Recently, Sensei Cecil spent almost a week in Changsha, China refereeing a WKC Kickboxing, Muy Thai and MMA tournament. Professional fighters from the U.S., Australia, Russia and China competed in front of a crowd of over 4,000 Chinese spectators. After the fights, Sensei posed for many, many photographs and gave out hundreds of autographs. He was clearly very popular with the fans! The fight promoters had to turn out the lights in the facility to get them to clear out.
Changsha, China is a large city of with a population of over 8,000,000. In this cold, rainy, crowded “country town” Sensei was surprised to find how quickly technology has advanced. He had expected to see people riding bikes and pushing carts, but the vehicles consisted primarily of motorized bikes and small cars. The traffic was horrible and the driving conditions were very scary. He said it made New York drivers seem tame.
Although, Sensei has travelled extensively he found that this is the first place he has ever visited where no one spoke English, even in the hotels and restaurants! He had to communicate by pointing and gesturing. He was also surprised by the extremely high cost of basic items. For example, a cup of coffee at a shop that would be the equivalent of Starbucks was $30 and reading glasses for $38 (the kind that we can get in CVS for $5). Another shock, especially coming from a cosmopolitan city like LA, was the lack of diversity in Changsha. Sensei did not see a single other African American the entire time he was there.