From the Bermuda Sun
There’s only one real way to train to be a fighter and that’s to fight.
Bermuda’s San Shou team have been preparing for the regional championships for the brutal full contact Chinese fighting art – with full-on, no holds barred fight sessions.
Garon Wilkinson, president of the Bermuda San Shou association, said the four fighters who head to Brazil on July 13 and their sparring partners had been slugging it out at regular Wednesday ‘fight club’ sessions to prepare their bodies and brains to react under the extreme pressure of fight conditions.
“You can do all the running, skipping and jumping in the initial stages but the only way to truly prepare cardiovascularly for a fight is to actually fight.
“Ordinary sparring doesn’t really prepare you for the sort of oxygen debt you experience when you get hit so we’ve introduced weekly fight sessions to our training regimen.
“Basically we just warm up and then go at it as hard as we can.
“We find our fighters are getting nervous before Wednesday fight sessions. We want them to be nervous because that’s what they will have to deal with in a fight.”
The full programme is actually extremely sophisticated, incorporating plyometrics, mitt work, boxing training, strength and conditioning, spinning and beach work as well as fight techniques and tactics.
The team Sentwali Woolridge, Wilkinson, Jermal Woolridge and Leroy Maxwell, all of whom competed in the World Championships in Beijing in November last year, have been in training since January, a minimum of five times a week.
Despite the heavy sessions on Wednesday there is no let-off on Thursdays, one of the toughest days of the week.
“You need to prepare your body for back-to-back fights. My fight in Beijing was at 11.30 at night.
“If I’d have won I’d have been fighitng again at 7.30 in the morning. You have to be able to take a bruising and a battering and still get up the next morning and do it all again, so we’re training hard on Thursdays too.
“In some sports you can not train and the worst that can happen is that you are going to get a bad result. If we don’t train, well….”
The team have adapted their programme over the past few years, incorporating features from the other countries they have met at past tournaments.
“Our programme has become pretty developed over the past few years. Every time we go to compete we learn something new.
“Going to the World Championships was just amazing. We got to see how our style of fighting in the west measures up to the European and Asian styles.
“We tend to use more of a boxing/kick boxing style. They really use their martial arts skills more.
“There’s a lot more straight knockouts with kicks.
“Our basis is in traditional martial arts so we have the skills to fight that way. It is just a matter of being able to blend everything together, which is really tough.”
Wilkinson believes that, though the competition will be tough at the PanAm Wushu Championships, it will not be as competitive as the worlds.
And he believes that Bermuda, who picked up two silvers and two bronzes at this event last year, has genuine medal prospects.
“All of us are experienced fighters now. We have had at least five fights. If everything goes well I don’t see why we shouldn’t come away with gold.”
Pan Am Wushu Championships
San Shou section
Campinas, Sao Paulo, Brazil
July 13 – 20
Bermuda team: Sentwali Woolridge (Under 70kg), Garon Wilkinson (under 75kg), Leroy Maxwell (under 85kg), Jermal Woolridge (Over 90kg), Oscar Lightbourne (judge), Damion Wilson (coach), Khalid Pitcher (coach) Talia Iris (manager).