While Singapore is known to the world as a foodie paradise, buzzing economic hub and gateway to Asian culture, fewer people know of its reputation as one of the world’s most vibrant martial arts capitals. Our country is home to dozens of global pugilistic traditions, ranging from Brazilian and Israeli to Thai and Japanese.

Whether you’re an action seeker looking to take your first steps into the world of combat sports, or hoping to elevate your skills to the next level, Singapore is the ideal place for martial arts enthusiasts. With a multitude of expert instructors, established gyms and dedicated peers, adrenaline lovers are bound to find a combat discipline that speaks to their passions.

Strap on your gear, gird your loins, and enter the rings, gyms and dojos of the Lion City.

Boxing
Two men practicing boxing with a pair of foam sticks

One of the oldest martial arts in the world, boxing dates back thousands of years, as early as 3000 BC Sumeria.

While throwing a punch may sound pretty intuitive, there’re tons of subtle variations beyond making a fist. Most beginner classes teach the fundamentals of boxing footwork and how to throw a jab, cross and hook. Sessions tend to be cardio-intensive affairs, and earnest participants are bound to push their limits.

While there are several gyms around the island that offer boxing classes, Spartans Boxing Club at Joo Chiat/Katong boasts a dedicated boxing ring, comprehensive range of equipment and veteran instructors. The gym prides itself on having a family-friendly atmosphere, as well as collaborative training sessions that incorporate exercises like Zumba and strength training. It’s a great choice for those looking to ease themselves into the learning process.

Spartans Boxing Club. 393 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427625. +65 9457 7910.
Mon-Fri 7am-9.30pm; Sat & Sun 9am-4pm.
For a list of Spartans Boxing Club gyms, click here. Call or visit their website to book a free trial class.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Students in gi practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on the floor mats

Arguably one of the most formidable forms of martial arts in the world, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is all about taking the fight to the ground and subduing your assailant through a series of chokes, holds and locks.

A truly cosmopolitan martial art, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its roots in Japan. Upon migrating to Brazil, Japanese exponent Mitsuya Maede taught traditional Jiu-Jitsu to the Gracie family, who refined the art into its modern state.

The family’s name has become synonymous with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and the Lion City boasts several instructors trained in the Gracie tradition. We recommend visiting Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Singapore, where head instructor Cam Sobey takes a rigorous, hands-on approach to teaching the art form.

Your first lesson will teach you several fundamentals of self-defence, including basic chokes, simple takedowns and techniques to break a hard fall. The practicality of this form will prove useful for action seekers exploring roads less travelled.

King George’s Building. 326C King George’s Avenue, Singapore 208567. +65 8869 9042.
Call to book a 7-day free trial class.


Capoeira

An Afro-Brazilian tradition that combines fight, music and dance, capoeira is a truly unique martial art: African slaves brought to Brazil disguised their sparring sessions beneath the façade of song and dance, in a bid to deceive their masters.

While capoeira has since evolved into a globally-recognised art form, the fluid strikes, dance-like acrobatics and rich heritage of its origins remain. First-time participants can expect to learn a range of basic kicks, cartwheels and dodges; it’s a great option for adrenaline seekers hoping to hone their agility and wits, while learning a smattering of Portuguese.

To learn more about this martial art, pay a visit to Saudação Capoeira. Formerly known as Bantus Capoeira Singapore, the academy is helmed by Mestre Claudinho Soares, a veteran trainer whose lineage dates back to Mestre Pastinha, one of capoeira’s original pioneers.

Saudação Capoeira. 44C North Canal Road, Singapore 059300. +65 9060 2648.
Mon-Fri 10.30am-8pm; Sat 10.30am-4pm.
Call to book a free trial class.


Kali Majapahit

Since 1998, Kali Majapahit has been building sharpness and resilience in participants all over the world.

Founded by lifelong martial arts practitioner Fred Evrad, Kali Majapahit is based in Filipino martial tradition, but also incorporates other forms, such as Muay Thai.

Rather than focusing purely on the physical aspects of self-defense, the school’s curriculum also encompasses the realms of health and personal growth, including breathing techniques, posture and self-confidence.

Beginner classes focus on fundamental strikes and traditional stick fighting, while intermediate classes may include more difficult techniques like knife defence.

Kali Majapahit River Valley. 405 River Valley Road, Singapore 248303. +65 6534 5254.

Kali Majapahit Upper Serangoon. 767 Upper Serangoon Road #01-05, Singapore 534635. +65 6534 5254.

Click here to book a free trial class.


Karate

Evolving from indigenous Ryukyuan (now known as Okinawan) martial arts for centuries, Karate was first formally recognized as a Japanese martial art in 1933.

Primarily a striking form of martial arts, Karate is notable for its low stance, powerful kicks and plethora of hand strikes, from punches to palm strikes. Chuck Norris—the famous Hollywood actor—was trained in this style, and a famous karate exponent.

With its deep roots in tradition, karate practitioners also emphasize principles of respect, etiquette and self-discipline, which are just as important as physical techniques.

Experience a paid trial class at Ashihara Karate for sessions that focus on practical use in the modern world. The system here emphasizes natural body movement and straightforward techniques over brute strength and needlessly complex moves.

Ashihara Karate at Lionheart Academy Clubhouse, JK Building. Jalan Jurong Kechil, Singapore 598582. +65 9635 7835.

Ashihara Karate at Buona Vista CC Dojo, Buona Vista Community Club. 36 Holland Drive, Singapore 270036. +65 6778 5163.

Visit their website to book a class.


Muay Thai
Two men practicing Muay Thai with punching pads

Popularly known as the ‘Art of Eight Limbs’, Muay Thai is a martial art that focuses on striking with one’s fists, elbows, knees and shin. While this combat sport traces its roots back to the 18th century, it remains highly relevant in the modern day, and is often employed by professional mixed martial artists.

To learn from some of the best Muay Thai exponents in the world, drop by Evolve MMA. This chain of martial arts academies was founded by former Muay Thai fighter Chatri Sityodtong, who also set up massive martial arts promoter ONE Championship. Chatri—whose name means ‘warrior’ in Thai—overcame family hardship and poverty to create companies whose names have become synonymous with combat sports.

New practitioners will be in capable hands, as Evolve MMA’s stable of Muay Thai instructors includes an impressive gallery of world champs and renowned trainers. Beginners will learn basic roundhouse kicks, jabs and elbow strikes during their first session, and engage in some intense cardiovascular workouts, making this ideal for those looking to push their limits.

Evolve MMA at Far East Square. 26 China Street #01-01, Singapore 049568. +65 6536 4525.
Click 
here for class schedule.
For a list of Evolve MMA gyms, click here.
Call or visit their website to book a free trial class.


Silat

A pugilistic tradition that has been practiced across Southeast Asia for centuries, Silat bears diverse influences, incorporating moves from both ancient Chinese and Indian martial arts.

Practitioners of this martial art emphasize footwork, intricate hand movement, and attacks on pressure points, and are also trained to use the kris (dagger) and parang (machete).

Singapore is home to world champions who’ve brought home accolades on numerous occasions, including seven gold medals at the 18th World Pencak Silat Championship.

If you’re looking to pick up the fundamentals from a world champ, consider joining the classes at the Sport Silat Academy. Helmed by three-time World Silat Championship winner Muhammad Imran, the school is home to a range of masterful instructors.

Sport Silat Academy at Kaki Bukit Recreation Centre. 7 Kaki Bukit Avenue 3, Singapore 415814. +65 6297 5659.
Visit their website to book your classes.


Taekwondo

Taekwondo was practiced in Korea for centuries, but only made its debut on the international stage at the 1988 Summer Olympics, as the country’s designated national martial art.

A sport that’s both grueling and graceful, Taekwondo is famous for its arsenal of blindingly-fast kick combinations and aerial kicks, from flying roundhouses to jumping sidekicks.

Needless to say, beginners will have to ground themselves with the basics of footwork and more elementary strikes before learning these flashier techniques.

Taekwondo is one of the most popular martial arts in Singapore, with a whole range of different studios to pick from. If you’re looking for top-notch instructors, Taeseong Taekwondo SG is helmed by world champions Ji Ho-Yong and Ji-Ho-Chul and their team of elite instructors.

Taeseong Taekwondo SG at Holland Village. 245A Holland Avenue, Singapore 278978. +65 8876 5013.
For a list of their Dojang locations, click here.
Visit their website to book a trial class.


Wing Chun

If you’ve watched the hit movie Ip Man, chances are that you’re already familiar with this martial art.

Founded over 3 centuries ago, Wing Chun Kuen emphasizes finesse over brute force, focusing on close quarter combat, core defense and economy of motion. The legendary Bruce Lee trained at the prestigious Yip Man school of Wing Chun in his early years.

If you’re looking to learn this martial arts style yourself, Chu Say Lei Wing Chun may be a great place to start, with founder Robert Chu having studied Yip Man Wing Chun for many decades.

Beginners will learn Wing Chun fundamentals of coordinating body, mind and breath, with the curriculum involving low kicks, the Wing Chun open stance and how to deflect strikes with your hands.

Training with the trademark Wing Chun dummy is reserved for more advanced students, so you’re going to have to commit if you want to be like Bruce Lee!

Chu Say Lei Wing Chun at Midland House. 112 Middle Road #07-03, Singapore 188970. +65 9046 9616.
Visit their website to book a class.