Samui Wining & Dining
THE WAY OF THE SUPER FIT
 Thai boxing is taking the world by storm.

 Thai boxing is taking the world by storm.

 

          

When we think of Thai culture becoming more and more popular, it’s always Thai cooking that springs to mind, perhaps followed in second place by Thai massage. But hot upon the heels of both, comes the action-packed, adrenalin-fuelled Muay Thai or Thai boxing, a martial art that can crush an unprepared opponent in less than a second.

          

It dates back hundreds of years to ‘Muay Boraan’, literally ‘ancient boxing’, which was taught up and down the country to men, women and children, so that each village could defend itself in the case of attack. It was a kind of ad hoc civil defence that became refined over the years, with various teachers rising to prominence and having their own devotees. Gradually everything coalesced until today, there are 30 fighting tactics acknowledged in Muay Thai. Practitioners use both kicks and punches, and can use elbows and knees as well. It might seem like a form of boxing, but when traditional boxers take up Muay Thai, they tend to find it a much bigger challenge than they thought it would be. Everything is very, very different. And a lot trickier.

          

A mobile phone is provided in each villa for guests to use for the duration of their stay. Stay connected to Kanda staff even when out and about. Check the ‘already downloaded’ maps of Samui to help navigate your way around the island, make local and international calls, all complimentary!

          

The Muay Thai of today has some influences from outside the country. It adapted some of the Queensbury Rules in order to promote safety and consistency. That’s why you’ll see roped rings, leather gloves and the various weight categories of the fighters. This started in the 1920s, when the sport first started to look beyond the borders of Thailand,gradually becoming popular across the world.

          

Some who learn Muay Thai aren’t the least interested in competing in fights; if they succeed in training, they know that they will have reached an impressive level of fitness and agility. Training sessions are serious workouts and can leave the practitioner completely exhausted – even if they’re already in top-form.

          

Muay Thai schools have opened up around the world, and it’s now becoming a mainstream sport. When you’re on Samui look at the giant posters announcing fights and you’ll see that there are many fighters who come from outside Thailand. If you want to watch a fight head for the Chaweng Stadium (located just off the beach road in Chaweng) or the Phetch Buncha Samui Stadium
 Thai boxing is taking the world by storm. (just off the Laem Din Market in Chaweng).

          

Once at the stadium, you’ll notice that before any fighting starts, a boxer traditionally asks for protection. He or she addresses the three spirits in the boxer’s corner of the ring. You’ll also notice that there’s a special dance before the fight, which is done to honour the teachers of Muay Thai through the ages. The dance is done on one knee along with rocking movements and is repeated in all the four directions of the compass.

          

Once the fight starts, it’s subdivided into five rounds, with each round becoming increasingly fast. Pipes, drums and cymbals add to the atmosphere and also set the tempo of the fight. The music finally reaches a crescendo and a bell rings to announce that the round has come to an end. When you watch Muay Thai you’ll most likely be impressed by the speed that the sport requires. As for the actual fighting, movements are precise, targeted and devastating. Even as a spectator sport, it’s not for the faint-hearted considering the young ages of some of the fighters.

          

But what about learning Muay Thai for yourself? If you’re interested, then Samui is exactly the right place for you. In the last decade the choice of places to learn and practice has grown considerably. There are courses and classes for everyone, including children. Thai boxing is taking the world by storm.You’ll need to bring your sense of discipline and sheer determination to the fore. As with any martial art, training is on-going, as is humility. Most boxers may be extraordinarily fit, but that’s matched by a sense of humility

          

If you live on the island for any length of time, you can simply attend classes at fixed intervals, perhaps several times a week at set hours. If you’re a visitor, you can come for training periods that may last up to a few weeks in length, with meals and accommodation as part of an overall package. What better place to learn than a beautiful tropical island, where, after a tough workout you can enjoy some downtime on the beach?

          

Most Thai boxing schools are very flexible, and can offer tailor-made packages, though you may have to ask. Trainers speak basic English, but are utterly familiar with the sport they’re teaching. Programs are usually a mix of fitness sessions and learning/practicing Muay Thai techniques and sparring sessions. Programs may be for complete beginners to seasoned competitors.

          

Check out Lamai Muay Thai Camp or Hippo’s Beach Gym, both offering great programs at all levels. A two-month course, amongst others of shorter duration, is offered by Punch It Gym Koh Samui, with a combination of modern and traditional Muay Thai techniques, based on your specific needs. For something a little different, Superpro Samui offers Muay Thai along with mixed martial arts, as well as general fitness. For courses that can last from one to four weeks, try Fitkoh Fitness Camp Thailand; the trio of trainers here are all professional fighters and champions.

          

There are currently over a dozen places to learn Muay Thai on Samui, and this number is set to grow – the sport’s popularity has a long way to go before it peaks. Whether you want to become a pro yourself, or would just like to watch a fight, Thailand remains the sport’s epicentre, and Samui offers all that you could wish for when it comes to Muay Thai. Just be prepared for a serious rush of adrenalin – even as a spectator.

          

 


 


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