburi. Kru Diesel is a mastermind for the Muay Khao style, an amazing padman and a truly great teacher. For Muay Khao, this is a top option. Importantly, this is a legendary kru involved in building a legit Thai fight team, who also has lots of experience of training western fighters as well. These kinds of sweet spot gyms that are authentically Thai, but also understand western needs are rare. This session was filmed at FA Group, but you'll get a strong sense of Kru Diesel's teaching: Kru Diesel F.A. Group - The Art of Knees (84 min). A new session is coming to the Library that I've filmed at Fight House in Singburi. Follow Kru Diesel Facebook, he live streams a lot. Manop's Gym (Chiang Mai) - For those that want a gym that is a bit more personal in their training Manop's gym in Chiang Mai is definitely something to check out. Manop is famously known as Saenchai's Yokkao trainer, and he's left Yokkao now to start his own life in Chiang Mai. He is incredibly perceptive as a teacher, very, very technical. I'm not sure I've run into a more precise and intuitive teacher of technique, a man with a gentle spirit as well. He also works really well with young western fighters. The gym is in a quiet neighborhood outside of the city, and seems like a great opportunity learn and train hard. If you check the threads of this forum you will find some very positive, thorough reviews of the gym a solid year or more into its foundation. Also it would seem very women-friendly, as Kru Manop raised his daughter Faa to become a fighter and Somrasmee (first Rajadamnern woman champion) trains there. LGBTQ+ students have found the gym to be welcoming as well. You can see Kru Manop's teaching style in my Library sessions with him: The Art of the Teep (90 min), Session 2 - The Art of the Sweep (57 min) We did this quick video edit of the gym in 2020 if you want to take a look Sor. Klinmee (Pattaya) - Tappaya Sit Or was Rajadamnern Champion at 135 lbs and was a loved Channel 7 (Kiatpetch Promotion) fighter, facing many top names of his time. He was born and raised in Pattaya, so is a foundational presence in the Muay Thai scene here, which is a much more established region than most realize (most folks think of Bangkok and Isaan). This gym is small but spacious and has produced a great number of fighters over the couple decades since it opened. Tappaya raised all 3 of his kids as fighters (his youngest son still fights), as well as well-known members of his giant Muay Thai family (Sudsakorn, Sinsamut). His nephew has a gym right up the street (Rambaa) and, while Tappaya can come off a little guarded at first, he's a charming and funny man, in addition to being a fantastic and experienced padholder. At the time I'm writing this, the gym still has 5 teenaged to young 20's Thai fighters, but most appear after school lets out, so it's a pretty quiet gym. There's not much sparring to speak of and most of the bagwork is just drills, but the padwork is good and their students are good clinchers. The people I'd recommend this gym to are those who already know how to train themselves without a lot of hand-holding (like me, I do my own bagwork, shadow, and conditioning without needing to be told or it coinciding with anyone else doing it), or people who are interested in an intimate version of training. It basically feels like a private class with Tappaya when he holds pads (the rounds are long and timed by your padman occasionally looking at a clock on the wall, not a timer... so I think they're 4 minutes with 1 minute rest, but it varies) and he's a great teacher if you make it clear you are interested in instruction. His Thai fighters range from 52 kg to 67 kg. #122 Tappaya Sit Or. - Muay Khao Strength In Femeu (82 min) watch it here Tappaya is arguably Pattaya's most successful local hero (excluding Samart and Kongtoranee, neither of whom were born in Pattaya but trained at Sityodtong), as he was a Channel 7 fighter, as well as holding the 135 lb Rajadamnern title for 3 years (1997-2000), and a WMC champion. Tappaya was a Femeu fighter himself, but he trains his fighters in more of a Muay Khao ethic, to be very strong and very adroit in clinching. Contact them on FB: Sor Klinmee Baan Rambaa (Pattaya) - Rambaa is the nephew to Tappaya, and at Rambaa's gym you'll find more of the Klinmee family as trainers. Rambaa's gym is full of little kids, who train sincerely, even though not all of them fight. He has two young-20s Thai fighters, who fight on ONE and Bangkok Stadium shows. Rambaa walks around with a stick, mostly corralling the kids, but he also engages with training as a padman or supervisor. His fighters are known for their resilience, it's a hard-working and hard-hitting style, but he does give importance to technique and has visiting Legends every so often on Sundays to help advise his fighters. With Rambaa and Tappaya just 100 meters from each other, you could very easily treat the two gyms as circuit (although you'd have to pay both, as they're separate businesses). Although Rambaa is a traditional gym in the sense of it being a community space, full of kids, and he places importance on traditional technique, it's also modern to the degree that there's a cage (Rambaa was Thailand's first MMA World Champion), sometimes grappling training, and a large flat-screen TV that plays fights from Entertainment Muay Thai promotions and UFC while the kids train. #86 Rambaa Somdet M16 3 - The Art of the Stinging Attack (67 min) watch it here Contact on FB: Baan Rambaa Silk Muay Thai and Kitchen (Pattaya) - this gym was founded by a former student of Tappaya Sor. Klinmee. Daniel learned in a traditional pedagogy of Thai style gym and he's made a concerted effort to honor and maintain the "Thainess" of training in Thailand, while also having a very comfortable, familiar style of training for westerners. His current gym is on the edge of a lake, which lends for beautiful runs and a nice breeze coming through the open side of the space, nice equipment and spacious training room. He is building a new location, so the set up will change from what I'm describing about the lake, but the new space is meant to be bigger and I've driven past the site and it's still a lovely, out-of-the-way area. It's about 20 minutes from Pattaya Beach, so you're close enough to the city that you would never lack for anything or feel isolated, but it's far enough that it's a quiet and beautiful area. Daneil works with his students, holding pads, clinching and sparring with them himself. He has Thai trainers who have been through a few of Pattaya's other gyms (this is common, but it's also great in that they all have a community relationship among them), he has a small number of Thai fighters, and a large group of western students with a variety of motivations. He is connected to the fight promotions both local and in Bangkok, so it is a fighter's gym. Find them on FB: Silk Muay Thai Gyms I Haven't Been To in While But Probably Still Recommended Kem Muaythai Gym - clinch heavy, gorgeous mountain location, run by a great fighter in Kem, access to Isaan festival cards. Kem's Muay Thai gym may be one of the best in Thailand, high up on a mountain near Khorat. I call it the Shaolin Experience. Big beautiful resort like grounds, grueling training sessions, at times lots of active fighters. The connection to Isaan fighting is very special, there is nothing quite like festival fighting. It's one of the best experiences you'll have as a fighter. I wrote about the gym a few years ago here: Kem Muaythai Gym: Hardcore, Beautiful, Clinch Gym - You can see Kem's teaching style in the Muay Thai Library: Session 1: Building a System (52 min), Session 2: Mastering Everything In Between (80 min) Hongthong Gym (Chiang Mai - contact here) - My private with Joe Hongthong was absolutely wonderful. He thinks creatively about the fighter I am, and then about how to enhance that. They've had successful women fighting out of their gym, and from personal experience I'd say that if you are a Muay Khao fighter Joe would make a wonderful teacher. The gym is very connected to the local Chiang Mai fight scene, and to Bangkok fight opportunities and is very fighter-oriented. mid-sized western fighters seem like they've had success training and fighting out of this gym. Watch Joe's training style: Developing the Muay Khao Style | 87 Minutes - Joe Hongthong - Chiang Mai Please post all gym recommendation questions you have for me here on this thread, or start your own thread. That way the conversation can develop and benefit others too! (This list and its descriptions will be revised over time)
  2. So, I’m currently planning on going to Thailand for 2 months next year to live at a gym and potentially fight once, and I’m wondering what gym/s y’all would recommend for me given my background and the fact that I’m quite new at Muay Thai. I was a competitive boxer at my university for 2 years, getting 5 fights under my belt and 3 wins, and for the past 4 months I’ve been doing some kickboxing at an mma gym. On the one hand, I’m a southpaw with great boxing and a love for low/lower kicks (I never kick above the body) so Sitmonchai comes off as a chance to capitalize on my current skills. On the other hand, a clinch-heavy gym like Kem would let me become worthwhile in the clinch, where I’m currently useless. Any input would be greatly appreciated; be it what I should look for in a gym or specific recommendations, anything’s welcome!!
  3. Posted about another few gyms on here and got some great feedback so hoping for the same! Going to Thailand soon and I’m considering spending some time at the famous F.A. Group gym as I’ve spoken with them and they now do accommodation. Has anyone been here and trained or spent a bit of time there? Any information very thankful
  4. First of all, I've only been at Sitmonchai for six weeks, which isn't much. I'm sure Kelly, who is on this board, could give a much, much better and insightful review of the place. On the other hand, my perspective is probably quite different from hers, as I just came in as a new person, new to Thailand and completely unsure of what to expect. When I first made up my mind to go to Thailand, I did not know a lot about the country, or even about muay Thai in Thailand in general. I thought it would mostly be Thai men living in cramped conditions kicking banana trees. I googled the hell out of it however, binge-reading the various muay Thai blogs and going crazy with all the gym reviews. Being very shy, the idea of just going to Thailand and trying out gyms until I liked one was scary, I wanted to decide on a place to go before I went there. I first wanted to go to Sinbi because they have a female fight team. In retrospect I'm kind of happy that they didn't have space, forcing me to keep looking. The amount of gyms you find is overwhelming, and you can never tell the quality by the reviews, because you don't know what the person was looking for in the first place. So I changed my tactics and decided to choose a gym based on what I want as a fighter and not on what I want in a gym. Suddenly it wasn't even a question. Hands down my favourite fighter is Pornsanae Sitmonchai. I want to fight like him. I'm not an elegant technical fighter, and I never will be, but I sure as hell can fight a war. So I googled Sitmonchai just to see what would come up. What came up was their website, which was in English - good start. It described the gym as a nice, family-style gym. They also clearly stated that they have their distinct style - the style that I liked in Pornsanae and the style that I wanted for myself as well. I emailed them, got an instant reply and that sealed the deal. I would go to a gym in the middle of nowhere and see what happens. So what is there to say about Sitmonchai? Please bear in mind that this is the only gym I have ever trained at in Thailand. I cannot compare, I can only state things the way I saw them. There is a foreigner liaison. Abigail is has a child with one of the older fighters, she lives in the camp and speaks Thai. This means the world, because if you have any kind of problem you can go and talk to her in English. It's a nice bonus that she is a woman, so you can also go and talk to her about things you might not want to confide in a man. The gym is owned by a Thai family, with Pee A (brother of Monchai, who the gym is named for) running the business, his dad kicking the bags every morning and being generally badass, his mom cooking the food and his three year old son playing Thai boxing in the afternoon. When he isn't away at fights or on business, Pee A watches the training sessions to make sure everybody does their work. He truly loves muay Thai and knows a lot about it. He is also very well connected, and can get you fights on your level. He could have matched me up with girls who had upwards of 20 fights, but he didn't and kept looking until he found a more even match up. Women and men are not equal but this is probably as close as it gets in Thailand. You can go in the ring any way you want, you can spar and clinch with men (in fact, you can ONLY spar and clinch with men, as you are supposed to work with Thais and there are no female Thai fighters there), you get exactly the same attention and the same amount of rounds as the men. You may get wanted or unwanted attention from some of the trainers (one trainer really) but it's minimal. I still think that it's not nearly as bad as what I've read about other gyms, and the management keeps a very strict eye on what is going on. You get training no matter who you are or what you want. While there are professional fighters who pilger to Sitmonchai, or even fly out the coaches to help prepare for fights, I've met all sorts of people during my stay. The outliers include a finnish guy who just started learning muay Thai at the camp (it's incredible how good he was after one month - it would have taken him way longer to get that good back home, for sure). And a 53 year old lady who trains for the sheer joy of it. I can imagine that there are plenty of camps that would laugh at her and not treat her seriously. At Sitmonchai she was working with Kru Dam, the most decorated of the trainers, who gave her his full attention. It was beautiful to see. There is a method to the madness. The pad holders of Sitmonchai are not random, they have been carefully assembled by Pee A to provide everything you need in training. There is the one who pushes conditioning, the one who is heavy on technique, the one who will teach you combinations, the one who will test your balance, the one who will teach you to fight while still holding pads... I spoke with Pee A on one late night, and he has put a lot of thought in to the staff he has hired, and is not intending to bring anyone else in, unless he needs replacements. He's really proud of his gym. Pee A himself is pulling the strings in the background, sending you to work with this coach or that, whatever he feels you should work on. There is no sparring or clinch among foreigners, 95% of the time. You are supposed to work with the Thais, either the boys who are actively fighting, or the coaches. It is always very light and very controlled - I lost my mouth piece on the first day and didn't find it until weeks later, but I didn't need it. There is no way I can imagine sparring without a mouthpiece at any of the gyms I've trained at outside Thailand. Not everybody likes soft, playful sparring however - you need to decide if it's your thing. Some of the male fighters were complaining... I went a round with an American guy on Songkran, when all of the Thais were out, and yeah, it's nice to go hard from time to time, too. You need to be self-driven if you want to prosper in training. Nobody will push you if you don't push yourself. Nobody will make you go to the heavy bag and do your work, or wake you up to run, or tell you to do conditioning exercises. Even on pads, if you let yourself be sluggish and tired, they will allow you to be sluggish and tired. They will push you, but only if you want to be pushed. This can be dangerous. As far as I understand it, the general mood changes with the foreigner population. If there are many professional fighters there, then there is an attitude of hard work, making it easy to work hard yourself. I hit a low season point, where most people had just come off fights or weren't that interested in training hard in the first place. This made it a lot harder for me to train the way I wanted to, both in terms of motivation and socially (feeling weird being the odd one out still kicking the bag while everybody else is showering). The training itself consists of two sessions. The morning starts between 6:30 and 7am (nobody will make you get up). Most people run 8-10 km. Some run alone, some run in groups, some don't run at all. By 8am the pad holders take their place in the ring and it's time to go. Usually the morning sessions are about five rounds. Three rounds with normal pads, one with focus mitts and one round of low kicks seems to be the default, but it depends on the individual coach and what they feel like doing. After that you are left to your own devices until about 10 am when the breakfast is served. So you have up to 90 minutes that you can spend kicking bags and doing strength training - or sitting around on the mats chatting with your mates. The afternoon session begins with a run at 4pm, most people running about 4km. Then there's pads again, followed by sparring and maybe clinch (if you ask for it). Pee A tends to assign sparring partners, but you can also ask the boys. One thing that I missed is that nobody supervised sparring. You were learning by doing, sure, but sometimes it's worth a lot to have somebody shout "You're dropping your left hand" from the side lines. I'm sure the Thai trainers do it in Thai with the boys, but the foreigners don't get any of that. The sparring goes on without breaks or with small breaks as you need them. Usually the activity winds down at about 6pm, leaving you with enough time to go back to your back or strength training or messing around before dinner is served at 7:30. If you want to clinch a lot you probably hit the wrong gym. There is some clinching going on, and one of the trainers is a former Lumpini champion with amazing, "You can't come close to me if I don't want you to"-level clinch. But Sitmonchai is not famous for it, and it's one of the main reasons why their fighters lose (when they do). I learned a little bit here and there, but it was an afterthought, maybe ten minutes a day, and not every day. There are gyms that put a lot more emphasis on clinching than Sitmonchai. I suppose those gyms do not give you 2-4 rounds of lowkicks PER DAY. When I told Pee A after my fight that one of the reasons I didn't win was because I couldn't clinch well, he didn't say "clinch more", he said "learn to get out of the clinch". Nuff said. The rooms are fantastic. I had a private room which was clean, spacey, and came with a private shower and toilet (I had fully expected an outside shower and toilet). There is also WiFi. The only problem I had was that all rooms for the foreigners are centered around the common area which has the TV. You can hear it in the room, and if you are like me, you cannot sleep until it's off. Some nights I would lie awake waiting for people to go to bed until midnight. By the way, the TV mostly runs English-language movies. You can live there for a year and survive without learning a word of Thai. The food is... interesting. As a disclaimer, I do not like Thai food very much in general. I do like Isaan food and some curries, but the food at the gym was something I ate because I had to 80% of the time. You get a plate of rice and three dishes - usually a very oily fried egg, some fatty fried meat and a boiled or stir-fried vegetable. There were some dishes that were delicious (massaman...) but mostly I secretely hated myself for injecting my body with so much sugar and oil. I found it difficult so skip meals however, as there is a social component to sitting together after training, too. I know that the others went out for more meals than the two provided by the gym, but for me, even with those two meals I was gaining fat, so getting additional food wasn't really an option. There isn't much to do. Tha Maka is as rural a small town as it gets. There is more action in Kanchanaburi City, but it's almost an hour by bus away. This isn't a gym location where you spend the nights at the bars. You spend the nights in your room, or in the common area hanging out, or getting food in the conveniently nicknamed "food street". There is a night market twice a week, but little more. On weeks that we did not go to see fights the furtherst I left the premises was to go to Tesco. If your idea of going to Thailand is spending time at the beach or going out several nights a week, then Sitmonchai is definitely not your camp. If you like to live in relative quiet with chickens, free roaming dogs, and a guy who forages for mangoes, you'll like it. The last point I want to make is about the interaction with Thais. Like I said before, I haven't been to many other gyms. But from what I heard, the default is that there is little interaction between the Thai and the foreign population at muay Thai gyms. It's different at Sitmonchai. Sure, it takes the boys quite some time to warm up to you, and they generally don't want to invest too much because you'll be leaving. But as most of the foreigner clientele are return customers, friendships do develop. We went to the market or to Kanchanaburi in mixed groups, and we certainly drank together more than once. There still is a very tangible line of who is Thai and who isn't (at least to me, but I'm incredibly shy and also more than ten years older than all of the boys), but it definitely isn't a parallel life the way I've read about it in other gyms. In summary, I loved it there and I will definitely come back.
  5. Hello all, I went to watch fights last night with members and trainers of the gym I have been training at and looking to book myself a fight with and experienced something that just did not sit well with me. I am not sure whether this is just something that is a cultural difference or whether it would not sit well with others as well. I am aware that Thailand is the wild west of getting fights as Sylvie writes here http://8limbs.us/blog/real-reality-fight-matchups-thailand There was a foreigner fighting out of the gym I have been training at. I am not sure how long they have been training there or at any other gym, but were representing the gym. There were bets being placed all night, on various fighters. However one of the trainers advised to bet against the fighter representing the gym. They then took it a step further and once the bet was placed asked to be in on the bet themselves. I am up for fighting a more experienced or heavier opponent but what I saw was one step beyond this. I know that no gym in the west would do something like this, or not any that I have trained at. It makes me leery of accepting a fight out of this gym as I am not sure if they would really be in my corner or are placing bets against me and booking me against an opponent looking to make money from me losing. All opinions on this are greatly appreciated.
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