Pat Healy observes fighters at Xian Sports University. | Photo: Liu Xiao Ming
Team Quest coaches Pat Healy and Brad Hannah are currently holding a training camp for fighters from various Chinese teams at Xian Sports University in Shaanxi Province. One such fighter is Wenbo Liu, a light heavyweight who makes his Legend Fighting Championship debut against New Zealander Sam Brown on Oct. 30.
Over the next six weeks, Healy and Liu will blog their experiences for Sherdog.com. Today’s post comes from Pat Healy.
It’s the fourth day of the training camp here at the Xian Sports University. I’ve now been in China for a week and a half, since the trip started for me in Hong Kong last week. I had a great time there but Hong Kong is pretty westernized, so it didn’t really feel like I was in a different country. Many people there speak English and you can get any type of western food.
While I was in Hong Kong, I did a small seminar at a gym called Grips with my teammate from Team Quest, Brad Hannah, for a charity organized by Legend FC. It was a great experience and a nice ease-in for the training camp. They have a good black belt from Brazil who instructs there, which I think is very rare, so there was a high level of BJJ. Wrestling isn’t popular out here -- most people think of pro-wrestling when you mention it -- so that’s what I focused on.
The real trip for me began when we left Hong Kong. Brad and I had a chaperone -- Aaron Randolph, who speaks fluent Chinese and works with Legend FC -- ride a bus with us into mainland China to an airport. Everything at that point was running smoothly, but, when we got to our gate, some interesting things happened.
Our flight was delayed, which isn’t really a big deal to me, but many people at the airport didn’t feel that way. An angry mob formed around a small, innocent flight attendant. They angrily berated her for three hours until a fistfight broke out between two people waiting to get on the plane. It was one of the strangest things I have ever seen. The flight arrived shortly thereafter and we arrived in Xian a few hours later.
Brad and I are now staying at Xian Sports University in a hotel on campus. We’re working with the national sanda team, helping them with their wrestling and ground game. Sanda is the same style that most people in the states would know as sanshou. They have incredible striking and many of the more advanced sanda fighters have a little MMA experience.
The majority of the sanda fighters have great hips because of the upper-body throws in their sport. In training, I’ve been focusing on leg takedowns, getting out from the bottom and standing guard passes. Teaching these guys is so easy because they’re so attentive, focused and willing to learn. I’ve never seen so many dedicated athletes in my life. They are here to do one thing, and that is train. Sleeping and eating even seem to be afterthoughts.
The advanced group for the camp has three practices per day: sanda in the morning, advanced practice in the afternoon and a fundamentals class at night. Right now, I’m running the two later practices. The fundamentals class has around 100 students. It’s quite an amazing thing to be a part of.