Mixing It Up With Jiu-Jitsu 
Mixing It Up With Jiu-Jitsu 

Siddharth Singh quit his lucrative career in Scotland to pursue his passion for martial arts. He is now the torchbearer for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in India, and his mixed martial art academy has been churning out some of the best fighters on a consistent basis

Siddharth Singh’s foray into combative sports started at the tender age of 12, when he donned boxing gloves for the first time in his boarding school. Since then, he has followed his pugilistic passion with great zeal and fervour. In his quest to consistently improve his combative skills, he also learned Muay Thai during a brief stay in Scotland for his higher studies. However, taking up Brazilian jiu-jitsu had never occurred to him until a serendipitous moment transpired at his mixed martial-art gym in Scotland. 


As it were, one day, Singh’s coach requested him to spar with a female jiu-jitsu trainee, who was grappling to find an opponent. Though reluctant at first, he acquiesced to the coach’s request. The next ten seconds would change his life forever. Despite weighing almost double his opponent, Siddharth managed to last scarcely, before being pinned down and choked to unconsciousness.  


“I wasn’t some random guy off the street. I am a trained fighter and yet, I couldn’t survive for more than ten seconds,” he remembers, adding how the incident made him look at the combat sport in a new light as a martial arts form that relied wholly on grappling and submission, and where neither one’s age, nor weight mattered. Instead of punches, hits, and strikes, jiu-jitsu prioritised control, strategy, and leverage. It demands a deep understanding of the mechanics of one’s own body. But for Siddharth, the uniqueness of this form lay in its disregard for physical prowess. “With proper training, you can actually beat opponents who are far stronger than you,” he tells us. “I realised how Brazilian jiu-jitsu can also be a potent tool for women against potential attackers back home in India,” he adds, noting how traditional forms of self-defense typically reserved for women are ineffective and impractical. 




Once Siddharth embraced jiu-jitsu, the next step involved putting  all the savings he accrued from a lucrative job in Scotland towards starting a mixed martial-art gym. In 2012, he opened the first branch of Crosstrain Fight Club in New Delhi. And while most were already acquainted with boxing and Muay Thai, creating awareness around a relatively uncharted form of martial art, like Brazilian jiu-jitsu, seemed like a tall order. “Not many people knew about jiu-jitsu here. I was aware that the journey would be challenging, but I had a proper vision and the belief that the sport is going to grow in India,” he asserts.  


Fuelled by unwavering passion and a burning desire to witness the rise of jiu-jitsu in his native country, Siddharth made the decision to lead by example. To draw youngsters to this new form of martial art, he had to showcase his own mastery, and the best way to do that was to win medals for India in prestigious tournaments. Thus began Siddharth’s foray into the world of professional jiu-jitsu tournaments. So far, he is the only Indian to boast a podium finish in the World Masters tournament.  


But he is not the one to rest on his laurels. Even at 35, he doesn’t compromise on his training, despite having to juggle between various aspects of running the Crosstrain Fight Club, which has now multiple branches in and around New Delhi. Apart from being an elite athlete in his chosen profession, he is now also a full-time coach, with numerous aspiring fighters training under his guidance. “Even though my priorities have changed, from being an athlete to a coach, the end goal is to leave an impact in the mixed martial-art scene in this country,” he shares. 


The pinnacle of his fledgling coaching career came earlier this year, as his protege, Anshul Jubli, scripted history by becoming the first Indian fighter to bag an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contract. When he bootstrapped his dream project in 2012, Siddharth vowed to send at least one Indian fighter to the UFC in ten years. “People laughed at me when I told them about my ten-year plan,” says Siddharth. And as fate would have it, Anshul turned his dream into a reality, exactly a decade later. 


What does Anshul’s success mean for the martial art landscape in India? “Everything now rests on Anshul’s shoulder. The sport is going to grow, with or without him. But his success at such a coveted stage can be the catalyst for mixed martial art,” notes Siddharth, comparing his student’s historic achievement to India’s World Cup triumph in 1983. “India winning the tournament made people realise that we’re pretty good at cricket. Anshul had an opportunity to create a similar impact in his profession,” he adds.  


“When aspiring fighters and their parents come and ask me what’s future in this sport, I can simply cite Anshul’s example,” concludes Siddharth, who is now also gearing up to upgrade his silver into gold this year at the World Championships. 

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