|Kelly Creegan, me, Melissa Ray - taking MuayThai very seriously!|
Every MuayThai gym is different but there is a feeling you get when you walk into a good place that just can’t be faked.
It’s something that comes with time, from the confidence of producing good fighters. And from laughter. The more ‘sanuk’ (fun times in Thai) you can add into this risky, dangerous sport the more likely you are to succeed - when you see professional fighters who depend on MuayThai to eat still managing to joke around you know you’re in a good place.
Eminent Air gym in Bangkok is managing that delicate business of having successful professional Thai fighters in the same gym as ‘farang’ (foreigners in Thai) fighters and enthusiasts. Almost all of the foreigners I met/visited over a few sessions earlier this month were in Thailand for fighting but a few just for fun.
One of the most well-known foreign fighters from this gym is Englishwoman Melissa Ray. She’s retired from competition now but in spite of working is still training six days a week and twice on Saturdays so you wouldn’t really notice!
Fluent in Thai, written and spoken, she even updates the gym’s social media news bilingually. Yes, this is what MuayThai can do for you (or should that be to you?!) You may know her from 'MuayThai on the Brain'.
Irishwoman Kelly Creegan is another fan of Eminent Air and the Thai lanaguage. She trained and fought many times out of Sitmonchai Gym near Kanchanaburi before moving to Bangkok. She is gearing up for another fight now having beaten a string of injuries. Her most recent post on her blog ‘It’s Pandamonium’ was on her six months at Eminent Air and being an English teacher in Bangkok - read that, and I dare you not to laugh out loud.
The other foreign fighters were all male when I was there, and on training trips – work like a demon at home, save money to train for a few months. From what I could see, everyone was pushed to their limits.
I saw two Thai girls training as well but not fighting. They left before I could grab them for a chat or even a photo – next time. I have to say too it cracks me up I have so many more pictures from messing around with MuayThai now compared to when I was fighting fulltime - sign of the times!
This gym has two rings which makes life easier for everyone - people arrive at various times and get going as they warm up. Unlike some of the more traditional gyms, women can use either ring.
Actually I’m being a bit unfair, almost all gyms in Thailand now allow women into their training rings - the problems are mostly at the stadiums.
We went one night to see Satanfaa Eminent Air fight (and win) at Lumpini stadium and I groaned to see the ‘Ladies do not touch the stage’ sign STILL adorning the ring. It’s the 21st century people!
YOU CAN DO IT TOO:
Find Eminent Air on Facebook if you’re looking for some hard city training in Bangkok.