Many of the celebrated superstars in the constantly evolving world of mixed martial arts have come from different martial arts backgrounds such as boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. However, the extraordinary Chinese discipline of Wushu has given birth to many of the most talented athletes in the sport today particularly in the Philippines.
Before becoming an MMA superstar, Team Lakay warrior Eduard Folayang, 34, of Baguio City, Philippines won several international Wushu tournaments. He won a gold medal at the 2011 Southeast Asian Games with a flashy spinning back fist knockout in the finals.
“Wushu is an excellent base to have as it has two of the three main important elements necessary for success in mixed martial arts,” Folayang said. The Baguio City native also earned two gold medals at the same event in 2003 and 2005, a silver medal at the 2006 Doha Asian Games, and bronze medals at the 2002 Busan Asian Games and the 2005 World Wushu Championships.
After a successful Wushu stint, Folayang transitioned to MMA in 2007 and is now an 11-year veteran of the sport. In November 2016, he knocked out Japanese legend Shinya Aoki to become the ONE Lightweight World Champion.
Despite going head-to-head with teams from powerhouse nations such as China, Iran and South Korea, the Philippines’ homegrown Wushu athletes are more than able to cop medals at the upcoming Asian Games, according to Folayang. He said, “The chances to bring home medals are high.”
“The country has already established an impressive track record in Wushu,” the Team Lakay fighter added. “We have been competing in the sport since 1990. I am confident that they will be able to hoist the country’s flag aloft on the Asian Games stage.”
Wushu will be among the 40 sports that are set to be contested at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia from 18 August to 2 September. The Philippines is fielding 272 athletes for the quadrennial extravaganza, including eight representatives in the Wushu category that is composed of two disciplines, which are Taolu and Sanda.
Taolu involves martial art patterns, acrobatic movements and techniques for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. Sanda is a full-contact sport that appears much like kickboxing bouts.
Meanwhile, Folayang recently defeated two previously undefeated MMA fighters from Dagestan, Russia, namely Kharun “Predator” Atlangeriev, 25, and Aziz Pahrudinov, 29. Here is a clip featuring the Team Lakay fighter: