SINGAPORE: Holiday-goers and martial arts enthusiasts have been coming to Asia for getaways that focus on getting in shape.
It is a concept that is common among athletes across all sports, who go to training camps overseas to gain valuable exposure from their foreign counterparts.
Now, even tourists and weekend-warrior level martial arts enthusiasts can travel to an exotic country to sharpen their skills at a reputable fight gym for a few hours a day – albeit at a recreational level. They can even do so while exploring their foreign surroundings, and relax stress-free.
Training vacations - as they are often referred to – are also one of the ways fight sports practitioners can up their game, and seek improvements they would not have otherwise gained while training in their familiar home environments.
Here are several Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) vacation training destinations in Southeast Asia that provide a solid learning experience, all while providing a taste of adventure.
Tan, surf, and work out. That may be the unofficial motto of Bali MMA, but those four words are the definition of training in paradise. Located a stone’s throw away from the beautiful beaches on the Indonesian island, folks can sharpen their martial arts skills in the gym and then catch a wave.
Founded by ONE Championship flyweight contender Andrew Leone and his brother Anthony in 2014, the gym also features ex-Bellator fighter Don Carlo-Clauss, who serves as the head coach. There is also Nico Verresen who leads the Muay Thai program, which features GLORY champ Tiffany “Timebomb” Van Soest.
Above all, Bali MMA is emerging as a force in Asian MMA. In addition to the Leones and Van Soest, the team features an assortment of Malaysian fighters, including lightweight contender Ev Ting, Muhammad Aiman, as well as Keanu and Gianni Subba.
After training, you could then catch some rays at the beach, hike through the forest, or pay a visit to the cultural centre of Ubud.
TIGER MUAY THAI & MMA
The southern Thai island of Phuket is home to many noteworthy gyms, but Tiger Muay Thai & MMA has emerged as one of the leaders in the training vacation realm. This camp offers on-site and bungalow accommodations, as well as its incredibly popular Tiger Grill & Restaurant, which draws trainees and tourists alike.
Tiger made a name for itself as a Muay Thai destination, and currently boasts an impressive list of over 30 instructors who have held an assortment of stadium and provincial titles. That includes former Rajadamnern Stadium Champions Saksurin Kiatyongyut and Dendanai P. K. Stereo.
The gym has also expanded in recent years and added MMA to its programs. The BJJ program is headed up by second-degree black belt Chris Vamos, while the wrestling program is led by Division 1 wrestler and ex-Bellator competitor George Hickman. There are also some unique, calorie-burning fitness classes, in case you want to drop some extra kilos.
Some of the many recognisable faces who spend time at Tiger include ONE fighters Shannon Wiratchai, Rika Ishige, Chan Rothana, Roger Huerta, and, Valentina Shevchenko, the current number one contender for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title. So train, eat, make friends, and head to the beach.
TEAM QUEST THAILAND
Want a different holiday training adventure in Thailand? Then head north to the lush mountains of Chiang Mai to train at Team Quest Thailand (TQT). The legendary American gym started by Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland, and Randy Couture expanded into Asia at the turn of the decade, and has become the top MMA destination in Northern Thailand.
The famed camp has produced Lumpinee Champions in the past such as Hongthonglek Chor Farpleansee, and continues to give people stellar Muay Thai training from the likes of Kru Ni, Kru Noi, and Kru Gop.
TQT offers more than top tier kickboxing, as it has a legitimate BJJ program that is run by third-degree BJJ black belt and judo black belt Bruno Carvalho. The gym’s competition team also features a couple of rising stars, including head coach Dylan Fussell, surging ONE strawweight Pongsiri Mitsatit, ONE flyweight prospect Tanaphong Khunankaew, and up-and-comer Mark Abelardo.
Just like some of the aforementioned gyms, Team Quest has on-site rooms for students who wish to live on the premises, and the facility is not far from some of the city’s most gorgeous temples. Allow yourself time to explore Chang Mai and its lush, peaceful scenery – it’s a perfect foil to the intensity of training.
In Singapore, there is Evolve MMA, who brands itself as one of the top fight camps in Asia. The Lion City mega gym has three facilities on the island, and an array of world champions teaching martial arts at all of its locations.
Vacation-goers could learn Muay Thai from the likes of Lumpinee Champion Sagetdao Petpayathai, boxing from former WBA World Super Featherweight Champion Yodsanan “Little Tyson” Sityodong, or Brazilian jiu-jitsu from eight-time BJJ World Champion Michelle Nicolini. There is also a wrestling and MMA program headed up by former Olympic wrestler Heath Sims.
At any given time, people could also find themselves training alongside some of the biggest names in MMA, such as current ONE fighters Ben Askren, Roger Gracie, and Angela Lee as well as former UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos.
Not only will folks receive top-notch training, but they will get to experience the cosmopolitan life in Singapore and an abundance of food choices at hawker centers - all within walking distance of every Evolve location.
(This article first appeared on onefc.com)