Top 10 Survival Tips to Training in Thailand

Recovery, Mindset, and More

Between the heat, culture and training changes, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have a good time throughout your stay in Thailand. Surviving in your first few weeks here will take a bit of adaptation.

To speed up the process and to keep you from making a number of mistakes, we are happy to present you with the top 10 survival tips to training in Thailand:

#1. Research and Learn the Culture

Being ignorant to the customs and norms in Thailand may become stressful to some foreigners. Ignorance causes frustration and misunderstanding. To avoid this, scope through some of the norms, buy a guide book, and have an open mind before arrival. The style here differs dramatically from that in most Western Thai Boxing gyms.

Here’s a good breakdown of the gym etiquette when training in Thailand

In conclusion, be polite.

#2. Thai Liniment

thai oil recovery muay thaiWith 5-8 KM runs, 20 minutes of jump rope, stretching and shadowboxing to begin are your “warm-ups”. Training runs anywhere from 5-7 hours per day. With this amount of intense training, you are predisposed to feel bouts of stiffness as the week goes on. The purpose of Boxing Liniment is to warm up stiff joints, to minimize pain and to reduce the feeling of soreness throughout each session.

#3. Electrolytes and Hydration

It’s not about the temperature in Thailand, it’s the type of heat that your body must come accustomed to. You are no longer training in an air conditioned room. It is not rare to see a foamy puddle of sweat beneath those jumping rope and hitting the heavy bags. The sessions are just as long as they are intense. Proper hydration and electrolyte intake are key to performance, recovery and reducing severe cramping.

Our bodies are made of 70% water (Give or Take). Just a few percent of this lost and our bodies do not perform the same way, even at the cellular level. By loosing weight within a session, you are not losing fat.

  • Drink a minimum of 2-4L of water throughout the session.
  • Maximize your training and recovery by investing in electrolyte packets such as Royal D. (These can be purchased at any 7-Eleven, pharmacy, or major store.)

#4. Massage

Massage may become your best friend, and that’s without breaking your wallet. The Average massage cost of a 1-hour massage is  anywhere between 250-400 Baht (8-13 USD). Long training sessions are bound to give you some bumps and bruises, leaving your muscles and joints feeling stiff. The manual release from massage will workout those nasty knots and have you feeling limber if done consistently.

Besides massage, foam rolling and using self-massage techniques can ensure that you are keeping those problem areas loose, especially when money and time are running low.

Know the differences before entering the massage parlor. You can easily communicate how hard you want them to work their hands, and they are dam good at it. So good that they work crack and adjust your body loose when getting a “Thai Massage.”

If you are looking to relax and let go, an “Oil Massage” is the safe bet.

#5. Meditation & Yoga

The mind can become a weapon or it may become your enemy. Once the routine is in place, the hours begin to add up, and the body begins to slow down, each morning we face the question, “should I sleep in this morning or should I push through?”

This is often said within our head whilst we are still laying in bed. One of the members in our last camp was seen doing Qi Gong (moving meditation) each morning before training commenced, all to clear his mind. If you clear your mind you can often listen to your body and feel whether it is your mind quitting on your or if it is your body screaming for a day of recovery.

A routine of implementing relaxation practice such as meditation and Yoga enables us to actively work on our recovery of the mind and body, becoming more flexible in not only our joints, but our thinking.

#6. No Mind

Getting a bit deeper than the general practice listed above, looking into our specific thought patterns is critical in analyzing our progress and keeping a smile on our face.

One technique that often works is focusing on the present, having a task at hand and only that – versus focusing on a feeling and emotion. Sometimes you don’t feel like it, and it happens to us all. But, that’s where discipline comes into play. Focus on technique rather than speed and power, if your mind feels too clouded to work technique, think speed, power, and conditioning. Adapt to where you will get the most out of your session.

Although easier said than done, you ultimately make the choice:

It is the nature of the mind to wander. You are not the mind. The mind springs up and sinks down. It is impermanent, transitory, whereas you are eternal, To inhere in the Self is the thing. Never mind the mind, In the realized man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him. – Ramana Maharshi

#7. Rest and Recovery

14212601_1080270805343166_2485668961910440086_nContrary to the point made above, we must know our body even if our mind pushes us past our physical limitations. It is often thought of as weakness, but what good is going through the movements without learning?

Napping becomes a big tool in getting through 4-6 hours of daily training. It breaks up the day versus hanging out in the same environment with the same people within the gym. A power nap could make it feel as a new day has just begun, helping you to get that second session in.

If you can’t force yourself into bed, explore to recover the mind, see the surrounding areas, the culture, and beaches if you have the access. Appreciate the beauty and culture that Thailand has to offer. The beauty is located in every region, you just have to look closely enough.

#8. Distractions

Hand in hand with rest and recovery is distracting yourself from Muay Thai all together. We all love this sport, many of us taking it to an extreme. Up to six hours of training per day may be extreme to some, but when trouble tends to really present itself is when you are training all day, talking about it all day with your camp mates, and going to see Thai fights almost every night. Perhaps you are a blogger that writes about it at the end of the day as well.

Sometimes it is okay to distract ourselves from the things we love to appreciate them more, in turn this keeps us from burning out or creating a resentment for Muay Thai. Keep the spark alive with Muay Thai by making it miss you.  

#9. Changing the Routine 

The team at Khongsittha in Bangkok was lucky enough to have a periodized training program. All put together systematically to progress each fighter and help their body adapt into the regimen.

For example, if you had a long run, the pad session might be a bit less intense. If the run was short, it normally meant that a long day of clinch and sparring is ahead.

The classes were alternated between technical clinch and sparring (technique broken down and demoed by the trainers) and freestyle clinch and sparring (live situation).

This type of periodized training system helps each fighter adapt and build up to the harder days ahead. When the end of the week comes, ice baths, yoga, and Wai Kru sessions became a form of active recovery. Changing the routine to keep each student’s body running efficiently and their minds stimulated.


#10. Being You, Being Authoritative

Guilt is a terrible emotion. Fighters suffer through injury, busting through one more session before completely breaking, getting side lined for days as a result. This becomes a matter of authority. Voice your concerns to your trainer, to how your body is holding up, and what you need to recover. If you are rather green and don’t know the proper balance or what your body can handle, just voice how you’re feeling, taking the trainer’s advice.

People won’t know what you’re feeling until you speak out loud, the trainer’s job is to push you to your limits. If you seem fine, you will be treated like so. If you are already past your limits, the trainer’s job is to keep you going. Fighter’s often let their ego get in the way and become difficult to read. Make it easier for yourself and for your trainers by keeping an open line of communication.

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