Now this is a camp that most people other love or loathe.
It is definitely by far the most popular camp in the country for foreigners to go to and the size and expanse of this place is testament to that. I’ll get into that in a bit but let me go over my own personal experience with Tiger Muay Thai.
I trained here for the first time about 4 years ago, for approximately a month. At that time it was not as big as it is now but it was definitely big by Muay Thai camp standards.
Overall my experience was mixed. I liked the trainers and they were nice to me and most of the people at the camp were friendly as well. What I did not like was the attitude of the administration when I first arrived, it was way, way too commercial for my tastes. They would not even let me put my bags in the room until they took me to an ATM to withdraw money. I had just gotten to Phuket from Bangkok on a crappy bus and just wanted to put my stuff away and take a shower.
I came there to train in MMA, but ended up doing mostly Muay Thai because the trainers asked me if I wanted to fight and I agreed. That ended up being a bit of a mistake since I had never sparred and definitely never sparred hard. Two days before my fight some wannabe bad ass who had a lot more experience I did busted my nose pretty good, the trainers were not happy with that. I fought in the end and lost.
My thoughts as I left on that trip were that the camp was too commercial and money oriented and that there were a lot of people with attitude problems who were allowed free reign on the camp. The training was good and I got into good shape. I was probably ill prepared to fight and kind of pushed into it before I was ready but that’s pretty much the standard across Thailand anyway.
I came to Phuket many time after that trip to Tiger Muay Thai but I never trained at Tiger again. Main reason for that was that I was not interested in training any MMA but only Muay Thai. I was living in the USA at the time and so I was getting plenty of good BJJ there.
Now that I live in Pakistan, Thailand is not only the place to learn Muay Thai but a place to sharpen other skills needed in MMA, like take downs and submissions. The original plan was to train only at Phuket Top Team, but I figured I would take one day at Tiger since I started lifting weights again and on top of that I would have a bit more material for my blog and would be able to write a comparison between what are the two main MMA camps in Southern Thailand.
So when I arrived in Phuket, I had time to do one training session and I headed over to Tiger. First of all, Holy Crap is this place big. It was big when I was there four years but now it is absolutely MASSIVE. I’m talking about 8 rings, a cage, loads of mat space, a weight lifting area, a restaurant. This thing is not a Muay Thai camp, its a Muay Thai compound. To be honest it was really overwhelming and I felt like I was gonna get lost in the place.
I signed up for a half day and headed to the cage where the MMA training area is. There I met TMT Head MMA coach Ray Elbe. Ray Elbe has a bit of a reputation for having an attitude, something you hear about from people who have trained at Tiger or have experience with him. Recently he had a bit of a row with the team of India’s premiere MMA camp, Tiger’s Gym. There seems to have been some bad blood you can read more about it HERE. He fought the gyms standout fighter, Alan Fernandes and won by tapout.
I had these preconceptions of him when I first trained but I think they were exaggerated. He is a nice guy and is a very good trainer. I think any attitude that people may experience may be because the guy has to deal with a lot of annoying new guys. The guy is trying to work on his fight career and at the same time often has to baby sit a bunch of people brand new to MMA who will complain if they are not getting personal attention from Ray. As an instructor I have these same frustrations so I can understand the initial barrier that people may have to get through. I noticed with myself that Ray wasn’t exactly happy friendly teletubby guy with me but after he noticed that I was there to learn and that he didn’t have to hold my hand and show me what mount was, his whole demeanor changed. So quite frankly, I have to say that this guy is probably misunderstood by most.
Anyway, back to the training. The system they have is pretty good, class starts with people warming up and shadowboxing by themselves and then going 3 x 5 minute rounds on the pads with a Thai trainer. Once that’s done it’s time to spar 3-4 more rounds and then a specific MMA technique. In this case it was controlling the guy in a crucifix like position from side control.
Once the MMA class was done, I used the weight room. Kind of small if you were just here to lift weights and wanted lots and lots of cool machines but it still had everything a person needed to get stronger.
After doing some weights, I made it back out to join the wrestling class which is headed by a new instructor at TMT, named JJ Ambrose. Very good class! I had a lot of fun in that class since I have not had too many chances to train in freestyle wrestling. Worked on some basic stuff and that’s exactly what I needed.
I may do another post about this place but basically to sum it up. This place has a lot of good resources and good trainers. The downside though is that it way too big for my tastes. You could spend months here and not even get to know everyones name. Of course the more people you have the less of a team atmosphere can develop and then of course the greater the chance of running into some a holes. But its a great place and I see why people come to train here, but I personally would not be able to do it long term. I just need that smaller, family like atmosphere. Which I got from Phuket Top Team and will be the topic of my next post.