Lubbock Coach Will Lead U.S. San Shou Team To Olympics
Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are two names that have helped bring Chinese Marital Arts national and international attention. However, that list could soon get bigger, thanks to one Lubbock coach's efforts.
Ian Lee will head to the summer Olympics to coach U.S. fighters in a type of mixed martial arts. The sport is called San Shou and it will make an Olympic debut in Beijing.
"I came over here for school," U.S. Olympic San Shou Ian Lee said. When Lee first arrived from Taiwan, he never planned to stay in Lubbock. However, the seven-time National Taiwanese San Shou Champion started training fighters while at Texas Tech. Nearly five years later, his college sports club, grew into a national San Shou training center.
"San Shou has become a very popular sport on the East and West coast. But in Texas it's not popular yet," Lee said. Lee hopes an Olympic debut this summer will help change that, along with the success of his fighters.
J.R. Ridge is one of Lee's rising fighters. In 2006, Ridge was ranked third in the world and now is just days away from fighting for another title at the National San Shou Championships in Connecticut.
"I never thought I could get this type of coaching, around here especially." Ridge said.
"Direct translation, is Chinese freestyle combat. As you can see from the word it pretty much combines all punches, all kicks and even grappling skill, as well," Mike Chan, Assistant National Team Coach said.
Chan also helps Lee train future Olympic hopefuls, like Ridge, at Lubbock's United Martial Arts Training Center.
"Since it's everything, you train all your boxing, all your kicks and all your throws-Chinese quick wrestling throws," Ridge adds. Ridge says between sparring and miles of running, he spends four-hours a day in the gym.
"I couldn't tell you the last time I felt normal. I am always banged up you know my legs hurt. But that just goes with my life, that's what we have to do," Ridge said.
Hours of training, to show the nation and the world Lubbock San Shou fighters, can fight with the best.
"Americans can fight," Lee said.
San Shou will make an Olympic debut this summer as a demonstration sport. That means athletes cannot medal but often times it is the first step to a sport becoming an official Olympic sport. Meanwhile, next week Ridge and another fighter are headed to Connecticut for the San Shou National Championships.