Muay Thai—or Thai-kickboxing as it’s sometimes known—is one of the fastest growing martial arts in the world. Roger Lumyoung is definitely one of its biggest local proponents. As the owner, proprietor and head instructor of St. Catharines’ Muay Thai Niagara, he operates one of the largest Muay Thai clubs in Ontario, training hundreds of students ranging from recreational participants to professional fighters to cross-training athletes.
Known as “Kru” or coach, Roger has taken his teaching principles to the worldwide arena in recent years, coaching the Canadian National Team at the WAKO World Championships in Austria in 2009, and the Canadian Junior National Team in the K1 division at the WAKO Junior World Championships in Serbia in 2010. He also received the 2008 CASK Award for Thai-Boxing Coach of the Year.
Refereeing is another big passion in Roger’s life. A certified CASK & Boxing Ontario official, he has refereed over 1,000 bouts so far in his career, and won the 2007 CASK Award for Official of the Year.
When Roger’s not busy with his students at Muay Thai Niagara these days, he still has a great deal on his plate, running the Muay Thai program at Modern Vision—a mixed martial arts school in Welland that his own club is affiliated with. Every year, he takes his students on a two-week trip to Thailand to train at a Muay Thai camp and experience the Thai culture firsthand.
SL: How did you first become involved with Muay Thai?
KRL: When I was a young boy my mom put me into Muay Thai classes and I instantly fell in love with it.
SL: At what point did you say to yourself, “This is what I want to do for a living.”?
KRL: I love to share my passion—not only Muay Thai—but for fitness and well-being. At first teaching Muay Thai was something I did on the side. But then I realized I could turn my passion for Muay Thai and fitness into an everyday thing.
SL: Muay Thai Niagara accepts people of all ages and skill levels. What sorts of goals and expectations do people have when they join your club?
KRL: We have people join our club for various reasons. Some are seeking increased fitness levels or weight loss. They might be a martial arts enthusiast or want somewhere to burn off some energy. And of course, we have people who want to compete. People expect that they will get a great workout while at the same time learn and be challenged. We cater to everyone and accommodate everyone no matter what their goals are.
SL: You’ve been a professional coach for several years now. How do you feel your coaching skills have improved over time?
KRL: I have learned to be adaptable and make the sport fun for participants of all ages and levels. In terms of my competitive athletes, I’ve learned a lot over the years about the physiological aspect of an athlete’s training and the importance of athletes keeping notes and using visualization techniques in their training. The coaching for combat sports has evolved a lot over the years, and I’m able to find a way to understand each of my athletes and know what motivates and drives them so I can push them to perform to their best.
SL: What do you enjoy most about the sport on a personal level?
KRL: I enjoy helping people reach their goals and change their lives. Seeing a student reach a weight loss goal and feel better about themselves or seeing an athlete’s hard work pay off by winning a match is a really great moment for me. I also enjoy working with kids and helping them build their confidence level and learn how to handle bullies and tough situations. I teach students of all ages to be strong mentally in everyday life so they can get through everyday challenges.
Muay Thai Niagara is located at 486 Grantham Avenue (Linwell Plaza) in St. Catharines. For more information call 905.401.7234 or visit www.muaythainiagara.com.