For thousands of years, the fundamental purpose of martial arts has remained the same - to be able to defend yourself and the ones you love, while strengthening the mind, body, and spirit.
In today’s modern times, the need for martial arts is just as strong as it used to be, if not more. After all, life is a lot more stressful, yet sedentary. Martial arts is the perfect way to exercise in a fun and practical way, and helps you to let off some steam while instilling invaluable traditional values such as patience, respect, and humility that will aid you in daily life.
To get you started on your martial arts journey, here are the 10 best schools in Singapore. Please note that this list is by no means exhaustive, but rather a selection across a wide variety of martial arts.
In Singapore, Evolve Mixed Martial Arts (Evolve) is synonymous with martial arts. If you want instruction of the highest possible standard, Evolve is the place to go. Classes are taught by seasoned world champions who represent the pinnacle of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), and many other disciplines. In fact, it has the largest roster of world champions available anywhere in the world.
Founded by a Harvard MBA with almost three decades of martial arts experience, Evolve provides extra peace of mind that the gym operates on world-class business practices. What’s more, it consistently wins awards as the best martial arts school in Asia, and is the largest martial arts school in Singapore with multiple easily-accessible locations and thousands of students ranging from young children to top-level executives.
Address: Evolve Far East Square at 26 China Street #01-01 Far East Square (flagship academy); Evolve Pomo at 1 Selegie Road #03-11 PoMo Mall; Evolve Orchard Central at 181 Orchard Road #06-01 Orchard Central; and Evolve University at http://evolve-university.com/
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 6:30am-11pm, Saturday-Sunday 7:30am to 9.00pm
2) FIGHT G
Led by local fighting legend, Darren da Silva, Fight G is the oldest MMA academy in Singapore. Courses offered at Fight G include boxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and MMA, with the option for advanced students to train for competitions. Besides the usual group classes, there is also personal training for those who want a more exclusive experience.
Da Silva is known as a coach who cares for his fighters, and is a certified instructor of numerous disciplines. Fight G is also home to several up and coming fighters such as ONE Championship athlete Brad Robinson, and several winners of local martial arts competitions.
Address: 41C North Canal Road
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 4-10pm, Saturday 12-5pm.
Bruce Lee started his journey in martial arts training under Ip Man, forming his foundation in Wing Chun before progressing to experiment with other martial arts. At this school, training is led by renowned Sifu Chua Kah Joo, whose lineage in the ancient art is directly descended from the legendary Ip Man himself, so you can be assured of the authenticity of instruction.
What’s more, the Wing Chun Kuen Training Centre is a throwback to the old days of martial arts with a respectfully traditional style, resulting in a close-knit group of students with a strong sense of family unity.
Address: Sin Ming Lane, Block 18 Midview City #06-29
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 7:30-9:30pm, Saturday-Sunday 9-11:00am
Contact: Sifu Chua Kah Joo +65 9624 6895
Led by ex-national boxer Arvind Lalwani, Juggernaut Fight Club (JFC) definitely packs a punch. Disciplines taught here include Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and MMA. Besides Lalwani, several of their coaches are also highly successful combatants capable of quality instruction, including ONE Championship athlete Tiffany Teo.
With a central location at Hong Kong street, JFC is a great place to train for those working in the CBD. Lalwani is widely recognized as one of the top local coaches in the country for boxing, and his students often fare well in local tournaments.
Address: 33D Hong Kong Street
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7am-10pm, Saturday 10am-3:30pm
5) Z FENCING
Fencing isn’t just a throwback to the swashbuckling days of chivalry you see in movies and TV, it’s also a widely-respected sport around the world thanks to its inherent elegance and athleticism.
With over 20 years of history in Singapore, Z Fencing has even established itself abroad, with branches in Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and even Los Angeles. The brand’s founders were some of Singapore’s best fencers back in the day, and they’ve since dedicated their lives to growing the sport of fencing and molding students’ characters.
It’s a job they’ve done admirably, with the school consistently producing successful competitors every year, which is testament to Z Fencing’s top-notch facilities and skilled instructors.
Address: Z Fencing Elite Fencers Academy at 293 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, #04-01, SAFRA Toa Payoh; and Z Fencing Goldhill Centre at 165B Thomson Road, Level 3
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 11am-7pm (see individual centres for specific timing and opening days)
Krav Maga is widely recognized as one of the most effective forms of self defense in the world. Besides hand-to-hand combat, advanced learners are also trained to defend themselves against a variety of weapons including knives and guns.
The foremost place to learn this Israeli martial art in Singapore would be Krav Maga Defensive Tactics Singapore, led by Head Instructor Sascha Soliano, a member of Singapore’s Commando elite Special Operations Force for 10 years. Soliano is Singapore’s first Krav Maga civilian instructor, and is certified by the International Krav Maga Federation, so there is no question as to the school’s authenticity.
Address: 82 Lorong 23 Geylang, The Atrix Building #04-04
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday (see website for details)
It’s rare that an entire martial art and all its schools in Singapore are led by a single organization, but such is the sport’s unity in the country as represented by the Singapore Silat Federation.
An ancient South East Asian discipline that covers both hand-to-hand and armed combat, silat has a long and established history in the region, and is an integral part of ethnic culture. Keeping the art’s traditions and values alive in modern day Singapore is Sheik Alau’ddin, a former silat world champion and current head of the Singapore Silat Federation.
Over the past few decades, Alau’ddin has become synonymous with producing the best silat fighters and champions in the country, so there’s a good chance students at any of the federation’s 18 affiliates and 26 silat clubs will have the chance to excel should they possess the necessary talent. You can contact the Singapore Silat Federation for schools in your local area.
Address: Silat Centre of Excellence at 7 Bedok North Street 2, #01-01, #02-01
Opening hours: Class times and schedules vary by location
Founded by renowned martial arts expert Teo Yew Chye, Kapap Academy Singapore is based on the Israeli self-defense system, Kapap, which is similar to Krav Maga. It is rooted in reality with a strong emphasis on hand-to-hand combat as well as weapons.
Besides Kapap, students will also be able to learn catch wrestling, Gracie Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and other realistic forms of self-defense from instructors with several decades of experience. If you’re looking to learn a martial art purely for self-defense purposes, this would be a good bet.
Address: 144 Robinson Road, Robinson Square #05-01; and 82 Lorong 23 Geylang, The Atrix Building #02-02
Opening hours: Monday-Friday 7-10pm, Saturday-Sunday 9am-10pm
With 20 years of experience in Singapore, Jagsport is a stalwart in the local martial arts community, and lays claim to being the home of the national judo team. Besides judo, however, the academy offers classes in a range of martial arts including aikido, sambo, and wrestling. The facilities cater to smaller class sizes and and provides a good setting for students to learn under close supervision by an instructor.
Instructors, like the founder Gerard Lim, are mostly local, and quality of instruction is very good. Classes operate seven days a week, and timings will vary according to the course chosen.
Address: 340-B King George’s Ave
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 3-9pm
Known as one of the most physical schools of karate today, Kyokushin karate is a no-nonsense, full-contact discipline that toughens the mind and body.
Led by authentic karate black belt master, Shihan Jackie Chong, the Singapore Oyama Karate-Do Kyokushinkaikan is a place for real karate as taught in the traditional, old school ways in Japan. Some of the top karate black belts and Singaporean national champions train here, and it is no surprise, given the hard sparring and comprehensive training program.
If you sign up, you should be ready to engage in full contact. You can contact the Singapore Oyama Karate-Do Kyokushinkaikan for schools in your local area.
Address: 12 West Coast Walk
Opening hours: Class times and schedules vary by location
Image credits: respective organizations