Get combat-ready with Tribal Warriors in Goa

Bonny Sinary, founder of the first female-led MMA training gym in Goa, talks about Mixed Martial Arts, the scene in Goa, and the 11th Art of Combat competition set to take place on February 17, 2024
The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
The Tribal Warriors community in Goa is made up of men, women and even children.Photo: Gomantak Times

MAYA ROSE FERNANDES

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a combat sport, involving striking, grappling and ground fighting, and incorporates techniques from various combat sports from across the globe.

MMA is a growing trend across India. Gomantak Times Digital caught up with Bonny Sinary, who is the founder of the first female-led MMA training gym in Goa, Tribal Warriors, to tell us more about their work and their upcoming fight, 11th Art of Combat, on February 17, 2024.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

How did Tribal Warriors start?

A

I came to India in 2012, and decided not to leave. I began private training with a group of women, and later, they brought their kids. Slowly, the classes grew bigger, and over the course of ten years, we’ve grown into a full-fledged MMA gym, catering to all levels – from beginners to professional fighters.

Bonny Sinary is the founder of Tribal Warriors, in Anjuna, and has won several martial arts championships.
Bonny Sinary is the founder of Tribal Warriors, in Anjuna, and has won several martial arts championships.
Q

Does the name have a significance?

A

Ninety percent of the people we train aren’t professional fighters, but into fitness, looking for a transformational journey, or wanting to lose or gain weight, or looking for more focus in their lives. We have a fun kids’ group as well, and it’s a community.

So, the name Tribal Warriors stands for a Tribe of Warriors, as in, a community of people who are warriors in life.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

What is Tribal Warriors’ connection with Goa?

A

After visiting, I decided to stay in Goa because I fell in love with the place. Now, I’m married to a Goan; I have a five-year-old daughter, and this is her home. Many of our students are from Goa. We’re a part of the community here.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

Tell us a bit about your own journey building Tribal Warriors, and what it is like as founder of the first female-led MMA training gym in Goa.

A

As far as my own achievements go, I fought for 15 years and won the English Muay Thai championship twice, the British Muay Thai championship once and the European Kickboxing championship once, where I beat the reigning world champion.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Now, I feel very blessed to be living a life where I’m doing what I’m most passionate about, and that’s teaching and training others in martial arts, giving them the opportunity to find value and focus in their lives.

On a personal note, I was a troubled teenager, but MMA training gave me direction and saved my life. It’s a gift to be able to pass that on to other people now, and I’ve observed how some people’s lives change once they train here.

Being a female fighter is a challenge in India as they often face resistance from their family. I try to make people realise the value of marital arts training, especially for women. Even if you never fight, the inner strength and confidence gained is worth more than what you get from some of the self-defence workshops out there.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Being a female instructor, that’s a different story. I have a team of over 15 home-grown fighters. It’s rare that we have experienced fighters join us simply because there is a woman at the helm. Then, of course, there’s running a fight series.

For those who don’t know me, it’s incomprehensible that the person in charge is a woman. Once they interact with me, though, they come to understand that I am passionate, experienced, knowledgeable and most importantly, that I care about the fighters. There’s a shift in perspective, and I have gradually built a big network in India.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

What services does Tribal Warriors offer?

A

We offer a free trial class to people interested in joining us, so that they can get a feel for the types of training on offer, and the general vibe of the gym. We have monthly memberships, 10-class options where you can sample different classes, and more.

Our classes include MMA, kickboxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – taught by our resident instructor, Carlos Almeida, who’s a fourth degree blackbelt in Jiu Jitsu. When you learn to fight, you also learn self-defence.

In terms of the demographic, we have everyone here from kids to adults, girls and boys, uncles and aunties, grannies and fighters. We also have foreigners who have settled in Goa, as well as international tourists on holiday, who are looking for somewhere to train. We offer holiday stay and long term residential training packages as well.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

What are some of the rewards and challenges you’ve faced?

A

Seeing people finding their focus, or finding the courage to deal with whatever is going on in their lives, and revealing the warrior spirit inside of them, far outweighs any challenges. It’s hard getting people to understand that martial arts fighting isn’t about aggression, but can really help people find peace and balance within themselves, and build their own confidence and inner strength.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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Q

Tell us about the ‘Art of Combat’ fight series.

A

Art of Combat is India’s premier combat tournament where the best of the ‘Big 4’ in martial arts, namely MMA, kickboxing, Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, come together to test their skills against each other and vie for the Best Fighter crown.

 

We started it in 2018 to show the community what MMA was about, and this is our 11th show. So far, we have 9 Indian states represented, and 33 fights planned. That’s 66 fighters in total, including our team of eleven fighters, of which, four are local women and two are local men.

The Tribal Warriors community in  Goa is made up of men, women and even children.
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MMA is still in its nascent stages in India, and there aren’t a lot of platforms in India for people to explore it, but I’m grateful to be at the start of it, and because we do it with such passion and love, we are gaining a strong reputation across India.

The 11th Art of Combat will take place at Artjuna in Anjuna, North Goa, on February 17, 2024 at 6 pm. Tickets are priced at ₹ 500 (Regular) and ₹ 1,500 (Ringside), and are available online at https://aocofficial.com

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