Pat Healy, Coach Xhao Xuejun and Brad Hannah 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 is the middle of the third week of the training camp at Xian Sports University. Intensity has picked in training for both sanda and MMA. I’ve been going to the sanda practices in the morning and running an MMA practice in the afternoon with Team Quest teammate Brad Hannah. The morning sanda training alternates between technique and sparring one day, and conditioning and pad work the next.
Coach Xhao runs the practice and has a few assistant coaches. It’s an excellent coaching staff that has many years of experience in competition as well as coaching. I have never done so much standup technique in a practice and it explains to me the lightning-quick reaction time that many of the top athletes here have. The sanda fighters are solid everywhere on their feet, both in attack and defense, which is no doubt developed through their training. I am gaining a huge amount of skill and knowledge on how to train effectively to become a well-versed standup fighter.
In the MMA practices, we are focusing on takedowns, takedown defense and grappling. The fighters here already know most of the takedown and grappling techniques, they’ve just never had anyone show them the small details that make the techniques work, so they are picking up things very quickly. It makes me look really intelligent! A lot of what Brad and I have been doing is adjusting very little things, like hand and head positioning and posture, and it’s leading to instant results. The athletes are so focused and willing to learn, it makes the language barrier almost non-existent.
Brad and I are trying our best to learn Chinese with the same speed, but it’s not a fast process for us. He’s fighting a slight Texas accent and I don’t seem to be able to make the proper sounds you need to make in order to speak the Chinese language. We really just sound like two white guys reading out of a tourist handbook. It got us lost a few days ago, so we just did what most tourists seem to do in China: take advantage of the ridiculously low-priced clothes and goods here.
We started buying up all the name-brand stuff we could, and then we found out you could bargain with the shop vendors. This spurred us on to keep searching everywhere for what we were calling “hot deals.” I was lucky that I couldn’t find a lot of clothes in my size or things really could have gotten out of control. It was the most shopping either of us has ever done in one day and we are still itching to get back this weekend.
Yesterday, I had my first opportunity to experience a Chinese “sauna.” That is a complete understatement. The place had four saunas at different temperatures and humidities, two cold spas, three hot spas with varying temperatures, and two hot saltwater spas. There were waiters, food, drinks and masseuses. Upstairs, there were beds and televisions in case you wanted to take a nap. All this for under $15 U.S., and you could stay up to 24 hours. Needless to say I will be heading back, probably every night after training!
China knows how to relax and take care of business, which is just what we are doing in the training camp.