At the age of 18, Jaems Yip started his journey into western boxing while in Australia. Shortly after, he was introduced to Muay Thai which started him on this path. After learning more Muay Thai while in Singapore, he then started to train in Hong Kong. He went on to bounce around a few gyms before finally coming home, where he eventually settled at Cross Muay Thai.
The idea to form Cross Muay Thai was first conceived back in 2015. Since then the Cross Muay Thai family has grown to over 5000 members and counting. Cross Muay Thai exists with a very simple aim, to provide the most authentic form of Muay Thai to be appreciated by people from all walks of life.
Tell us a little bit about Cross Muay Thai.
Jaems: It is a martial arts gym focused mainly on Muay Thai and Boxing. What we really aim to do is to break away from the stereotype of what a Muay Thai gym is like. This is why you will not find dragons, fire, skulls, etc as part of our branding as we aim to present a more neutral and non-confrontational setting for people to learn and appreciate this ancient art form.
What is the stereotype you feel people have of a Muay Thai Gym?
Jaems: For a long time, Muay Thai has been viewed as an art that is aggressive, violent, and male-dominated. Muay Thai gyms have always been known as a rough place to “rough it out”. While this view is not necessarily wrong, it is also not important. Our gym provides an environment that is clean, friendly, welcoming, and conducive while still learning the pure, undiluted artform.
What is Muay Thai?
Jaems: Muay translates to boxing, so it all loosely translates to Thai Boxing. Muay Thai is derived from an ancient art form Muay Boran and unlike its traditional cousin, Muay Thai sees the introduction of certain things like boxing gloves to make it more universally acceptable. It has the nickname the art of 8 limbs as it utilizes 8 points of contact namely, 2 fists, 2 elbows, 2 knees, and 2 shins. Muay Thai also teaches the sweeps and clinches which is a Thai version of stand-up grappling.
Muay Thai has now become a martial art very popular among Malaysians, why do you think that is?
Jaems: To be honest, I think the rise in popularity of mixed martial arts (MMA) around the world which is led mainly by UFC in the northern hemisphere and ONE FC in the southern hemisphere has really helped boost the position of Muay Thai. When I had first started learning about 20 years ago, there were not that many gyms available but today, the gym market is truly vibrant with a Muay Thai gym in almost every single housing development.
With the current pandemic ongoing, how important is learning a martial art like Muay Thai and keeping yourself healthy?
Jaems: During these unprecedented times, we are seeing more and more people turn to fitness to keep themselves occupied and in good shape. It does not just have to be Muay Thai, it could be anything and it is extremely encouraging to see this among Malaysians. We are very happy to see more and more Malaysians walking around their taman, going out for jogs, and heading to their local gyms. For us, we have seen all our members (and more) starting to come back. Our challenge now is to keep the gym we love clean and safe for everyone.
Many issues regarding racial harmony have been highlighted this year in our country. How does a martial art like Muay Thai help curb these issues we face?
Jaems: Like any other sport, it helps break a lot of racial barriers we have and bring everyone closer together. I always encourage people to attend a Muay Thai event at least once as Muay Thai truly a beautiful sight. You see fighters from all corners of the globe getting together to showcase a sport we all know and love. After everything, in the end, it is all hugs, cheers, and congratulations.
What advice would you give someone who is just thinking about starting their Muay Thai journey?
Jaems: I think the advice is the same as to be good at anything, you need to be mildly obsessed. Keep training regularly even if your body is slightly tired, just keep pushing. Turning up at the gym is already half the battle won. Find a good trainer that will always push you to ensure you do not give up.
Where can people go to get started with Cross Muay Thai?Jaems: We are on Instagram and Facebook as Cross Muay Thai. We also have a website, www.crossmuaythai.com, and are available on WhatsApp, +60127038317, but the best way to reach us would be to drop by the gym and say hello.