This is the story of a professional Muay Thai fighter who spent three years at the Muay Thai training camps Thailand. Training and fighting in the toughest areas of the country of origin of Muay Thai.
Who is Aaron Jahn?
I’m a retired fighter and trainee teacher currently studying a Professional Graduate Certificate in Education on a full-time basis here in the UK. Most people outside my circle of friends know me as the dude behind Muay Thai Scholar.
Sport: Muay Thai
Professional Fights: 22
Best Wins: vs Chanchai Kietavorn (Thai Fight) | vs Carl N’Daiye (Max Muay Thai)
Biggest Fight Purse: $5,000 (Max Muay Thai silver belt tournament runner-up)
Tell us About Thailand…
Having trained in various martial arts throughout my life, I decided that I would dive deeper into Muay Thai during my summer break from University in 2011. I had nothing better to do at that time and the Muay Thai gyms in my area were awful. So, at the age of 26 and two thirds of the way through my degree, I travelled to Thailand to train at a few of the Muay Thai camps there and break my way into the fight scene.
Towards the end of the trip, I ran out of money and my airline wouldn’t allow me to bring the date of my return flight forward, so I asked my trainer if I could live in his gym and fight at the local stadium for money. Thankfully, he agreed to let me stay at the gym for free, train for free, and eat for free, providing I represented the gym at fight nights in Koh Samui. I fought five times during that trip, winning two, losing two and drawing one.
After that trip, I decided I wanted to fight for a living. I didn’t care about making loads of money or getting a respectable job in the UK – I just wanted to fight. I planned to finish my degree and then head back to Thailand to become a professional fighter.
I didn’t bring a lot of money on my return journey and arrived in Bangkok with £100 in my pocket. From that moment on I fought for a living and ended up staying for a total of three years.
What’s a Typical Day at a Muay Thai Training Camp Thailand for a Fighter?
We train twice a day for a total of six hours. Routines differ from gym-to-gym but they usually look something like this;
06:00 Morning run (6-10km)
07:00 Light shadow and bag work/light clinching or play sparring
15:30 Afternoon run (3-5km)
16:00 Afternoon training session; 3 rounds of shadow work | 1 hour of clinching | 5 rounds of bag work | 3-5 rounds of sparring | Supplementary conditioning work
How Much Money Can You Earn as a Fighter in Thailand?
This completely depends on your level. I fought for around £50 in my first fight; it was held in a random car park in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand and I got my ass kicked by an old Thai fighter with a beer gut. I wasn’t ready for the fight as I had only been training for a couple of weeks but I didn’t want to turn down a challenge. I learnt my lesson.
Once I built up a name for myself in the smaller stadiums around Thailand such as Koh Samui and Phuket, I got asked to fight on bigger shows in Thailand and abroad where I usually made around $2,000 per fight.
What Was Your Toughest Fight?
The two fights I had in the Max Muay Thai tournament were probably my toughest fights. I got my rib broken in the first ten seconds of the first fight and was knocked down twice in the first round. I won that fight on points.
The second fight of the night took about an hour after the first and the Thai fighter knew I had a broken rib. He went straight to work on it, knocking me down three times in the first round.
How Do You Make Money Online?
This isn’t something I knew how to do when I first went to Thailand so I had to live off my fight purses. When I returned home for rest periods, I decided to try and make money online to supplement my lifestyle in Thailand so I didn’t have to fight every couple of weeks as it was really taking its toll on my body.
I began by building big Facebook pages on literally any topic such as humour, fitness and anything else I could think of, and linking out to affiliate sites. I had over a million Facebook likes all in all and I would get paid something like $.10 per 1,000 clicks. This was in 2013 and we were still experiencing the “golden era” of making money on Facebook. At that time, I was making more money than I had ever made doing a “real” job, but my fortunes changed instantly when Facebook altered their algorithm and began hiding posts from page likers. I ditched that idea about a year later.
I realised that relying on social media for any type of income is very transient and that my monthly income could change in the blink of an eye. If the aim is to grow your blog for whatever reason then investing time (and perhaps money) into quality content and getting ranked higher in Google searches is a much better foundation to build your site on than having tons of followers on Facebook who rarely see your posts.
In my experience, providing a product or service online provides a more stable income. I’m currently doing this by providing video editing and writing services on sites like Upwork.
What Goes into Your Backpack?
Where’s the Best Place to Book a Flight?
Every flight I’ve booked to Thailand has been through Momondo. This site searches thousands of flights from different airlines and give you the most competitive price
How Do You Book Your Accommodation?
I don’t think I’ve ever booked ahead! I’ve used Airbnb here in England a few times when I’ve needed accommodation in different parts of the country and I’ve had a great experience with those.
What are the Best Muay Thai Brands?
Twins, Fairtex and Yokkao.
How do You Balance Work/College/Training/Life?
The key is a good morning routine! A good morning routine is an essential element of every athlete’s life and a big contributor to success. When you train Muay Thai at a serious gym in Thailand, one of the first things you’ll realise is that all the gym’s fighters are up at the crack of dawn to get their running shoes on. Road work is a crucial part of a Muay Thai fighter’s conditioning program in Thailand, and it’s done first thing in the morning before breakfast.
I find that if I don’t do my first training session of the day early in the morning I end up wasting a lot of time trying to cram a session in later and miss out on the best part of the day. Not only that, the discipline I instil in myself by waking up early and starting my day with exercise spills over into every part of my life, and I find that my days are much more productive that way. Training in a fasted state is also my preferred way to train and this isn’t possible if I train later in the day on a full stomach.
What Do You Want to Achieve in the Next Year?
A Master’s degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science and some outdoor qualifications such as mountaineering and climbing. My aim in the near future is just to help people get healthy.
What Advice Would You Give to an Up-and-Coming Thai Boxer?
Be sensible! I’ve been reckless in the past and I’ve paid the price. Travelling to Thailand to fight the toughest guys in the world with no money and no travel insurance is stupid. My advice would be; work hard, save your money and build your foundations before you go.
If you plan on fighting for a living then you’ll need spare cash for when you are beaten up and you can’t fight. If you plan on making money online while you’re travelling then you need to have consistent income for at least a year before you go as things in the online world can change very fast. If you want to supplement your income by working abroad then you may need some qualifications before you go so start working towards those.
More than anything else, you need to build resilience. It’s a tough life and you’ll have to deal with a lot of crap and take a lot of punishment both physically and mentally for the sport and the lifestyle you love. If you can’t deal with waking up early and training first thing in the morning, eating the right foods, or having self-discipline, then you can forget doing this for a living.
If you’d like the chance to live an epic trip abroad for free, consider sharing your adventure dream with us and you could be jetting off to paradise to do the thing you love most.
Find Aaron in the Viral Dreaming Inspire Me section.
Aaron is an ex-pro Thai boxer and sports science graduate who has spent years training and fighting in Thailand. We’d love to read your comments or questions about a life dedicated to Muay Thai.