Several times a week Chinese #bullfighter Ren Ruzhi puts himself in a ring to spar with an opponent around five times his weight and capable of killing him.
The 24-year-old’s choice of career has brought his mother to tears with worry. But he says he has not been seriously injured and more to the point, he loves how exciting it is.
In matches, a wrestler approaches the bull head on and embraces it around the neck, grabbing onto its horns. Then the wrestler twists the horns so that the head of the beast cranes back and turns until it topples over.
Ren is paid around 6,000-7,000 yuan ($870-$1,010) per month to train at the Haihua #Kung-fu School in Jiaxing in eastern China’s Zhejiang province near Shanghai. As well as training, his role includes occasionally performing in bullfights for tourists and teaching children Kung-fu.
His coach, former professional wrestler Han Haihua, is credited with turning this centuries old Hui minority tradition into a sport by combining it with kung-fu and bringing it to a mass audience. It was included in the 1982 #China traditional ethnic minorities sports games.
Since then, #Master Han says he has trained over a hundred fighters like Ren as he seeks to pass down his native Hui tradition to the next generation.
Despite media coverage and subsidies from the local government of around 2 million yuan per year, recruitment and expansion remain problematic. Ren is one of only four trained fighters at the Haihua club and the club is, as far as Han knows, the only one of its kind in the world.
The physical demands of this sport are such that not just anyone can bullfight and once fully trained, fighters often only last a few years in the ring before moving on.
Then there is the animal cruelty factor. To win a contest a fighter uses what Han calls “hard qigong” to wrestle a bull’s neck so that it loses balance and eventually topples over. Master Han denies this is cruel.
Han says his bulls are well treated and trained and are never killed in fighting unlike his sport’s more famous cousin, Spanish bullfighting.
Layla Li from animal welfare group, PETA, says that any form of animal performance for entertainment is cruel and this is unfair on bulls who are normally docile creatures.
Ren has heard the concerns about cruelty, too. But he’s convinced that his bulls are well looked after and he hopes to continue to improve his fighting skills and that more people take up the sport that he loves.
Watch Live: http://www.presstv.com/live.html