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It’s no secret that I’m the unlikeliest fan of Muay Thai boxing. Who would this that this former lazy-bum and current athletics-snubber would fall in fist over gloves for Thailand’s national sport?

Koh Tao Muay Thai

I’ve written quite a bit about Muay Thai on Koh Tao — from the history and the lore of the fight nights I love to attend to the training sessions that taught me fitness could be fun. But no trip to Koh Tao, and therefore no blog coverage of said trip — would be complete without a visit to my favorite gym in the world.

When I walked into Island Muay Thai for the first time in almost eight months, I wasn’t sure the trainers would remember me — after all, they train dozens of farang every day. But a chorus of “Alek!” greetings rang out when I walked down into the valley, and the big mischievous smiles told me I hadn’t been forgotten. The trainers were fascinated by my weight loss, demanding to know how many kilos I had lost and repeatedly shrieking “so tiny!” — endearing themselves to me forever, of course. Too bad I don’t understand the metric system.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

When I told them my sister was in town they asked why she hadn’t come to training but then answered the question for themselves — very lazy. I promised to bring her in the next time.

She loved it — and they certainly loved her. It was really wonderful to show her this little slice of my life.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Plus, I totally got to show off.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Training is only half the fun though. Sometimes you’ve got to go see how the pros do it! So we made our way back to the gym on fight night, where students get a nice 200 baht discount off admission. As soon as we walked in the owner of the stadium, Pi Toon, gave us a big smile, and insisted we take beers from his cooler. It was such a small gesture but a lovely show of hospitality that made me feel that my affection for everyone at the gym was really reciprocated.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

This fight started off with a youth match. A lot of people don’t like seeing the kids fight but I don’t see how it’s any more violent than American football.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Muay Thai fights on Koh Tao are the most integrated activity between locals and foreigners that I have found. It’s pretty much a 50-50 split in the crowd.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

While I sometimes find the violence hard to swallow, I think it it offset by respect, tradition and skill. Attending a fight is a cultural experience that I can’t imagine missing in Thailand. To learn more about Muay Thai and the fights on Koh Tao, read my previous post here.

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Koh Tao Muay Thai

Have you tried Muay Thai training or been to a fight? Would you?

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19 comments… add one

  • Olivia
    February 23 2013

    I think the fact that my gloves are pink takes away from the tough look I was going for..

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      You know you wouldn’t have had it any other way…

  • Jade
    February 23 2013

    I cannot believe I missed this part of Thai culture when I visited in 2010, and the ladyboys too!
    Maybe it’s because I missed Koh Tao altogether due to time constraints… you are showing me the error of my ways!

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      Just another reason to come back Jade :)

  • Ashley Hufford
    February 23 2013

    This is awesome. I started kick boxing in New York a few months ago and absolutely love it, this is just amazing!!! Something to put on my todo list for sure!

    Also you and your sister look SO much alike!!
    Ashley Hufford recently posted..Jumping Into 2013

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      Haha, yeah…. I used to be in denial about it but in the past few years I’ve accepted we are basically twins!

  • Dad
    February 23 2013

    Nice post…….and yea Liv, not so tough looking

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      But what about MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE dad?!?!

      Just kidding :)

  • rob
    February 23 2013

    Looks awesome. Women (and men) who know how to fight do better when they attacked because they fall back into fighting habits.

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      That’s a good point Rob, and I hadn’t even thought of it! This will definitely help me in self defense should I ever need it.

      • rob
        February 23 2013

        Years of TaeKwon-Do training and talking to people who’ve trained have convinced me of that. Lots of stories of muggers and the like being kicked into submission and kept that way until the police arrive.

  • Jessica
    February 23 2013

    absolutely loving the pink gloves! looks like so much fun!! and look at your kick- so bad@$$!
    Jessica recently posted..Haas Promenade: Spectacular Hidden Views of Jerusalem

    • Alex
      February 23 2013

      Thanks Jessica… keeps me motivated :)

  • Frank
    February 25 2013

    Awesome, I am SO looking forward to this. I currently train at a Muay Thai gym here at home but am looking forward to training on Koh Tao, and thanks to you it looks like my gym has already been picked out!

    Do they have rental equipment or is it required that you buy your own?

    • Alex
      February 25 2013

      Hey Frank! You should definitely check out both the gyms when you arrive here (did you see my “Staying Fit on Koh Tao” post?) You might want to do a bit of training with both. Not sure what you mean by rental equipment…. they have gloves and wraps and all that!

  • James
    February 28 2013

    Great post Alex. Hard to wonder how it’s hard to work up such aggression when it’s so chilled there, maybe ‘channel’ a dodgy Passport official?! Looks like a great workout!

    Think if I return, I may just stick with the seating and Chang beer waitress service!

    • Alex
      March 1 2013

      Haha, funny enough they play some pretty irritating music (at least to Western ears!) throughout the fight… one of my friends describes it as “music that makes you want to punch people!”

  • TammyOnTheMove
    February 28 2013

    Ha ha, you certainly kick some ass Alex. Would love to do a course like that. How much is a course or a training session?
    TammyOnTheMove recently posted..Koh Kong in pictures

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