The joys (& sometimes pain) of Muay Thai training in Thailand

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I’m currently in my second week of training at Sinbi Muay Thai camp on the beautiful island of Phuket in Thailand. This is my second visit to Sinbi and this trip has somehow managed to surpass the first which I’m amazed at because when I was here last year I absolutely loved it and thought it possibly couldn’t get any better but it has… for numerous reasons.

If you train Muay Thai back home I really do recommend that you try and spend some time at a Muay Thai camp in Thailand if you can.  It is such a brilliant experience and you will get so much out of it.  Even if you don’t currently learn Muay Thai but fancy having a go and you are already going to Thailand for a holiday then why not head along to your local camp and spend a few days training, it is a once in a lifetime experience (or a regular experience for us lucky ones) that has to be done.

When I visited Sinbi last year I struggled during the first two weeks because of the heat, humidity and having to unlearn practically everything that I had been taught back home.  I started to pick things up in the third week which is when I had to leave.  During my first trip I kept a training diary and would make a note of all the techniques that I had learnt so I could remember and practise them.  My friend who I was with also filmed various videos of my private classes so I could watch them (unfortunately the earlier ones make me cringe but it’s great to see your progression).  I have brought out the same training diary with me on this trip and I’m busy scribbling notes into it.

I am spending a month in Thailand but decided to have the first week off for some much needed R&R and to allow myself to acclimatise to the heat and humidity and also try to deal with the insomnia that I knew I would be suffering from.  I was actually very restless during my first week because I was desperate to start training but I had been working really hard back home and was feeling burnt out so needed to take some much needed down time.  There is no better place to chill than Thailand. 🙂

As usual, when I arrived at Sinbi I made a beeline for the shop so I could stock up on training kit.  I deliberately arrived without gloves, wraps, shin guards etc. because I wanted to treat myself to new kit as a reward for working so hard (well, there’s no one else to spoil me so I might as well do it myself!).  It was really lovely to catch up with the friends that I made from last year and to catch up with Sing, the owner of Sinbi and the trainers.  I felt right at home and couldn’t wait to get started.

There are two training sessions in the day at Sinbi.  The first one starts at 7.30am and the second at 4pm.  The fighters have to go for a run before each session, this is also optional for the other students.  The training is broken down into the following:

  • Skipping
  • Running (round the gym)
  • Stretching
  • Shadow sparring
  • 5 rounds of padwork with a trainer
  • 5 rounds of freestyle bag work
  • 10 rounds (sometimes more, depends how tough they are that day!) of bag drills with the trainers where they call out various techniques and  you slog away at the bags
  • The rest of the session can vary between ab work, sparring, clinching, partner drills etc.
  • Cool down stretching

The people who train at Sinbi are a combination of fighters, people who learn Muay Thai back home and absolute beginners who are doing it for the first time.  One of the immediate things that you notice at Sinbi is how friendly the camp is, from the trainers & the students.  A lot of people who train there have travelled on their own and you often find yourself making intros with everyone and then you begin to start making friends pretty quickly.  Sinbi is a really special place and I couldn’t imagine training anywhere else outside of my club back home.  One of the many great things about training at Sinbi is that you are not forced to take part in everything. You can go at your own pace, if you have any injuries the trainers will help you work around them.  I have heard some horror stories from friends who have trained at other camps who were made to feel like wimps if they weren’t able to complete a whole class or if their technique wasn’t up to scratch they would get shouted at and humiliated.  Sinbi is nothing like that, the trainers respect their students and vice versa.

I have been working with a few trainers on this trip, mainly Wang and Chalee.  Wang was one of Saenchai’s pad men when he was fighting out of Sinbi last year and we always have a good laugh whilst we train.   He works you hard and also likes to keep you on your toes and will often sweep you when you least expect it.  One afternoon we both ended up falling on our butts after he swept me and my MMA mode kicked in and I went into a full mount and decided to go for a ground and pound on him (jokingly of course).  So it was Rosie – 1, Wang – 0 on that day.  I know he’s going to get me back for that so I better watch out!  Chalee was a Lumpinee champion who was challenged for his belt by Buakaw, it was a fight that Buakaw lost so to be able to train with trainers of such a high calibre is such an honour and also very humbling. Image

Every trainer at Sinbi (including Sing who also teaches) has an enviable fight career and some of them specialise in certain techniques and will put you through your paces.  Pot, who is the Head trainer is the master of clinch work and people travel all over the world to learn this with him.  I’ve lost count of the number of students I’ve seen him throw around, he always catches you out, especially with his round kicks and most people are always too slow to block them!  Last year I worked mainly with Mr F and Bao V who are great with beginners and very patient, they gave me a really good base to work from so on this trip I am happy to say that I have not had to have that many tweaks to my technique.  I don’t have a preference for which trainer I work with because they are all so great and I have so much respect for them.  I really love the pad work, even when your arms are burning and you’re out of breathe when the whistle blows to signify the end of that round I can’t help bursting out into a huge grin.

During this trip I am currently on a training programme that I have entitled ‘Project Hench’.  I have given myself 6 months in which to get into the best shape of my life to mark a big birthday that is coming up next April.  I have been doing a lot of cardio along with strength and conditioning work alongside the Muay Thai and been eating a pretty clean diet.  Thanks to this I noticed my body shape changing after the first week and my friends have already been commenting on the fact I have lost weight.  The scales haven’t actually changed, but my body shape has.  I’m very happy about this as I’m being really focused on my training goals.

Deadlifts day!

I haven’t only been training whilst I’ve been in Thailand. I’ve been hanging out with my friends (old and new) and have been really enjoying myself.  I am staying in a beautiful complex that also has a pool so one weekend I invited some of the students over for lunch and a pool party.  It was a really great afternoon and a lovely end to a long week of training, a lot of us were tired and aching but we had enough energy left to lounge in the pool and chat.  It was a tough day!  We have a few more fun excursions planned before some of us leave.  It’s not been all training and no play.

I have also been spending a lot of time in Fight Lab which is a fantastic shop that sells all kinds of Muay Thai and MMA training kit.  They also customise your gear for you and can make up shorts and mouthguards with your own designs.   The staff (lovely Mon) at Fight Lab are great, so friendly and helpful and they have recently opened up a new tattoo studio across the road called Fighters Ink and they have an amazing tattoo artist there called Ticky who has become one of my friends on this trip.  Next to Fight Lab is a great cafe called Kombat Cafe that make the most amazing protein smoothies and the food they serve is very fresh and healthy. It’s one of the few places I have come across in Phuket that serves brown rice. I allow myself one of their Kombat burgers which is my cheat meal for the week, but even those are super tasty and don’t feel like you’re cheating.

My badass Muay Thai shorts

I have two nicknames so had to get shorts made up for both of them!

Whilst you’re in Thailand you should also try and make a trip to one of the stadiums to catch a night of fights.   Sinbi has a number of fighters who will often fight at Bangla stadium and I love going along to support them.

I have 1.5 weeks left of my holiday and I wish I could extend my trip by another month but Christmas is coming and I have to return to my family, friends and little ninja kitteh back home who I have missed a lot.

I really love Sinbi and I will be sad to leave.  But I hope to be able to spend every November training here.  To be able to achieve that will be a truly special experience indeed.

To find out more info on Sinbi & Fight Lab you can go to the links below or look for them on Facebook:

Sinbi – www.sinbi-muaythai.com

Fight Lab www.fightlab.net

Here are some tips to help prepare you for training in Thailand if you haven’t been before:

Work on your cardio fitness and stamina – Muay Thai is very demanding back home but even more so in the high temperatures and humidity.  Whilst doing Muay Thai in Thailand it will help you to get fit but to get the most out of your experience it is always best to go out there with a good level of fitness beforehand

Essential kit items – If you are training in Thailand you should get the following in addition to your boxing gloves, shin guards etc.

– Antibacterial soap such as Dettol soap which all the chemists sell.  It’s really important to use this after every training session as you will be sweating a lot and should try to keep yourself as hygienic as possible.  Training hard in the humid temperatures means that infections such as staph or ringworm can be  picked up

– Namman Muay which is a Thai liniment oil that you should use to rub on your legs before each training session.  This will help to warm up your muscles.  Be prepared though because it is pretty potent and can feel like your skin is burning the first few times you use it. I love the smell of Namman Muay, it immediately evokes memories of training at Sinbi and I find it really comforting

– Electrolyte powders or tablets.  You can pick these up from the chemists and should add them to your water which you drink during training to make sure you replenish your system from all the sweating

– Training tape & joint support bandages.  If you’re going to be training twice a day every day, or even doing just one session a day you are likely to pick up some sprains or niggles so make sure you can tape up sore toes, fingers or provide support for knees, ankles & elbows

– First aid kit.  Now you can most likely buy everything you need at the chemists but I like to be super organised when I go on my training holidays and pack some basic things to save me making a mad rush to a chemist.  I always pack plasters (this trip I have Mr Happy plasters, I don’t like boring fabric ones!), antiseptic cream, prickly heat powder (baby powder is fine or you can get specific stuff), anti bacterial hand gel, pak fah yeow (this is a Chinese white flower ointment that can be used for a number of things such as mosquito bites, colds, flu, headaches and travel sickness which you rub on your skin) and hydrocortisone cream. Sinbi is a clean camp and gets washed down twice a day after training which is one of the reasons why I chose to train there but it still pays to be prepared.  If you receive any cuts whilst training be mindful that they can take a lot longer to heal because of the humidity so you must keep it clean and regularly change any bandages and dressings.  If you ride around on a scooter please be even more careful as a lot of people do injure themselves and usually end up burning themselves or falling off and scraping huge amounts of skin off which is known as a ‘Thai tattoo’. Not nice, I’m always squeamish about injuries

– Supplements.   This is really dependent on you and how seriously you take your training.  I use a combination of a pre work out supplement (no xplode 2.0 and energy bomb bars from Pulsin’ which I order back home) and also use whey protein shakes or a protein sport bar from Pulsin’ for post training.  In the evening I take ZMA tablets before I go to bed which is a combination of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6

– Sleeping aids.  A lot of people really struggle to get a decent night’s sleep in Thailand so be prepared for little or no sleep.  You can buy lots of things over the counter at the local chemists or use herbal tablets such as valerian or melatonin.  Find something that suits you. It’s not fun training when you’ve only had 2 hrs sleep, especially if this happens every night and it will catch up on you.  It can also be very noisy at night because of all the bugs so I recommend bringing out some decent ear plugs if you are a light sleeper

– Avon Skin so Soft dry oil spray. I use this as a mosquito and bug repellent. I can’t guarantee it will keep you bite free but it’s a lot better for you than using something like DEET or Jungle formula and it’s a lot less toxic for your system too.  Various armed forces are known to use this product because it’s so good.  You can buy it from Amazon.  I’ve been using it on my trip and I’ve had about 1/6 of the amount of bug bites that I got last time when I was using Jungle Formula

I hope the above tips help 🙂

3 comments

  1. Reblogged this on Stormland Fights! and commented:
    More from our friend Rosie Cuppatea in Thailand!

  2. Looks like you’re having an absolute blast there! Hope the rest of your trip finishes on such a high note!

  3. Thanks. I’m loving it 🙂

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