10 of the BEST Singapore Martial Arts Gyms you should visit in 2018
Now, you may well be thinking, "Singapore Martial Arts Gyms, really?" "Who goes there for Martial Arts?" Well, I have personally spent a lot of time out in Singapore and can tell you that the Martial Arts scene there is thriving massively on a whole number of levels. I do understand your trepidation though. I remember when I was first planning to go out there to visit, spend time and film. People would ask me, why Singapore? Why not Thailand?
I was always into History growing up (before the internet came about, as a youngster I was seriously addicted to reading books, quaint I know ha ha) and had read extensively about this country which was regarded as the gateway between the East and West. This fascination stayed with me as I got older. The eventual things which then tipped me into going when I did were the opening (and phenomenal growth) of Evolve MMA, the evolution of the Asian MMA promotion One Championship and the story of the man that linked them both, self-made multi millionaire, entrepreneur and philanthropist Chatri Sityodtong.
So, I set about researching and finding out all that I could about the tiny red dot (as it is affectionately known). I wanted to know who were the best gyms, coaches and fighters based out there so I could get in touch to organise visiting to film for the Warrior Collective. English is the main spoken language out in Singapore so it was surprisingly easy to e-mail and arrange dates to visit each location once I had set a list of places I wanted to go to! I scheduled my first trip there to be for 10 days and crammed in appointments (usually three different places a day) for the duration of my stay. This meant that I was always busy (no sight seeing for me ha ha), but it allowed me the opportunity to go all around Singapore and spend time with a whole variety of gyms.
Singapore is a fantastic place. I loved how vibrant it was, how easy it was to get around and how fantastically well I was treated by all those I came across. The country is not large at all and it certainly does not take long to drive from one side of the country to the other. But the diversity it offers in every respect is second to none. Culturally, architecturally and gastronomically, you are going to find lots to learn about, see and experience in this amazing place. You can go from viewing ultra modern sights such as the truly beautiful gardens in the bay, sleek high tech skyscrapers and large shopping malls to those that hint at the great history to be found there such as the exquisite Thian Hock Keng Temple, the eye catching Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and the once strategically important Fort Canning.
I really could wax lyrical about all the things that I love about Singapore and my experiences there but let's get down to business. You are here to learn about what I think are 10 of the Best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit!
So then, what makes a great Singapore Martial Arts gym to visit for someone and what should they consider? Well firstly, unless you live in Asia or Australia, distance is obviously a factor. It is no short haul flight so really needs careful planning and consideration to get the best out of a trip there. It can also be an expensive country to visit if you allow it to be. Alongside the diversity that I have already mentioned, there is a wide range of different options regarding accommodation, food and activities. You can literally blow the equivalent of a second mortgage if you really want to.
There are plenty of high end places to stay, eat, or party at. This fits in with the fact that Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world (earning it's position through financial markets predominately) and thus caters well for those who have money to spend. It has more than a well deserved reputation for this. However, having been out there myself now on a number of occasions, I know full well that there is a balance to this. There are an equal amount of hotels, hawkers markets/restaurants and activities that do not break the bank should you have a lower budget to stick to.
It is a tropical country so the weather is pretty constant throughout the year (100% humidity) although there are obviously periods more likely to have rain than others.
I have put together this list though by focusing on the following; quality of facility, experience of instruction, amount of training available to a visiting practitioner and level of training partners available. After much deliberation, here are the 10 Singapore Martial Arts Gyms that I would recommend for anyone wanting to experience training there in 2018;
Having already mentioned this super gym earlier on in this post, it should come as no surprise to see it featured here. What you might not realise though is that Evolve MMA is not just based in one location, it currently has 4 hugely impressive facilities spread out around Singapore. This chain of MMA academies was originally launched back in 2009 by it's founder Chatri Sityodtong. It is one of the few places that I have ever been to where the owner is not also the head coach. That is not to say that Chatri is just a business man. Far from it. He is an exceedingly capable Martial Artist in his own right and one of the most passionate people about Martial Arts I have ever had the pleasure to spend time with. He believes that the Martial Arts can change peoples lives for the better and that is one of the key aims integral to the Evolve MMA ethos.
So, if Evolve MMA is not primarily about it's owner then (as it can often be with other gyms), who is it about? Evolve MMA has one of the (if not THE) strongest coaching teams that you will find anywhere in the world. The talent pool within the group of instructors based there is crazy. You have former Muay Thai legends such as Orono Wor Petchpun, Namsaknoi Yudthagarngamtorn and Sam-A Gaiyanghadao alongside BJJ/MMA champions such as Leandro Issa, Shinya Aoki and Ben Askren. You could be forgiven then for thinking of Evolve MMA as thus potentially having a corporate feel about it, given it's sheer size and success. However, you would be wrong. There is a real community feel with regards to both the staff, coaches and fighters (they all famously went on a group excursion to Bali last year) as well as with all the regular students, visiting athletes and holidaying practitioners. It is nothing short of exceptional that they have managed this.
The facilities at each of the locations are phenomenal. High end finish, modern surroundings and fully kitted out with tons of mat space, cages, rings and anything else you may want. A visiting athlete or practitioner is going to be blown away with the sheer amount of training available. Not only do they 4 amazing venues, they also have an enormous array of sessions (Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ, Boxing and much more) running from dawn till dusk every day of the week. Add to that the fact you also can book one-to-one or small group lessons with any of their brilliant coaches and you will never complain about lack of time on the mats! All in all, I have been to Evolve MMA a number of times now and I always look forward to going back. It is a place more than worthy of it's fantastic reputation. Check their website out today at www.evolve-mma.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms you should visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Fight G was one of the first professional MMA gyms to open in Singapore. Founded by renowned instructor Darren De Silva, this gym has been integral to the development of the scene locally, having produced numerous practitioners who have gone onto open up or be involved with other gyms across the country. Based near the centre on North Canal road, this gym has benefited from it's great location across the years drawing in students from all walks of life to it's extremely popular classes.
The gym is not massive but utilises it's space well across two floors! The downstairs features a ring, mat space and strength/conditioning equipment whilst upstairs is a small open air balcony connected to another larger area of mats. Fight G is well thought of in Singapore as it offers both great instruction and low training fees. Darren is an exceptional coach and having been on the scene for a long time, is a fantastic person to speak to with regards to training and/or Singapore in general. He has a long history training Muay Thai and Boxing but is also massively into MMA, BJJ and other more traditional arts.
The gym regularly features it's fighters and students on events ranging from regional to international level. As such it offers great levels of instruction in all the art forms it offers on it's timetable. It is not a gym that you should go to expecting saunas and air conditioning (it has neither) but it is one you should hit up if you want excellent tuition in a cool facility with lots of like minded people!! Check their website out today at www.fightg.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms you should visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Impact MMA is another great gym located in the CBD (Central Business District) area of Singapore. Opened by founder and owner Koh Kok Kwang in 2010, this gym is a close knit community of excellent instructors who work together to provide a fantastic timetable of sessions for those that train there. Home to the first Singaporean fighter signed to the UFC Royston Wee, this gym packs a lot of punch in comparison to it's size competitively. It's team name is often cited on many regional to national level events in a diverse spread of combat sports/disciplines.
Situated in a kind of shopping mall, this gym is not huge (space is at a premium in central Singapore) but manages to work what it has really well. This open plan gym has a great vibe to it and all those that work there are not only friendly, they are also very talented and share a great deal of experience between them across all disciplines (Muay Thai, MMA, BJJ and more). I am a huge fan of Impact MMA and have nothing but good things to say about it!
The facility has got matted space, a small strength and conditioning area, a ring and boasts air con. As I have already mentioned, the biggest strength of this gym is in it's coaching team, the training available is consistently high level. Classes run 7 days a week but most session times are in the evening (apart from at weekend). Check their website out today at www.impactmma.com.sg to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Jagsport Judo was first established in 1996 and is home to the Singapore National Judo Team. Founder and lead principle instructor Gerard Lim has a lifetime of experience within Judo. His personal CV is extensive and boasts such roles as the Judo coach of the Singapore Armed Forces. A position which he held for many years. The gym is located not too far from the CBD area of Singapore and is within easy walking distance of a couple of MRT stations (Bendemeer and Lavender).
The gym is immaculate. Real pride is shown in the upkeep of this facility. The walls are adorned with traditional kanji, art and the photos of coaches, athletes and students from the club. Great mat space, bright and airy, it is a real joy to train here. The talent on the mats is high throughout. From the juniors through to the adults, self discipline, respect and hard work ensures that the standards here are well maintained. The coaching team are all exceptional. Technically brilliant judoka with not only great levels of experience, they are also fantastic people one and all.
I really did not know what to expect when I first when to this gym but having spent a good amount of time there I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone. A club that manages to do a brilliant job of marrying traditional Martial Arts values with high level training, whilst at the same time never losing sight of the need for it's students to enjoy themselves and have fun. Gerard is a fantastic ambassador for Singapore, Judo and humanity in general!! Check their website out today at www.jagsport.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
I have to admit, Juggernaut Fight Club has changed locations twice since I was last in Singapore so I have not actually been to it's current facility over on Seng Poh Road. However, it's venue is not the main reason it makes this list, that honour belongs firmly with it's founder and head coach Arvind Lalwani. Forming symmetry with the name of his gym, Arvind is something of a juggernaut himself. The current coach to the Singapore National Boxing Team, former Heavyweight Boxing Champion and Asian Games Freestyle Wrestling Champion cuts an imposing figure in real life.
At it's current location, the gym has gone fairly old school and is actually set outdoors (albeit underneath a covered canopy). This should not put you off, it is a large training area with great mat space, boxing ring and plenty of strength & conditioning equipment on site. Juggernaut is a very no nonsense place. The training available is both extensive running from 10am/11am each morning until late on in the evening 5 days a week (All day Saturday as well) and high level. You can find Boxing, BJJ, MMA, Muay Thai and Kickboxing all on offer here.
Arvind is a truly exceptional coach and pad man. A life long fan of both Boxing and Muay Thai, his knowledge on striking is truly second to none! Athletes from this gym compete regularly from regional to world level in different combat sports. Check their website out today at www.juggernautfightclub.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Singapore has the honour of having achieved a number of firsts nationally! It was the first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy to open in the Country and it's head coach Jason Quek was the first Singaporean to have earned a Black Belt in the illustrious art. It's gym is located in the Peace Centre, which is fairly central and not far from the CBD area. It is not a big facility in any respect. It is however well maintained, utilises its area well with regards to mat space and has air con (which really is a big plus when you are in a Gi ha ha).
Jason received his black belt from legendary BJJ instructor John Will at the end of 2014 after having been coaching at his Singapore Martial Arts gym since 2006. Not only an excellent Jiu Jitsu player, he is also a keen chess aficionado and the board is something you will see out a lot if you visit (he beat me in the few games we played but I won't hold that against him ha ha). Training sessions are mainly in the evening during the week and during the day on Saturdays. The level of BJJ here is solid throughout. The club has ongoing success in comps from regional to national level (and beyond) and it shows on the mat. Wall to wall talent, especially with the young students coming up through the ranks. Jason is doing a fantastic job of producing some truly exceptional grapplers.
I enjoyed my time with Jason at BJJ Singapore. He was consistently brilliant in his coaching during training and shows a true passion for helping those around him become the best that they can be. What more could you want? Check their website out today at www.bjjsin.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Trifecta Martial Arts
Trifecta Martial Arts is a great example of the often eclectic diversity to be found in Singapore. Running classes out of three different locations (I have only been to one of them unfortunately), the 3 main coaches could not have more varied backgrounds if they tried. Arlene Lim is the founder of Trifecta. She has spent a great deal of time in the Singapore Military (going on to become the country's first female combat armour officer) and competed internationally in Taekwondo from a young age. Marcelo Tavares, a Brazilian National, found BJJ at the age of 11 years old, was a high level football player (until injury forced early retirement) and is a hugely experienced black belt (from both a coaching and competitive viewpoint). Lukas Leasure is from the states and is a professional MMA fighter, BJJ brown belt and all round awesome coach/athlete.
The locations for Trifecta are dotted around Singapore. The one I have been to is at Bukit Timah (which I guess you could class as West Singapore). Excellent extensive matted space, the facility (at least in the location I have been to) is great looking and has everything you would need to make your training experience a pleasure! The training timetable offered is vast (although certain disciplines are location specific) with classes scheduled from morning until evening every day. I have personally seen both Marcelo and Lukas in action and know that they are both outstanding coaches who would be brilliant to train with.
The facilities are obviously are a strong point with Trifecta, they put a lot of work into ensuring they are excellent. The training on offer is also of a high standard and students from this gym can often been seen out competing in a variety of disciplines including BJJ, Muay Thai, Taekwondo and MMA!! Check their website out today at www.trifecta.com.sg to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
FaMA, I have to own up to, is a gym I have not actually visited personally. It is a fairly new gym and the last time I was in Singapore, I am pretty sure it had not even opened. I originally included it in my list because a great instructor that I knew well (Brazilian BJJ black belt Bruno Amorim) was coaching there. He has since left but I decided to keep it on here after doing further research on co founder Zoro Moreira, the other instructors resident there and the facility itself.
Centrally located only 5 mins away from the Clark Quay MRT Station with views over the Singapore river, gyms don't get to look much more impressive than this one. Immaculately laid out with extensive mat space, training equipment and onsite amenities (such as lounge/relaxation area, full shower facilities and complimentary tea/coffee). The timetable is aimed mainly at those wishing to train in Muay Thai or BJJ and has sessions scheduled in throughout the day 5 days a week (and with a selection available at weekend as well).
Zoro himself is an impressive head coach with a hugely experienced background in BJJ, MMA and Muay Thai, having competed at a high level within each. I am looking forward to paying him and this fantastic looking gym a well deserved visit this year when I next return to Singapore!! Check their website out today at www.famafit.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
I have to kick this off by making public my huge love of how Onyx MMA approach their social media. They constantly throw out great videos covering such subjects as 5 annoying clinching partners and female Muay Thai problems, which have greatly enamoured them to me. Couple this with their exceptionally large facility, great team of instructors and competitive success record, and you have a pretty impressive package!
The gym is located in West Singapore and has an enormous timetable offering a vast array of different disciplines including Muay Thai, BJJ, Judo and Boxing. It has potentially one of the biggest single training areas out of all the gyms mentioned on this list with lots of bags, a large boxing ring and extensive mat space. Resident BJJ coach and renowned black belt Diego Conlino is an excellent example of the high levels of instruction to be found at Onyx MMA.
If you visit this gym then you are no doubt going to have a lot of fun!! They offer exceptional coaching across all sessions and do so in their own unique style. A gym that you really should journey out of the centre to go and train at! Check their website out today at www.onyxmma.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
I finish my list with something that is no doubt going to seem a little out of place. There are arguments for and against whether Fencing is actually a Martial Art or a sport. I am leaning on the side that it is indeed one by including it here. I actually refer to Fencing at times within my own coaching when talking about movement in striking. What is in no doubt though is just how phenomenal Z Fencing is. The international chain of Elite Fencing Academies has locations in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Los Angeles.
Located on the top floor of SAFRA Toa Payoh (a kind of high end leisure complex), the Singapore based Z Fencing Academy is both the Flagship centre for the chain and the largest dedicated fencing centre of its kind in the country. Joseph Engert, one of the main coaches based in Singapore, is a former top German Fencer and 2 times World Champion. He is a key factor in the amazing success had by those that compete out of this brilliant club. The facility is both huge and impressive to look at. A massive open floor space specifically laid out for Fencing, the club also has onsite strength & conditioning, a weapon repair shop and fully stocked reception area. The sport of Fencing has always been associated with those with wealth and that is not a stereotype in any danger of being destroyed here. Many children are dropped off by nanny's and involved in homework prior to picking up any of the weapons offered (epee, sabre and foil) for training so it is a very family friendly club indeed.
What can you expect here? Well, if Fencing is your thing (or you just fancy giving it a try), you are really not going to find a better place to train at. The talent pool here is crazily high and the coaches are all former world or olympic level. All my time there made me want to become a Fencer (or possibly one of the three musketeers) myself ha ha! Check their website out today at www.zfencing.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit in 2018 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
It was actually pretty hard not to make this list containing my thoughts on 10 of the best Singapore Martial Arts Gyms to visit bigger as there were a good few others that could have easily been on it! What do you think of these gyms? Are there any others that you think I should have included???
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