The Future Of Muay Thai

August 9, 2008 by  

The kids at Sityodtong AKA - The future of Muay Thai
The kids at Sityodtong AKA - The future of Muay Thai
I vagely remember my childhood but I’m pretty sure that when I was 7 years old, I was into “WWF” wrestling and the ninja turtle movies. The closest I came to fighting at that age was when I’d act out the wrestling moves on a pillow while watching summerslam. Of course, at the time, I thought I was a badass.

The scene at the Sityodtong Muay Thai camp is unique to say the least. Upon first walking in, you really don’t know what to make of it. The average age of the people training there is about .. 14. There’s a lot that are younger, and of course, there’s a few older guys like myself. At first, you’re not so sure if the fact that there’s so many kids around is a good thing or a bad thing.

Well, it’s a good thing. The thing about Sityodtong is that they create champions. They start training the kids when they’re around 6 years old and by the time they’re 8, their technique is crisp and they’re able to kick the pads harder than beginners that are twice their age. I can only imagine what would happen if all the 8 year olds from the countries around the world went to war (hand to hand combat only).

Check out these little guys .. and girls, hitting the pads!

So why would this kids want to start training at such a young age? Well, I think it comes back to the fact that in Thailand, the younger generation is expected to provide for the family when the parents stop working. A lot of the girls look to prostitution (most don’t) while a lot of the boys test their skills with Muay Thai as it’s seen as a way “out” of poverty.

There’s a story that needs to be told here.

In most of the gyms, the kids are allowed to train for “free” but if they don’t become good quick, they get kicked out of the camp. The camps want the best fighters because in exchange for the free living & training, the kids are expected to fight and donate a portion of their winnings to the camp. Most Thai fighters rack up between 200-300 fights in their careers.

This is where the Sityodtong camp differs. The other day I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the trainers (a former lumpinee champion) and “the boss” and living legend himself – Kru Yodtong (born Erawan Sriwaralak). Kru Yodtong has been recognized by the Kingdom of Thailand as “superior teacher of Muay Thai” and throughout his teaching career, he has trained multiple Thai boxing champions (many of who are current trainers at the camp).

When I was made aware of Kru Yodtong’s contribution to not only Muay Thai, but his people in general, I had to write this story. Unlike at other camps, the fighters at Sityodtong aren’t expected to donate their winnings to the camp. It’s to my understanding that they’re givin half their fight purse up front and the other half goes towards their food, clothing etc.

The kids do not get kicked out of the camp for poor performance. Most of the kids training there are orphins or troubled kids that Kru Yodtong has unselfishly taken in and basically adopted into his family. What’s most important to Kru Yodtong is that these kids succeed in life and become good, productive members of society.

Kru Yodtong passing out lottery tickets to his students (sorry for the poor photo)
Kru Yodtong passing out lottery tickets to his students (sorry for the poor photo)
I guess it’s true when people say that “good things happen to good people” because Kru Yodtong has hit the lottery.. twice. The first time was a jackpot of approx. 56 million baht (just under 2 million US dollars) and the second time was good for another 2 million baht (around 60,000 US dollars). The money was not spent on himself.

Rather, the money was put towards bringing in more orphined and troubled youth. They were given a shelter, food and most importantly, they were given guidance through both Kru Yodtong, the family atmosphere at the camp and of course, the sport of Muay Thai.

It’s quite apparent that to Kru Yodtong, money is secondary. He just loves his sport and wants to teach and guide as many people as he can. Even when foreigners come to train, the fee is a modest 250 baht per session. Out of that 250 baht, 150 baht goes to the trainer and only 100 baht goes to the camp itself to help pay the electric bill. For those that don’t know, 100 baht is approx. 3 US dollars.

So what would YOU do with 2,000,000 US dollars? Would you give it all away to underprivilaged children? If not, that’s alright. Most people wouldn’t. I’m just glad I caught wind of this so I could get his story out to as many Muay Thai enthuasists as I could.

Up Next .. I’ll hopefully get a video of my padwork and perhaps a trip to Fairtex?

And of course, with tonight being my big night to go out, I’ll prob. get some footage of the crazy nightlife..


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Comments

12 Responses to “The Future Of Muay Thai”

  1. Luis Manuel on August 10th, 2008 8:52 pm

    Great Article, keep ‘em coming and be safe and train hard out there.

    Luis

  2. drew on August 11th, 2008 8:26 am

    nice thailand/mma site!

    live in phuket myself. tried to train in muay thai before but those shin kicks are BRUTAL!! far better off being a spectator. lol

    anyways, great posts and vids! hope you keep at it.

  3. Andy on August 12th, 2008 12:58 pm

    Good article mate!

  4. liam umek on August 13th, 2008 7:29 pm

    wow! its interesting what u can learn from articles. good job on the article. i just started taking martial arts myself and its only been a few months. its the best thing i have ever done. even as a little kid i enjoyed martial arts and have had the most respect for all the stlyes. i hope that one day i get to visit thailand and train in Muay Thai.

  5. Back to the Basics: New Muay Thai Camp | Fight Passport on August 21st, 2008 9:06 am

    [...] I was trading heavy bag kicks with a 9 year old. It was a unique experience to say the least and in no way am I ashamed to admit that in terms of [...]

  6. Zack Loughran on August 25th, 2008 11:57 am

    those videos were sweet! keep ‘em coming mate!

  7. Sor Vorapin Gym Review | Fight Passport on September 18th, 2008 6:57 am

    [...] the Sor Vorapin gym is very overpriced. Especially when you consider that you can get a session at Sityodtong or Scorpion gym for half the cost. Fairtex was 800 baht per session but that price is justifiable [...]

  8. Sawadee (Goodbye) Pattaya | Fight Passport on October 12th, 2008 9:05 am

    [...] from the seemingly thousands of insanely beautiful women, Pattaya also offers great training. Sityodtong was awesome, as was Scorpion. I’ve spent the last month training exclusively at Scorpion as it [...]

  9. Terence on January 16th, 2010 7:45 pm

    Someone should do a video documentary about muay thai. Its influence in thailand and around the world. I’m up for it if anyone is keen to =)

  10. Pei on March 18th, 2010 8:40 pm

    I know it’s been a while since you posted this, but thought you’d find this article very inspirational: http://www.menshealth.com.sg/guy-wisdom/mh-interview-yoddecha-sityodtong

  11. Elaine Mair on March 24th, 2011 6:07 am

    I read your article and i was encouraged to see the way in which these kids are taken into a new family and shown a new skill. My son is 8 now and has trained Muay Thai since he was 5 for 2 – 4 days per week. He has a few fights under his belt and wants to learn more about the sport. He wants to train with Thai kids in Thailand and we are hoping to go to Thailand later on the year. Do you think that this club would allow a Scottish boy to train for a few weeks?

  12. Sor Klinmee, Sitpholek, Sityodtong, Cho Nateetong Gym Pattaya | Fight Passport on April 7th, 2012 12:30 pm

    [...] The gym I finished off training at is Sityodtong. I had trained there before a few years ago and my initial impressions of it here and here. [...]

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