Prior to arrival in Chiang Mai, my friend from grad school, Prat, told me to make a list of everything that I wanted to do in the city. As much as I travel I actually never do this, and to my detriment I feel that I have missed some key sites in some of the cities that I have been to. I will now make it a point to make lists prior to travel.
On my list of things to do in Chiang Mai was to see a Muay Thai match. When I told Prat this he offered something even better, a private Muay Thai class with his trainer, as he wanted to “give me a more intimate experience.”
Following breakfast we both changed and headed out to the Chiang Mai Muay Thai Center. There we met our trainer who goes by the names Warrior and Vampire Elbows. It is said that when he fights in professional matches, sometimes his opponents end up bloody because of how he hits them with his elbows.
Our lesson began with stretches and then continuous jumping on a tire. My calves were throbbing by the time we finished. Next, we wrapped our hands and put on the gloves so that I could learn the different moves required for Muay Thai. We started with punching, then uppercut, hook, knee and finally kicking. My coordination was off at first, but after a few tries I got the hang of it.
The next step was trying the moves out on a punching bag. I didn’t do as well with the punching bag because my ankles and knees clearly are not yet strong enough.
After a short break, I was ready to get into the ring. At first it was a little daunting but I really got into it and I think I did great for a first timer if I do say so myself! I will let the pictures and video support that!
A little slow motion for you!
If you are ever in Thailand, I highly suggest that you try out a Muay Thai class and if you are in Chiang Mai be sure to seek out Warrior!
Following class, Warrior insisted that Prat and I go to a Muay Thai match that evening as his little brother, who is eight, would be fighting.
When we arrived, the place seemed slightly seedy and I loved it. It was exactly what I expected from a Muay Thai match. The place was poorly lit and there were rows of plastic chairs and they were selling cheap beer and sodas. There were a lot of foreigners, but mostly Thai people which made it feel like an authentic experience.
There were five matches and it started with the little boys. Watching little boys fighting each other felt akin to child abuse. I cringed and squirmed every time one of them landed a punch or a kick. Unfortunately the boy we were supporting lost.
Prat and I bet on two of the fights. He won the first bet and I won the second. There was also a round where the boxers were blindfolded. It was really funny as they spent a lot of time punching the air and the referee kept pushing them into each other. They also punched the referee at several points. It was all in good fun.
The last match was a black woman from Canada versus a Thai woman. The Canadian won as I think everyone expected.
Have you ever been to a Muay Thai match? What was your experience like?