The art of eight limbs

Sounds like fun, right? Watch out – it may be a little more painful than you imagine. Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is a national sport which in recent years has become popular worldwide, both as entertainment and a form of fitness training. Also known as the art of eight limbs due to the combined use of fists, elbows, knees and shins, Muay Thai fighters are known as some of the toughest and fittest fighters in the world, with amazing physiques to match.

I’m a lover, not a fighter, and thus didn’t pay much attention to Muay Thai when I first arrived in Thailand. However after meeting a Muay Thai fighter on a certain gay dating app, I was encouraged to investigate what more could be done with eight limbs and took myself off to a Muay Thai lesson.

After donning gloves and sexy Muay Thai shorts, my very buff coach Oi started with the basics. We spent time learning the correct stance and technique for punches and kicks. For some reason I managed the punches quite well but, for perhaps the first time in my life, had trouble getting my legs in the air.

Once my form improved, Oi put me through a brutal session of punch and kick combos. I was a little coy at first. Why would I want to hit this beautiful specimen of a man? I soon realized that for Oi, my storm of punches and kicks was like a light summer breeze.

Drenched in sweat and ready to drop to my knees for the 10 count, it was clear to me why Muay Thai is such a popular general fitness sport. Not only is it great for burning calories and toning muscles, you’ll also improve your core strength and balance, release some tension and gain self-defense skills (which you’ll hopefully never use). Did I mention the hot coaches?

If you want to know more about Muay Thai while visiting Thailand, there are many different ways to do so. Experience the excitement of a live fight at various venues around the country, the most popular being the Lumpini (every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) and Rajadamnern stadiums (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday) in Bangkok, where the atmosphere is electric. All of the islands and major cities also have regular fights – ask your hotel for details.

Get fit with a visit to a Muay Thai training camp. Most will offer single private lessons or can hook you up for a longer stay. There are very basic and local training camps and also those offering accommodation and dining options catering to foreign tourists. At both you’ll be expected to put in hard work with 2-3 hour sessions in the morning and evening. Phuket and Chiang Mai are popular choices however my personal favorite is the KYN Camp on the beautiful island of Koh Yao Noi, owned and operated by a former world champion. The location is awesome and the instruction more personalized than other camps.

For a less strenuous introduction to the sport, check out the amazing Muay Thai Live show which plays every day except Mondays at Asiatique in Bangkok. The show covers a history of Thai boxing from its ancient roots until the present.   Starring handsome muscular fighters dressed mostly in loin cloths, need I say more…

To pick up a set of Muay Thai pants or gear for a souvenir or gift, check the popular MBK complex or street markets. For more information about Muay Thai in Thailand, you’ll find some great resources here and here.

Muay Thai is such a popular part of Thai culture that you’re bound to come across it in some way or another during your visit to amazing Thailand. It’s another of the many unique and unforgettable Thailand experiences that will keep you coming back to Thailand again and again. Go Thai, Be Free.