Sanshou Alive and Well
Rounding Up Some Past Events with Cung Le and his Fighters
by Valerie Fanshier
Cung Le's Martial Arts Training Center in San Jose, California is one of only a handful of martial arts schools across the country specializing in the kickboxing form of Sanshou. The full-contact sport originated in China and consists of punching, kicking, and wrestling techniques, with the throwing aspect of Sanshou a favorite among spectators. Named one of the greatest fighters of all time, Cung Le has helped to bring the sport of Sanshou to popularity among kickboxing enthusiasts. Le has been dubbed "The Technician" because of his uncanny ability to defeat his opponents with tremendous precision in all facets of the sport. Sanshou competitions have begun to generate enough interest that it is becoming mainstream in kickboxing events. Several major events in the recent past have highlighted the sport, and Cung Le and his fighters have been spotlighted in all of them.
China vs. USA - The Art of War
July 1999 was the first opportunity ever for an American team to take on a Chinese Sanshou team, trying their skills against the veteran Chinese fighters. The venue was Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii. Nine bouts were scheduled for the event. Three of the competitors for the US team were established Muay Thai fighters who adapted their styles to fight Sanshou. Enn Fairtex was one of two Muay Thai specialists to prove victorious in Honolulu. He put on an exceptional show against Xing Zhijie from China, giving Xing his first-ever defeat in the sport. Jongsanan Fairtex also won his bout against Yuan Yubao by a wide margin.
Two of Cung Le's fighters, as well as Le, had bouts in Honolulu. Both Rudi Ott and Chinu Ly demonstrated outstanding Sanshou techniques but were defeated by the more experienced Chinese team. Le's match was against the "Mongolian King," Nashuangerile, from the Inner Mongolia Provincial Team who held an impressive 84-2 record before the match. Le defeated Nashuangerile in three rounds while displaying his amazing Sanshou talent. Overall, the US team did not prove victorious at The Art of War competition, but it is unlikely that any of the nearly 6,000 fans that crowded into the arena were disappointed with the show.
March 18 - 2000 International Chinese Martial Arts Championship
St. Petersburg, Florida was the site of a major martial arts event last spring. Nick Scrima directed the tournament that included over 500 competitors from 15 different countries. The Sanshou competition was a highlight of the tournament Saturday night in the ISKA title fights.
Chinu Ly represented Cung Le's Martial Arts Training Center in the first title fight of the night. His opponent was Scott Sheely's Tigers' team member Chris Overbey out of Ohio. Ly typically fights two weight categories below that of Chris Overbey and chose to take on the bout against a heavier fighter. Both fighters had good hand and leg exchanges, but Overbey's weight advantage won out in the end and he took the title.
James Fanshier, one of Cung Le's amateur fighters, won a bout Saturday night to take the Championship final round against Julio Trujillo.
May 13 - ISKA: San Jose Event Center, San Jose, CA
On May 13, 2000, the ISKA hosted "revenge" fights at the San Jose Event Center. Promoter Scott Coker set up a great event with some exceptional fighters appearing during the evening. Two of the most exciting fights of the night were professional Sanshou bouts. In the professional Middleweight division, Cecil Higgins (Houston, TX) accepted a fight against Rudi Ott (Cung Le's MATC, San Jose, CA) with only a few weeks notice. Higgins is an accomplished Muay Thai and International-style fighter with no prior experience in Sanshou. As a result, the rules for the bout were modified to disallow overhead throws.
Despite Higgins' powerful kicks and respectable hand combinations, Ott defended well by catching leg kicks and having good movement in the ring. On the offensive, Ott utilized fast side kicks and outstanding wrestling techniques. His takedowns were instinctively smooth, leading to one exciting moment during the match when Ott had Higgins completely over his head in a fireman's carry. Ott displayed good sportsmanship and eased Higgins to the mat rather than completing the throw. Due to the rule modification, however, Higgins was awarded three points. The fighters put everything they had into five full rounds but, in the end, even the penalty points against Ott were not enough to keep the judges from awarding a unanimous decision in his favor.
One of the main events of the evening was a five-round bout featuring Light-Heavyweights Cung Le (San Jose, CA) and Mike Altman (Houston, TX). Round one began with both fighters showing a great deal of respect for the other's strengths. Mike was attuned to Le's exceptional wrestling techniques and Le was cognizant of Altman's boxing skills. Le took a few half leg attacks to get Altman out of his game. By the second round, he picked up the pace in the true Cung Le form, opening up with a wide array of round kicks, axe kicks, and back kicks. One particular blow that took some life out of Altman was what Le calls the "spinning fade-away," which is basically a jumping, spinning back kick when Le has his opponent in the corner.
Early in the third round, Le landed some tough hand and leg combinations. This put Altman on the defensive. One such combination sent Altman to the mat and he received his first standing eight-count. Shortly after he was up on his feet, Le delivered a devastating round kick to Altman's face. As Altman began falling towards the canvas, Le pulled back another round kick he was about to land and watched him fall. Altman was barely standing after this eight-count, and referee Dan Stell called the fight. Cung Le fans rocked the house in celebration of his victory.
June 26 - House of Champions, IKF: Radisson Hotel, Sacramento, CA
The Radisson Hotel in Sacramento, CA was the site for an IKF event on June 26 in which three of Cung Le's fighters would be competing for U.S. Sanshou titles. Vince McAllister and Kevin Smith were the promoters of this successful event.
With only three bouts in his competitive career, Sean Mietz (Cung Le's MATC, San Jose, CA) earned himself a shot at the IKF Amateur Sanshou Middleweight U.S. title against Chris Overbey (Sidney, OH). Mietz overly geared up for the fight and came out blazing in the first round. Overbey, with much more ring experience, bided his time and waited for Mietz to run out of steam. Overbey seized the opportunity and used good hands and takedowns to defeat the inexperienced fighter. Mietz was unable to answer the bell for the third round.
James Fanshier, another amateur fighter for Le, claimed a 7-0 record before this fight. He was featured in the Amateur Sanshou Light Heavyweight U.S. title match. His opponent was Allen Egbirt, a fellow team member to Overbey.
The first round was a fairly even fight. Egbirt utilized a vicious lead-hand hook and did an excellent job of defending Fanshier's attempt at takedowns. Fanshier's initial attempts at takedowns and the use of his jab and round kicks proved a little less successful. Fanshier became frustrated when he hit an inside leg trip takedown and just as both bodies hit the mat, Egbirt covered behind for a reversal and two points. It looked like the round would go to Egbirt. But, with less than ten seconds left, Fanshier landed a powerful front kick to the jaw and throat of Egbirt, knocking him off his feet. Egbirt received a standing eight-count and round one ended.
In subsequent rounds, Fanshier did a better job of slipping the lead-hand hook and was able to demonstrate his wrestling skills and kicking ability. One of the highlights of the fight was when Fanshier delivered a full souffle for three points. Egbirt suffered several more kicks to the thigh, body, and head while Fanshier continued to earn more points with his takedowns. Fanshier ultimately claimed the U.S. title after five rounds by unanimous decision to put his record at 8-0.
The San Jose Sanshou team's only professional fighter of the evening, Rudi Ott, was defending his IKF Pro Sanshou Middleweight U.S. title against Doug Evans (Gladiator Gym, Redwood City, CA). Rudi dominated the first round and was equally impressive at the beginning of the second round, seemingly stalking Evans. But early in the second round, Evans slipped off the canvas at ringside in his own corner. He stepped on something on the ringside table and cut his foot and dislocated his toe. Referee Dan Stell and the ringside physician stopped the bout. IKF President Steve Fossum announced a "no contest" ruling. A rematch is in the works for sometime later this Fall.
Sanshou continues to highlight kickboxing events and continuously grows in popularity among spectators. We expect to see many future performances in the next generation of Sanshou fighters out of Cung Le's and Mike Altman's teams, and from Scott Sheely's Iron Tigers. There is also the expectation that many kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters will make the transition and fight more Sanshou bouts.
About Valerie Fanshier:
no information currently available.