If you could only use one adjective to describe the capital city of Wales, which one would you choose?

‘Green’ would be apt; there are many green spaces in Cardiff. ‘Historic’ would be another good choice; home to Glamorgan Castle and all of its associated legends, one can hardly ignore this city’s long, rich history.

Other adjectives also apply: ‘thriving’, ‘progressive’, ‘connected’ - Cardiff is a part of the Eurocities network, after all.

For our money, the most suitable adjective to describe Wales’ capital city is ‘sporty’, in the sense that Cardiffians must be fond of sports, not that they’re flashy or compact.

There’s the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park and Principality Stadium to watch rugby in.

And then, there are the many football clubs that call Cardiff home: Cardiff City, Metropolitan University, Bridgend Street and Ely Rangers, just to name a few.

And they don’t even include the women’s teams: Cardiff City Ladies, Cardiff Met. Ladies, Cyncoed Ladies and Cardiff City.

Tennis, football, cricket and hockey; biking and hiking and track and field… and boxing, of course. Who could forget Jim Driscoll?

Sports does indeed have a strong presence in Cardiff, so it should come as no surprise that Thai boxing, or Muay Thai would flourish there.

Did you know that Thailand even has a diplomatic presence in Cardiff?

We heard you were looking for your next big thing; could Thai fighting be it? It’s time to set aside your savoury pad thai to join your Superprof in prowling around Caerdydd to find the best Muay Thai clubs.

Maybe we’ll even stop in for a workout...

What Are We Looking For?

If you are interested in becoming a nak muay – what a Muay Thai boxer is called, you have to be in tip-top physical shape.

Actually, unless you are Thai, you would be considered nak muay farang, literally ‘foreign boxer’.

Muay Thai kickboxing is slightly different than Muay Boran
You don't have to travel to Phuket to study and practise Muay Thai boxing Image by Taco Fleur from Pixabay

Practitioners of this ‘art of eight limbs’ use fists, elbows, knees and shins to strike their opponents. They also use foot thrusts – not exactly kicks and clinches, which give the most advantageous use of knees and elbows.

The kicks used in Muay Thai are more like snap-kicks; they are generally used to keep distance, block an opponent’s move or as a defence manoeuvre.

Other defences include blocking, maybe a shin block or a forearm block to prevent a blow to the head; evasion, meaning that you move your body out of your opponent’s range and avoidance: moving your targeted body part out of the way while remaining in range for you to strike a blow.

By far the most exciting defensive move is when you anticipate your opponent’s blow, catch it and counter it with a strike of your own.

From these abbreviated descriptions, you can see that Muay Thai is a combat sport; one that is growing ever more popular in fighting circles in general and in fitness circles in particular.

If you are interested in becoming a Muay Thai fighter, you should know that the focus is not on fighting but on conditioning your body and mind for the fight.

To that end, Muay Thai techniques for training are particularly rigorous, involving:

  • running (to build endurance)
  • shadowboxing (to gain precision)
  • isometric and calisthenic exercises (to promote strength and fluidity of movement, respectively)
  • rope jumping (a great cardio workout and for building stamina)
  • core training (build balance, spine stabilisation)
  • medicine ball work (overall fitness, endurance, stability and core strength)
  • bag work (accuracy, speed and cortical remodelling)

Additionally, a trainer might use focus mitts to help their fighter build speed and accuracy as well as practice combinations – say, a kick, a punch and an elbow strike, in rapid succession.

Naturally, sparring plays a big role in Muay Thai so your trainer might send you into the ring after your conditioning work.

However, if you are looking at Muay Thai training as the ultimate workout with no intention of becoming a fighter, you may be spared the sparring part of the training.

Find out if Muay Thai fighters in Glasgow have it that good…

For these types of kicks, you will definitely need shin pads
You'll note that, with this roundhouse kick, it is the shin rather than the foot that makes primary contact Image by Christopher Chiu from Pixabay

Muay Thai Gyms for Training

You might think that Muay Thai, being a combat sport, is meant for adult only – adult males, specifically. Why not let Eagles Thai Boxing show you differently?

Master Peter Stewart found his calling in the early 80s, after spending years of study in the martial arts.

Disciplined in Shotokan karate and Tae Kwon Do, he applied what he learned in those arts to boxing – an added dimension of his personal journey in training.

As so often happens when a remarkable athlete is discovered or a new discipline is introduced, Peter became curious about the fighters he had been hearing about around the gym.

Irresistibly drawn, Peter made his way to the Muay Thai club in Manchester and soon started training under one of the three masters, soon earning his instructor stripes.

He then returned to Wales to establish Eagles Gym Wales, first in his hometown of Barry and, once its success was assured, he opened another branch in Cardiff.

One of his fellow fighters who trained with him in Manchester, Nigel Howlett, helped him get things up and running and then left to open Muay Thai clubs in London.

Today, Muay Thai Eagles Wales trains male and female fighters as well as younger fighters.

You might not think that children learning a combat sport at a young age is a good idea but, remember: Muay Thai is equal parts of discipline, fortitude and strength.

What parent wouldn’t want to reinforce those qualities in their children?

Furthermore, you should know that Muay Thai Eagles Wales is affiliated with the International Federation of Muay Thai and the World Muay Thai Council, two bodies that oversee training and safety requirements for all Muay Thai fighters.

Do you know of any Muay Thai clubs in Birmingham that are similarly affiliated?

Muay Thai Clubs for Fitness

To be a Muay Thai fighter, you must make a commitment to fitness; of all the combat sports, it is the most rigorous and the most demanding.

That means that its rewards are exponential!

Whereas nac muay in Thailand enjoy relatively short careers – they fight much more often than we do, our nac muay farang can follow the fighter’s training regimen without ever confronting an opponent in the ring if they do not wish to.

That is why you are likely to find people streaming into The Hanger on Friday nights, around 5 PM to attend Muay Thai training sessions.

This class is a great way to burn off the stress of your week! First, you will do a few warmup rounds and then, it’s time to hit the bags. Kick them too, of course.

If you are not convinced that a combat sport is for you but you still want to attain that level of fitness and gain the mental discipline of a martial artist, why not try kickboxing?

Thai kickboxing is similar to Muay Thai. It demands the same level of training and yields just about the same benefits but relies much more on footwork. By necessity, there is a great focus on balance, power and precision.

You can gain all of these qualities and more at The Hangar during their Friday night classes. They are open to both men and women, run from 7:30 to 9PM and cost only £5 per lesson.

These classes are not meant to train you for the ring; this version of kickboxing is of the no-contact variety. In other words, there will be no sparring, just getting fit and learning the techniques that nac muay employ.

That’s the type of fun that the whole family can enjoy! Do you know which Muay Thai clubs near me offer that type of workout?

Children learn knee strikes and grappling early in Phuket
In Thailand, children start boxing training very early Image by palapon from Pixabay

The Future of Muay Thai in Cardiff

From the growing interest in martial arts training all over the UK, we could say that the future of Muay Thai boxing is secure.

And, if any other boxing gym does what Eagle has done for the sport, we can look forward to exciting bouts in all weight classes for years to come. Not to say that those masters at Eagle don’t already do their utmost; they've turned out several world-class fighters.

What if you're not interested in fighting; you just want to get in shape?

You can sign up for their no-contact kickboxing classes… and then, who knows? You too may become so enthralled with the discipline that you will start training for full contact fighting.

You don’t have to have a violent streak to learn Muay Thai, nor do you have to be immediately concerned for your physical safety to learn a few self-defense moves from these classes.

Muay Thai is not about the clinch and the punches!

It is about discipline, strategy and endurance. It is about becoming the ultimate you through trials and tests of strength – it is, indeed, a martial art: a balance between the mental and the physical.

Aren’t we all engaged in that eternal balancing act?

Now discover the best Muay Thai clubs in Belfast.

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A vagabond traveler whose first love is the written word, I advocate for continuous learning, cycling, and the joy only a beloved pet can bring. There is plenty else I am passionate about, but those three should do it, for now.