Beijing's best boxing and martial arts gyms

The first rule of fight club: talk about fight club

Combat or martial sports – those involving one-on-one contact – come in a variety of forms, from the usual hit-someone types like boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai, to the more full-body-grappling styles such as wrestling and Brazilian jiujitsu, to purely kicking-based varieties like taekwondo. Or, indeed, a mixture of them, as mixed martial arts (MMA) allows both striking and grappling.

But these sports aren't just about getting into a ring and punching someone: training clubs come with rules, form, safety and lots of practice time. And they're a hell of a workout for the body, and the mind. Here's a round-up of some of the best clubs in Beijing.
Boxing

Boxing

If you're a complete newbie to gloving up and squaring off in the ring, then have no fear. We tried out a class at Champion Boxing, with no prior experience and found it to be an enjoyable (if tough) workout, and easy to follow. Styling the main focus of the gym as white-collar boxing, owner Ryan Buame tells us that the goal of Champion is 'to make you your own champion'. The Sanlitun gym offers fitness boxing and amateur boxing, as well as MMA classes.

Similarly, Fight Republic and Tiger King also offer boxing, including classes for beginners, those just interested in fitness and people wanting to train to compete. 

Image: Champion Boxing

Muay Thai

Muay Thai

This sport involves punches and clinches, with the boxer using more of their body than in boxing, including elbows, shins and knees, earning it the apt nickname 'The Art of Eight Limbs'. While many of the boxing gyms in Beijing offer Muay Thai classes – Champion, Fight Republic and Tiger King included – Alfa Gym has a number of international trainers who specialise in the discipline (likewise, they also offer boxing classes). One of the founders, Sean Wright, tells us that mastering Muay Thai takes long-term commitment and years of training, but it's not just crazy limbs: the use of your entire body in the sport means you really need to go to those conditioning classes, slacker.

Image: Max Pixel

Brazilian jiujitsu

Brazilian jiujitsu

Evolving in 1920s Brazil from the original Japanese form, Brazilian jiujitsu (BJJ) is based on grappling and ground fighting, and is a martial art that emphasises the skills needed to overcome a (potentially) larger or stronger opponent. By using techniques honed over many hours of practice, students learn to apply different grips and positions on their opponent until they are no longer dangerous. Super Gain Fight Club offers classes for beginners, children, old-timers, you name it. Founded by Andy Pi in 1998 – back when most people in Beijing didn’t know much (or anything) about the discipline – the academy is the city’s oldest BJJ gym, though Tiger King also offers classes for beginners and advanced students.

Image: Super Gain Fight Club

Self-defence

Self-defence

While there is, of course, a self-defence aspect to many martial and combat sports, for people looking for something simple to help them out of tough situations on the street, specific self-defence classes might be the thing. We tried the free monthly women’s self-defence class at Sanlitun hotel Chao; taught in English and Chinese, the classes focus on methods that aim to de-escalate confrontation, plus simple moves to help get you out of a hot spot quickly. Classes are usually held once or twice a month on Saturdays; see Chao's WeChat account (ID: ilovechao2016) for dates and to register.

Image: Chao Hotel

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