Jiu-Jitsu Maps On The Road is a new series profiling BJJ academies I will be visiting around the world during my backpacking trip through Asia and Europe. In my first edition of this series, I will be profiling Evolve MMA in Singapore. The gym was founded in 2009 by lifelong Muay Thai practitioner Chatri Sityodtong, who became a self-made millionaire on Wall Street and Silicon Valley. When he relocated to Singapore for work, he struggled to find a place to train. Thus, he set out to build a state-of-the-art, world-class training facility that has attracted the top coaches and fighters from around the world. While Evolve is only 7 years old, it has quickly emerged as the top training facility in Asia and has established one of the top MMA camps in the world. Evolve is affiliated with the famous Sidyotong Muay Thai Gym and The Renzo Gracie Academy.
After my flight landed in Singapore, I immediately took the train from the airport to Evolve’s Far East Square location, which is considered the school’s headquarters. There are three Evolve locations spread out throughout Singapore and the coaches will routinely travel between the gyms to teach classes. The gym is located on the first floor of an office building that borders both Chinatown and the skyscrapers that line Singapore’s financial district. The outside of the building has a clear window facade with the Evolve logo etched into the glass as well an Evolve themed mural.
Upon entering the academy, there is a reception area that resembles an entrance way to a Fortune 500 company. To the left is a big screen TV with videos profiling both the coaches and the students as well as a juice bar that serves up acai bowls and smoothies for its students. To the right of the reception area is a pro shop complete with Muay Thai and BJJ gear.
As you walk behind the reception area, you will see a wall adorned with pictures and profiles of all of Evolve’s coaches and fighters which includes numerous Muay Thai, MMA, and BJJ World Champions. Some of the names MMA fans will recognize include current UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos, One Championship Welterweight Champion Ben Askren, and One Championship Lightweight Champion Shinya Aoki. Sityodtong has scouted the world to recruit the top coaches to work with both high level, professional competitors and hobbyists just looking for a great workout. Between the three locations, there are 55 coaches available to the students.
Once you walk past the wall you will see a cage for MMA training, small classes and private lesson. Behind the cage if a large mat space for Muay Thai and MMA classes. The perimeters of the mats are lined with heavy bags.
There is a second, slightly smaller room that is still large by most BJJ academy standards that is used for BJJ and fitness classes.
In many BJJ academies, there is a small, cramped changing room. At Evolve, there is a grey marbled locker room, complete with rows of showers, free towel service, and sleek wooden lockers. There is a support staff constantly restocking the towels and makings sure the locker rooms and mat areas are spotless.
Since there are two mat rooms and a cage, there are classes running the entire day with no time gaps in the schedule. On weekdays, the first class starts at 6:45 AM and the last class of the day concludes at 11 PM. Muay Thai, BJJ, and fitness classes are available throughout the day, so the excuse of classes not fitting into your schedule can be thrown out of door.
The school has attracted high level MMA fighters who visit to improve their striking or ground games in-between fights or to hold their entire training camp at Evolve. UFC flyweight contender and Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo recently trained at Evolve to train for an his showdown with UFC Champion Demetrious Johnson at UFC 197. In March, multiple-time BJJ World Champion Michelle Niccolini plans to train at Evolve to work with their roster of Muay Thai Champions and coaches to improve her striking skills for her MMA career.
You don’t have to be a World Champion to drop into Evolve. The academy has developed Evolve Vacation, which caters to both Muay Thai and MMA fighters interested in preparing for a fight out of Evolve and hobbyists who want to mix in training at Evolve with their vacations to Singapore. The plan lengths include 1-week, 1-month, and 3-month packages with additional amenities including apparel, access to nutritionists, and private lessons bundled into the plans.
Evolve has assembled an all-star team of world-class coaches working out its three state-of-the-art facilities.If you are planning a trip to Singapore or Southeast Asia, you won’t regret adding Singapore to your itinerary for its history, culture, food, and MMA training. It is definitely BJJ bucket list worthy experience!
Awesome idea. Will you be including any stops in Vietnam?