“Miss Red” Wu Chiao Chen may have seemed like one of the least likely people to compete at the highest level of mixed martial arts, but her determination to succeed in the sport she loves will make her a dangerous second opponent for Ritu “The Indian Tigress” Phogat at ONE: KING OF THE JUNGLE.
The Chinese athlete began life as a shy and introverted loner, but came out of her shell when she discovered martial arts and her passion fueled a remarkable journey to the global stage.
Ahead of her debut in Singapore, the iFighting Martial Fitness representative reveals her path to ONE Championship.
Separated And Isolated
Wu was born and raised in Kaohsiung in Chinese Taipei where she says she had a pretty quiet life with her father, who was in the armed forces, and her mother, who was a civil servant.
Her parents divorced when she was young, but “Miss Red” takes a lot of positives out of that experience.
“Well, actually, on one side I feel grateful that they divorced because if two people can’t get along with each other or if they aren’t meant for each other, why bother staying together?” she says.
“On the other hand, I was brought up by my grandparents, so I learned how to be independent and to take responsibility for myself.”
Wu also looks on the bright side when she talks about being bullied as a child. Although it must have been traumatic at the time, she takes pride that she got past that part of her youth.
“I learned piano when I was young and I didn’t like to watch TV, so I didn’t have a lot in common with most of my classmates,” she explains.
“I was always isolated. On the other hand, since I was bullied and I still grew up pretty healthily, it helped me become stronger. It shows I don’t give in, so that helps me keep my spirits up.”
‘An Amazing Weapon’
Though Wu admits she did not participate in a lot of sports when she was a child, that all changed as she grew up.
At first, she just wanted to keep her body in good shape, but that led to her discovery of something she was truly passionate about.
“I was in the gym and there were a lot of free martial arts classes – boxing, sanda, jiu-jitsu – and I found myself enjoying them immediately,” she says.
Through practicing a variety of disciplines she got fitter and stronger – physically and mentally – which helped her in all aspects of her life.
“When I face something bad in my life, I don’t give up so easily. I will try my best to work it out,” she adds.
“In my previous dark times, I could still make it through, even though I didn’t have involvement with martial arts at that time. Now I have this amazing ‘weapon’ – martial arts – it can help me get through any difficulties even stronger.”
Putting Everything Together
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As she progressed in her training, “Miss Red” wanted to combine everything she had learned, and when she realized there was a sport that allowed that, she jumped in with both feet.
“In the beginning, I was just learning Sanda and jiu-jitsu in the gym. I started thinking it would be great if we could combine everything into one, and then there I found mixed martial arts,” she says.
“I felt it was very beneficial because you can switch and exchange your weapons very smoothly, but of course, in the beginning, it was not easy. Since my heart was up for it, though, I knew I could make it.
“Mixed martial arts completed my life. Before, I was a very normal girl – I went to work, got off work, went home, and slept – just a repeating cycle day after day. It felt like I didn’t have any goal in my life, but now I have one thing that I really like – martial arts.
“That’s why I continue to pursue it. It feels like I am now living my life.”
Wu’s enthusiasm was matched by her success as she compiled a perfect 8-0 record as an amateur, and showed that she had skills in all areas by winning Chinese Taipei kickboxing and sanda titles, as well as a gold medal at the JJIF Asian Jiu-Jitsu Championship.
It was not easy for “Miss Red” to develop as a mixed martial artist.
She had to sacrifice almost all of her free time outside of her day-jobs – she has worked as a dental assistant, hospital nurse, and piano teacher – and admits she would sometimes fall asleep during the day because she was so exhausted from training.
However, she always felt energized and refreshed when the day was done because she could not wait to train.
“I think when you try anything, there is a sacrifice. Let’s not use the word sacrifice, because when you try to train, you have no time to do shopping or look pretty,” she says.
“But if it was easy to be a champion, that wouldn’t be something I would be proud of. That isn’t the way it should be. It is a natural thing that you need to make those sacrifices, or as I call them, ‘normal efforts.’”
Her hard work was rewarded with a contract to compete in The Home Of Martial Arts after her first three professional bouts, and she cannot wait to show what she is capable of on the global stage.
“No matter what the result will be, I will try my best and show myself in the best light,” she adds.
“I am a polite person, I want to show people that success or talent can not only make you cocky and prideful, it can also make you humble and kind. Success is no reason to be wild. You can still be down to earth and have a good personality. I am just one of you.
“Every fighter in ONE is very strong and they have a lot of experience, but I hope I leave no regrets in my career, and I feel lucky that I can be competing in ONE Championship.”