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ShanghaiGuide

Martial Arts in Shanghai

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This corner of the globe has a famously long and ancient tradition of martial arts. Chinese Gong Fu, Japanese Karate and Korean Tae Kwon Do are just a few of the uniquely Asian fighting disciplines that have spread around the world and entertained millions of combat sports fans.

That said, Shanghai’s one and only foreign Jujitsu fighter is preparing to take part in a national martial arts’ competition, the Art of War, held in Beijing this month. Robert Sothman, a 32-year-old Canadian fitness enthusiast who has lived in Shanghai for four years, made his debut during an earlier edition of the contest in May and wooed crowds and CCTV-5 viewers with his bombastic style and entertaining rhetoric.

“Art of War,” he said, ”is something that my friend and Jujitsu instructor Setsuma introduced me to. It's weird. I always have been interested in competitive sports, but I was never able to find a real proper outlet for fighting, until now.”

The Art of War is a Mixed Martial Arts or free fighting contest, held every couple of months, which basically means that fighters from all disciplines, whether they be boxers, karate black belts or wrestlers, fight under one basic code that ensures fair play. Other than that, contestants can let rip and use any other means at their disposal to gain an advantage over their opponents.

“I am a free fighter, with an open style, although I am much more comfortable on the ground,” says Sothman. “Free fighting is just open fighting, with very basic rules, like no groin shots, no eye gouging, no fish hooks, etc, so it’s fair but open to various disciplines.”

Sothman was defeated during his first bout with Mongolian fighter Boa Li Goa, a big name in the world of Chinese Sanda (Chinese kickboxing). Nevertheless, Sothman claims the experience was amazing. “The lights go down; they introduce you; your theme music is pumping; your opponent is right across from you, and there are plumes of smoke. It's the biggest buzz I can think of.”

In short, the buzz comes from more than just fighting. Says Sothman, “We may be fighters, but it's still entertainment for the masses. Contrary to popular belief, combat sports are for thinking men because of the strategy involved.”

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