Sunday, September 2, 2012

Try a local Muay Thai lesson on a stopover in Bangkok

The lively and cultural country of Thailand lies in the south-east of Asia. A country with a huge diversity of people, lifestyles, scenery and much more. People are visiting this stunning country in droves for both luxury and budget beach holidays and short stopovers with flights to Bangkok now starting at £535 per person including taxes. It’s also a starting point for many who are looking to explore other countries and areas of Asia. One thing that Thailand is very famous for, however, is Thai Boxing, also known as Muay Thai and Thai kickboxing.

The sport, a combat sport using punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes against an opponent, despite originating in Thailand, has grown a huge following worldwide and in most countries you can now find Muay Thai clubs and societies that regularly meet each week and offer classes and courses in this ancient sport. Muay Thai in particular evolved from ancient boxing that was used by Siamese soldiers in battle who had lost their weapons. There are around seven or eight different types of strikes for each body part used, from hook and uppercut punches to straight and roundhouse kicks. The foot-thrust, also known as a ‘thip’ in Thai, is used commonly to distance oneself from the opponent or attacker. It is a forceful movement that can help knock an opponent back, leaving space for you to prepare for the next bout.

Image courtesy of Yahoo! News
Body conditioning is a crucial part of Muay Thai. Endurance in the ring must be upheld and is practiced during training through skipping, running, shadow-boxing and core exercises. In addition to this, the movements and strikes should also be practiced, normally through focus mitts, pads and sparring. For professional Muay Thai boxers, training is intense, spending several hours in the gym every day. Many professionals last just a few years before retiring as the training is so intense.

If you are flying to Bangkok and want to watch a Muay Thai match, there are a number of places that you can do this. The two main stadiums to check out are Ratchadamnoen Stadium, near Khao San Road and Lumpini Stadium, and tickets cost in the region of 2,000THB (approx. £40 per person).

For those who want to get more involved in the action, you can join a local Muay Thai class in Bangkok. One of the more popular and well established places is the Muay Thai Institute which is just north of Bangkok International Airport, perfect for those who have a long stopover on their flights to Bangkok and beyond. For those who do have a longer transfer at Bangkok airport, there are a number of tours and excursions that you can take, like having a Muay Thai lesson, cookery lesson or city tour.

The Muay Thai Institute offers a range of classes and courses that both locals and visitors to Bangkok can take part in and will even organize to pick you up from the airport. Many of the courses on offer also provide certificates following an exam which is recognized by the World Muay Thai Council.