Interview with Weili Zhang: UFC Fighter Strawweight Champion.

On August 31, 2019, Zhang ‘Magnum’ Weili defeated Jessica Andrade with a 42-second TKO to become the new UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion. I have known Weili for a few years now. I have seen her rise to fame from the most humble beginnings. It is easy for me to say that I am extremely proud to see her succeed on her journey. She has a work ethic that is seemingly unrivaled. It's been an honor for me to have a short question and answer session with her regarding her stand on traditional Chinese martial arts.  

WB:   How old were you when you first got involved in martial arts?

ZW:   My home is in Hebei, China. This is the hometown of martial arts. Yang Taiji originated from us. In my impression, I have seen many people around me practice Chinese traditional martial arts since I was a child, so I am no exception. I started practicing martial arts when I was five or six years old. I remember when I was a child, my mother dug me a pit in the ground in my yard. A small pit made me continually jump out. When I could jump out of the depth, my mother would dig the pit deeper. As I grew taller, the jump was getting higher and higher, the pit. Also getting deeper and deeper. I remember that I asked my father to give me a stick that was almost tall. I practiced every day with time.

WB:   What are some different styles or systems have you trained in since you started?

ZW:   When I was 9 years old, I worshipped the most famous old boxer in our country as a master. He always taught me Dahong quan, Shaolin Guiding quan, Luohan quan, Qixing quan, Yinshou Stick, and stick Nine-section Chain Whip, etc. 

WB:    How did you get in to the sport? What pushed you into doing Mixed Martial Arts professionally?

ZW:   When I was thirteen, I asked my mother to send me to a real martial arts school. I practiced Sanda and also trained traditional Kung Fu. When I was fifteen, I participated in a Sanda competition in Hebei. After I went to Shanghai, Nanjing joined the professional. Sanda sports team. Also participated in the Sanda competition. Then I came to Beijing to see a Chinese MMA event called the Hero List. This is what I like. I think this is the highest fighting style of mixed martial arts. I think this is what I can do. So I started to try to watch other people's game videos and some foreign game videos followed by practiced MMA. After more than a year of training, I got 52.5 kg and 56 kg of Kunlun, and the Korean TFC belt.

WB:    Who is your biggest inspiration?

ZW: Ronda Rousey has a great influence on me. When I saw her showing the fighting style of our women in the world's highest MMA platform in 2013, I think I can also, which strengthened my MMA athletes to be professional. Faith, I think I can also go to the UFC big event platform to fight.  

WB:   Tell me about your team. What disciplines (styles) do you train in now?

ZW: I am very lucky, my team is very good. I have a rehabilitation team who came to Korea and the team of physical strength came to the United States. My standing coach is a Thai and Chinese Sanda coach. The fighting coach is the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt Coach. He is the third runner-up in the Abu Dhabi World Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Open this year. The teammates who used to practice kung fu with me now train with me now.  

WB:   What is your training schedule like? It seems rather rigorous from some of the videos you have been posting.

ZW:   I train standing fighting skills every morning. In the afternoon, strength, wrestling and jujitsu. Practice three times a week of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in a week. Sunday break adjustment 

WB:   What do you want to be most remembered for at the end of your career?

ZW: I hope to integrate Chinese traditional martial arts into MMA, just as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is integrated into MMA. I hope more people can practice Chinese Kung Fu. 

WB:   What is your favorite strike/submission to use in any fight?

ZW:   The far kick in Chinese Kung Fu is close to playing. 

WB:   I follow you on Instagram and I noticed one of your trainers has some experience in Kung Fu. Do you care to discuss that at all? Does he incorporate any traditional Kung Fu training methods in your workouts, if so what are they?

ZW:   This is an alumnus of my former martial arts school. He has been practicing Chinese Kung Fu for more than ten years. He taught me how to apply the skills of traditional martial arts to MMA. For example, how to exert strength, how to borrow, how to make yourself more flexible.

WB:   Have you learned any weapons during your years of training, if so what were they?

ZW:   Stick, nine-section chain whip.  

WB:   Have you competed in any Wushu or Kung Fu competitions in the past?

ZW:   I only participated in the Chinese Wushu Sanda Competition.  

WB:   What are some of your favorite Kung Fu and Martial Art movies?

ZW:   Shaolin Temple, and the earliest film of Bruce Lee.

WB:   What are your thought about traditional martial arts (Kung Fu)?

ZW: There are many martial arts in traditional Chinese martial arts. Each of them has very good skills. It is very useful to use and learn from each other. There is a saying in Chinese martial arts “Practice martial arts and don’t practice merit; When you get old, you have nothing (lian wu bu lian gong, dao lao yi chang kong 练武不练功 到老一场空).” Nowadays, there are very few people practicing, and there are many practicing routines. In fact, Chinese martial arts Sanda has already refined the essence of many Chinese sects. Easy to learn


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About Will Bailey :
Find us on facebook Will Bailey (a.k.a. GENERAL PO) is a student directly under Grand Master Hoy K. Lee of the Zhou Jia (Jow Ga) Style Kung Fu. The training hall/kwoon is located at the Jow Ga US Headquarters in Virginia Beach Va. Other than studying and training Kung Fu along with traditional Lion and Dragon Dance, Will is an aspiring artist and musician. He can be contacted at:

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