There is an old saying that travel broadens the mind, and that theory can certainly apply to martial artists. Just ask Tiffany Teo.
The Singaporean strawweight has been travelling to various training camps to expand her mind – and skillset – and it has helped evolve her game to world-class levels in ONE Championship.
“I started with Juggernaut Fight Club – that was the very first gym where I trained in mixed martial arts,” she reveals.
“Before that, I trained at other gyms when I was doing boxing and Muay Thai, but when I switched to mixed martial arts, Juggernaut was the first gym I trained at.”
The Juggernaut gym, led by Arvind “The Juggernaut” Lalwani, is renowned for its “no-nonsense style of training” and became home to Teo during her early career, where she was coached by Major Overall, then Luke Adams.
But as time – and her skill set – progressed, Teo started to find it harder to find suitable sparring partners, and in the summer of 2017, she decided to look elsewhere for training.
However, that presented some problems.
“One of the problems, when you go to a brand new gym, is that the focus wouldn’t be on you,” said Teo.
“When you’re preparing for a match, you want your coach to be focusing on you – correcting the stuff you need, telling you your game plan, and keeping you on track, basically.
“When you go to a new gym, the coach there doesn’t know much about you.”
“It takes time to form a bond with a coach. If you’re just there for a camp, chances are you are not going to have that kind of bond with a coach you have never worked with.”
Eventually, she eliminated that issue when Overall started his new venture in Singapore – Team Highlight Reel.
In this case, the chance to follow her coach made the decision easier for Teo, who also received some help from a former Juggernaut teammate.
ONE featherweight star Emilio “The Honey Badger” Urrutia helped her establish a connection with the world-renowned Tiger Muay Thai gym in Phuket, Thailand.
“He was kind of the one who linked me up with Tiger Muay Thai and helped me to arrange everything. He was the one helping me out with my sparring, overseeing if everything was okay. So, it was nice to have him there,” said Teo.
Teo flourished in her new surrounds and even re-established a coaching connection with her old Juggernaut coach Adams, who now works for Bangkok Fight Lab.
With familiar coaches, plus a twin-centre gym setup that gives her the best training of her career, Teo feels like her career is in the ideal spot, from a training perspective.
“I feel like what I have now is quite a good balance – if I want to do my camps overseas, I can begin training here and just go overseas for the sparring portion,” says the strawweight contender.
“The only reason why I went overseas for my last camp was the lack of sparring partners, but now Team Highlight Reel has a lot of up-and-coming athletes.
“I have a lot more training partners now, so I don’t see myself training at other camps in the near future.
“I feel like there’s no specific way to train, and it’s up to the individual’s learning style – for some people, the environment affects them a lot, so a change of environment might affect their training.
“I guess they could give it a try and see what fits them the most.”
It is certainly working for Teo, who is looking to showcase her development at ONE: HEART OF THE LION when she faces eight-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion Michelle Nicolini in Singapore this Friday, 9 November.