Despite China’s relationship with martial arts it’s hard for me to picture MMA really taking off here. If something like Pride in Japan can’t be profitable it’s hard to imagine that a profitable fighting league could even exist in China, which then brings us to the question if the state will sponsor an unprofitable league. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
In the US there are people passionate about martial arts and MMA basically wherever you go. Los Angeles is filled with BJJ, Minnesota is filled with wrestlers, NYC has everything, etc. But even in the little places like Wisconsin you can find black belts who run gyms with serious fighters training there. Most of the people training are middle class folks who are just passionate about training and fighting, they’re friendly people but this is just what they’re into – it isn’t about money at all.
How many people are there like that in China, that are that passionate about training martial arts and competing against others? We have been struggling for years to even find simple things here in Chengdu like a muay thai gym, and this is a city of 14 million.
MMA is very much a macho sport of tough guys. Those kind of personalities in China are extremely rare – the biggest domestic role models and celebrities are people like Jay Chou and Andy Lau, there are no equivalents of macho Western personalities like Vin Diesel or Jason Statham. Just an example, but the difference between Western and Eastern culture insofar as tough guy culture is very apparent.
Fixed that for you
That is interesting – there isn’t much money in other martial arts around the world, but many of them like BJJ are flourishing. What do you think makes kung fu different? Why do you think kung fu hasn’t caught on overseas? Can anything be done to cause it to rise again?
To me, our entire (Western) understanding of kung fu is a remnant of the kung fu film era of the 70’s. Bruce Lee, Shaw Brothers, etc. Cool stuff, but definitely from a bygone era. These days you mostly see other martial arts in action films like krav maga and kali/eskrima, etc (the Bourne movies and others, a lot of weapon-based combat).