I spent the first six weeks of 2020 in Thailand, and half of that time was devoted entirely to mixed martial arts (MMA) and Muay Thai training.
Two of those weeks were spent in the island paradise of Phuket at Tiger Muay Thai, one of the best MMA gyms on the planet. Once in Phuket, I met up with SB Nation video producer Case Harts, and we went to work on capturing the experience of training at an elite level in a foreign country.
Over the course of three weeks, Case and I recorded a ton of footage. Primarily, the focus of all this recording was training and martial arts related. For the first two weeks, I trained at Tiger Muay Thai every day, experiencing as much as I could of what the massive facility and dozens of coaches offered. Then, we relocated to Bangkok, where I visited several different academies.
Let’s dig into the third episode:
Episode Three: Finally, one of the signature moments: bugs! Outside of eating insects, the primary focus of the episode is an MMA technique class, which focuses on mixing up striking and wrestling.
Behind-The-Scenes: When I read Case’s “Avoiding Russians” headline, I couldn’t remember what it was referring to.
Upon re-watch, however, it all came back to me. The mats at Tiger are absolutely packed, and combined with the amount of sweat from the intense heat, practice can quickly turn into an overcrowded slip-n-slide. If you want to leave the room with an intact ACL, it’s supremely important to be aware of your surroundings.
Especially if you’re among the lightest guys in the room like myself!
Possibly in part because the language barrier, certain groups were indeed going 100 percent live rather than drilling and allowing the other person to work, which does increase the risk of getting blindsided by an errant takedown. As such, I was doing my best to simultaneously 1) get quality reps and 2) avoiding getting squashed.
Next up is my favorite experience of trip, taking an impromptu and semi-organized bar fight in Koh Phi Phi. Stayed tuned for plenty more!