Korean MMA fighter Song Ka Yeon on tackling body image issues and the secret to rock hard abs
Eye on the prize
"The Deadly Beauty" might be Korean MMA fighter Song Ka Yeon's nickname, but the 22-year-old professional fighter doesn't want to be recognised for her pretty face. And yes, while she has a petite frame (standing at 1.60m), we've seen her matches and can testify that this tough cookie kicks major a** in any cage.
Song began her MMA career as a kid, while attending a high school in Busan that specialises in real-world combat training. Now a professional mixed martial artist, she has also made appearances in hit variety shows like Running Man and Roommate. It was only a matter of time before she caught the attention of Evolve MMA Singapore, which soon led to her recent move to join the team on our shores as an assistant instructor.
We sat down with the fresh-faced instructor, who spoke candidly about her passion for the martial arts, quick hacks for sculpted abs, and what being beautiful really means to her.
What do you love most about MMA?
I love everything about it. And when you love something, you put 100% into it. It's exciting to express myself in the cage. I love competition and being able to showcase what I've got.
What sparked the decision to move to Singapore in the first place? How has it been so far?
Evolve first invited me down for a two-week try-out. And thankfully, I survived. They are very popular in Asia, so I have been training with many world champions from Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu. These guys are my teammates now, so everything is perfect.
Life is definitely different now, because the culture here is a big contrast from Korea. Singapore is a very unique city because there are so many cultures and races here. The hot weather is also really good for training, coupled with good food!
What motivates you in a fight?
I always think about my dream, which is getting better each day at what I do. When I was a kid, that was what I always thought about. I always come up with goals and work towards it. If I'm tired, I motivate myself by watching my previous fights or my teammates sparring. It's always good motivation.
Do you have any pre-fight rituals?
I usually try not to think so much about the match, so I keep myself focused by listening to music or reading a book. I love hip-hop — it motivates me.
What's your everyday diet like?
I do love eating. But from Mondays to Fridays, I maintain a good healthy diet. Many people don't eat before their training,but I can't keep to that as I need energy from food. So in the morning, I eat scrambled eggs and avocado, and drink coffee. After training, I grab a salad, with lots of protein and good carbs like brown rice and sweet potato.
We've seen your abs and they look amazing. Please tell us the secret formula.
Some people think it's only about focusing on training that particular area of the body — whether it be crunches or sit-ups. But for me, you need to change your entire lifestyle. It's about getiting your whole body involved, not just one part of it. I don't just do crunches; I train, I run a lot, and maintain a healthy diet.
What were some of the difficulties you faced while being in the constant spotlight in Korea?
I was young when I became famous, and many people were fixated on my outer appearance. Now that I'm older, all I want is to be a good fighter and focus on martial arts, which is the only way to express myself. I don't just want to be a pretty face, and I'm thankful that more people have recognised my passion for MMA.
Korea is a place that stresses on beauty, whether it be facial structures or body proportions. What does body image and beauty personally mean to you?
Being beautiful isn't just about looking good on the outside. People who are kind and passionate about their goals are charming and attractive. If you have passion, I think that's beautiful.