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Finding a gym


Matt G

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Hi Sylvie,

I want to start with saying how inspirational you have been to my girlfriend and me. We came across your Youtube page 3 or 4 months ago and we have both been following your muay thai journey diligently ever since. We often ask each other if we have read Sylvie's post in  the morning as "it is a good one!" We are coming to Thailand to train, in 9 days, and I want to fight 2-3 times during my two month stay.

I have never fought before but have been training various martial arts off and on for 8-9 years. I made the decision to fight and have been training with consistency for the first time ever, running lots, going from 180 lbs to 150 in the last 4 months. 

I am planning on travelling during the first month to check out 5-6 different camps around Thailand and decide where I want to spend the last month training at. My girlfriend is with me the first month and then just me for the last month. I would like to fight at least once before she leaves, but will be gym hopping. From your posts it sounds like Chiang Mai is the easiest place to get fights, is that correct? If I show up in good shape, will I be able to get a fight right away?

Do you have any recommendations on camps to go check out? We are flying into Bangkok and are flexible from there. On the list right now is Master Toddy's, 13 coins, Sinbi, Lanna and the gyms you are training out of in Pattaya. The main objective is training and fighting. We are not going to be there to party or vacation, but if a beach is nearby that would be a bonus.

We would love to come train with you and watch you fight. Do you have any scheduled fights between April 25 and May 11?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Again thank you for the inspiration that you provide us both on a daily basis. This trip might not be happening if it wasn't for you!

 

Cheers,

 

Matt

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Hi Matt,

First of all, thank you for reading and following my blog. I'm very excited to hear that you want to fight multiple times in your time in Thailand and that your girlfriend will be sharing this experience with you. Very cool.

 

The easiest place to find fights in my experience has been Chiang Mai. There are various stadia right in the city and they have fights every night of the week. At my old gym, Lanna, I saw that straight beginners (never trained or fought before) can get a fight within a pretty short amount of time, as well as folks with more experience getting a range of opponents. But I'm not really sure about other gyms in the area. Lanna, and the head trainer there Den, was very pro-fight, and my experiences there may not reflect the practices of other gyms. At 150 lbs (~68 kg) it should be fairly easy to find you a fight in terms of size, although perfect matches up there aren't guaranteed. But that's all part of fighting, too.

 

Master Toddy's is a great place to start out in Bangkok and get a feel for a gym that's western-friendly but also still very technically oriented. I don't know how the fight opportunities are looking in Bangkok at the moment, but maybe Emma, Tu, or Katy can jump in on that front. Down here in Pattaya there are a few stadia going on throughout the week, some satellite festival shows, and down on Phuket there's Bangla Stadium for the whole island. I don't know much about how it all works on Phuket and the last report I heard about Sinbi in particular wasn't positive, but gyms (all gyms) go through phases and changes and different people need different things all that. Emma knows someone training there so maybe you could get some input from a source who is actually there and enjoying it through that contact.

 

As with any of these locations, the gym is going to want to see you training for at least a week or so before they think about booking you a fight. This is so they know what you're about, how to match you, etc. Keep in mind a couple things: 1) in your first week of training full-time you're going to need to sleep A LOT; 2) letting your gym know as soon as possible that you want to fight more than once is a grand idea, but then make sure you SHOW them that you want to fight by how you train. Be consistent and coachable.  I'd recommend getting your first fight quite early in your stay if you can, maybe within the first two weeks. That way you can gather from the first experience what you need to work on, see the pace and feel of a fight for yourself, etc. If you're going to be moving around to different gyms, dedicate two weeks to the first one you feel is going to support and push you and get a fight there. Then maybe move around a bit and consider coming back if the gym suits you best. Realize though, it may not be easy to get a fight booked at all gyms. My friend Robyn just came out here trying to get 2 or 3 fights down in Pattaya, having already visited me and fought at Lanna two years ago, and it was difficult to find her fights down here (she fought only once).

 

And lastly, if you want to fight a few times in a short amount of time, you're going to have to consider active recovery as part of your training routine. Diligently treating small injuries as you go and training around them after fights will be necessary. In the words of my trainer up north, "eat good, sleep good."

 

I'm fighting up in Chiang Mai twice between May 1-4, so if you're there at that time let's say hello. In fact the fights are arranged through Lanna gym, and I'll definitely visit there during those days. These are scheduled against two extremely tough opponents, some of Thailand's best 2 weight classes above me (Tanonchanok and Cherry) so they should be great fights to see. I'm in Pattaya after that (driving back down on the 5th), so if you're here, I'll be here. Definitely keep in touch either way and hopefully your adventures can be something we all can hear about and maybe help with when needed.

 

If you have any more questions feel free to ask. Anyone have anything to add or clarify?

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Hi Matt,

It's great to hear that you're thinking of coming to Master Toddy's! 

As Sylvie said, if you're enthusiastic about training and show that you want to fight, the trainers will be happy to get one organised for you. Our fighters have been quite active recently and we've got regular promotions in Bangkok and Hua Hin that they usually work with, which put shows on several times a week, so there should be something for you! 

Obviously, I would recommend that you come to Master Toddy's, but I'm biased ;) I found his gym three and a half years ago and have never moved on since, because I love it so much here. If there's anything in particular you want to know about the gym or the training, let me know and I'll be happy to give you all the info! We're just a quick taxi ride from the airport, so a good starting point if you're flying into Suvharnabhumi. 

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Thank you both for the quick replies and great advice. The plan now is to fly into Bangkok check out a few gyms and then head up to Chiang Mai so that we are there to watch you fight. I am going to decide in the first week where to put in the time to get my first fight and like you said maybe check out more gyms after that. Are there any other gyms in Bangkok or Chiang Mai that either of you would recommend? 

 

Sylvie

I will definitely be treating all injuries and will be following your tips posted on your blog for any shin injuries http://8limbs.us/blog/treating-shins-for-recovery-knots-bruises-bumps-muay-thai 

Is there any specific physical or mental preparation that will make the transition to full time training easier, that I can start now? Certain distances for running? 

 

Emma

It is great to hear that the trainers there would be able to get me a fight, when I show them that I want to fight! What about training at Master Toddy's do you enjoy the most? What was your friends experience like training at Sinbi? 

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Matt - My friend who's with Sinbi at the moment generally enjoys it, but I'm not sure of the details. I'll ask her for you! There's a new post from Kay Khanomthom on her experience there, which you can read here: http://8limbs.us/muay-thai-forum/topic/12-sinbi-muay-thai-globo-gym-of-phuket/?do=findComment&comment=20 I think that will be pretty helpful for you.

 

I can't speak much for other gyms, but I'll tell you about my experience at Master Toddy's:

 

Almost every session starts with sparring, which I really enjoy. I haven't been to many other gyms, but the other places that I have spent time in only did sparring sessions a couple of times a week, which made it really difficult to progress quickly. Since we're sparring all the time, we keep it controlled and technical and the trainers and Master Toddy are constantly monitoring to make sure nothing gets out of hand and also to give guidance and instruction. Master Toddy oversees and teaches the classes. He's always by the ring watching closely, instructing both you and the trainer and during sparring, he watches for what you need to work on and when it's time for padwork afterwards, he'll pass that onto the trainer who's holding for you and have them work on that with you. His general rule is that you take whatever you were practicing in the ring and then drill it on the bag afterwards to solidify it in your mind. So, what I enjoy the most is the individual attention and technical instruction we get. He teaches everyone the way they need to be taught rather than addressing the entire class in the same way. While he'll teach you his particular style, you'll also get a mix of styles from each of the trainers here, which means you can work on different things with each of them. I've always felt like the people here have been investing in ME to get better, rather than giving me generic, boring padwork and then leaving me to kick a bag by myself, which is certainly not what you'll get at every gym, but was my experience before I came here. 

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Hi Matt, i train at master Toddy`s gym. I like training with him because u also have others who are from a western society and Thais, and people from all over the Globe. this makes it a mini multicultural society. so u wont feel alienated when you come. Also English is practiced there so the line of communication is good. this will be great for when you are in the ring.

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I second what Tu said. It's not to say that you won't get an 'authentic Thai experience', but it's definitely an advantage that Master Toddy spend so much time in the UK and US and is very familiar with teaching foreigners. It means that he can break down instructions clearly and precisely in English so that you can fully understand not only how to perform them but WHY, which is really handy. Like Tu said, that also helps when you're being cornered if you can't speak any Thai. 

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Hey Matt, I don't train, but I do watch very closely. Master Toddy's is a kind of an amazing place. You walk in and you think you are in an old Run Run Shaw movie set. You see a class of almost all westerners, and you think "Hey, this isn't going be very real." But Master Toddy is an incredible force of personality and mind. I was shocked at how hands-on he is in classes (which are not very large). He's developed a system of progressive drilling that is brilliant (Sylvie stole a few things for her own workouts after one session there). And he has a great eye for what needs improvement. But the biggest thing about Master Toddy is his enthusiasm. Thais are, as a whole, extremely uncomplimentary. Mostly they'll just push you through work and at best nod. But Master Toddy has a unique gift. He can instill confidence. What he says, and how he says it, from afar might feel cheesy (thinking back to his tv persona), but in real life, right there in front of you, it gives a blast of belief. I'm surprised at how effective it is, I saw it immediately infuse Sylvie with confidence.

There are of course many different Muay Thai experiences to be had in Thailand, and its safe to say that none of them are like training at Master Toddy's. Master Toddy is just incredibly unique. I can see how some people wouldn't like it - it doesn't match up with boot camp fantasies of Thailand - but for some people it's golden. The "Thai way" of teaching is actually to just put you on a bag and let you figure it out for yourself, amid 100s and 1000s of repetitions. Very little instruction or correction. Master Toddy offers a different way of accessing Muay Thai. It would make a very interesting first stop in a trip that aims at seeing several gyms and fighting a few times.

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Matt, initially when I came to Bangkok I had the same idea as you. I wanted to hop around a bit and check things out. That didn't really end up happening because I went to Master Toddy's first and never left lol. Nor do I plan on leaving. I think it is hugely important to find a gym that matches your goals and style of training. Part of what I love here (and Tu mentioned), we are very diverse. There is always someone here who's goals will line up with yours. Someone to push you that extra mile if you need it, or work on something particular that you are struggling with. Speaking a similar language is also hugely helpful. Even if you are totally lost with what the trainers are saying, there is always someone who has been here a bit who can help try to translate a bit. I can't imagine where I would be skill wise if I was just doing the same drills endlessly while trying to figure out if I needed to correct something or not. Might as well train yourself at that point lol.

 

If nothing else, I'd recommend coming by just to watch training soon after you fly in (you'll be jet lagged and wanting to just chill out a bit anyways). I've been here seven months and made tons of new friends from people coming to train weeks at a time. All of them have said they want to come back :D

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In Chiang Mai you'll have very good chance to fight through Lanna Muay Thai, where I was for 2 years. It is a fighter's camp and I suspect I would not have been able to fight the way I did up there at any other camp. It's up to you to decide if the training atmosphere is right for you. It's very unstructured so you'll have to take initiative, ask a lot of questions (they will help you when you ask), and be self-driven. But there are lots of people to train with. Shay will be excluded from the "men's ring," which is right behind the mixed ring, which is something to consider for her. The location is beautiful, right by the mountains and great for runs, far enough from the Old City that you're not in a trap and close enough that you can get there with very little effort and not a lot of money. There's a preschool across the street, so training in the morning is to the soundtrack of children singing the Thai ABC's, which I always loved, even though I'm not really a "kid person."

Otherwise you can check out Santai, which is farther outside of the city in San Kampang. They have limited class sizes, so you'll have to contact Nik on the Santai FB page and ask. They're the opposite of Lanna - very structured, group stretching and organized drills, everyone learns the same style and technique. And Nik is very pro-fight, so he'll get you on a card if you let him know that's your aim. And Teresa Wintermyr has just relocated there; she's got a world title match coming up soon and she's an awesome presence and model for your girlfriend, Shay... I'd love to train with Teresa!

If neither of those float your boat there's also Chai Yai and they are connected to the Thapae Stadium, so probably can get a fight easily through them. I wouldn't recommend Team Quest, but they're more BJJ oriented than Muay Thai so it's a kind of side-glance I have there anyway. And there are some places in Pai, which is 30 minutes outside of Chiang Mai and very rural if that's your gig. Not sure how often they come in for fights. Check out the blog "bruised shin" by Andrew if you want to get some info on training in Pai and the fight opportunities and all that.

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I'm going to Thailand for 2 weeks in June & am trying to decide at which camp I should train. Does anyone know anything about these three in Phuket?

Lion Muay Thai

SuWit Gym

Nongnapat Muay Thai

 

Any other recommendations would also be appreciated.

Thanks.

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Now that you are mentioning Pai, I trained there the first time I went to Thailand. I solo traveled exclusively for training so I was looking for a focused and relaxed atmosphere and that's when I found Pai. I trained at Charn Chai, it's a small gym which trains foreigners and Thai people. To be honest, and I'm sure this happens in many falang gyms, you can find people who is training just to live the "Thai" experience and has from zero to very basic technique and you can find people who train in a very serious way. And I'm not saying I am a professional fighter, in that time I was just passionate about it... But I was very focused in learning and becoming better and it showed itself. One day, the head coach approached to me and ask me if I wanted to fight, and I absolutely said yes. So then I fought 3 weeks later in Chiang Mai at the Loikroh Night Bazaar Stadium, it was my first fight ever and an experience that changed me, it was just the start of my life as a fighter.

Im still in touch with the gym, they have become more popular and i've seen they have Thai and foreigner fighters fighting very often in Chiang Mai, so if you are looking for a quiet life in Northern Thailand, Pai or Chiang Mai could be the right place for you. But just for ending my post, I would like to add that I believe that no matter which gym you choose, hard work pays off and Thai people respect the fact that you are willing to learn... I believe that's how you catch their eye and gain their respect. So, give your best and your experience will be unforgettable. Chok dee!

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