Adding to the theme of “Revenge” for the June 9th STRIKEFORCE Card at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, San Shou’s golden boy, Cung Le, will re-open old wounds. Giving a re-match to the man who, for two years, has held a strong grudge against the undefeated fighter, Brian “Mr. Unbreakable” Warren has vowed that this time it’s personal!
Rick Caudle: First of all, thanks a lot for giving me this opportunity. You are one of my heroes and it is truly an honor to speak with you. Cung Le: Thank you. I appreciate your time and effort.
Rick Caudle: You pretty much single-handedly are responsible for the popularity of San Shou. For those of us who don’t know much about its origin, can you give us some background information on this very effective fighting system?
Cung Le: San Shou is a form of Chinese kickboxing. It incorporates boxing, kicking at high, medium, and low levels, as well as sweeps, throws, and takedowns. We also use knee strikes and in China they include elbows.
Rick Caudle: Brian Warren contested his match with you in 2004, and he now believes the outcome will be different this time because the rules are in his favor. Do you feel that you will be fighting in his “element” as he puts it?
Cung Le: Well, it’s all martial arts. The only difference is, it’s in a cage and there’s groundfighting. Of course, the gloves are much smaller too. If Brian can take me down, then he better keep me down. But who’s element is it really? He needs to remember how many times I hit him last time compared to how many times he hit me.
Rick Caudle: Warren has stated that he thinks you are “cocky”. What would you like to say in your defense?
Cung Le: The morning of the last fight, I was eating breakfast and he walked over to my table and threw a packet of honey on my plate and said “here, you’re going to need this for the fight tonight”. Now that sounds cocky to me. I am not cocky, I am just confident in what I do.
Rick Caudle: Coming from a sport than emphasizes striking, a lot of folks are not aware that you wrestled in High School and were a College State Wrestling Champ. I also know you have trained in Sombo and with the Gracies in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Who is your groundfighting coach now?
Cung Le: I was an All American Wrestler in high school and in Junior College I was California State Champion. I have actually been wrestling since I was a freshman in high school. My main trainer is Garth Taylor and I also work a lot with “Crazy” Bob Cook. Javier Mendez has really been fine-tuning my hands and my kicks. I also get a lot of good help from all the guys at AKA.
Rick Caudle: I understand you have a part in a movie filmed in Russia called Blizhniy Boy Final Fight. Can you tell us more about it?
Cung Le: Yes, it was great that I was called to do a role in Final Fight. There are some pretty big names involved. I worked with David Carradine, Eric Roberts, Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa, Avi Kleinberger, Oleg Taktarov, and Bolo Yeung of Enter The Dragon. It is exciting because the calls for more movie projects are starting to come in. I am very happy about that.
Rick Caudle: I have read in past interviews that you enjoy teaching martial arts. Do you still have time to teach these days?
Cung Le: Oh yes, I teach all the time. I have a stable of professional and amateur fighters. Sometimes I teach a cardio fitness class as well. I have 2 gyms and over 400 students.(Check out www.cungle.com)
Rick Caudle: Everyone really enjoyed watching you throw your opponents around during your days in the San Shou venue. Do you feel you will be able to execute those same throws in the MMA world?
Cung Le: Yes, I feel I can but my last fight ended to quickly to do any of those throws. You must remember, I don’t force them. If they are there I will take them. If not, I won’t. It’s all about the set-up.
Rick Caudle: On some of the forums from last year people were saying that your knee injury, which ultimately resulted in surgery, had slowed you down as a kicker. How is the knee these days, any problems with it at all?
Cung Le: Actually, my knee injuries did slow me down a bit against Brian Ebersole. But, Mike Altman felt my kicking power and speed when I fought him. He got very gun-shy and I believe I fractured his arm with one of my kicks.
Rick Caudle: This is your second Mixed Martial Arts competition, what did you learn from your first match?
Cung Le: I learned that all my injuries are totally healed up. I got experience just walking into the cage, but the match only lasted 3 minutes and 51 seconds, so that’s as much experience as I got.
Rick Caudle: I know that when you were young, you experienced racial prejudice firsthand. What do you say to your own children to instill positive attitudes to help them deal with those kinds of things?
Cung Le: I always try to be the best father I can be. If there is a problem, I try to remain calm and not yell. I try to teach them to work things out by explaining things and making sure they understand. I give them lots of positive reinforcement, which helps them to learn to deal with difficult situations.
Rick Caudle: Do you feel that MMA fighting will eventually give you the same sense of accomplishment that San Shou did?
Cung Le: People always ask me who I want to fight next. To me, every time I step into the right it is a chance to challenge myself and better myself in some way. I really don’t care who the next opponent is. I take it one fight at a time.
Rick Caudle: I read an interview you did in the October issue of Inside Kung Fu Magazine where you talked about just beginning your journey into MMA. Has the transition been as easy as you thought it would be?
Cung Le: Honestly, it has not been as easy as I thought it would be but it has been a lot more fun than I expected! It is harder on the body though!
Rick Caudle: Well, Cung, who would you like to give a shout-out to?
Cung Le: I would like to thank Sprawl Shorts and Xyience for their support. To the Vietnamese Community, to all my martial art fans who have followed my career, and especially to my family, my friends, and my students.
Rick Caudle: Thanks again for the interview. Good luck with your match and I know you’ll do great!
Cung Le: Thank you very much Rick.
Rick Caudle: Oh, one last question, Cung. Will we see that trademark scissor kick of yours this time?
Cung Le: Well, Rick, I guess we will just have to wait and see.