Fighting in China

by Alan Sawyer (posted July 2009)

Big Kick by Ruth AshdownMay 2009 and I’m on my way to China to fight twice in one week.  If you’d have asked me 13 years ago if I ever thought I’d be fighting at all – I’d have probably laughed and thought it not possible.  To me it highlights the importance of sticking to something – just keep going – keep training and train with great instructors.

The team was made up of three fighters representing Crawley Thaiboxing (myself, Kyle Nichol & Ruth Ashdown) and our boxing coach – John Jarvis.

We left the UK on a Thursday evening with a long flight to Beijing then an internal flight towards the destination (there was some more travelling to come).

Our first fight was an outdoor, annual event in Laizhou on the Monday in front of a crowd somewhere between 10K – 20K and televised to around 6m.  You start to realise the size & scale of China when you’re out there and 10% of the population are mad about this martial art.

The first fight was under Sanshou rules, with the 3 of us and 4 Japanese fighters against the Chinese home team.  The rules allowed punching, kicking, knees to the body and throws.  Whilst the scoring favoured the Sanshou way of fighting (ie. throws, body & head kicks scored well – but knees didn’t score at all) we’ve got a great coach in John and I managed to get a win.

We travelled the next day to Zhengzhou (where the TV station responsible for the 2nd fight was).  Only a couple of hours drive away is the Shaolin Temple so we squeezed in a (well worth while) visit.

At the Shaolin Temple

At the Shaolin Temple (Alan Sawyer, Kyle Nichol, Ruth Ashdown & John Jarvis)

The second fight was in Sheungqui, an old city with parts over 700 years old.  The fight was supposed to be under K1 rules (punches, kicks, knees – no throws).  Not sure what happened there because the ref didn’t stop the throws.  Anyway – no whinging, I lost on points in a fight that was good fun.  After the second fight we were introduced to the 2nd highest monk at the Shaolin Temple who had a gift for us all – I can’t tell you how big the grin on my face was.

Fight 2 Ring Entrance

Second Fight Ring Entrance

Instruction from the corner

Instructions from John – listening & looking to the corner is ‘priceless’

Waiting for the result

Waiting for the result (a loss unfortunately)

After the fight it was off for a Mongolian BBQ of sorts with a spit roast sheep.  It was held in the street where we ate and drank with our oppoents and the other fighters – we socialised as best we could given the language barrier and got ready for the long journey home the next day.

The whole trip was amazing, I’d love to go back & travel a bit, train a bit and it’d be nice to learn some of the language – I’d definately recommend it.

I can’t remember the exact quote but one of our hosts told that “When you have a fight, your find a friend”.  That couldn’t have been truer on this trip.