ANKARA, TURKEY—Three battle-tested sanda (formerly sansou) Filipino warriors and a neophyte of the international arena advanced to the round of 16 to more than make up for a spotty showing in two taolu medal play events at the start of the 78-nation Wushu World Championships (October 10-14) at the Ankara Sports Arena on Monday.
Mixed martial arts practitioner Edward Folayang, Mark Eddiva and 2007 world series bronze medallist Benjie Rivera all won convincingly in their weight classes while 2011 Philippine National Games kingpin Francisco Solis started sluggish but finished lightning quick to save his debut in the world arena that drew the attendance of more than 600 athletes.
Still feeling sporadic pain from his nose that was dislocated in a Southeast Asia MMA match a month ago, Folayang, a 27-year-old teacher from Baguio City, employed his growing ring savvy to oust a Vietnam migrant of France, Hama Jean Luc in the 70 kgs division.
“Mas maganda po ang tsansa ko sa weight class na ito at kaya ko naman po ang adjustments,” said Folayang, who had to lose roughly 12 pounds quickly in abandoning an appearance in his usual turf of 75 kgs category that is now crowded by China, Iran and a number of European countries.
Eddiva, bronze medallist of the 2010 Asian Games in China, appeared to be the most comfortable of the four as he completely bewildered Ryan Badran of the United States, who could not even touch the Filipino in their 65 kgs fight.
The head judge ordered the stoppage of Rivera’s conspicuously one-sided match against Italian Simeone Lo Presti in the second round that turned out to be the most impressive of the four wins while Solis dropped the first round to Azerbaijan’s Rafael Tarverdiyev but returned with a barrage of accurate punches in the succeeding round.
Matches in sanda or the full contact discipline of wushu, where competitors are allowed to punch, kick and wrestle an opponent to the ground or even push him out of the elevated arena, are decided via best-of-three rounds. Referees and judges in wushu shun prolonged clinches.
There’s more good news in sanda.
Due to the short list in the women’s and men’s 52 kgs category, Ilongga Mary Jane Estimar and Dembert Arcita moved to the quarterfinal round after drawing first round byes which means both need only to win once to enter the medal race on Wednesday.
While it was a perfect four-for-four in sanda, it was four-men-up, four-men down in taolu, the rhythmic discipline of the sport.
World juniors gold medalist John Keithly Chan, only 17, had his baptism of fire in the seniors alongside the very stars he emulated and failed to control balance on two occasions of his one minute and a half routine in changquan, an event akin to the kata of karate.
“Medyo naapektuhan ako kasi nakita ko yong mga atletang ginagaya ko ang mga kilos. Ok lang po yon bata pa naman ako at kaya ko naman silang pantayan,” boldly admitted Chan who wound up in 34th place in a field of 104 competitors.
Another product of the PNG and the all-Baguio City taolu squad, Engelbert Addongan, who felt he missed a part of his routine, placed two ranks lower in the event dominated by Chinese Zhang Kai, Macau’s Jia Rui and American Colvin Wang in that order.
More hard lessons were learned in cudgel or staff play (gun shu) as Thornton Sayan and Denver Parantac placed 28th and 26th respectively out of 54 with the gold medal going to Macau’s Jia Rui, silver to Vietnam’s Nguyen Manh Quyen and bronze to Daisuke Ichikizaki of Japan.
The fourth gold medal of the day went to Turkey’s Elif Akyuz in the spear play (qiang shu), the silver to Hong Kong’s Zheng Tian Hui and bronze to Vietnam’s Nguyen Mai Phjong. There are only 26 gold medals at stake in this year’s championships.
“These are important lessons for us not only we are hosting the Asian juniors championships in 2013 but we will also compete in the forthcoming Southeast Asian Games in November. We were able to see what kind of competition awaits us in Indonesia. The region really teems with talents in taolu,” observed Philippine Wushu Federation secretary general Julian Camacho.
SEA countries like Vietnam and SEAG host Indonesia, and Malaysia all figured prominently on opening day.
Eddiva continues his quest for a medal against Labi Amine of Algeria on Tuesday morning here (4 p.m. Manila time) while Rivera takes on Zieb Sliti of Tunisia.