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.
| Watch Episode One HERE and Episode Two HERE and Episode Three HERE and Episode Four HERE and Episode Five HERE and Episode Six HERE! |
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 seventh episode:
Episode Seven: For the final time, I visit a new gym in Bangkok Fight Lab, working quite a bit with the coaches. Then, we head to BT Tattoo to get inked up!
Behind-The-Scenes: I really have nothing but good things to say about Bangkok Fight Lab.
At Tiger, it took me a few classes to find a Muay Thai coach really willing to work with me and help develop my technique in our pad rounds, rather then just run through the motions and tire me out. It may be physically difficult to blast 20 right kicks then 20 left kicks, but it doesn’t help nearly as much as more precise instruction.
The coach I primarily worked with during the class and in the video struck that balance well, pushing me to exhaustion then improving my technique as I tried to catch my breath. He also realized I’m terrible at that marching alternate kicks drill — you train full-time for six years then talk to me about hip mobility — so we did that a bunch.
A highlight for me was the clinch session as well. I was more experienced than my partner, so I was able to gain outside knee position and knock him over a half-dozen times. The coach loved it! He’d pause, help my partner out with advice and tips, then joyfully cheer when I tripped him down anyway.
As for the tattoo bit, it was less fun, and it seems intense pain does affect my ability to be coherent. I hope everyone understands “the first foreigner to get a Sak Yant” bit was extremely sarcastic. There’s a definite stereotype of tourists going to Thailand for a week, partying the whole time, then leaving enlightened with Hah Taew stabbed into their mid-back.
- Bangkok Fight Lab, trying to breath!
- Fully healed!
- My phoenix vs. a design found in a Vietnamese museum
- Final dinner in Bangkok, we went to Sendai Ramen Mokkori, an incredible hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant
- Sendai Ramen Mokkori, entree #2
- This street cart coffee branding me me laugh
- Thai BBQ chicken, right next to the famous Rajadamnern Stadium
- Terminal 21, a next-level mega-mall half a mile from our Airbnb
For anyone who’d like to see a few more Sak Yant designs and read about background/meaning, this LINK has some quality info. Otherwise, the Ajarn (Thai for teacher/professor, commonly a former monk) finished the design with a blessing and sent us back into the world.
With that, I believe the official episodes are about done! Fortunately, there are still some fun odds-and-ends to cover, such as the MMA Trivia Durian Challenge, information on cost, and one of my trickiest techniques.