By: Greg Thomposn
What really got me hooked on my MuayThai wasn’t the awesome fighting techniques or the excellent exercise, but the community that’s built around the art. I got my start in Muay Thai at a small gym in Oregon where, overtime, my coaches and training partners became like family to me. I stayed with that gym for 5 years before moving to Philadelphia, PA. Leaving that gym was very hard for me and not only was I worried about finding a new gym, but also a new community.
Moving to Philly was rough. It was late August and brutally hot and humid and I was living in my car while looking for an apartment and working for a seedy masonry company. I didn’t know anyone, or really anything, about the city and was wondering if I had made the right choice. I wanted to get right back into training but I knew it was going to take me a while to establish myself in a new city. In the meantime, I had researched every gym in the area. There are many great Muay Thai gyms in Philly, but 8 Limbs was first on my list. I had heard of 8 Limbs Academy through a mutual friend and former training partner of the gym owners Kate and Charlie Allen-Cattone who went to support Kate in Washington state when she won the WBC belt in 2017. He highly recommended 8 Limbs because he knew I valued a community based training style.
I saw on the 8 Limbs website they would not be accepting new members for a month because Charlie and Kate were about to have a baby. I knew I had to go in ASAP to secure a spot. I went in for my first class the next day. The energy in 8 Limbs was palpable, the class was packed with people smashing dutch drills with music blasting. I talked to the receptionist who told me I could watch the class. I pleaded with her to let me train and told her I had a mutual friend with Kate and Charlie. Charlie walked over, laughed at me, and told me to get my gear.
A couple months later, my original Muay Thai coach in Oregon passed away and shortly after, their gym was robbed. When I told Charlie and Kate about this they donated TONS of gear to my old gym which allowed them to continue having classes. To me, this represents what Muay Thai is all about. People coming together over a shared passion. My experience of moving to Philly has been completely shaped by my training at 8 Limbs. Going on two years later, I am well established and totally comfortable in both Philly and 8 Limbs Academy. People get into Muay Thai either for fitness, fighting or self defense, but they stay in Muay Thai for the community.