I have been getting a lot of emails recently from people who are also interested in training Muay Thai in Thailand, although they want to wait until their skill or fitness is at a higher level.
I suppose the idea is that they don't feel that they are good enough to train at the level that would be expected if they were training in Thailand. There is less truth in that statement than one would believe. Training in Thailand is a great experience and I recommend it to anyone. Here are a couple things to keep in mind regarding your skill and fitness before deciding you are not ready to train in Thailand.
Get Ready To Relearn From The Start – Here is the thing, no matter how long you have trained in Muay Thai, you will always have something to learn, and the trainers will always have something to teach you, or improve about your technique.
Before going to Thailand I had trained Muay Thai for 1 year, anywhere from 4-6 times a week. I was in pretty good shape and my technique was pretty good. When I arrived in Thailand, and started training, almost everything about my form and technique was altered by my trainers. This isn't because I was doing things wrong or incorrect, it's just that there are different ways to do things. Throughout the world, each instructor will have slight variations on style and technique. In fact, you will find if you journey to different camps that different camps will teach things differently… possibly even different instructors within the same camp. Something as simple as your stance will be tweaked and corrected by your trainers in Thailand.
With that being said, if you are new to Muay Thai, you may be at an advantage. Why is that??? Well, it's pretty simple actually… there is nothing to "unlearn" Since you haven't had a particular stance, or kicked a certain way, you won't have to unlearn that way, and substitute it with your new method. In fact, at the camp I was at, almost every day there was a new person showing up who had never trained Muay Thai before. The main point here is that whether you are a newbie or a vet, when you head to Thailand everyone is basically on an even playing field, so don't be fearful about your skill level.
There is no better way to get in shape than training Muay Thai directly in Thailand. I don't care what camp you train at, you are going to get in shape faster in Thailand on a "training holiday" than you would in your own town.
There are many reasons for this including the warm weather, healthy food diet, intense training and lack of life distractions. You will often read stories on websites or forums of people who lost anywhere from 15 – 50 lbs. in a short time of training in Thailand with Muay Thai. That's not to say you shouldn't do a little preparation ahead of time. As I stated before, I was training intensely for about 1 year, although I only focused on increasing my cardio the month before my trip. I started doing a lot of running for the last 4 weeks before my trip. Even with the great shape I got myself in prior to arriving at camp, I still had more shape to get into. You will get into that extra needed shape quickly with many conditioning exercises such as skipping, running, shadow boxing, etc. on a daily basis. To sum it up, I am pretty much saying the same as above. No matter how good shape you are in, you can always get in better shape, so don't let that deter you from a once in a life time experience.
There is a big difference between thinking you are not at a high enough level to train Muay Thai with the Thai's and that you are not at a high enough level to Fight with the Thai's.
The truth is, to get into a ring and compete it takes a lot of dedication and skill, especially in a country like Thailand. But to get into a gym and train, it simply takes a lot of desire. You just have to want to do it, and you need to have enough follow through to just get in there and give it some effort. You won't be expected to get in a ring and fight Muay Thai when you are in Thailand… in fact, even sparring is voluntary at most gyms. If you are a little gun shy of being hit, and just want to focus on fitness, you can do that as well.