All you must know before joining a muay thai camp



Muay Thai makes for an engrossing spectator sport, but if you’re going to go all the way to Thailand, you might consider not just watching a fight, but actually learning the art first hand.

With this second installment on the sport of Muay Thai, we’ll provide a general outline of things to consider and what to expect while training in Thailand. Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the rules; while I will try to be as objective as possible, opinions will vary and ultimately, your choices are your own. After discussing the topic with friends who have also spent some time at Muay Thai camps, the following reflects what we agree on…

When determining the Muay Thai camp you want to train at, first consider what type of experience you would like to have and what your current level of experience is. To be somewhat simplistic, there are two different types of camps: those geared towards foreigners (farang), and the Thai camps that rarely see a foreign face.

The most accessible, and in my opinion appropriate, type of camp for a foreigner to train at will be those geared towards them. This should not be discouraging; the benefits of training at these camps are many. First off, the majority of them (such as Tiger Muay Thai, Kombat Group Pattaya, Fairtex Bangkok, and Suwit muaythai have excellent facilities, with 10 – 30 heavy bags, multiple rings, and Ratchadamnoen and Lumpinee Stadium champions as trainers. Most will also have a circuit of Thai fighters who live at the camp permanently as is the Thai tradition.

For beginners, these camps are ideal in that the trainers have picked up sufficient English-language skills, making their instructions far clearer than if you were required to play a game of charades for every nuance of communication. For experts and prospective fighters, these camps will also suffice in that the training regimen is grueling, of high-quality, and sufficient to prepare you for fights that they have the connections to arrange. Plus, you will be surrounded by like-minded individuals focused on a common goal. Another aspect of camps such as these is that they are usually located in extremely desirable locations that visitors will want to go to, whether they are training or not. So if you prefer simply to mix in some fitness with your vacation, consider the gyms that are in close proximity to a variety of other activities and attractions. However I introduce the Suwit muaythai for everyone .

Muay Thai camps, on the other hand, are commonly in rural, rarely-visited parts of the country or in the heart of the cities of Bangkok and Chaing Mai. They are far more selective when it comes to taking on a foreign trainee, but if you are accepted, training at a Thai camp will give you the ultimate Thai experience. English will be useless; in addition to sculpting your body into a weapon you will be forced to develop your Thai language skills and seek ways to bridge the inherent cultural and linguistic gaps to form friendships. You will be surrounded by Thai fighters who are constantly competing and trainers who are basically surrogate fathers to the wider Muay Thai family.

Getting accepted into a camp of this nature is very rare, often requiring that you be introduced to the camp manager by a Thai friend or a fighter who is willing to vouch for you. You must demonstrate that you have both the endurance and work ethic to commit yourself entirely to the lifestyle of a Thai fighter, conforming to the training regimen and social expectations. In camps like these, perhaps the most important aspect of being accepted is an eagerness and ability to learn the Thai language.


Smaller gyms that also accept foreigners on a regular basis may be the ideal situation. The behemoths of foreigner-focused Muay Thai camps are often critiqued for simply being too big for their own good. Forging lasting friendships with trainers is more difficult due to the simple fact that you are just another face in an endless rotation of tourists who are in and out of the camps before anyone has learned their name.


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