Fri, Jul 03, 2009 - Page 14 News List

Legs, elbows and fists of fury

By Marcus Aurelius  /  STAFF REPORTER

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After the last Ming Wu (明武) tournament in Hsinchu on March 1, a local newspaper portrayed the event as a no-holds-barred, blood-soaked street fight that shocked a crowd which included women and children. This melodramatic journalism was reminiscent of the mid-1990s when mixed martial arts, or MMA, was still gaining traction in the US and Senator John McCain called the sport “human cockfighting.”

Now, MMA has become one of the fastest-growing sports in the world, which is good news for Ming Wu, an association dedicated to training and teaching many different styles of martial arts and providing a world-class stage for fighters looking to gain experience inside the octagon. Holly Itoga, a promoter for Ming Wu, describes MMA as “the ultimate test of strength, mentally and physically. It’s exciting; it incorporates different disciplines of martial arts like judo, Brazilian jujitsu, wrestling, and even Chinese kung fu. MMA gets down to the basics of man versus man.”

Tomorrow’s event, called Standing Orders, is the fifth in a series for Ming Wu.

While audiences can expect to see hard-hitting strikes, expeditious takedowns and even some ground and pound, the men who will be scrapping are not just brawlers off the street or bouncers from some club. They’re English teachers, college students, office workers and martial arts instructors who spend countless hours training and getting their bodies in peak physical shape. Fighters must submit to a mandatory health check and weigh-in before each bout because their safety is a primary concern.

Ming Wu associate Nazeem Solarie said the fighting showcases have grown from 250 to 3,000 attendees after four events in less than one year. This proliferation of fans and fighters means that soon combatants at Ming Wu contests will not only be going against each other for bragging rights and prize money, but also title belts.

EVENTS NOTES:

WHAT: Ming Wu 5: Standing Orders (eight mixed martial arts fights)

WHEN: Tomorrow from 5pm to 8:30pm

WHERE: Hsinchu Municipal Stadium (新竹市立體育場),

295 Gongyuan Rd, Hsinchu City (新竹市公園路295號)

ADMISSION: NT$650 and NT$1,200

ON THE NET: www.mingwu.com.tw; Facebook: Ming Wu 5


Recently, Pro-Fighting, a new MMA organization in Taiwan, almost sold out its debut at Luxy by mixing combat with DJs, dancers and hip-hop groups.

“As MMA matures here in Taiwan, there is more than enough room for two or even more fighting companies,” Itoga said. “I hope soon there will be events in different cities all over the island.”

Previously, when there were fight nights or boxing matches at clubs or gyms, expatriates would dominate because they had been practicing MMA for much longer. Itoga thinks that it is now Taiwan’s time to shine.

“I’m excited for the Taiwanese. Once they decide to do something, they can be really good in a short period of time,” she said. “MMA fits into the Taiwanese code of hard work, honor, and having heart. Taiwan is perfectly fitted for MMA to succeed.”

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