About 50km outside Chiang Mai at the Buakaw Village you will find the gym where Buakaw Banchamek, long-standing K-1 Muay Thai World Champion and Thailand titleholder, has created an environment where the popular martial art can be learnt. Buakaw’s motivation – “I want to protect the reputation of Muay Thai” – Buakaw Sombat Banchamek.
The Banchamek Gym and Buakaw Village
The rurally placed gym in Surin offers packages that include professional Muay Thai coaching and sparring that have been specially designed to match the various level of knowledge and experience. Be it to learn Muay Thai as a beginner, or take your abilities to a whole new level as a seasoned fighter.
The days are designed to include two group training sessions per day with fitness in the gym, running and shadow boxing offered by the trainers. Communal meals are shared overlooking the rice paddies, and accommodation is in comfortable air-conditioned rooms – with free WIFI, where participants retreat between session. You can arrange additional personal training sessions, should you wish to maximise on your time there.
All trainers are highly professional with years of experience between them, many are still active fighters who have dedicated their lives to this ancient martial art. The boxing ring and work out area is set in a picturesque landscape with farmed land surrounded by natural forest and hills, making for the perfect setting to train while fully focussed.
The recommendation is to book yourself in for a minimum of three nights, to as much as a month or more. If you’re lucky, Buakaw may be in residence and you’ll find inspiration from his humble disciplined ways. Here, with his stable of exceptional fighters, he encourages as many people as possible to learn Muay Thai.
Who is Buakaw “Sombat” Banchamek?
Buakaw “Sombat” Banchamek (formerly known as “Buakaw Por Pramuk”) is perhaps the most famous Thai fighter on an international scale due to his impressive run in the K1 World Max tournaments. At just 37 years old, he is a 2 time K1 world max champion (2004 and 2006), a World Muaythai Council champion, an Omnoi stadium champion and a 2 time “Thai Fight” champion.
After breaking ties with his former management team, he finds himself free to fight again and has set up a gym in his hometown, Surin so that he can train near his family. He has also opened a gym in Bangkok. Both gyms are open to foreigners who wish to train there.
His incredible strength and physique is a product of years of hard work and dedication to the sport. He wakes up every morning at 5:30 AM and runs over 15 kilometres as a warm-up. After which he goes straight into his regular training program, which consists of 15 rounds of pad and bag work, strength and conditioning, and clinch work or sparring.
In the afternoon, he goes for another run, and then into his regular training program again with another 15 rounds, finishing just in time for dinner. With this just the routine, he ups the training when he’s preparing for a fight.
As one of the biggest superstars in Muay Thai history, Buakaw Banchamek is no stranger to anyone who knows anything about martial arts or fighting. But even after having more 300 fights in his over 20 year-long illustrious career, he remains modest and driven to achieve more.
More about Muay Thai
Often referred to as the “Art of Eight Limbs”, Muay Thai utilises a beautiful symphony of kicks, punches, knees, and elbows with fluidity and grace and is now one of the most well-known and practised martial arts in the world.
Muay Thai became popular in the 20th century when fighters from Thailand began competing in kickboxing, mixed rules matches, as well as bouts under the Muay Thai rules, around the world. The professional league is governed by The Professional Boxing Association of Thailand and sanctioned by The Sports Authority of Thailand and World Professional Muaythai Federation internationally.
While there are hundreds of different techniques in Muay Thai, it is also a martial art known for its raw simplicity and can be practised by anybody, men, women and children. In Thailand, it is common for children as young as five or six, to start learning the martial art.
With almost 4 million fans on his Facebook page, and a multitude more in real life, Buakaw’s gym is the place to go for the best Muay Thai training, and with it his wish to ‘Protect the Reputation of Muay Thai’ is well on its way to becoming a reality.
Just further evidence that Thailand is much more than initially meet the eye. As much as the enticing beaches, forests, vibrant cities and world-renowned cuisine will always draw visitors, it’s also the perfect place to hone in on your martial arts skills, up your fitness levels, and hang out with revered world champions.
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*** Read my other posts on Thailand.
*** Photos are mine and sourced, the article was written by me and initially published on the Thailand Authority of Tourism and Lesley Simpson Communications. Watermarked photos by the gym’s resident photographer Duang Dhee.