State of MMA in China

16 Apr

MMA (mixed martial arts) is getting really big around the world, but what about in China? It seems there’s a startup scene with at least one decent promotion, dedicated fighters and camps, though it’s not clear whether it’s enough to sustain a genuine trend. Vice Fightland has some very decent writeups of MMA in China, including the state of MMA, foreign fighters who hustle for fights and get hustled repeatedly, and a full-fledged promotion that has had a rough time so far. This one about a foreign fighter training young Chinese at an MMA center in the Shaolin complex is quite good.

There’s some negative stuff that doesn’t paint a pretty picture.
China’s Wushu Associations are the agent of sportification. They promote performance wushuthe acrobatic routines based on kungfu formsand Sanda combat sports through tournaments, standardized rules, state-sponsored training facilities, certified coaches, and most importantly, pay. Like most things communist, the system is heavy on numbers and low on excellence.

There’s a poignant part about the stark gap between Chinese and American fighters, even for those from low-income or poor backgrounds.
“I spoke to Herb Dean on the sidelines of RUFF 12, and one of the things we talked about was the huge gap in living standards between an American MMA fighter and a Chinese MMA fighter. In Dean’s hometown of LA, people shot at each other over sneakers, but even in the worst neighborhoods, people had homes, yards, and refrigerators.

“These kids out here grow up with a lot less than any of those gangsters in LA,“ said Herb.”


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