Last time we talked I was in Bangladesh and couldn't go to Myanmar because the land border was totally locked. I had to fly to Thailand for what I hope will be the last flight for this project. I arrived in Bangkok and planned to visit as much of the northern part of the country as possible and keep the south for April to May.
I had good contacts with some judoka. It started at the Kon Dojo where I met Mo who leads the dojo. This Dojo is called Kon because of Kazuki, a Japanese coach who I'll talk about later as I met him in Laos. Mo and Kazuki built this place. Kon Dojo is a private club that mixes judo for tourists and more serious training.
It was very interesting to be part of this group as Mo himself has dreamt of doing something similar to what I'm doing but for personal reasons he never did. He decided to support my project and took good care of me, giving me contacts for my next countries.
Despite the recent improvements in the ‘buy me a coffee’ strategy, I am still struggling with my finances due the circumstances of the past months. To solve this, I decided to leverage a popular tourist attraction in Thailand to help my project.
Many people visit the country for their fighting sports tradition. With this in mind, I reached out to several gyms to offer my services and demonstrate how judo could benefit their daily practices. I knew that these institutions typically have healthier financial situations in this part of the world, particularly due to the high demand from tourists.
I was fortunate enough to find one gym, Bangkok Fight Labs, which welcomed me with open arms. So, for several weeks, I ran a judo course which I customised based on the participants' preferences. When wearing a judogi I provided kumi-kata advice and when not, I focused on the logic behind movements. However, I noticed that most people enjoy learning ashi-waza the most. Recently, I conducted a two-hour session, which turned out to be very successful, both in terms of the participants' satisfaction and my financial gain.
During that time, we also did a mini judo seminar organised by SAT Judo, which was held in the Sport Authority of Thailand. The event was made more enjoyable through the participation of another club.
I came to know about this location through my French friend, Morgan Girardeau, who completed a world tour of 42 countries and motivated me to pursue my own project. However, during the seminar, the teacher informed me about the tough situation that Thailand's judo community has been facing since the Covid pandemic. Sadly, this situation seems to be prevalent in many countries worldwide, with people still struggling to cope with the aftermath of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the seminar was a great success, with many smiles and delicious food shared amongst the participants after the judo.
After bidding farewell to the bustling city, I journeyed to Chonburi, a quiet city nestled between Bangkok and Pattaya. My primary objective was to observe a judo group affiliated with a school.
The city itself was a serene coastal haven, free from any tourists, with only Thai locals in sight. I spent three tranquil days there, relishing the calming atmosphere.
Upon visiting the school, I was delighted to see that the group was composed of both judo and para-judo practitioners, with around 40 young athletes in attendance. The training was markedly different from what I had observed in the past few months.
The teacher played music throughout the session, which is something I had seen in several other locations. However, he also utilised a karaoke microphone to provide guidance, which was both surprising and effective. The athletes repetitively practised specific exercises, with most judoka performing the same side and style, etc. The session lasted for approximately three hours, with me showing a bit of ne-waza before engaging in some randori with the group.
The ambiance was reminiscent of the training I had seen in some parts of Japan, with everyone being exceptionally friendly. I even had the opportunity to spar with some members of the para judo team. Following the training, we spent time in the school cafeteria before I made my way back to my hotel.
The next day, I was off to my final destination in the northern part of Thailand, Khon Kaen. Once again, it was a non-touristic city and I was delighted to be there.
I met with Kris, a fantastic person with a fabulous judo set-hp. He built his dojo right in his home’s backyard! This is the epitome of passion, as he can conduct judo classes at a significantly lower cost than most and is open every day.
During my stay, I had the chance to meet his judo squad and wow, did they embody some fantastic values! They even introduced me to the wonders of Thai massage but let me tell you, those masseurs nearly killed me! If you're brave enough, you can check out the video of my experience on my channel, it's worth a watch!
Staying at that dojo was an absolute blast! I didn't just attend one class, I was there for almost a week and we got to experience so many different things and develop strong relationships.
It was soon time for me to move on to Laos. In my next article, I'll be combining my experiences in the next three countries, visited for just over a month. It was a bit of a whirlwind tour as I had to rush to meet my mother.
Don’t worry, dear readers, this isn't the end of my journey. In fact, I've been preparing a website where you can follow my adventures in even greater detail. Stay tuned for updates!