|Sisters Dao (L) and Fah Saenchaigym Yokkao messing about at Yokkao Training Centre Bangkok|
Down one of those surprisingly quiet lanes off the manically-busy Sukhumwit Road in Bangkok is a MuayThai gym with a few twists.
I visited Yokkao Training Centre for just one session, really to interview an Irish (male) fighter for the editors at ‘Muay Eireann’ but it’s hard to say no when you see something new happening.
The first attraction is they have female fighters, and actively promote them. One of their main trainers Kru Manop Yuangyai coaches his two daughters (in the pic above) Dao (19) and Fah (17).
Fah told me she’d had over 40 fights, winning all of them on points. People who consistently win on points always impress me, so much skill; she was female fighter of the year three times at 46-48kgs.
I shot this on my phone - she's holding pads for her sister Dao who also fights. Not something she’s ever done before, just messing about on a day off. One of the gym managers thought it would be a good idea to have Fah hold for her sister and just before that for me when I was done training - very hard to keep a straight face when this was going on in spite of people telling us to be “serious, serious”.
The coach who comes in near the end of this short clip of the two women is Singdam Kiatmoo9 (Thai champion with over 300 fights)
Women’s Muay Thai was a slow burner in Thailand, but gyms like this and more importantly trainers like Kru Mapop who coach girls with the same intensity as men are the ones making the difference. I found this clip online from when Fah was just ten years old and doing pads with her dad at their old gym the famous 13 Coins:
I enjoyed how different the session at Yokkao was to what I’m used to in Thailand. I did pads with Christian, an Italian boxing coach - loads of focus on the hands, never a strong point with me but finished on a blistering round of knees, happy days.
He was pushing me really hard (something you don’t usually get on just one session as a visitor so that’s a plus ++) and I couldn’t work out why I wasn’t melting – until I looked up. There are fans in the roof :-D
I’m more of a rough ‘n’ ready gym-girl but this did make me smile.
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Yokkao Training Centre Bangkok