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“It is a wonderful art” - Thanh Le wants to champion taekwondo in the world of MMA

ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le is one of the most successful MMA fighters to have come from a Taekwondo background. (Images courtesy of ONE Championship)
ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le is one of the most successful MMA fighters to have come from a Taekwondo background. (Images courtesy of ONE Championship)

ONE featherweight world champion, Thanh Le, is one of the most dangerous strikers to ever set foot inside an MMA cage. Having lost only twice in his career and knocking out 12 of his 13 fallen foes, it's quite easy to say that he is one of, if not the most, dangerous striker in ONE Championship today.

You might be surprised, however, that Le does not credit boxing or kickboxing as his striking base, unlike most MMA fighters. What separates Le from the competition is that his style is based on the traditional Korean martial art of taekwondo.

Taekwondo is not fairly appreciated in the world of MMA, unlike other martial arts like jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai, perhaps it's due to its lack of grappling or the upright stance that it employs.

There are still, however, quite a few world champions who credit Taekwondo for their success, most notably the 5th dan blackbelt Thanh Le.

In an interview with media outlet Give Me Sport, Le explained how Taekwondo's fast footwork allows him to avoid damage and finish his opponents quickly. The Vietnamese-American world champion said:

"I’d like to end those fights a little early so we can get out of there and have some dinner right [laughs]! But I think I would love to be a quote-unquote ‘ambassador’ or whatever you want to call it for taekwondo because it is a wonderful art. It has given me all the skills that I have in order to be successful and that is my base."

Thanh Le further added:

"Obviously, I’m training every day in my wrestling, grappling, clinching, Jiu-Jitsu and all these different things to become a complete mixed martial artist, but taekwondo is my base. That is why my fights look like they look, because of that taekwondo base and I would love to be able to share those skills with other people."

If you want to read the full interview, click here.


ONE featherweight world champion Thanh Le believes Taekwondo gets a bad rap in MMA

In the interview, Thanh Le cited how Taekwondo gets a bad rap in MMA simply because not a lot of people who come from the discipline have become successful at a high level.

You can, however, name at least a few Taekwondo fighters that have reached world championship level, including Thanh Le.

The ONE featherweight world champion explained:

"I would love to be able to bring a new light and a positive light to Taekwondo finally because I know it gets a bad rap. It is a skill set that I think is underused. I don’t take a ton of damage and fights, thank goodness, and hopefully, that continues, you know!? God willing, but, and I ‘blame’ that all solely on Taekwondo and the feet that I got from them!"

If you look at the clip posted above, you'll see Le's light footwork as he moves backwards and then the explosive straight shot that seemingly came from nowhere. It's vintage Taekwondo.

This goes to show that when it comes to combat, it doesn't matter what sword is brought to the fight. It's the hand that wields it that matters. Thanh Le is the perfect example of this statement.

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Edited by David Andrew
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