An extreme sport in full democratization in China, banned in competition in other countries but very popular in the Middle Kingdom and for their Soviet neighbor, MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) pleases young Chinese men and women as gathering more and more followers. China is the cradle of martial arts and regional champions are not lacking. Are combat sports and other extreme sports a choice market for foreign investors in China? Without a doubt!

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Mixed followers for mixed martial arts!

Mixed martial arts, or MMA, is a mixed discipline in China, in addition to bringing a wind of modernity. The proof is with the champion Miao Jie, who juggles between her training hours and the needs of her three-year-old son.


MMA girl boxing


Would national news have anything to do with the sudden fervor of girls to get into boxing? Warmly encouraged by their boyfriends, Chinese city girls rush to club registrations. No more yoga, the trend is in the fight: from MMA and Thai boxing, boxing clubs in China are mixed or even slightly overpopulated female. So much so that the opening of ‘Girls Only’ classes becomes necessary to manage the influx of beginners.


The new popularity of fighting sports among Chinese

It is rumored that this sudden popularity would be due to Victoria Secret models, idolized in China, where their last show in Shanghai would have attracted the attention of fans on their intensive preparation several months before the event. The secret of Adriana Lima’s concrete abs: Aero-Boxing, a new discipline invented by coach Michael Olajide Jr., which has a very positive impact on his career as a stars coach. He was invited this year to visit the Shanghai Golden Gloves club.

victoria secret angel

Traditional martial arts enjoy great prestige in China. MMA is more about efficiency than aesthetics. His modern practice, imported from the United States, seeks to find a place in China.

Trash news and Sport Responsibilities

If MMA in competition has not been banned, the violence of the sport creates debate in China. The excesses of some fans out of the ring make headlines and strengthen the negative connotation of sport in the Middle Kingdom.

Unquestionably, the most sordid incident occurred in Taiwan in May 2018, when an MMA practitioner – divorced for domestic violence – savagely murdered, dismembered and potentially ate the genitals parts of his ‘match’ on Tinder, who would have lied to him about her virginity and would have continued to use the app to make other encounters. Gary Chu, 28, then buried the seven garbage bags containing the different parts of his girlfriend’s body in the courtyard of his building, before leaving a message explaining his actions and hanging himself.
mma taiwan scandal

It is not the only one of its kind: a huge manhunt in Beijing has found another wanted MMA fighter, hidden by his family after violently assaulting a motorist during a road showdown. The video of the confrontation did not fail to be broadcast on the Chinese social networks, where we see pedestrians trying unsuccessfully to intervene so that the mad-furious frees his victim, hitting him without releasing.

Unfortunately, fighting sports are routinely tapped by the courts and media for their diverted use outside the training room and out of legitimate self-defense, all over the world same.

When MMA in China shocks the opinion

Even if these facts are widely unknown outside China, the practice of MMA in China has not failed to challenge the West and its Chinese diaspora. An MMA club in the middle of Chengdu has created controversy after the release of a documentary about its activities. Indeed, the ENBO Fight club has hosted, selected and trained no less than 400 orphans in combat to perform in public.
enbo fight club chengdu

After the release of the documentary, a state investigation was opened to determine whether abuses were committed. Public fights by the children allowed the club to make money, a small portion of which was returned to them in pocket money when they emerged victoriously. Netizens were offended and then accused the club of making money on the backs of orphans, turned into gladiators. The club defends the accusations and says instead offer them a better future and get out of the violence of the streets.

China faces many challenges

While the number of orphans in China is estimated at more than 60 million, it is difficult to severely criticize this initiative that offers them shelter, food, primary school fees and sports education in addition to a future, facing the dangerousness of the street. Most of these orphans are illiterate when they arrive at the club and speak only the dialect of the less favored regions of China. The infrastructure is indeed lacking to support all the orphans in the country and the situation of isolated children becomes dramatic. On the contrary, the emergence of this type of initiative by private individuals – who replace state structures – clearly lacks governmental control.

In this controversial documentary, the interviewed teenagers appear grateful to their club and especially well aware of the nothingness of the other possibilities open to them.

To watch the documentary, follow this link ->

Tai Chi versus MMA: When a sport threatens to dethrone tradition

Finally, the discomfiture of the well-respected Tai Chi master Wei Lei against MMA champion Xu Xiaodong made social media talk.

Traditional Chinese martial arts are undergoing the emergence of mixed martial arts and media coverage. On the one hand, the violence and lack of humility of the MMA fighters are castigated, while on the other, the traditional sport is accused of being totally ineffective in ‘real’ combat.

Xu Xiaodong, who seems to possess the temperament of Connor McGregor, has, therefore, challenged Tai Chi master Wei Lei to win a fight against him, each practicing his own discipline. The fight was again held in a battle hall in Chengdu, a big Chinese city renowned for its rappers as well as for its boxers. The result was a humiliating lay-up in seconds for the master.
tai-chi mma china chengdu

Following the broadcast of the video of this fight, the outcry has grown so much that even Jack Ma – billionaire Chinese leader of the Alibaba group and follower of tai chi – joined the Internet users who have not failed to emphasize the different radical rules between the two sports, making it unlikely to confront the two disciplines on the same ground. Triumphant, Xu Xiaodong has nonetheless demonstrated his point of view and symbolically relegates tradition to the closet!

So, does tai chi really need to worry about the progress of MMA in China?
It is true that every era follows its sporting patterns and that the younger generations of Chinese people tend to turn away from the codes of traditional China. American soft power is making its way into mentalities, and in the age of globalization young Chinese and Europeans see themselves more as “citizens of the world”! It is arguable that MMA is more appealing to young people in China for the rebel side of modern and effective discipline.

What prospects for foreign investors?

 extreme sport China

There is no shortage of opportunities in China, between the sponsor of young talents, partnerships between clubs and the export of equipment.

A very popular formula is in use: mixing sport and tourism, the “intensive training abroad” are short sports courses (one to two weeks) offered in partner clubs abroad, which have an attractive tourist setting and a reputation in the discipline.

An example of an offer: 10 days of intensive Thai boxing training in Thailand, accommodation close to the club and meals included, close to the beach. The stay alternates boxing classes and relaxation to enjoy the seaside activities nearby. This type of formula is very popular with young urban residents who can afford this type of holiday.

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