Find out what it’s all about and where you can give it a shot
Time Out Bahrain staff
We find out what it’s all about and where you can give it a shot.
Known as the ‘art of eight weapons’ this traditional Thai martial art uses not just fists and feet but also knees and elbows – not surprisingly it’s recognised as one of the most brutal martial arts in the world partly because the training hardens the body as a whole and partly because its striking uses some of the hardest bones in the body.
Amwaj-based personal trainer Cody Burchall recently returned from a Muay Thai workshop in Thailand. She told us: “It was incredibly hard work, training four or five hours a day and not just Muay Thai but also general fitness training for a couple of hours a day and then yoga as well.”
Cody teaches ultimate boxing which combines western boxing techniques with some foot work common to kick boxing and, though she plans to incorporate some of what she learned into her classes, she added: “I won’t be teaching pure Muay Thai, you have to study for years for that, but some of the fitness techniques we learned will certainly make their way into my sessions, my clients are going to find themselves working a heck of a lot harder than they’re used to.”
South East Asian martial arts have a history dating back several hundred, and some would say more than a thousand, years.
Since the Angkor kingdom of modern day Cambodia once ruled much of South East Asia, it’s believed virtually all forms on kick boxing originated with the early Khmers.
Originally practised with bare hands and feet, the colonial era saw boxing gloves introduced in an attempt to lessen injuries though, in some cases, boxers actually wrapped seashells around their knuckles to inflict maximum damage!
With a pedigree like that, it’s no surprise that the resulting sport of Muay Thai can be so harsh.
In the 19th century Thailand’s king, Rama V, took an active interest setting up Muay Thai camps and later Rama VII, who ruled from 1925-1935, pushed for a set of rules to be introduced. During his reign gloves took over from the traditional rope bindings on the hands after a death in the ring and coverlets were introduced for the feet.
In the 21st century Muay Thai has enjoyed ever-growing popularity in the field of mixed martial arts with some aspects of traditional western boxing even being incorporated.
Almost all techniques involve rotating the whole body with each punch, kick, elbow or block and the integration of Western boxing punches means fighters use a vast array of punches from the traditional Western hook and uppercut to the spinning backfist – a blow using the two main knuckles of a fisted hand, delivered while spinning towards your opponent – and the cobra punch – in which the rear leg is brought forward to feign a kick, then snapped back while throwing a cross blow.
The two most common forms of kick are the foot jab and roundhouse, kicking upwards under the arm and ribs but it is with the use of the knees that the real brutality of the sport can be seen with moves such as a straight knee strike where the fighter can simply knee his or her opponent or, if holding in a clinch, can bring the knee up to aim for the other fighter’s face!
But it’s not all about getting battered. Muay Thai is very big on defensive moves such as blocking, evading and redirecting blows.
And for those who like the idea of the moves but are perhaps not so keen on the more aggressive side of the sport, it’s worth remembering that Muay Thai has a strong focus on getting the body ring-ready so any good training regime will also include fitness training such as running, rope skipping, weights and shadow boxing.
Think you’re tough enough and want to give it a go? Bahrain Muay Thai has classes for kids, beginners, seniors and advanced on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-9.30pm. The cost is BD25 for a month’s classes and they’re in Manama opposite the water garden beside Alhawaj building. Call (34 361 565).
If you want something slightly less brutal but equally effective, check out Cody’s Ultimate Boxing classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9.45am and Sundays and Tuesdays at 7pm. Call (37 743 431).
Young footballers heading for Manchester United
One of the largest football scouting programmes for young players in Bahrain gets underway again as VIVA, in association with Manchester United, brings back the highly successful VIVA Manchester United Soccer School (MUSS) programme.
The community-driven initiative will give 22 promising boys and girls, aged of 13-15 years, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend a week-long training camp at the Manchester United Soccer School in the UK.
Schools across Bahrain have a chance to nominate and register their best teams until May 11 at the VIVA Manchester United zone, Bahrain City Centre, and compete in a nation-wide selection tournament.
From May 16-18, the kids will get to show off their footballing prowess through a series of selection criteria including with an inter-school tournament overseen by coaches from the Manchester Uniter Soccer School.
The 22 top players will be picked from the football try-outs who will go on to win a week of expert football training sponsored by VIVA Bahrain from June 30 to July 6 with Man Utd in the UK. For more information check www.viva.com.bh or visit the VIVA Manchester United Soccer School zone at Bahrain City Centre until May 11.