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My List of Muay Thai Gyms I Recommend in Thailand


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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]
 

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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)

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Gyms that I have heard positive things about, or which I visited and have qualities that might appeal to a certain kind of traveler/student/fighter. These are not gym reviews, just quick impressions.

Sitjaopho (Hua Hin) - This is a gym in Hua Hin that is quiet popular with those looking for "technical" instruction. It has a strong Swedish connection, as well as a following with some from the East Coast (USA). I've have experienced one afternoon session here and was really impressed by the organization and work put in by everyone. Kru F is the captain of the ship and works directly with his students, sparring and padwork and clinching, and he seems to set the tone that is carried on by everyone in the space. There is a LOT of sparring (very light, very technical), padwork, shadowboxing, some students hit the bag but most didn't,  and about 30 minutes of clinch (many participating, but not all), followed by group conditioning. Friendly space, dedicated students, Thai trainers and on this day all non-Thai students, but everyone on the same program from beginners to definitely-experienced fighters.

Chatchai Sasakul Gym (BKK) - the former WBC world champion boxer Chatchai is highly recommended if you want to work on your boxing. Precise technician, great instructor. Probably the best boxing gym in Thailand, home of several current world champions. Private sessions are best. You can see a full private session with him here. They also have some nearby accommodation for longer-term stays as well.

Dejrat Gym (BKK) - This is a hidden gem in Bangkok run by the coach of the Thai National Team, Arjan Surat. Watch our session together. It just is a very "Thai" gym, so I couldn't recommend it in a broad way, either in a cultural or instruction sense. It's no-nonsense Muay Thai that is focused on its serious Thai fighters. They have had experience with female fighters. Go here only if you want some sort of immersion, are prepared to work very hard, and be positioned in a traditional hierarchy. Not a lot of English spoken. My session with Arjan Surat: Arjan Surat 2 - His Old School Tough & Defensive Style (94 min)

Burklerk's Gym (Lampang, contact here) - outstanding instruction from a Legend in sleepy and beautiful Lampang. He and his wife have opened up a brand new resort style gym in Lampang. I wrote about his original home gym here: Burklerk's Family Run Gym in Lampang. Burklerk has a beautiful, powerful style and each time I visit I learn things. Even 5 minutes with him is gold. It's a small community gym in a quiet neighborhood, but not a fighter's gym really. Go there for the time with Burklerk, but there won't be much sparring or clinching. My session with Arjan Burklerk in his original home location: Burklerk PInsinchai - Dynamic Symmetry (82 min)

Keatkhamtorn Gym (Bangkok) - This gym is an authentic kai muay gym in Bangkok in that it is still very focused on growing Muay Thai stadium champions from an early age. This means that it is a great gym for small bodied westerners especially those interested in immersive clinch. Immersive clinch the way Thais learned, but be warned it takes a while.They have tons of young male fighters between 45-52 kg, and are a Muay Khao gym, which means that you'll be encouraged to develop proper clinch fighting habits. I will definitely make this my clinch gym when in Bangkok. The owner, Teerawat Chukorn is a Police Captain and very kind, and speaks English. You can contact them through their Facebook page which will respond in English.

PK Saenchai Gym (Bangkok) I have never been to this ggymduring regular training at all, but it is a favorite of Westerners both who are seeking to train under a big name and those who have been in Thailand for a long while and decide to move over there for the fight opportunities and training alongside contemporary stars of Muay Thai. A head trainer is Detduang Pongsawang, who was a great fighter in the Golden Age. From what I understand it's a kind of "build a bear" method for training, so you can decide how much or how little you want to do by speaking with the manager and he works it all out for you. He sounds very personable and his English is very good.

 

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Just throwing this out there: an interesting thing would be to build a criteria list for judging/recommending gyms, maybe something like:

Active Young Thai Fighters - young, developing Thai fighters are a sign that the gym is a living Thai-focused gym that does not only prioritize western tourist, commercial interests

Active of Top Stadia Thai Fighters - some people find this to be important. It's great to have high level examples to look at and imitate.

Convenience of Location - how hard is it to get to?

Surrounding Location - what is the surrounding location like? Is it hospitable? Enjoyable to live around?

Gym Atmosphere - what does the gym feel like, it's tone?

Food - If food is served (or local food options) what is it like?

Fight Opportunities - how easily can you get fights, and what kinds of fights? And how invested is the gym in finding you fights, and why?

Female Safety and Respect - is there is history of respecting female fighters and students? are there reports of unwanted advances? are females given top training and enough fight opportunities? 

Ownership - Management - sometimes management/ownership can be a big positive for a gym. It speaks to the gym's motivations. It can also help smooth difficulties.

Language - How much Thai do you need to know? Is English spoken? Are there other western language connections? (Some gyms have specific ties to other countries...Sweden, Italy, etc)

Trainer Stability/Turnover - this can go two ways. Sometimes trainers never turnover, and become really entrenched in negatives or lack of caring. too much turnover can suggest unstable management.

Quality of Equipment/Facility - some people find new equipment important.

Cleanliness - gym cleanliness can reflect the quality of care invested by owners/management. Some people also find this to be very important.

Clinch Training - does the gym provide substantial clinch training, practice?

Pad Work Training - what is padwork like? Is it consistent? Between different trainers?

Technical Instruction - is there much technical instruction or correction? some people really value and look for this.

Privates - Are privates offered worth the cost? And do you have to pay for privates in order to get good instruction/training?

Training Partners - Are there training partners for your size? Are they Thai?

Affordability - How does the gym compare in price to others of its kind and location, short term, long term.

Long Term Stay Opportunities - If you want to stay longer term, are there benefits? Discounts, sponsorship?

Living Quarters/Options - Is there onsite lodging, if so what is it like? What are nearby apartment options like, cost and quality?

Farang Gym Culture - Is there a long term western gym culture? If so, what is it like?

Off-Time Entertainment Options - What are the things to do on off-days?

 

Maybe add any aspects you find important if I missed any?

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Question for Sylvie here. 

I was expecting to see Petchrungruang gym in your list? Can you explain why it is not?

 

There's maybe a few reasons I don't put it on the list. The first is that the things that make Petchrungruang so good for me really don't apply to most other people. I'm a small woman (47 kg) who specializes in clinch, and I'm a fighter who fights a lot and books my own fights. What is great about Petchrungruang is really my relationship with the family, and how much clinching I can get as a small female. And of course the padholding and guidance of Pi Nu. But Petchrungruang is a slow cook method gym. There usually isn't a lot of technical instruction or correction, instead there is lots of doing, and lots of self-directed training (I plan and do my own bag rounds, my own side drills, etc). Its teaching method is designed to turn kids into fighters over years. This isn't what a lot of western students or fighters are looking for. 

Also, I don't really like "selling" my gym. I've written a lot about it so if people have read me over the years they know what it is about. And in some ways I'd like to keep the gym my little secret. I don't want it to change with the arrival of students and fighters who expect things different than it is. And I really don't recommend it for most people because I feel that they would be happier somewhere else. It's just a small family gym that does things in a quiet way, focused on raising Thai boys to be stadium fighters and I like that.

That being said I have extended the offer for women to come and train with me, but that is different than putting the gym on a recommended list.

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Thank you Sylvie for this detailed explanation. I thought, there was a bit of  "And in some ways I'd like to keep the gym my little secret." ;)

I was also wondering. I know that Phuket is not known for being the most serious place to train but if one would like to train there to be in a beach area what gym would you, or others, suggest. What would be the 3 top gym in Phuket or other beach area? From my research online these are the top 3 gym I found. 

1- Singpatong Sitnumnoi: Seems like a very legit gym with serious fighters thought more western fighters seem to train there (mostly from France)

2- Simbi muay thai: from what I read seems fight oriented but also female "friendly" 

3- Tiger Muay thai : That would really not be my first choice since it seems too much like a western gym and I don't really care about the tech facility and the BJJ. 

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Thank you Sylvie for this detailed explanation. I thought, there was a bit of  "And in some ways I'd like to keep the gym my little secret." ;)

I was also wondering. I know that Phuket is not known for being the most serious place to train but if one would like to train there to be in a beach area what gym would you, or others, suggest. What would be the 3 top gym in Phuket or other beach area? From my research online these are the top 3 gym I found. 

1- Singpatong Sitnumnoi: Seems like a very legit gym with serious fighters thought more western fighters seem to train there (mostly from France)

2- Simbi muay thai: from what I read seems fight oriented but also female "friendly" 

3- Tiger Muay thai : That would really not be my first choice since it seems too much like a western gym and I don't really care about the tech facility and the BJJ. 

 

I really hesitate to comment on Phuket gyms as this just seems like another world, very far from the Muay Thai training that I know. But I can at least give you my impression from things I've heard. Sinbi once had a very strong female Muay Thai presence, and lots of female fighters, but I've heard darker stories from more than one source. And a woman who is now a friend of mine, wrote a guest blog post about her experiences there which were so disappointing she flew out and came to train with me. Many of the longer term fighters like Gemma and Teresa also left Sinbi, so it seems that something is up. This isn't to say that women can't have very positive experiences there, in fact I've heard from a few who loved it, you can read Kay Khanomtom's very positive review of Sinbi on this forum. Gyms go through phases, and expectation plays a lot into experiences. For me though there are enough mixed messages that I just would tell a friend to stay away. As to Singpatong and Tiger, I really know nothing much at all through the grapevine. 

The only other gyms I could only very loosely suggest to look at for female-friendly reputation is Sutai Muay Thai a gym part owned I believe by Marcela Soto, a western female very active fighter, which also has a very experienced female Thai fighter, Buakaw, who is a trainer there. They seem well connected, and do have beach photos posted. Also Sumalee Boxing is owned by a western woman, Lynne Miller. From what I heard the gym went through a kind of purge a year or so ago, partly related to inappropriate advances, and completely remade its instructor staff, with an eye towards female safety. This is a very difficult thing for a gym to do. Usually when established, valuable Krus violate trust like that in Thailand ownership just turns the other way. So if what I heard was correct, Lynne really deserves credit. 

But talking about this for me is like talking about another planet. I don't even have a concept of how gyms relate to beach life, how far they are from them, or how people integrate the two.

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Thank you. 

I have another follow up question. The thing is I am planning to go train in Thailand for a few months next year (I have a MCL partial tear that needs to heal and I need to save money so realistically it will be in about a year). 

I will probably go to Lana for the most part. But my girlfriend is suppose to join me eventually in the trip. Probably the last 3 weeks or so. I would say she's not super serious in her training yet (not that she as to become) would probably train only once a day and I thought that the area of Phuket might be nicer than a city setting. But I don't know, I never being in Thailand. That's why I am looking for a women friendly gym. I would guess thought that the dynamic of possible unwanted advances or agressions is very less likely if you arrive at the gym as a couple? (that's my actual question because I know your husband is often around when you train) But I would also like for her to be able to have female training partners (thought she's pretty big, she would probably need western partners since she's 6' and 135lbs) and a place that she feels welcome to. 

All that said, I don't know. Maybe Chiang Mai is also very nice to visit and from what I understand of Lana, it could be a nice place for her to train, also considering the fact that I would have been there for a while, know the trainers and the other fighters and stuff. 

Can you share you thoughts on this?

Thank you

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Thank you. 

I have another follow up question. The thing is I am planning to go train in Thailand for a few months next year (I have a MCL partial tear that needs to heal and I need to save money so realistically it will be in about a year). 

I will probably go to Lana for the most part. But my girlfriend is suppose to join me eventually in the trip. Probably the last 3 weeks or so. I would say she's not super serious in her training yet (not that she as to become) would probably train only once a day and I thought that the area of Phuket might be nicer than a city setting. But I don't know, I never being in Thailand. That's why I am looking for a women friendly gym. I would guess thought that the dynamic of possible unwanted advances or agressions is very less likely if you arrive at the gym as a couple? (that's my actual question because I know your husband is often around when you train) But I would also like for her to be able to have female training partners (thought she's pretty big, she would probably need western partners since she's 6' and 135lbs) and a place that she feels welcome to. 

All that said, I don't know. Maybe Chiang Mai is also very nice to visit and from what I understand of Lana, it could be a nice place for her to train, also considering the fact that I would have been there for a while, know the trainers and the other fighters and stuff. 

Can you share you thoughts on this?

Thank you

 

Yes, you are correct. If you are in a couple advances will be much less likely. My husband isn't really around my training for the last 2 years, and I've learned how to create my own personal borders, but in the beginning when we moved to Thailand it was an advantage to have him in the gym in the afternoons. 

I can't really comment on Phuket and beach life. I haven't a clue what that is like. I would maybe just say that because you are going to be at Lanna you'll have a really good opportunity to figure out if she'd like it or not. It's very laid back, but you can get good hard work in too. You can also have her meet you there, see how she likes Chiang Mai, which is a beautiful city, and then weigh if you want to fly down to the islands. The thing to keep in mind is that it is much more expensive in the islands than it is in Chiang Mai, which is one of the least expensive areas of Thailand that easily accommodates westerners.

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I would maybe just say that because you are going to be at Lanna you'll have a really good opportunity to figure out if she'd like it or not. It's very laid back, but you can get good hard work in too. You can also have her meet you there, see how she likes Chiang Mai, which is a beautiful city, and then weigh if you want to fly down to the islands. The thing to keep in mind is that it is much more expensive in the islands than it is in Chiang Mai, which is one of the least expensive areas of Thailand that easily accommodates westerners.

Thanks again. Actually, I've "decided" on Lana after talking to you on facebook (facebook name being Joseph Arthur de Gonzo). I think your advice of not booking in advance and trying two gyms before I take a final decision is very sensible so I think I'll do that.

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Thanks again. Actually, I've "decided" on Lana after talking to you on facebook (facebook name being Joseph Arthur de Gonzo). I think your advice of not booking in advance and trying two gyms before I take a final decision is very sensible so I think I'll do that.

Bingo!

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Hi Silvie!

You recommend Sasakul, but you mean only if you're interested in focusing on boxing ??

How about the new location?

I will be by BKK in a few days, and I would like to know if it is possible to have private sessions with Karuhat.

I was thinking about maybe training a week in Sasakul ...

 

Regards

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Hi Silvie!

You recommend Sasakul, but you mean only if you're interested in focusing on boxing ??

How about the new location?

I will be by BKK in a few days, and I would like to know if it is possible to have private sessions with Karuhat.

I was thinking about maybe training a week in Sasakul ...

 

Regards

 

Sasakul gym is really a boxing gym (with several world champions). But the private lessons with Chatchai will improve your balance for Muay Thai, 100%. If you are going to be in BKK in the next 3 weeks you might be able to get privates with Karuhat, but I'm not sure. Send Sylvie a message on her FB page and maybe she can help arrange https://www.facebook.com/sylviemuaythai/

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  • 7 months later...

Hi all,

 

I am planning to go to Thailand next year July 2019. I have looked through for gyms such as Santai Muay Thai, Sitmonchai gym, Hongthong gym, charn chai Muay Thai and kiatphontip gym. If anyone could give me more recommendations or past experiences on the gyms listed above it would be of great help :)

 

Side Note: I have considered lamnammoon Muay Thai in isaan, wondering if anyone have past experiences and I would love to train there.

 

Thank you and have lovely day

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We filmed an entire session at Sangtiennoi's gym, just to give an inside look at what training there is like, one of the more "authentic" Muay Thai gyms with a history of training high level westerners as well. [edit in, November 2021 - seeing that I posted this, Sangtiennoi has since sadly passed away. The gym is still open and being run by his wife and his son Moses who have survived him.]

 

 

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Wow, this is just a gold mine. Wherever you turn your head around here, you encounter such thorough content, whether it is a thread in the forum or a post on patreon. I woke up to your post about the best of BKK Muay Thai, Sylvie, and decided to give it a full read later today, when I realised how long it was. It occured to me how crazy it is that that is benchmarked as just a post, I mean so much work and such quality - and then it's just right there, served along with my morning coffee. Damn. I also just finished all of Muay Thai bones, don't know what to do from here... Amazing work that you two put into this, really. Thank you!

 

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Reading the updated and revised list if I could just add my own twist to it all, I think Kru Thailand's gym is the most fascinating gym of all of them. This is something we experienced in other gyms that is really special. When a gym is building a class or two of Thai fighters (age groups or weight classes), and the fighters are all being directed by a Golden Age serious kru, this is a beautiful thing to be folded into if you can. It's never sure how long this will last. One year, three years, its hard to tell, but there are special times in Thai gyms that are not organized around westerners, when if you are there you get a very different experience. This would be a gym I'd want Sylvie to train at if she were living in Chiang Mai. It's just a vibe we felt while filming there, and something you can see in the live streams that Kru Thailand puts out. This of course is not a blanket recommendation, because people are at different levels, have different needs, have differing tolerances. It's just based on the feeling I recognize from that gym's example. Take it for what it is worth.

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2 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Reading the updated and revised list if I could just add my own twist to it all, I think Kru Thailand's gym is the most fascinating gym of all of them. This is something we experienced in other gyms that is really special. When a gym is building a class or two of Thai fighters (age groups or weight classes), and the fighters are all being directed by a Golden Age serious kru, this is a beautiful thing to be folded into if you can. It's never sure how long this will last. One year, three years, its hard to tell, but there are special times in Thai gyms that are not organized around westerners, when if you are there you get a very different experience. This would be a gym I'd want Sylvie to train at if she were living in Chiang Mai. It's just a vibe we felt while filming there, and something you can see in the live streams that Kru Thailand puts out. This of course is not a blanket recommendation, because people are at different levels, have different needs, have differing tolerances. It's just based on the feeling I recognize from that gym's example. Take it for what it is worth.

Hello Kevin, I tried to look at the video of the live stream, but the link is dead and I can't find it on their facebook page, do you still have access to it on your side?

Also, I guess Kru Thailand would not be suited for a heavyweight/cruiserweight right? 

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3 minutes ago, Joseph Arthur De Gonzo said:

I tried to look at the video of the live stream, but the link is dead and I can't find it on their facebook page, do you still have access to it on your side?

Unfortunately he deleted the live stream (maybe so his fighters can't be studied). Sylvie put it up as it was streaming. If you follow the gym they do stream fairly often.

4 minutes ago, Joseph Arthur De Gonzo said:

Also, I guess Kru Thailand would not be suited for a heavyweight/cruiserweight right? 

It would really depend on your skill level, and your training needs. But no, at this date it doesn't look like fighters close to your weight. But, if you are there for technique Kru Thailand is ON POINT.

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2 hours ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Unfortunately he deleted the live stream (maybe so his fighters can't be studied). Sylvie put it up as it was streaming. If you follow the gym they do stream fairly often.

It would really depend on your skill level, and your training needs. But no, at this date it doesn't look like fighters close to your weight. But, if you are there for technique Kru Thailand is ON POINT.

Thank you

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    • #deleuze #muaythai #warfare #philosophy #chess #sociology #thailand TLTR: discussing the unique historical and cultural influences on Thailand's Muay Thai as a traditional martial art and sport. Highlighting the deep-rooted history of Muay Thai, its ties to state warfare, influences from various cultures, including its unwritten provincial history, a comparison between Muay Thai, the games of Chess and Go is drawn as to the different philosophies and strategies inherent in each form of gamed combat. Additionally, it delves into the concept of warfare, power dynamics, spiritual aspects, and societal hierarchies reflected in the practices of Muay Thai as they relate to the Deleuze and Guattari's theories of nomadology, smooth space and war. Overall, a contrast between centralized, advance-forward, territory capture and more fluid edge-control, labor-capture warfare provides insight into what has shaped Thailand's Muay Thai into a distinct and formidable fighting art. (if it's TLTR, you get this summation) This is an on-going draft that will be edited over time   As internationalizing pressures push Muay Thai toward Western-friendly viewership, its worth considering the fundamental ways in which Thai and Western perceptions of conflict differ, and the manor in which this difference is preserved and expressed as Thai, in Thailand's traditional Muay Thai, a sport which achieved its acme-form in it's Golden Age (1980-1994). It's the contention of this article that there are governing, different and possibly quite opposed Martial Logics that structure many Western combat sport perceptions and the art of Thailand's Muay Thai, and these can be seen in the two graphics above, showing the games of Chess and Go. Now combat sports are quite diverse, even in the West, and each has its own history and audience. Each is shaped by its rules. The discussion here is more about the dominant image of thought as might be traced in Western and Southeast Asian regions of the world, despite rich variance, and even cross-influences. Thailand's Muay Thai, despite its violence, more maybe even because of it, is noted for its defensive excellence. It historically has been a close-fought sport that unlike some Western ring aesthetics, actually gravitates toward the ropes and corners, which are notoriously more difficult topographic ground. Because fighting is draw to this edge and corner emphasis, it requires even higher levels of defensive prowess to thrive at these edges. While the dominant image of Western ring fighting is much more clash-conscious, force meeting force in the middle of the ring (like two knight champions meeting at the center of a battlefield), in Thailand's Muay Thai it is the dextrousness along the ropes, the escapability, which wins the highest esteem. This piece offers explanations for what that is so and points to other studies of Muay Thai that underpin this. Largely though, it likely relates to the way in which violence and aggression is thought of in a traditionally Buddhist society, and Thailand's long history of a warfare of encirclement and capture. Examples of Thailand's Muay Thai Most Praised Edge Fighting Thailand is not alone in esteeming edge mastery. Western Boxing has very famous rope work, much of which constitutes the highest forms of fighting of its greatest fighters. But it does have a differing dominant image of thought than in the West, one which elevates rope and corner work into its own purposeful artform. Some of this can be read as a direct result of nearly opposite generalized scoring criteria. In the West, being very broad about it, forward aggression is a positive signature. All things being equal the forward fighter is seen as imposing themselves on their opponent. In Thailand's Muay Thai it is the opposite. This fundamental criteria reversal leads to a lot of Western viewers being confused over how fights are scored. Just being very broad about it, when a Thai fighter takes the lead in a fight - something that they know because audience gambling odds have changed in their favor - they begin to retreat. The retreating, defensive fighter is seen as protecting their lead. Their defense becomes their path to victory, which is why historically Thai fighters became the best defensive fighters in the world. Defense takes the spotlight in almost any lead, all other things being equal. A fighter going to the ropes in the broad Western conception is a fighter who has been forced there. A fighter who goes to the ropes in Muay Thai is in the dominant picture of thought signalling that they are in the lead. It's an upside down world for the Westerner and leads to a lot of miscomprehension. It's best to continually return to the note that these are broad, image-of-thought pictures of aggression and ring space. Judging a fight is much more complex than this. Over the years there are pendulum swings in how aggressive or active the retreating fighter has to be, and this is something that has differed even between the National Stadia of the sport, each with their own scoring aesthetics. Broadly though, the way that the edges and corners are semiotically coded, what they signify, is areas of control where fights are won and lost. And, because fighters in the lead retreat and defend, a lot of fights head to the edges, especially in the traditional, high-scoring later rounds. If you want to see the highest levels of this edge-excellence, I recommend this fight between two legends of the sport. Somrak in red, Boonlai in blue. Noteworthy in this fight is that Somrak at this time was one of the best Western Boxers all of Thailand. In a few years he would go onto win Gold at the 1996 Olympics in Mayweather's division. In this fight he hardly throws a punch until the fight is well in hand. It's footwork, interception, movement and countering, a great deal of it at the edge. At the edge because he is winning, and he is signalling his superiority. watch Boonlai vs Somrak here Another classic example is this study of Samart Payakaroon, widely thought to be the GOAT of Muay Thai, fighting the forward knee-fighter Namphon Nongkipahayuth (below). Watch the entire fight, but also look at the study of how Samart, almost always on the ropes, command and controls Namphon's knee and clinch attack through interception and movement. In a manner different than much of Western symbology, Samart is signaling his dominance through rope work, interception and evasion. watch this study of Samart's defense along the ropes in his Golden Age rematch vs Namphon   In a general way, just at the level of style, watch this highlight compilation of the switching footwork of possibly the most artful fighter of Thailand's Golden Age, the great Karuhat Sor Supawan (below). You will see his deft switching in both attack and defense at the ropes featured here, but when in the lead and he performs his best magic, his back is to the rope. Back to the rope signals dominance. watch Muay Thai Scholar's study of the legend Karuhat's switching footwork   Dipping into Thai History and the Games of Go and Chess Thailand's Muay Thai is a fighting art and combat sport of extraordinary uniqueness. Fashioned as it has been from at least 100+ years of continuous provincial fighting deep in its countryside custom - something that may stretch back multiple centuries - fortified and shaped by Royal and State warfare, itself composed of worldwide mercenary influences, from Japanese & Javanese merchant pirates to Persian & Portuguese regimented manpower, it stands as both a cosmopolitan fighting art, and still one which has been richly woven together as wholly Buddhistic Siamese and then Thai continuity. Channeled and informed by British Boxing's colonialist, pressuring example in its modernizing period (1920-1950s), what remains most valuable in Muay Thai are the ways it is like no other fighting art. It's a purity of difference. Both lab-tested in 100,000s of full-contact ring fights multiplied by generations, and expressive of wool-dyed Buddhistic principles, this is a synergy of provincial and the Capital fight knowledge, both martial and sport, like no other in the world. They just fight differently...and have arguably been the best ring fighters in the world. The at-top diagram juxtaposing two combat inspired board games, Chess and the game of Go, aims to draw out some of the deeper philosophical and conceptual differences between Thailand's Southeast Asian fighting art and many of Western conceptions of combat, especially at the dominant image of thought level. Chess is a game of some disputed origin approximately 1,500 years ago. It was not a Western game. It's largely believed to have come from India by way of Persia. The Western Chess vocabulary is etymologically Persian, and the Persian version of the game is closest to the one adopted in Europe. Interestingly enough, the birth of Chess and its dissemination throughout the world across tradewinds corresponds roughly to the period, 3rd-6th century AD, during which Southeast Asia underwent Indianization. Indian culture became powerfully adopted throughout mainland Southeast Asia, and importantly in the history of Siam significantly informed Khmer Empire (today's Cambodia) royalty warfare and statecraft, much of which would be adopted by Siamese kings to the West. Royal, court and State culture was Indianized, bearing qualities (language, social forms, knowledges) which were not shared by the common populace. The Indianization of Southeast Asia has been culturally compared to the Roman Empire's Romanization in of Europe. And to this day Thai Royalty, its Brahmin customs and practices, the common worship of Hindu gods within a Buddhist context reflects this 1,500 years of influence of Indian culture. This is to say, when comparing Thailand's Muay Thai to the West via the game of Chess, we are speaking of a game that was of Indian and Persian origin, something quite closely braided within Siamese history. For instance, King Narai of Ayutthaya in 17th century had 200 Persian warriors as his personal guard. The influence of India and Persia is profound. What I want you to see is that Muay Thai's historical past is likely quite imbricated. There are layers upon layers of historical segmentation. Within this history the Royal form in particular had a distinctly Indianized history, and Thailand's Muay Thai has had a robust Royal history surrounding the raising of armies, large scale wars at times with armies (perhaps fancifully) rumored to approach 1,000,000 men. This Statecraft heritage is likely something we can see reflected in the game of Chess itself, the game of Kings, castles and queens. And, the history that we have of Thailand's Muay Thai is almost entirely composed of this Royal-State story, as royal record and foreign visitors to Siam's kingdoms comprises our written history. The possible story of Muay Thai that involves provincial, rural, village, regional martial and sport practices has vanished seemingly just as much as houses of wood or bamboo will not be preserved. Yet, in the nature of Southeast Asian and Siamese fighting arts we very well may see the martial contrastive martial logic of the Siamese people, especially when compared to the visions of the West. Chess, Go, Striated and Smooth Spaces In this we turn to the 4,000 year old Chinese and then Japanese game of Go (the game of surrounding). wikipedia: Japanese word igo (囲碁; いご), which derives from earlier wigo (ゐご), in turn from Middle Chinese ɦʉi gi (圍棋, Mandarin: wéiqí, lit. 'encirclement board game' or 'board game of surrounding'). I have written about the historical origins of Thailand's Muay Thai that particularly bring out its logic of surrounding and capture, a martial logic that is quite embodied in the game of Go (The Historical Foundations of Thailand's Retreating Style, or How They Became the Best Defensive Fighters In the World). In short, historians of Southeast Asia point out that unlike in Europe where land was scarce (and therefore the anchor of wealth), and manpower plentiful, conquering land and killing occupying enemies formed a basic martial logic in warfare. In Southeast Asia where fecund land was everywhere, but population sparse (especially in Siam which had been one of the least populated regions of Southasia), warfare was focused on capture and enslavement. Enemy land capture was at a minimum, and even in the case of the famed and ruinous sackings of the Siamese Capital of Ayutthaya by the Burmese, the captured territory was not held. These are just very different spatial and aim-oriented logics, in fact opposite logics. I'm using the game of Go, which expresses a fluid rationality of edge control and reversible enemy capture (captured stones add to your wealth, and don't only subtract from one's enemy), opposed to the more centric, land-control logic of Chess. A Chess of Indian-Persian statecraft which resonated with European political and warfare realities. This juxtaposition between games is not mine, though I'm probably the first to use it to illuminate combat sport perceptions in today's ring fighting. It comes from the sociologically oriented philosophers Deleuze and Guattari in their book A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. A notoriously difficult work due to its heavy reliance on invented vocabularies, and its opaque, keyed-in references to specific philosophical traditions, psychoanalysis and their theoretical problems, it still provides rich analysis of buried trends in Western social organization, and a metaphysics for thinking about the history of the world as a whole. What Deleuze and Guattari want to do in contrasting Go with Chess is to think about the different ways that Space is organized and traversed by political powers and regimes of meaning. They propose that Chess is a striated (divided, segmented, hierarchical) Space, And Go more of a smooth space. This blogged description is a good summary of the two kinds of Space: The much older game of Go is a strategy of surround and capture, wherein you turn an enemy's wealth - by our analogy labor-power - into your own. This is mirrored in Siamese warfare as reported in 1688 by an Iranian vistor, "...the struggle is wholly confined to trickery and deception. They have no intention of killing each other or of inflicting any great slaughter because if a general gained a real conquest, he would be shedding his own blood so to speak" (context, Ibrahim), full quote here. We have at surface a strong homology between foreign reports and the structural nature of the game of Go. More can be understood of my position and the role of evasion, surround-and-capture principles in this extended thread here. Diving down into the more philosophical ramifications I provide the extended Deleuze & Guattari quotation comparing the game of Chess vs the game of Go: Rather, he is like a pure and immeasurable multiplicity, the pack, an irruption of the ephemeral and the power of metamorphosis. He unties the bond just as he betrays the pact. He brings a furor to bear against sovereignty, a celerity against gravity, secrecy against the public, a power (puissance) against sovereignty, a machine against the apparatus. He bears witness to another kind of justice, one of incomprehensible cruelty at times, but at others of unequaled pity as well (because he unties bonds.. .). He bears witness, above all, to other relations with women, with animals, because he sees all things in relations of becoming, rather than implementing binary distributions between "states": a veritable becoming-animal of the warrior, a becoming-woman, which lies outside. Let us take a limited example and compare the war machine and the State apparatus in the context of the theory of games. Let us take chess and Go, from the standpoint of the game pieces, the relations between the pieces and the space involved. Chess is a game of State, or of the court: the emperor of China played it. Chess pieces are coded; they have an internal nature and intrinsic properties from which their movements, situations, and confrontations derive. They have qualities; a knight remains a knight, a pawn a pawn, a bishop a bishop. Each is like a subject of the statement endowed with a relative power, and these relative powers combine in a subject of enunciation, that is, the chess player or the game's form of interiority. Go pieces, in contrast, are pellets, disks, simple arithmetic units, and have only an anonymous, collective, or third-person function: Thus the relations are very different in the two cases. Within their milieu of interiority, chess pieces entertain biunivocal relations with one another, and with the adversary's pieces: their functioning is structural. On the other hand, a Go piece has only a milieu of exteriority, or extrinsic relations with nebulas or constellations, according to which it fulfills functions of insertion or situation, such as bordering, encircling, shattering. All by itself, a Go piece can destroy an entire constellation synchronically; a chess piece cannot (or can do so diachronically only). Chess is indeed a war, but an institutionalized, regulated, coded war, with a front, a rear, battles. But what is proper to Go is war without battle lines, with neither confrontation nor retreat, without battles even: pure strategy, whereas chess is a semiology. Finally, the space is not at all the same: in chess, it is a question of arranging a closed space for oneself, thus of going from one point to another, of occupying the maximum number of squares with the minimum number of pieces. In Go, it is a question of arraying oneself in an open space, of holding space, of maintaining the possibility of springing up at any point: the movement is not from one point to another, but becomes perpetual, without aim or destination, with out departure or arrival. The "smooth" space of Go, as against the "striated" space of chess. The nomos of Go against the State of chess, nomos against polis. The difference is that chess codes and decodes space, whereas Go proceeds altogether differently, territorializing or deterritorializing it (make the outside a territory in space; consolidate that territory by the construction of a second, adjacent territory; deterritorialize the enemy by shattering his territory from within; deterritorialize oneself by renouncing, by going elsewhere . ..). Another justice, another movement, another space-time. Deleuze & Guattari, "1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY—THE WAR MACHINE", A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia   Becoming and A Warfare of Capture What Deleuze and Guattari are invoking is a conception of warfare which is much more fully potentiated. Not locked into rigid hierarchies and roles of figures of power, it is a much more metaphysical battle that reflects aspects of what I have argued is the spiritual foundation of Thailand's Muay Thai, an animism of powers within the history of the culture that predates the arrival of Buddhism (Toward a Theory of the Spirituality of Thailand's Muay Thai). This logic of an animism of powers contains an essential aspect of captured power, the incorporated power of a captured enemy, founded on what historians of Southeast Asia have called "Soul Stuff", roughly equivalent of Hindu shakti (strength). This can be manifested in captured slave labor, or perhaps even in the prehistoric rites of cannibalism through which one consumed the soul stuff of an enemy. You can find a logic of Soul Stuff here, this graphic below helps represent the animism of contest. A primary source on soul stuff and a fusion of military and spiritual prowess can be found with historian O.W. Walters here. Thus, within the cultural origins of Siamese culture, even that which pre-dates the Indianization of the region, we have essential aspects of a smooth, tactical space in a Deleuze & Guattari sense, which potentially maps quite well into the game of Go, especially as it is contrasted to Chess.   Further in concordance with Deleuze & Guattari's philosophical concept of liberty is the way in which Thailand's Muay Thai can be understood as revolutionary in their terms. Deleuze & Guattari write of becoming-animal, becoming-child, becoming-woman, deterritorializing flights inimitable to human freedom. Thailand's Muay Thai (& broader Thai agonism) de-privileges these categories, along a continuous spectrum of thymotic struggle, which runs thru the social hierarchies of low to high, sewing them together. One could say a smooth thymotic space of trajectories. Thailand known for its (ethically criticized) child fighting, women have fought for 100+ yrs, and beetle fighting embodies much of the Muay Thai gambled form. In many important ways Thailand's Muay Thai avoids the stacked arboreal structure of Western Man (& its contrastive Others), favoring a continuity agonistic spectrum within its (Indianized) hierarchies. It has strongly weighted traditional hierarchies, but within this a thymotic line-of-becoming that runs between divinity and animality. see Beetle Fighting, Muay Thai and the Health of the Culture of Thailand - The Ecology of Fighting more on the division of divinity and animality by wicha here: Muay Thai Seen as a Rite: Sacrifice, Combat Sports, Loser as Sacred Victim Knowing-as-doing, the wicha of technical knowledge of how to do, runs between the axes of divinity and animality in a way that supports a mutuality of any figure's becoming, from the insect up to the heightened champion fighter, in a line of flight shared by others. Most Deleuzian becoming-animal, -child, -woman examples come from the arts (sometimes the bedroom), but instead in Thai, gambled agonism we have the becoming of actual animals, children, women & the projective affects of an equally agonistic audience undergoing its own becoming-as. When I say revolutionary, I say "Thailand's Muay Thai has something to teach the world about the nature of violence and its meaning." Learning From Chess in How to See Thailand's Muay Thai Keep in mind, this isn't an direct one-for-one comparison of the contemporary game of Chess (and Chess Theory) and the ring sport of Muay Thai. It compares the dominant image of thought in the conceptual trend. Some have pointed out that my gross picture of Chess leaves out its post-1920s modern Chess Theory development, which often eschews central forward advancement. What is important in the Chess example isn't how Chess was played in 1960s, say, but rather that Chess over the sweep of its history allows us to see how it expressed the martial logic from which it came, ie, how some battles were fought in the field, with advancing lines, and a central capture of territory focus. Chess I would argue contains a martial logic fingerprint in its organizational structure, just as the real life political powers of Kings, Queens, knights and bishops made their impact on its rules & formation, the increased power of the Queen on the board said to be a fine example of this (see: A Queen in Any Other Language). Even in the Hypermodernism of Chess one might say that the center still holds importance, as there are just other ways of controlling or managing it.  Hypermodernism for instance may have reflected the increased use of cannon & then WW1 artillery. Between the two games of Chess and Go are differing Martial Logics. It doesn't mean that there is zero fighting for the center in Muay Thai (or in Southeast Asian warfare...siege warfare is prominent in Ayutthaya history for instance, though with influence from the Portuguese, etc), or that there is zero edge or flank control in Western European warfare or Chess (flank maneuvers are numerous in European warfare). The contrast is really meant to exposed how we perceive conflict spatially, and that these are things we've culturally inherited. You see these inherited concepts, for instance the centrality of territory capture in common Western scoring criteria like "ring control". Centralized conflict is part of our past and informs how we judge fighting styles, just as edge conflict is part of Southeast Asia's past. And importantly this also informs our ideas of violence, with a European tendency toward "kill" (to control land, ie the center) and a SEA tendency toward "capture"(to control labor, ie the edge).  
    • Hey so im an ammateur fighting in europe mostly at DIY events. The thing is even though every fight I improve I am never able to win and its starting to get to me.  I have 5 fights in total 2 k1 and 3 muay thai and iv never won a muay thai, won 1 k1 cos my cardio was better than the other girl and I just out brawld her.  People say wow your technique is so much better than the fight I saw you in last year etc but it still feels bitter to constantly lose. I know i am improving but feel that I always just get tougher and tougher matches, the last 3 fights I lost have all been very close fights. One I lost cos my opponent got injured and broke her ankle when I bloked with a knee but she was able to hide it, another one I lost cos she was using more clean techniques and I was brawling (this one I agree with 100% cos I was landing but it was sloppy.)  The last one I lost cos my cardio was bad which is also fine. I am fine with losing, its just starting to get to me that I never win. It also kinda annoys me that the only fight I ever won was one that I just outbrawled the other girl. Feels like my improvements havnt really helped me cos I just get matched with tougher and tougher opponents each time.  Im wondering if I should give up on decision fights for a while and just do non decisions to get my condifence back up or whether I will eventually break through and be able to win. I am also kinda old at 32 so even though my technique is improving my strength, reflexes and reactions will begin to fade soon. 
    • Don't know if this brand offers shin guards but might as well check them out. I bought a few pairs of shorts from them a while ago and was genuinely impressed. https://siamkickfight.com/
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    • Don't know if this brand offers shin guards but might as well check them out. I bought a few pairs of shorts from them a while ago and was genuinely impressed. https://siamkickfight.com/
    • Hi all, I have paid a deposit to a gym in Pai near Chiang Mai to train at in January. I am now concerned about the pollution levels at that time of year because of the burning season. Can you recommend a location that is likely to have safer air quality for training in January? I would like to avoid Bangkok and Phuket, if possible. Thank you!
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    • Davince Resolve is a great place to start. 
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