Gym 27 – Synergy MMA, Bali

Well, I’ve arrived in paradise :-)

As part of my mini surfing ‘holiday’ in Bali, I needed to find a gym which was close by to get a few BJJ sessions in during the week :-)

I send an email over to Niko Han, founder and head instructor at Synergy MMA and receive the following response.

Dear Craig,

You are more than welcome to train with us at Synergy BJJ MMA Academy Bali.

Class schedule is every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 1730-1930 (No-Gi), and Tuesday Thursday at 1100-1230 (Gi).

At Synergy SpartanFit Studios (, class schedule is every Tuesday and Thursday at 1600-1730.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions or concerns.

We hope to see you tomorrow.



Since its founding back in 2003, Synergy has now grown into a chain of over 30 academies and satellite schools worldwide. I was lucky to choose my guesthouse a 2-minute walk from the central Bali location where Niko himself is based for teaching class.


I turn up at the gym on my first night after touching down and dropping my bag off. The gym is a large open space on the second floor of the building. Reception area, large padded areas, heavy bags, MMA cage, hammer and tyre (of course), and……..a first for all gyms I’ve visited until now, a traditional Bali offering (Canang Sari) shrine mounted to the wall for good blessings.






BJJ Canang Sari

The class today is leg locks. Leg lock entry, submission, escapes and counters. I always enjoy leg lock classes, mainly due to it being a weak point (weaker? :-) ) in my current knowledge……a lot of schools won’t teach leg locks at white belt level due to the injury they can cause if not performed with caution.



The legendary Helio Gracie

The class is really fun. Bunch of really friendly people made up of regulars, newcomers to Bali, and some other travellers and holiday goers who also wanted a paradise training session or two.

“Here, take this”, Jannik, another student from Italy, living in Bali for a few months. says after class, and passes me a small fruit.

“What is it?”

“Salek, it’s a fruit native to Bali. Let me know what you think it tastes like.”

I try it, and feel like the girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory who takes that piece of gum. The flavour and texture were amazing and as soon as I thought I had the taste down, it would change. Apple, then liquorice, then pear, then orange, then toothpaste?…..

I’m making faces and Jannik laughs…..“At least it’s good for you!”



I take a few more classes during the week. The leg lock techniques are drilled in-depth and expanded upon. On my last day, stretching out after class, I start having a chat with Niko. Niko started his BJJ journey in 1996 under the legendary Rickson Gracie himself, and over the past 19 years has trained in several academies and other BJJ celebrities such as Marc Laimon, Eddie Bravo and Jean-Jacques Machado.

“I train with a mind on the real application”, Niko tells me. “I have special classes from time to time where we will incorporate light striking and other things…’s sometimes easy to forget as BJJ is so fun.”

“Here, put me in a choke” Niko tells me, and I move around and apply a rear-naked-choke without pressure. Niko’s right hand come over the top of my arm and taps my forehead. “See? You have the choke in, but your face is exposed….your eyes are exposed. Realistically the choke will still work…but you may walk away from a real fight with some serious damage….in a real fight people can freak out!” 

Niko does the same thing to me but with a slight adjustment, ducking his head and hiding his eyes behind the trailing arm. “It doesn’t look as pretty, but it’ll save your eyes in a real fight”.


Me and Niko Han

It was a great experience and a real privilege to get some 1-1 training time with Niko and a helpful and quick reminder about the roots of the sport – self-defense :-)

Thanks Guys for having me down…..and allowing me to tap-out in paradise :-)


Thanks Guys!

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