If you stayed in Panama for quite a bit, you might find yourself looking something to do. One of the stuff you can do to pass your time is to learn self-defense and martial arts. Where can you do it? You’ll surprise yourself when you discover you don’t have to get out of the city.
There are dozens upon dozens of martial arts studios in Panama City itself. You can find everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Karate, Boxing, and Aikido schools. Which one you pick is up to your standards.
If you’re looking where you can spend time learning martial arts, we’ll give you all the places you can visit. We’re sure you won’t run out of studios to visit. The only limit is what you want to do.
Understanding Panama’s Boxing and Martial Arts Scene
There are many martial arts options that you can pick when you go to Panama. You can find most of these studios in and around Panama City, where most expats stay. Many of these studios also have many expats who try to patronize them.
Most of these studios are there to take care of the Panamanians’ love for self-defense. The people of Panama like sports and one of the biggest in the country is boxing. In the past few years, other self-defense sports permeated the local scene in Panama. Many see it as a way to either get out of poverty or make a name for themselves.
To many locals, boxing was their ticket to a better life. Local sports heroes like Roberto “El Cholo” Duran” created a spark of inspiration to many Panamanians. Add to that the colorful history of boxing in Panama and the fiery Latino spirit of Panama, and you have people who want to learn mixed martial arts.
As for many expats, many brought their love for martial arts from their home countries. Many people who settle in Panama look for activities to pass the time. Those who already love mixed martial arts will find Panama’s martial arts scene as very accessible.
Whether it’s teaching their kids a new sport or finding something to do, expats will enjoy it. The local martial arts scene in Panama is something you will appreciate for sure.
With that, let’s look at the local options that you have for boxing and martial arts.
1. Panama Knockout Boxing Academy
One of the best, if not the best boxing gym in Panama City itself is the Panama Knockout Boxing Academy. Located on the 2nd floor of the Marbella New York Plaza, this boxing academy is what every boxing enthusiast needs.
The PKO Boxing Academy is the gym that teaches its students how to fight like Roberto Duran. The academy, under the management of Duran’s family, combines modern techniques with the legendary slugger’s moves. They provide hours of workout sessions for learners of all fitness levels.
The gym provides training for boxers of all ages, though their focus starts with early adolescents. The training sessions last for a minimum of an hour for basic training and longer for others. They don’t stop at teaching their students how to punch harder, however.
PKO tries to follow the footsteps of Roberto Duran, which means their teaching style focuses on footwork. Duran is a very mobile fighter – quick on his foot but with a powerful punch. The boxing academy tries to drill the same to their students, focusing on superior footwork.
What makes PKO great is its added focus on women too. Many women enjoy boxing in this gym as it provides a safe space for them. The boxing academy has 80 percent of its clients being women.
2. Rilion Gracie Jiu Jitsu Panama
For people who are serious about martial arts, it’s crucial to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. This grappling art is a vital piece to anyone who not only wants to be fit and healthy but wants superb self-defense. There are a few BJJ dojos in Panama, but there’s one that stands out.
Rilion Gracie Jiu Jitsu is one of the best martial arts dojos in Panama. Found in Casa #15, Av Cincuentenario Sur, they come under the tutelage of BJJ master Rilion Gracie. If you’re not familiar, the Gracie family developed Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Their most notable members include Royce, Rilion, Carlos Sr, and Hélio Gracie.
The Rilion Gracie Jiu Jitsu academy in Panama teaches adults and children the practice. The studio is a wide-open studio, and they provide everything you need. Classes include your gi and start at white belt, like every martial art.
What makes this BJJ studio great is the instruction you get. Learning BJJ from the people who developed the system gives you a superb advantage. Whether you’re looking to get some serious guidance or passing the time, learning from them is crucial.
While Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has a majority of men learning it, there are also women in these classes. Students can start as early as five years old and half 30-minute martial arts sessions. The studio is clean and hygienic, so you’re sure you get the best experience possible.
3. Aikido Buikukai Panama
For people who don’t want to learn violence or looking for a meditative martial art, Aikido is the one for you. Aikido practitioners focus their training on deflecting their attackers with non-violent throws. If you think this martial art is for you, Aikido Buikukai Panama is your best pick.
Aikido Buikukai Panama is in Calle 62C Oeste, beside Academia Panameña de Taekwondo. This sport offers authentic Aikido instruction, with masters learning the full art. Students come from all age brackets, from children, women, to even older adults.
What makes Aikido Buikukai Panama worth it is the environment. Students here are happy with the family atmosphere, which students helping each other out. They also fly in trainers from Japan to make sure that the instruction quality is up to spec.
Beyond martial art, Aikido Buikukai Panama teaches superior values to its students. They teach them discipline, respect, and commitment, allowing for a level of mental training. Many students note the intrinsic qualities they develop from the sport.
Compassion. Respect. Honor. Duty.
Students of Aikido develop these traits that don’t only make you a better martial artist. They learn the martial art as a meditative lifestyle while improving their self-defense.
4. Genbu-Kai Karate Panama
It’s easy to feel intimidated if you see a big dojo or martial arts academy. You will also wonder about the cost of instruction and if it is even practical. For people who are looking for a smaller but still a great martial arts studio, among the best is Genbu-Kai Panama.
Genbu-Kai Panama teaches the official Shito-Ryu style of Karate. Once you get there, one of the first things you will notice is the smaller, more intimate dojo. Don’t sway yourself by the intimacy of the academy, however, because the people inside are no joke.
Most of the instructors in Genbu-Kai Panama are black belts. They are among the most knowledgeable practitioners of Shito-Ryu in Panama. They are consummate experts, so much that they are very knowledgeable of other styles of karate. These include the Okinawa style, mainland styles, and Kobudo.
If you’re an expat, you’ll enjoy studying martial arts in Genbu-Kai. They go out of their way to explain concepts in English if your Spanish is not up to point. Beyond that, the people here are helpful and humble practitioners of the art. We’re sure you won’t miss a beat.
5. Casa Sarita Martial Arts House
Casa Sarita Martial Arts House in Calle Eric Del Valle is a great place to learn different martial arts. If you’re the type who wants to mix up your disciplines, Casa Sarita offers different self-defense classes. These include Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and boxing, which make up a lethal combo.
Casa Sarita offers classes to different age groups, from kids, adolescents, to adults. They also offer classes to women who want to learn any one of the disciplines.
Why should you pick Casa Sarita?
Their instructors are some of the best practitioners of the arts. They know how to break down the lessons into something easy to digest, making it easy for beginners. You can also learn to transition from one of their sports to another, allowing for smoother learning of mixed martial arts.
At Casa Sarita, you can get not only gym training and sparring. The instructors will teach you how to refine your skills, which techniques to focus, and how you can get better. The discipline they provide is hard to match, and you know you get professional instruction every time.
If you’re looking to box and practice martial arts in Panama, there are many options out there. You’ll find many smaller dojos and martial arts academies, and there are also the best studios. Whichever you pick, we’re sure you’ll get the best martial arts instructions.
Whether you’re looking to box, learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate, or even other martial arts, give every studio a good look. Observe how they do teach their classes and see if their style is for you.
Are you into learning self-defense? Want to get yourself or your kids into martial arts? Follow our guide and give yourself the best training experience out there. You won’t regret it.
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