China has enlisted a squad of mixed martial arts fighters into its border militia ranks, according to state media.
The 20 MMA fighters were from the Enbo Fight Club in Sichuan province in the country’s southwest and would form the Plateau Resistance Tibetan Mastiffs to be based in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet autonomous region, state broadcaster CCTV reported on June 20.
The club is known for producing fighters who go on to compete in international tournaments such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship in the United States.
The announcement came after the deadliest clashes in decades between Chinese and Indian troops along the two countries’ contested Himalayan border.
Soldiers from both countries reportedly engaged in hours of hand-to-hand combat, with at least 20 Indian soldiers killed. China has not released the number of casualties on its side.
It was not clear if the Tibetan Mastiffs would be deployed to the border with India but their main mission would be to help border patrol troops and special forces in hand-to-hand combat training, according to a Tencent News report.
“If the country needs us, the Enbo Fight Club will wholeheartedly complete more challenging tasks. As for whether [our fighters] took part in the conflict a few days ago, don’t ask me, I didn’t ask,” club owner En Bo was quoted as saying.
Other militia recruits included civilian personnel specialising in communications technology, mountaineering and mining, the official military newspaper, The PLA Daily, reported. They will come under the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command.
There has been much debate in China over the virtues of the hybrid fighting style of mixed martial arts and the traditional Chinese kung fu approach to combat.
Xu Xiaodong, a prominent MMA fighter, has been at the centre of the debate, gaining attention for beating a tai chi master in 20 seconds in 2017. Xu claimed he was “China’s number one in cracking down on fakes”, referring to people who exaggerated the qualities of traditional Chinese kung fu for commercial gain.
But Xu has since disappeared from the Chinese internet, censored for his controversial antics and his initial favourable view of anti-government protests in Hong Kong last year.
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This article China recruits MMA fighters for Tibet border militia first appeared on South China Morning Post