I get alot of questions from people asking me what it’s like for a female to train in Thailand, I think it really depends on what gym you go to. For me the majority of the time it was no different to being a male, I was treated totally equal in every way at SINBI Muay Thai and Thai trainers all showed me respect they trained me as hard if not harder than some of the males. Some camps/gyms in Thailand are very old school and women are not allowed to train in their rings, clinch, spar with the men and some trainers won’t even hold pads for the women. The first gym I ever went too in Thailand in 2008 had a mix of trainers some would not hold pads for any women at all then you had the ones that would only hold for experienced and certain women and then the Thai trainers that didn’t care and were there to hold for any women especially the ones they thought they could pick up.
Women were allowed to train anywhere in that gym and they didn’t have any problem with women clinching with the men as I had to clinch some really hairy guy one time ( I swear he was growing a magic carpet on his chest and back) it was sweaty and ewww! Anyway it was ok but as a beginner I didn’t get to do much pad work because the only ones that would hold pads for me were the sleazy ones and I wasn’t interested. My more experienced friends explained to me that is was not uncommon that Thai trainers wouldn’t hold pads for women and that we were lucky we were even able to train in the ring. So I was planning my next trip to Thailand but I wanted to be able to train at a gym where I could get the most out of training, not just pay my money and get put in the corner to hit a bag because no one wanted to hold pads or train me because I was a women. I was told by a lot of people that Bangkok gyms were very old school and if I went to a gym there I would most likely not be allowed in the ring. To me that just totally sucked so I started looking for gyms on Phuket. I had also been told that Phuket was a lot better for Female fighters in terms of finding regular fights as well which I wanted. Phuket gyms were more female friendly hence why most of the women headed there to train and fight. I researched the Gyms on Phuket and come across 2 gyms that I liked and that would also suit my husband. The first gym I went to apart from being run by total assholes (which is a whole other story) I was treated no different to the men, all the trainers held pads for me, they took the time to show me techniques, the never just left me to hit the bag, they always pushed me and cared about my training.
After I left that gym I went to train at SINBI Muay Thai and it was great! I never once felt like they treated me any different. All the women there got good pads round with any of the trainers even the big boss Sing would put time in and hold pads for me, the trainers that were training the Thai boys who were fighting at Lumpinee and Rajadamnern would hold pads for me the same way they did for the Thai boys. I had a free range of the gym and rings and could spar and clinch with any of the male Thai fighters. My regular pad holder would stay back after training and help me with technique every day, we were always the last ones to leave the gym. He would watch me throughout my whole training session, bag work, weights, sparring even running, he would help me and give me advise, bust me and make me do push ups if I was talking or dancing around doing some silly stuff. I was always looked after like I was a champion no different to any of the males. I found that if you put in the effort and you show heart and how dedicated you are the trainers will really put the time into you whether you’re a female or male. I loved the fact that they respected me as a fighter and they didn’t see me as weak because I was female, they dished out all the same training with no excuses. If I cried I didn’t get the “oh are you ok, you poor girl” treatment, I got the “you’re not a baby” toughen up treatment. There were a few funny things they didn’t quite understand though, like the time I got kneed straight in the girl bits (read here) they didn’t know what to do when I was rolling around on the ground holding my bits moaning in pain. They just poured cold water onto my crouch and hoped for the best ha-ha I don’t think they have figured out what to do in that situation yet.
I also visited a gym in Bangkok were My hubby and I stayed for 2 weeks while he fought at Rajadamnern stadium, it was small gym that was down a back alley called W.P.T. gym and some of the trainers from SINBI would also hold pads there some times. I expected not to be allowed to enter the ring or be able to train with all the Thai boys who were all regulars at Lumpinee and Rajadamnern stadium but they never had any problem with me being there at all, they encouraged me to train.
So as far as being a women and training in Thailand I have found that the gyms I have been to the last few years have been very equal especially SINBI Muay Thai and that’s why I will always go back there. I still hear of stories of gyms in Chang Mai and Bangkok that still have those old rules and it’s sadly put me off going to train there. I think if you’re a female going to train in Thailand and you want to get the best out of your training try to find a more female friendly gym with trainers that want to train you and where you’re allowed to train in the ring. I Found the more female friendly a gym was Like SINBI the more top female fighter from around the world would go there, it gave me so many amazing female fighters to train with and that’s how you become a stronger fighter.
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Natasha Sky- Professional Muay Thai Fghter