This story starts with my foray into martial arts 10 years ago. Martial arts gyms were popping up. More and more Singaporean men and women were pouring into Muay Thai schools to get fit and release stress. I was a student in a metal band, and all I cared about was writing music and playing gigs.
I could not imagine myself trying martial arts. “You’re totally a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu kinda guy,” my bandmates said. A Brazilian what? It took me a few years to even give Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu a shot. To my surprise, I loved it. BJJ is a psychological game which trains exponents to think on their feet (or rather, on their backs, if you will). The techniques I learned were stunningly graceful and my natural brute strength meant nothing against these flyweight cerebral assassins.
After I graduated and got a job, I finally had the money to practise BJJ on a frequent basis. I joined a gym and gradually transitioned to mixed martial arts. Before I knew it, I was helping a friend open a handsome MMA academy in Robinson Road. The rest is history.
Do it if … you want to get fit, lose weight or tone your body. Besides improving your cardiac stamina, this national sport of Thailand increases your energy levels throughout the day. Disciplined and passionate acolytes also have great muscle definition and head-turning abs to relish.
We recommend: Chowraiooi Muay Thai; #04-07 Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Road; 82994981
Why: Chowraiooi provides bonefide, hard training that takes one out of one’s comfort zone. Sessions with champions like Spencer Tay and Meow Rachadamnern push you to your limits, but are still kept fun and very motivational.
How much: $240 per month for unlimited training
Do it if … you have always looked up to the likes of Jake LaMotta, Sugar Ray Leonard and Cassius Clay. Boxing hones one’s reflexes and awareness, while its guard is more practical than the wider guard of Muay Thai boxing. When starting out, you might find landing a punch on experienced opponents nearly impossible, but persevere and you’ll be armed with the skills to survive a fist fight. Toned biceps, triceps and deltoids will quickly follow.
We recommend: Vanda Boxing; #01-05 Sultan Link, Block F, 57 Mohamed Sultan Road; 63052288
Why: Besides its fancy establishment, Vanda also has an impressive track record, having produced international names like Zig Zach of ‘The Contender’ fame over the years.
How much: From $100 per month for six months unlimited training.
Do it if… you are already into mixed martial arts and want to gain more dominance over your opponents.
We recommend: Wrestling Federation of Singapore; 62804748
Why: These trainers are the wrestlers who represent us in the Olympics. Need we say more?
How much: From $60 per month for unlimited training.
Do it if … you are methodical in your actions and like to play mind games. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is best described as “a game of human chess played at warp speed”.
We recommend: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Singapore; #06-19A Peace Centre, 1 Sophia Road; 94579426
Why: BJJ Singapore’s trainers and trainees are probably the best BJJ-specific competitors in the country. If you don’t take my word for it, try BJJ elsewhere, then attend a trial session with them.
How much: $100 or so per month
Mixed Martial Arts
Do it if … you feel like the martial art that you currently practise is not realistic enough. With MMA, two people fight in an enclosure till one cannot continue anymore; which should be realistic enough for anyone.
We recommend: Juggernaut Fight Club; 50B Boat Quay; 65352501
Why: Juggernaut offers serious training for boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, BJJ and MMA aficionados. Besides its good location, facilities and membership rates, Juggernaut also has champions in multiple disciplines.
How much: From $120 per month for two sports.
This unique academy at 43 Carpenter Street offers more than ten traditionally Filipino martial arts, such as Panuntukan street boxing, various stick-fighting arts and weapon-defence arts like Espada, Daga, Sibat and Bangkow. Call 6534 5254.
Based in Kampong Ubi Community Centre, SPW has nothing to with the Greco-Roman wrestlers of the Wrestling Federation of Singapore. Pro-wrestling might be a performance, but it demands a much higher level of toughness and threshold for pain than most martial arts. Call 9068 5213.