On the sun soaked paradise island of Phuket, located in southern Thailand, situated along one the most unique 1 km stretches of road found anywhere on the planet, Tiger Muay Thai is the centre piece of the island’s fitness Mecca.
In the lead up to what felt like a “rites of passage” for me I had wanted to train at Tiger and Phuket in general for at least three years since reigniting my love affair with the art of eight limbs, but due to work, family commitments and life in general this was my first chance to actually do it. I went into this trip wanting to prove I still had it at my the ripe old age of…never you mind.
Anyway, I arrived at the camp for day one of a two week stay on the island on a particularly sunny Thursday morning and was immediately impressed by what I saw at the internationally acclaimed Muay Thai & Mixed Martial Arts camp. The camp that I heard about from friends and had seen on videos had grown extensively since its inception in 2010.
After making my way to guest services to schedule my private, 1-on-1 Muay Thai sessions, I was greeted warmly by the always helpful and friendly staff, which was in stark contrast to an incident I had witnessed at another gym during my stay on the island. Once I completed registration and taken on a tour of the site I was invited to join some of the other guests on a trip to Nai Harn beach for Tiger’s famous beach boot camp.
Once at the idyllic Nai Harn beach, those brave enough to sign-up to the boot camp were put through their paces by nutrition and weight lose expert Jason Durrant. Amongst the tranquil backdrop of the bay it was an unexpected but overall highly pleasurable experience and an amazing way to kick off my time at Tiger.
I was immediately taken by the lifestyle of living and training on this tropical paradise and within hours of arriving I would bump into top up and coming French welterweight Alex Lohore and fast raising UK middleweight and Phuket regular Terry Brazier who were also embarking on a two week camp at Tiger in preparation for their upcoming fights.
Bumping into some of Europe’s top talent would become a regular event during my time there with names like Pannie Kianzad, Krzysztof Jotko and Phuket resident’s and UFC veteran’s James ‘The Hammer’ McSweeney and Roger Huerta becoming a daily occurrence to experience training with would class strikers and grapplers – the best thing for me, at the risk of this sounding slightly like a sales pitch, it was all at a super affordable price.
After a hectic start to my time at TMT I began daily routine of attending the beginners and intermediate Mauy Thai class in the morning followed by a private in the afternoon. During my morning classes my boxing, sparring, pad and bag work, was overseen by Tigers dedicated team of trainers who made sure that at all times myself and others around me would receive the best training possible in order to continue our growth as budding martial artists.
During my afternoon privates I was lucky enough to work with coach Sa and Robert the latter of which was a prime example of how well travelled Tiger staff are. It turned out during my first session with Roberto; whom I immediately recognised from his time working at the world famous Peacocks, London, England as part Tiger’s coaching exchange program.
The time spent working with two outstanding coaches who had almost 300 wins between them during their careers enabled me to improve so much from a technical point of view and I would be able to showcase my improvements as a practitioner of the sport during visit to the Sitsonpeenong gym in Bangkok at the end of my stay in Thailand.
Both coaches seemed to excel in particular areas with Robert who earned the nickname the terminator during his fighting days helped me increase my stamina, while Sa who was the Joker of the pack helped me to improve my footwork. He (Sa) spoke little English but because of our mutual love of Muay Thai the language barrier was easily overcame within hours of meeting each other and at times it felt like Sa could peer into my mind and know what I was going to do before I did it.
These men were without a doubt the best two coaches I had worked with during my time in Phuket and my time there made it abundantly clear why some of the cream of the crop in combat sports such as: UFC Lightweight Nick Hein and pound-for-pound kickboxing great Gokhan Saki to name a few, chose to make TMT their home during my time there. The quality of the training at Tiger was even more apparent when I visited some of the other gyms on the island. After a few sessions elsewhere, I was left feeling cheated and on some occasions it even felt as though these coaches were plucked off the street minutes before I arrived.
Other highlights of my time at TMT included taking a class in the ancient of Krabi Krabong, which is a weapon-based martial art, developed by ancient Siamese warriors. For me this was a truly unique experience and allowed me to gain an insight into this little known martial art discipline. Also I can’t forget the Tigers famous BBQ beatdown, which saw both amateur and professional MMA or Muay Thai fighters alike a chance to test their skills in a fun party atmosphere.
Not to be left out, residents of TMT who are not into Mixed Martial Arts or Muay Thai can partake in other classes, which include Brazilian jiu-jitsu, western boxing, yoga, cross-fit and combat conditioning so the camp truly offers something for everyone.
Spending the majority of my time training at Tiger reminded me that on the whole the martial arts community is one big happy family as despite being many thousands of miles away from home.
The beauty of Tiger Muay Thai is that despite regularly playing host to some top Muay Thai & Mixed Martial Arts fighters from around the world this international renowned training camp is truly a place for everyone regardless of age, gender or skill level. Since opening its doors over six years ago Tiger has welcomed thousands of guests and has help them to achieve a wide verity of personal goals whether it be to lose weight but from a personal point of view it helped me prove that this old dog still had a bite.
In closing all I will say about my time at Tiger Muay Thai is see you again soon, very, VERY soon.