Muay Thai Boxing: Train With Champions at Hongthong Muay Thai Gym – Chiang Mai

Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.

Bruce Lee (Tao of Jeet June Do)

Muay Thai Boxing – Training with Champions

In North America, gyms are popping up everywhere with different types of classes in martial arts training. Everyone has their different motive for this type of training.

Some just want to get in better shape, some want to learn self-defense techniques and some actually want to learn mixed martial arts to compete in professional matches for money.

Muay Thai Boxing is highly regarded by many MMA fighters as one of the most effective martial arts.  

I got my first lesson in Muay Thai Boxing soon after I arrived in Chiang Mai, but first let me explain how I got there…

In my first week after arriving in Chiang Mai.  Tyson gave me a crash course (not literally) in motorbiking around Chiang Mai. I wasn’t sure if he was purposely driving like a maniac to lose me or if this was just the way most people drove their motorbikes here.  

I had to remind him at stoplights, that I did not know where the hell I was and if he loses me, I’d really be lost.  

The only landmark I knew at this time was Wat Ku Tao. (The temple across the street from the apartment.)  None of the taxi drivers at the train station (which is only 10 mins. away) ever heard of my apartment name.  So knowing that name would not help.

I learned after a few days of following Tyson around the old city, that it was actually a good thing that I learned to drive a little aggressively, it helped make me very aware of my surroundings and learning to navigate through traffic the way locals do.

So, I followed Tyson out of the old city and out onto the highway towards the airport.  We passed the “Big Mall” Central Airport Plaza under a huge underpass and intersection to Hang Dong Rd. and continued way outside of town and out of my new comfort zone near the moat in the old city.

I was still just getting used to the motorbike…driving on the left hand-side…weaving in out of traffic on the small city streets and now we were on a huge highway with speeding traffic.  I would only accelerate to 60km/hr. which is actually the speed limit.

Hongthong May Thai Gym

I went for the ride out of town to see the gym and maybe watch the guys train and decide if it was something I thought I wanted to get into.

When we arrived at the gym, Tyson introduced me to the brothers Kru Gen aka “Hongthong Lek” and Kru Joe aka “Hongthong Noi“, who would be the trainers.  Now, I did not know much about the trainers except that Kru Gen was a former  Muay Thai Champion at Lumpinee Boxing Stadium, as recently as 2012.  

Two more guys showed up after us, Simon from Switzerland and a few minutes later Chai who is actually Thai but living in Germany.

As the guys were all getting dressed and warmed up, I sat there quietly.

Now, I had just arrived in Thailand a few days before, traveled from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on a rambling overnight train and I was still jet lagged, hungover, and just plain tired from all the changes blah, blah, blah… I had no intentions of training today.

But, I had a feeling it was going to happen, and as I sat there quietly on the front veranda of the Hongthong home, and as soon as I began thinking it, the inevitable questions came…

“Hey aren’t you going to train with us?”  

I threw the jet lag excuse out first, but that just fell flat.  

Then I tried, the “I am not really dressed for it.” approach, and Tyson yells “I gotta extra pair of shorts in my backpack, just grab those!” as he grabbed a jumprope and started skipping.

I muttered “bastard…” under my breath.  

I slowly walked over to his backpack and pulled out a pair of traditional style Muy Thai boxer shorts.  

Hmm?…He planned this! Ugh!

Really, I couldn’t have just sat there and watched anyway, but I didn’t think I would have the energy.

I also didn’t feel like getting beaten up either.

However, instead of moaning, I got dressed, grabbed the jump-rope and started skipping.  

I don’t remember exactly how long we skipped rope for, it may have only been a few minutes but it felt like a half hour.

We warmed up with the jump-rope, push ups, sit-ups and sidestepping, for quite a while.  Then Kru Joe pulled me aside and told me today we would only work on one side for kicks that day.  

Kru Joe helped me work on technique, but I was already tired just from the warm-up.  

After walking and continuously kicking for several minutes, we all stopped and Kru Joe helped me get my hands wrapped for some work in the ring.  

“Nice!”  I thought.  

He gave me a new set of gloves and I got in the ring for my very first time.

In this part of the workout Kru Joe showed me many combinations using fists, elbows and kicks.  We repeated the combinations of punches and kicks and a few counter moves over and over.

For the counters, he paired me with Tyson and we put on pads for our feet and shins.  We took turns kicking and countering each others moves, repeatedly for short rounds, with short breaks in between for water.

I am not sure how many rounds we did, but after a few seconds I could barely lift my legs anymore.  

After all of these rounds I thought, wow! that was great and I am still ok….but then we got out of the ring and there was more!

We got into pairs and we had to clinch each other behind the neck and continuously throw up knees and move in a circle until I was so worn out I thought for sure I was going to pass out.

You know, there may have been a little more after that but I don’t remember because I was so dizzy and delirious, but I will say that was one of the best workouts I’ve ever had!

It was also nice because it was all outdoors and I had personal instruction and guidance from some real Muay Thai Champions.


All in all, it was a great experience and I would definitely go again.  

If you are in Chiang Mai and you are interested in Muay Thai Boxing and training with the best, I would definitely recommend Hongthong Muay Thai Gym.

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Author and Website Designer | Website | + posts

Brian Dennis is a full-time software engineer, some-time traveler and location-independent entrepreneur.

Chasing his passions in addition to travel in recent years has become a little challenging but even more fulfilling with his wife Betina and 1-year old son Divine.

Currently he is located in S. Florida and continues to share what he's learned with travel tips, guides and some motivating inspiration to encourage others to do more and experience more outside of their comfort zones.

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