Learn Thai Boxing – Muay Thai at Petchyindee Academy Bangkok
Together with other 7 bloggers from different countries we had a chance to train Muay Thai in Bangkok for a week. Our first day we were taken to the Petchyindee Academy, one of the most important thai boxing camps in the Thai capital.
I had no idea what to expect from the whole trip and even less from our visit when we hopped out of the van and found ourselves at a building site with a lot of noise, mess and workers. To be honest, my first thought was OMG, what are we doing here? And why here? Don’t tell me there are no finished Muay Thai camps in the whole huge Bangkok.
But once we jumped over a few wooden sticks covering the holes and climbed up the stairs, it all hit me.
My first time in a real Muay Thai gym/camp.
There was around 30 young boxers staring at us maybe even more than us looking at them. They were all barefoot, just in their boxing shorts, all ripped. They all seemed so young I even felt like their mum! I felt I had to protect them somehow …
First, while we all got ready, I used the time to take photos of the ring and the hanging boxing bags.
Then, we were greeted by Boat whose long fringe and a green shirt matching the color of the gym made him look more like a cool guy going on a fashion show than a Thai boxing representative.
The Petchyindee Academy has been around for approx. 40 years.
Just recently Boat Nuttadaj, the youngest son of the owner’s family convinced their dad to build a new Petchyindee Kingdom. The previous one was just a gym with a ring in the Lumpinee stadium.
“We had more and more boxers coming to us and asking about accommodation for long-term Muay Thai lessons. To take the best care of them, it is necessary to offer them also sauna, jacuzzi and fitness, I believe. Now it’s around 100 foreigners who train with us per month.” smiled Boat when taking us around the unfinished first floor of the Academy building – the wellness area.
“OMG, OMG, something for me!” I screamed when I saw the prepared seats for the jacuzzi.
“We are going to have a masseur here, as well. Our Muay Thai boxers mean all to us and the body also need to relax after hard training.” Boat just reminded me the main reason why I have been doing the Adventure and Spa project on the road since 2013.
Boat gives us a tour of the whole building to see also the rooms where the fighters stay. There are two different types of rooms: shared with bunk beds where mostly young Thai guys stay, and then those for foreigners and those with money. It costs around $1,000 per month to stay in a single room at Petchyindee Kingdom, which includes training, breakfast, sauna, fitness, jacuzzi and massages, if I remember it right. Women can stay only in these single rooms decorated in a very modern style, with trophy imitations and images on the wall and by the beds. The shared rooms ar simple with many shirts and short all around the beds.
At first I was surprised why the TAT (The Tourism Authority of Thailand) who invited us on this trip, picked 6 girls and only 2 guys. One of my preconsumptions about Muay Thai was also that it is mostly men training as that is what we see on TV. But Boat proves me wrong: ”Surprisingly, our biggest audience nowadays become women who come here to train usually after work or on their days off. They train here, make friends and most of all it is a lot more fun than running on a treadmill, right?”
Phet, our Thai – English translator confirms Boat’s words. She also used to visit the old Petchyindee Academy Bangkok on her days off. No wonder, she works as a flight attendant (I used to get rid of stress from the passengers when working as a cabin crew also by boxing.)
We are lucky enough to meet also Boat’s dad, one of the most-known Muay Thai promoters at the Lumpinee stadium. He has been promoter since he celebrated his 30th birthday. Then Boat explains us more about the history of Muay Thai and their own gym and also proudly states us the names of some Muay Thai champions who were or has been training at Petchyindee Academy.
It looks very funny when all those young modest shy and most of all peacefully looking guys have to stand out from the crowd. I would never say they can even look angrily at someone, and less than they could even hit someone hard!
Obviously, none of them rings a bell to me as for the past 5 years I have not been following any Muay Thai matches since I quit watching TV. But Lindsay, a US girl writing about Thai Boxing, points out to one of them.
Sam-A Kaiyanghadao, whose boxing nickname means something like Triple-Ace Five Star Grilled Chicken (don’t ask me why 🙂 ) has been training here for more than 10 years and won numerous matches. WOW, my first meeting with a famous Muay Thai boxer in person!
Later, we are shown how to wrap hands with bindings and try to do it on our own (let me tell you, after doing it for a few times I am still a mess at it.)
Then it is time to find out more about wai kru (sometimes also spelt as wai khru, or called ram muay) – the ceremonial kind of dance the boxers perform in the ring before every fight to show gratitude to their teachers, all those who supported them on their thai boxing career and also to show respect to the other fighter.
Sam-A’s half dancing moves were hypnotizing me as much as the same wai kru music.
Guess what? We got a fw minutes to learn the basic wai kru dance and some of uf were picked to perform it in the ring with everyone else staring. I felt so uncomfortable when doing so not because of all the cameras around, all the boxers who have benn practicing it for years and also because I felt the need to laugh as I forgot half of the steps.
Anyway, one of us, Katya from Russia, was chosen as the best at wai kru and she won a boxer short signed by the Petchyindee champion who had worn them. She was happy as a little kid when that happened 🙂
The hard work began only then after the warm-up when a lot of stetching exercises reminded me of my beloved yoga. Then each blogger picks a trainer who shows him how to kick with legs and knees, and punch with elbows and fists as all the four limbs are used at Muay Thai.
Once again, I am not sure if it is the young trainers and boxers more ashamed now, or us women that we have to be trained by half-naked ripped guys.
Let me tell you, Thai boxing is super tiring. The drops of sweat were jumping all around us when we were trying to get the best out of us (or the worst?)
Just one trainer was kind of my height (I am 180 cm), so I had to pick him. I believe he was the oldest trainer there in his 40’s. I had enough just after a few minutes of kicking but he kept screaming ”faster and stronger, Alex!” It helps me to think of all my ex boyfriends 😀
I admit, after 2 weeks of my favorite Mexican cuisine in Cancun I was anything but in shape.
At least my trainer compliments when I kick really high.
There are around 30 young boxers training in the ring next to us like duracell batteries while I am just trying to catch a breath. Oh my!
During the break I need a proper break. For the past almost 3 years I have been mostly practicing yoga and meditation and thus trying to calm myself down and now I am asked to do the complete opposite and show all the anger! I was so grounded that all the muscles, body hair and even all my thoughts got messed up now.
Evelin, a German blogger born in Poland joins me in cooling off with some yoga asanas. Now, it’s the boxers staring at us.
We train for another hour then or so before we head of to a restaurant to gain the lost energy. At the end, e take photos with likeable Boat and the boxers who showed us the basics of Muay Thai. It was the first real Thai boxing training for 6 out of 8 of us.
“Oh, all those muscular bodies” says Katya when we are going into the car. “Well, shame they are all one head shorter than me” I sigh.