Two Friends, Two Fighters.

9 11 2012

Cung Le shows off some of his signature kicks.

A big UFC showdown is coming to town. Macau, to be precise.

The world’s fastest growing sport is finally venturing into one of the world’s fastest growing economies: China.

What could this beckon for the future of mixed martial arts? Bruce Lee, after all, was the father of MMA, according to the president of the UFC, Dana White. So it only seems fitting that the UFC is at long last getting a foothold in the vast Chinese market.

I had the pleasure of attending an exciting UFC pre-fight press conference yesterday, where the fighters Rich Franklin, Cung Le, Dong Hyun Kim and China’s very own Tiequan Zhang shed some light on their MMA lives.

Here is a little online feature that I put together for TimeOut Hong Kong.

Friends or foes? Inside the Octagon, they’re only one thing: fighters.


Fist of Glory

8 11 2012

By Calvin Sit

It started with the movies. Then it was the kiddie boxing sets at Toys’R’Us. Finally, I signed myself up for a kungfu class and before long, I found myself sucked into a whirling vortex of kicks, punches, spins and sweeps. Soon, I even headed up to the birthplace of Shaolin kungfu for an intensive (read: painful but memorable) training program.

So it came as a pleasant surprise when, on my very first day as an intern at TimeOut Hong Kong, I was given the assignment of writing a short feature on an upcoming kungfu championship. This was right up my alley!

Are you a novice? Do you have a weapon fetish? Perhaps you seek company, or balance, or an adrenaline rush? I cover all that and more in my  ‘Around Town’ feature, here.

By Calvin Sit

“As the International Wushu Competition swings through town, Mary Hui deciphers the well kept secrets of Chinese martial arts in a rough (but tough) breakdown. Photos by Calvin Sit, demonstration by members of Mark Scientific Ving Tsun Association (麥漢基詠春拳學會).

Crouching TigerHidden DragonKung Fu Hustle. Or, more recently, the ‘Wuxi Finger Hold’, as popularised by a feisty – though pudgy – fighting kung fu panda by the name of Po. Chinese martial arts may seem straightforward in these cases but, in reality, it’s not so simple. There are countless disciplines and styles out there, which may baffle many the budding apprentice. But fear not. As the upcoming 7th Hong Kong International Wushu Competition nears, we offer this guide to help illuminate the way.”

Continue reading here.

Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting…

13 03 2012

As part of Project Week, a yearly week-long excursion that forms part of our United World Colleges education, I led a trip up to the city of Dengfeng – home to the mighty Mt. Song and the world famous birthplace of kung fu, the Shaolin Temple – where we experienced a week of intensive kung fu training. Here are some photos to tell the tale of our kung fu endeavours…

Here you see kids at the Shaolin E-Po Wushu School. These students would be running around everywhere during recess, practicing their kicks and punches and just generally developing very good stamina and agility without realising it! It was amazing to see how disciplined they all were – at one point we saw a line of about 10 boys, all squatting down on and moving slowly across the school yard, carefully picking up dirt from between the floor tiles.

Our daily training schedule was quite similar to theirs, although the intensity of our sessions would probably pale in comparison. Here’s a taste of a day’s training:

At 5:30am every morning we would quickly warm up, then go out into the cold and run along the empty streets of Dengfeng. All along the way we would see other students running in perfect formation, chanting ‘1, 1, 1-2-1’ in immaculate unison while we fumbled along, each running at our own speeds. Then we would return to the training center for some stretching, kicks and agility exercise, finishing up at around 6:45am.

Our second training session would begin at 9:00am until 11:30am. Again we would warm up, jog around the mat, stretch, kick, do lots of jumps and spins, and move on to practicing our routine. Stretching is a big part of each session…as is the pain that comes along with it!

After a quick lunch and perhaps a stroll around town we begin our last training session of the day at 2:00pm till 4:30pm. This would be very similar to the 9:00am session and afterwards we would all stay behind, playing around with various jumps, flips and kicks. By 9pm most of us will be fast asleep in bed, ready to start at 5:30am the next morning all over again!

We arrived on Sunday and as there is no training, we visited the Shaolin Temple.For some of us it was the first time to see snow…

The excitement as some of us touch snow for the first time!

Up we go to visit the Dharma Cave, climbing up large concrete steps. The Mt. Song mountain range stretched before us, the Shaolin Temple slowly diminished in size below us, and the landscape became progressively more snowy. Hmm…very Zen like.

A nice warm up for the coming week of intensive training!

Bodhidharma supposedly meditated in this cave for nine years, facing a wall and not speaking for the entire time. Talk about being patient and profound!

Here you have Leila practicing a kung fu stance (pu bu) on a tree.

On the second last day of the trip, we visited the Song Yang Academy and also did a short hike up to the entrance of the Songshan National Park. Halfway up the hike there was a little house, where some villagers were burning offerings for their ancestors, while others huddled around cooking noodles for lunch. This lady gave me the glare as I tried to peep in through the doorway…She seems to be telling me, ‘Tourist, you shall not pass!’.

At the Songyang Academy, we all walked around a small pond three times. Folklore has it that doing so will get you top grades. Naturally, we all dropped our bags down and proceeded to circle the pond three times.

This is our instructor Coach Jia’s two year old son. We asked him whether he would have his son practice kung fu, and he told us that it would really be up to his son to decide whether he liked kung fu or not. It’s interesting to see a  liberal parenting mindset as this coming from our coach, who has been practicing kung fu for 20 years. A helpful reminder that not all Chinese parents are Tiger Mums or Eagle Dads!