All mixed up in the ring
For mixed martial arts stars like Adrian Pang, the more pressure there is the better.
Chinese Australian Pang and mainlander Zhao Zilong jetted into Hong Kong recently to meet the press ahead of a big MMA tournament to be held in the city on January 11.
Both men gave exclusive interviews and shared their fighting secrets with Young Post Junior Reporters.
'It's not a big deal to have pressure. The most important thing is how you cope with it,' says Pang, who adds that pressure motivates him to do better and prepare more thoroughly ahead of a fight.
'I like to compete in order to test myself,' Pang says. 'Putting myself in front of a crowd and testing my ability is very exciting, and I love this challenge. The training is very hard, and the financial reward is often not all that great, so I do it because I love it.'
As the name suggests, MMA is a combination of different martial arts. The sport is practised under a strict set of competition rules, which allow athletes to compete against each other using any style or combination of styles they choose. This includes the kicks and punches used in sports like muay Thai and the grappling moves of judo or wrestling. To compete, fighters need to be at the top of their own chosen style and be comfortable using a variety of others. The key is adaptation.
Former king of sanda - or 'free fighting' - Zhao has been competing in MMA events since 2005. Hailing from Inner Mongolia, Zhao is looking forward to the Hong Kong tournament - and even hopes it might lead to a role in a local martial arts movie.
'Hong Kong has produced some great martial arts movies, so I hope the people of Hong Kong will appreciate some good MMA action.'
According to Zhao, 'the best professionals are those who adapt to their opponents' strengths and know how to take advantage of their weaknesses.'
But, when he started out, despite being a two-time sanda champion, his skills were not rounded enough to compete in MMA. He spent a year training with top Brazilian instructors to overcome his weaknesses, he says.
Taking a moment out to coach Young Post junior reporters, the professional martial artists showed how serious they are about every move they perform. Different moves can involve very slight changes in execution that are not obvious at all to someone who has not undergone extensive training.
Meanwhile, despite the aggressiveness of the sport in the ring, junior reporters found the fighters to be patient and understanding as coaches. All that changes in a fight. 'When my grandmother watched my competition videos, she said she could not recognise me,' Pang says.
In the tournament organised by Legend next month, Zhao and Pang will be participating in the two headline events: Zhao will face MMA champion Vicente Pajaro of the Philippines, while Pang will compete against South Korea's Spirit MC Champion, Nam Yui Chul. Champion martial artists from all around the world will also be participating. For more information, call 3128 8288.
This article was written by Young Post junior reporters. If you would like to know more about our Reporters' Club, go to our website at yp.scmp.com