FightGeek heard about a tucked away resort in Rayong, Thailand where pro fighters held secret training camps, where families with an adventurous spirit go when on holiday, and where you could host a unique, team-bonding retreat with a Martial Arts theme. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to go check it out!
When we first reached the retreat, we were blown away by how idyllic its surroundings were. Birds were chirping, a breeze was gently blowing, and there was absolutely no traffic for miles around. Despite the 2 hour car ride from the airport, we immediately felt relaxed and tranquil upon stepping onto the retreat’s grounds.
Tree Roots Retreat is a place where one can escape to in order to practice Martial Arts, Meditation and Movement. Whether you desire a week’s worth of intense body combat, to relax by the pool and read a 300-year-old book, or even stay at a peaceful resort while you get your surf on at the nearby beach, the resort welcomes everyone.
With a fully-furnished gym and an open yoga terrace above, there’s a high chance you might come for a day and stay a month.
I certainly felt welcome after seeing the massive library, located conveniently next to the Coffee corner.
This retreat was also an interior designers heaven, with books, furniture and paintings scattered across the place.
My favourite part of this retreat was definitely the themed rooms. Lucky for me, I was given the Studio Ghibli themed room! Soft, fluffy pillows, bedframe-to-ceiling posters of Studio Ghibli films, a staircase lined with books, what more can a girl ask for?
Oh that’s right, an insanely gorgeous and massive bathroom!!! Can you say #aesthetic much?
After settling in for a short, much needed nap, we met up with Tree Roots Retreat’s founder, Aaron Le Boutillier.
Joey: Why did you start Tree Roots Retreat?
Aaron: I think it was a combination of wanting to explore all my passions in life: collecting books, artwork and design, and a passion for martial arts, meditation and movement. I thought if I could take all those passions and put them together, I might have something interesting. Now we have a retreat that is unique in offering the real meaning of art (in my opinion) in the words Martial Arts.
J: What’s extra special about Tree Roots Retreat, compared to other Martial Arts or Meditation-based retreats?
A: There are some retreats that are cardio, testosterone based, and they provide fantastic facilities for people who are looking to develop the aggressive, competitive side of their game. Then there are other retreats that focus on the soft aspects of meditation and yoga… very spiritual and deep.
What I wanted to do was to merge those two and have a retreat where you could train extremely hard in the morning, and explore the softer, inner game (mindfulness in action) without making it extreme in either side.
J: Could you elaborate more on ‘mindfulness in action’?
A: What I discovered about mindfulness in action is that, for example, if I’m teaching someone Crazy Monkey Defense (our form of boxing), they tend to be caught up in two areas: The Past and the Future. I manage to hit them and their brain ends up thinking about that experience in the past and how they didn’t like it. With that they’ve projected themselves into the future, and in a bid to prevent it from happening again, so they do everything they can to prevent it.
They’re not living in the present; there’s no understanding of just breathing and enjoying the moment without any thought of what’s going on in the past or in the future.
J: Besides teaching mindfulness amidst practicing Martial Arts, do you have a secret Fight Club for unique training experiences?
A: A secret fight club…
Editor’s note: At this point, Aaron smiles to himself and stares at the ground mysteriously.
A: No, I don’t have a secret fight club, but I’m certainly looking for people who are seeking a different experience. So if someone is just looking for aggression, and they just wanna hit a punching bag, to build up all their testosterone and leave feeling charged… Then maybe my ‘fight club’ isn’t the place for them.
I’m looking for people who come here, full of testosterone, anger and maybe insecurities, and leaving after 1 hour, 1 week or even 1 month, with no more anxieties and no need to be aggressive. Because whatever insecurities that the person has have been dealt with and answered. There’s no need to display the gorilla-pounding-chest attitude anymore, and that really is my secret fight club: Leave after a good session feeling peaceful.
J: Where do you see Tree Roots Resort in the long term?
A: I’d like to see Tree Roots full of people, from every demographic and every background. I’d like to see people that are new to Martial Arts, people in the middle of their journeys, and people that have been professional and are now looking to hone the inner game part of their training. Just people that are interested in having an experience.
If I can create a place for everyone to do that together, with some people training, some reading books in my private library, relaxing in the pool, going surfing at the beach, even climbing the mountain, whatever it is! As long as everyone gets their mindfulness in action, and at the end of the day. everyone sitting around talking about their experience. That would be my dream come true.
If you are interested in heading down for a one-on-one session with Aaron, planning a unique travel trip for your friends and family, or even a corporate team-building experience, you can find more details on Tree Roots Retreat at their website.
Aaron Le Boutillier is the author of “And Then One Morning”, a personal account of his experience as a survivor of the Phuket Tsunami on 26 December 2004. All author royalties of this intensely intimate, and beautiful recount of his experiences will be donated to natural disaster victims. You can get his book online on Amazon.com.