By: Douglas Yong

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) has taken the world by storm in the last few years and fight gyms have been popping up around. What used to be a men’s playground has seen more women putting on fight gloves, despite the aggressive nature of the sport.

As its name suggests, MMA is a full-contact combat sport, which encompasses striking, grappling and ground techniques from multiple fight styles, like karate, taekwondo, judo, kickboxing, wrestling, boxing and many more.

The most common combination of fight styles among MMA practitioners is Muay Thai, for striking knockouts, and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), for grappling opponents into submission.


Although it’s a professional sport, many pick it up as a hobby and an outlet to keep fit. In spite of the rough sport, females are stepping into the scene.


Shaqul B, or better known as the “Killer Bee” in the arena, is the founder of B’Valetudo Fighthouse and conducts lessons at Impakt Academy of Mixed Martial Arts.

With 15 years of martial arts experience, he emerged as the Main Event Champion in the 2012 Ultimate Satria Championship, a local martial arts event.

According to the fighter-trainer, who has eight years of teaching experience, there was a slow and gradual emergence of female practitioners in 2010.

“In 2013, there was a sudden eruption,” says Shaqul. “I have about 15 female students now, compared to only one or two back in 2012.”

The female students who train under the champion mostly want to learn self-defence and at times are even more robust than males.

“I once had a female student who flipped a male student and popped his shoulder,” Shaqul laughs.

Farah Suhailah, a third-year Supply Chain Management student from Republic Polytechnic, takes MMA lessons every week. As a child, she has always been intrigued with martial arts and started with BJJ first when she was eighteen.

“I’m of [a] small stature and [can be] easily overpowered by anyone bigger,” says the petite 19-year-old. “BJJ emphasises on leverage and this gives me a chance to defend myself with minimal strength. It’s beneficial for me.”

Farah’s passion is undeniable. She even took part in the Singapore National Trials for Wrestling and came in second, granting her an invite to the trainings. After a few training sessions, she received a letter of invitation to join the National Female Wrestling Team.

“Females seldom take martial arts into consideration because we’re a conservative society,” Farah explains. “But there has been [an] increase over the past year, they are beginning to see the value of martial arts, not only as a form of exercise but also a stress reliever and a skill for self-defence.”


Nicole Chua, a 28-year-old accountant, has been training in Muay Thai for 11 years, before progressing to MMA.

“I train because I love martial arts,” says the student of Evolve MMA, one of Asia’s top MMA gyms.

“It’s my passion, it keeps me fit.”

As a matter of fact, her passion has taken her to the international stage.