As an update, Alexandra is now in contention for a world championship. We wish her the best.
Alexandra Tekenah is the French national champion of Sanda (think Chinese Kickboxing) and Kickboxing for her weight class. Her entire season was undefeated. In her final match for the national championship, she entered the fight with some fairly serious injuries, but fought through them anyways. She was down on the scorecards entering the final round, and came out with a stunning superman punch (you can see it here) that led to a quick and vicious TKO victory, and her national title.
She agreed to sit down with us for an interview. Here is what she had to say.
GS MAG: Just to start things off, could you tell us a little about yourself? Where you’re from, what got you started in Sanda and Kickboxing, things like that.
Alex: Hello ! My name is Alexandra, I am 21 and I live in France near Paris. I have always been into martial arts, but my mother was not really enthusiastic about anything related to fighting. I started Sanda sort of by accident via Kung-Fu Wushu. I only knew a bit about Kung Fu thanks to Bruce Lee movies, so I was not really into Sanda at first. I think it was mostly due to the fact that I was small compared to my training partners since I was much younger [she started when she was 13]. The more I trained, the more I started to love Sanda, even if it took me a while to want to compete.
GS MAG: Some people here in the states may be unfamiliar with Sanda. Could you give us an explanation of what that sport entails?
Alex: Sanda, or Sanshou, is Chinese kickboxing and is part of Kung Fu. You can punch, kick, grab the leg and sweep and throw. We fight on platforms and can throw or push our opponent off the platform. We can wrestle but are not allowed to put a knee or hand in the ground, the action is stopped as soon as we hit the floor. Fights are two full rounds of two minutes, though the timer is stopped whenever the referee intervenes or when the fighters get a takedown. If there is a draw there is a third round.
GS MAG: You’re now the national champion in Sanda and Kickboxing. First of all, congratulation! Second of all, could you tell us a little about what prompted you to get there? What sort of goals have you been chasing to get you to this point?
Well, it took me a while to want to compete. I first started with Sanda last year after feeling the need to fight. I wanted to test myself and go out there and see where I was at and what I needed to improve. After winning in the B league and winning the national championship I fought in the A league this year and did the same. Regarding kickboxing I wanted some extra fights and this style made sense, the transition between both sports was hard at first but now I make it work.
Regarding my goals I want to win the Sanda European and World Championship and to win some Kickboxing amateur Championships too. I just want to fight as much as possible. I’m considering fighting in K1 as well to get more fights. I plan on turning pro after achieving my goals in the amateur circuit to see what challenges I can get.
In the distant future I plan on fighting in MMA. I currently train BJJ as well to get a decent ground game for this objective, also because I really just like BJJ.
GS MAG: In Sanda, you’re champion of the A League, in Kickboxing, the B League. Some of our readers might be unfamiliar with what that means. Any chance you could break it down for us?
Alex: In both sports you need to get some fights in the B league before being allowed to fight in the A league. Fighters in the A league have more experience and are usually better and more skilled. The only difference is that in Sanda, when you fight in the A league, you do so without shin-guards. The national champion in Sanda in the A league is part of the national team and can be selected for international competitions. Regarding Kickboxing both the B and A league champion can be taken to international competitions but it’s usually the A league champion, or the more skilled athlete.
GS MAG: This season, you have been totally undefeated. That’s honestly a huge deal, especially considering some of the tough competitors you’ve faced. You obviously prepare very well. Could you run us through what training looks like for you?
Alex: I was actually defeated last year in a exhibition fight against the vice world Champion in Sanda. It was my first fight and was an amazing learning experience. But other than that I am undefeated in kickboxing and Sanda.
Usually I train purely Sanda twice a week and Kickboxing three times a week. I usually do a light warm-up to get my heart going and stretch. I don’t like doing conditioning during warm-ups because I work on it outside of training. I like to work on some specific themes regarding techniques and movement, mostly what my coaches think I need to improve, and I do lots of sparring with guys that kick my butt on a daily basis at the gym.
I lift three times a week with compound movements to keep my strength up for Sanda and BJJ and do some running and intervals when I have the time and especially on my off-season.
GS MAG: How do you balance your busy training schedule with the rest of your life? From what I understand, you’re also studying psychology, correct?
Alex: It’s true that it is hard balancing training with my part time job and uni, but that’s the way it is! I admit that it’s been a bit hectic sometimes but it’s more from a lack of organization on my part. I study psychology and plan on specializing in sports psychology but my sport is my priority right now even if logically it should not be the case.
GS MAG: You’ve managed to achieve all of this wonderful success despite having type 1 diabetes, and even being asthmatic. Do those things factor into your training at all?
Alex: I’ve worked very hard to get rid of my asthma and so far so good! That was what kept me from thinking about competing at first but it went away the more I worked on my cardio and mental toughness. Regarding my diabetes it’s still hard to manage but I am slowly getting the hang of it. It sometimes stops me in the middle of a training session but I am not going to complain; I could have an illness keeping me from training at all! I did have the displeasure to fight with low blood sugar and hopefully it went well even if I went on autopilot.
GS MAG: We’re really looking forward to seeing what you do next! Before we wrap up, is there anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?
Alex: Thanks again! I am really looking forward to next season and see how much I’ve improved and fight some more!
I’d like to give a big shout out to my coach Daniel Herroin whom I truly appreciate and trust 100%. He really helps me be a better fighter, martial artist, and human being. Also shout out to the Tiger Boxing Club and Jerome Colas in Paris, the Chatillon Boxing club and also the MBacademy BJJ team and to all my training partners who help me improve and kick my butt!
We want to thank Alexandra for doing this interview with us. We wish her nothing but the best in her goals and future fights. Keep on eye out for her, she’s likely to hit the big time.