When most people hear the name FA Group, the first thing that comes to mind is Petchboonchu FA Group. Petchboonchu is a Muay Thai legend who dominated the Muay Thai scene with his ferocious clinching abilities, single handedly putting FA Group on the map.
With Petchboonchu’s fierce reputation as the best clincher in Muay Thai, it shouldn’t surprise you that this is a clinching gym.
The bulk of the training revolves around the hour long clinching session that is guaranteed to build up your clinch endurance. Most of their fighters are Muay Khao fighters who come forward with aggression, throwing hard knees in the clinch.
FA Group has a stable of Thai fighters who compete in the top stadiums around Thailand. They have also produced some top foreign fighters like Toby Smith and Victor Nagbe from Australia. One of the long-term foreigners training there is Matt Lucas. Matt works as one of the foreign announcers at Max Muay Thai and is an avid Muay Thai blogger and journalist.
There are a few other long term foreigners like Erik Massion, who has been living and fighting in Thailand for the past 8 years. Erik is the perfect clinching partner if you are a taller foreigner looking for someone to clinch with.
FA Group is one of the easier gyms to access in Bangkok. All you need to do is take the BTS station to Mo Chit and take the number #3 exit. When you walk out of the exit you will see motorbike taxis about 20 meters down the road. Walk up to them and say, “Kaey Muay FA Group.” They will take you to the gym for 20-30 baht. You can walk to the gym, but it would take about 15 minutes and you may get lost without GPS.
I would recommend taking the BTS to Mo Chit because it is easy to get stuck in traffic jams in Bangkok. You never know if a 30-minute ride takes 2 hours if you leave at the wrong time of the day.
The Gym Facilities
When I arrived at FA Group the first thing I noticed the gym looked like it had gone through some recent renovations. Most of the equipment was relatively new and wasn’t worn out yet.
The gym itself is small. There is one ring, 4 heavy bags, and a small area for shadow boxing. If there are a lot of people training at the gym at once, you will probably end up bumping into a few people. This can be a problem if there are a lot of Westerners training at the gym.
There is a small office in the gym where the owner Mr. Liam can be found. He is a very friendly boss who knows a lot of people in the world of Muay Thai. You can pay for your training directly through Mr. Liam when you see him before or after training.
Behind the gym there are a few showers and bathrooms. There is no on site accommodation, but there are plenty of cheap places that you can rent which are situated close to the gym.
The morning sessions begin with a long run at Chatuchak park followed by pad work, clinching, and or some technical sparring. The bulk of your training will be clinching between 40-60 minutes, while the other stuff will fit in between.
The afternoon training starts at 3:00 pm with skipping. The skipping lasts for about 30 minutes, then the fighters jump into the ring for some shadow boxing. After a few rounds of shadow boxing all the fighters jump into the ring to clinch.
I got a chance to clinch with their best fighter Yothin. He is a beast in the clinch that has cardio that will last days long.[embedyt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KRcgw9drLw[/embedyt]
The clinching lasts between 40-60 minutes, and you will change clinching partners throughout this duration. They have a strong stable of fighters who are all actively fighting and in good condition. These guys don’t get tired, no matter how long you clinch for. At the end of the clinching session, my gas tank was pretty much finished before I had even hit the bag or started pad rounds.
Most of their Thai fighters are between 55-65 kg. There were a few big foreigners also at the gym so there are other guys you can clinch with besides the Thais. They paired the people together based on size, so you should be able to find someone your size and level.
After you finish clinching, the trainers gradually call people over for pad rounds. I hit the bag for about 20 minutes before jumping into the ring for pads. They have around 3-4 pad holders at FA Group, that feature a mix of experienced trainers and active fighters.
After all of the fighters finish hitting the pads, the fighters all go for a 30-minute run down the block. The run is optional, so if you aren’t in shape or fighting you don’t have to do it. Following the run, there are a few fighters who run sprints down the road, while others do weights and stretching.
If I had one complaint about FA Group it would be the lack of space. There are only 4 heavy bags, which means you will need to get in line if you want to hit the heavy bag after your clinch session. This gym would be way to crowded if it became popular among the tourist circuit.
FA Group focuses mainly on clinching and less on sparring. This is typical of most Thai gyms in Bangkok. Since the fighters are fighting on a regular 3-4 week schedule, they don’t need to spar often because they already have lots of experience and don’t want to get injured.
FA Group had a mix of about 5-10 foreigners mixed in with their regular Thai fighters at the gym. With their much improved marketing, it wouldn’t shock me if they needed to expand with the influx of foreigners bound to be coming here.
- 1x- 400 baht
- 2x per day 600 baht
- 1 week 4000 Baht (2x per day)
- 2 weeks 7000 Baht (2x per day)
- 1 Month 12000 (2x per day)
A Clinchers Gym
At FA Group, there is a strong emphasis on clinching and conditioning, which are two important ingredients for being ready for a fight. If you trained here for a few months you would develop a very strong clinch if you train on a regular basis.
They let foreigners clinch with their best Thai fighters, which is something that some other gyms don’t do. I got a chance to clinch with Yothin most of the time I was there. He had an endless tank and he kept on pushing forward without ever getting tired.
If you weigh 70 kg or under, you will have a huge selection of high level Thai clinching partners to work with. If you are heavier, there are plenty of foreigners you can clinch with who will fall into the heavier weight categories.
I would recommend this gym to fighters who have an established game and want to strengthen their clinching. If you are still new and learning technique, I would suggest you go to another more beginner friendly gym that does more technique and basic sparring.
That being said, there was an old trainer who showed up (I was told he works at channel 7), who did take people aside and focus solely on technique. If you get called out by this old guy, he will help you work on your Muay Thai technique and rhythm.
Overall, FA Group is an excellent gym that should be on the list of any fighter who is looking to improve their clinching. You won’t learn many clinching techniques here, but you will get stronger. All the trainers and fighters at the gym were super friendly, which is something you look for in a good gym. If this gym isn’t too packed with foreigners, it is a great place to train when you are in Bangkok.