If you really think you can learn Muay Thai from an instructional video in the comfort of your living room, think again.
Most of us have at some time stood in front of a mirror imitating punches and kicks that we saw in a movie or at a fighting match, and aspired to perfect methods to kick some serious butt. However, learning how to fight from a champion trainer in a proper gym with the right equipment and a real opponent is a whole different experience – one that involves a high adrenalin rush.
There are many martial arts techniques that are taught in Jakarta such as karate, capoeira, Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, Aikido and many more. They are popular among Jakartans, and each has its own unique fighting style that can be learned either for self-defense or to get fit.
At Baan Muay Thai Club in Kemang, trainers and students explore one of the combat sports that originated in Thailand. Muay Thai means “Art of Eight Limbs,” because its points of contact involve punches, kicks, elbows and knees.
“For those who are not familiar with it they probably can’t differentiate between Muay Thai and kickboxing, but if you look closely our style is very different, and we use elbows and knees to strike,” says Ochit, manager of Baan Muay Thai.
The school was founded in late 2007 by a small community of guys who had been practicing Muay Thai since 2003. They decided to start the school because of the strong demand for martial arts training in the city.
“At that time, we had not seen any progress and development of Muay Thai in Jakarta,” Ochit says. “We were doing this as a hobby and practiced together among friends, but then we realized that there’s an opportunity to try to revive the old gym and create a new concept.”
Baan Muay Thai Club is owned by Francois Mohede, one of the vocalists for the pop band Lingua. His vision was simply to introduce Muay Thai to Indonesians and teach them that that the sport is not only a high impact martial art, but also a way to boost stamina, achieve an ideal body shape and tone muscles. But Muay Thai is not only a way to get fit; it can also be a lifestyle.
The club offers two kinds of classes: My Muay Thai, the regular training class, and Cardio Muay Thai, which uses Muay Thai techniques to create a calorie-burning workout.
“Basically, both classes use the same techniques, but we use the word ‘cardio’ to make it sound less frightening for beginners,” Ochit says. “The only difference is that Cardio Muay Thai focuses on repetition movements to burn calories and have fun, while My Muay Thai focuses on practicing sparring to learn your skills.”
As beginners will discover, Muay Thai is a simple sport to learn – anyone can do it. If you know how to punch and kick, you just have to polish and develop your style and technique to do it the right way. The club provides all of the necessary equipment such as gloves, guards, punching bags and mats. Members only need to provide fighting hand wraps.
Since it opened, Baan Muay Thai has attracted more than 1,800 members and has 300 active students from many different countries.
“In the morning, you see some women come for self defense, but most of the ladies come here to get fit,” Ochit says. “In the evening, there are more teenagers and students that want to relieve stress, you know, from traffic jams – they just want to punch something.”
Prices for My Muay Thai lessons range between Rp 300,000 and Rp 550,000 depending on the number of sessions. A single Cardio Muay Thai lesson costs Rp 60,000, or you can choose a package of eight sessions for Rp 420,000. The sessions have anywhere from five to as many as 30 or so participants.
Currently, Baan Muay Thai has five trainers, including two professional fighters, Ankie and Denny.
“Ankie was a student and he’s been training for two years,” Ochit says. “We saw his development and improvement, so we sponsored him to fight, and now he is one of our trainers.”
In addition to providing classes, Baan Muay Thai also participates in international fighting tournaments and sponsors fighters to represent the club. In May this year, both Denny and Ankie won a tournament in Phuket, Thailand.
On July 9, Baan Muay Thai will host Indonesia’s first Muay Thai tournament. The event will be held in Seminyak, Bali, next to the beach with international fighters and participants from eight countries including Thailand, Australia, Spain and New Zealand.
“It will be an exciting event, especially for the Muay Thai community in Indonesia,” says Ochit.
Iwan Putuhena Reports
Original article was published in Kemang Buzz
Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz