There is more to Song Ka Yeon than just a pretty face. Although she is known for her appearances in popular Korean reality TV shows Roommate and Running Man, Ka Yeon is a lifelong martial artist with an inspirational life story filled with tragedy and triumph.
Orphaned at the age of 16 when her father tragically passed away out of the blue, Ka Yeon has had to survive on her own since that time. She has had to rely on her martial arts training to overcome tragedy, setbacks, and obstacles. This determination, passion, and talent earned her a spot on the prestigious Evolve Fight Team.
Not many people know that the 22-year-old MMA fighter born in Jeju Island, Korea holds multiple black belts in various martial arts and has been practicing combat martial arts since her early teens. Even before she started martial arts, Ka Yeon was already very active. “I’ve always played sports, I even ran marathons when I was 10 years old!” says Ka Yeon. “Marathons were tough; I really needed to focus and stay mentally strong. I think my experience with this helped me with martial arts.” Although she had always wanted to take up boxing, her late father was convinced that his precious, pretty daughter did not belong in a boxing ring.
Eventually, when she was in high school, she moved to Busan, where she attended a school that specialized in real-world combat training and was known for its martial arts. It was at this school that her passion for martial arts grew. The school’s core curriculum had her training various different martial arts for 4 hours a day. “I would train Judo in school, and then after my classes, I would take extra kickboxing classes,” Ka Yeon reveals. From this, she earned black belts in Judo, Taekwondo, and Hapkido.
While she was in high school, tragedy struck. The person Ka Yeon was closest to in the world, her father, passed away. Her world was turned upside down. This left 16-year-old Ka Yeon on her own to fend for herself. As she was living on her own, she had to work any odd job she could find to support herself. Every day after school and on weekends, she could be found waiting tables and washing dishes at restaurants. Balancing work, school, and martial arts training there was no room for a normal social life.
After graduating from high school, Ka Yeon was eager to find her passion. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she knew that she wanted it to be martial arts related.
It was after watching a UFC fight on TV that prodded Ka Yeon to consider a career in MMA. Although she had always been training a variety of martial arts, she decided that she wanted to challenge herself further. “MMA is so much more difficult than any martial art I’ve ever tried,” says Ka Yeon. “There are so many things to learn – grappling, wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and striking. You really can’t compare it to anything else.” Determined to make it in MMA, Ka Yeon signed up to be a professional fighter, and the rest is history.
In the past year, Ka Yeon has furthered her martial arts training by traveling to both the US and Singapore. “I really wanted to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu,” she admits. “Although I was used to striking and knew some grappling and wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is different.” In the US, Ka Yeon sought the knowledge of acclaimed BJJ competitors the Miyao brothers. During her stay in the US, she even competed, winning a gold medal at a no-gi grappling competition. “It was a good learning experience, and has definitely made me a stronger martial artist,” says Ka Yeon.
However, she was determined to get back into serious MMA training and further her career as an MMA fighter. For Ka Yeon, there was no better place than Evolve MMA to finally make her dreams a reality. “I did the most intense two-week tryout at Evolve MMA,” she reveals. “I remember hitting pads with multiple-time Muay Thai World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, and it was crazy! I’ve trained hard before, but they really tested me. I also got to grapple with the BJJ World Champions, and I was completely amazed. I think the highlight was when I grappled with 8 x BJJ World Champion Michelle Nicolini. She is incredible!”
After two weeks of intense training under the watchful eye of the new Evolve Fight Team head coach Brian Ebersole, the decision to welcome the Korean beauty to the team was made. “Finally, I have a place to train the sport that I love so much, with incredible people,” Ka Yeon admits. “I’ve never trained with so many World Champions from different martial arts.”
Although Ka Yeon has trained at many other renowned MMA gyms, it is Evolve MMA that she chooses to call her home. “The weather in Singapore is a great bonus, believe it or not, ” she shares. “And I love how it’s very multicultural. I love meeting so many different kinds of people, from different backgrounds and countries – Evolve MMA is just like that.” She looks forward to exploring more of the island nation during her downtime and learning more about her new home. “It’s really very exciting, and everyone has been really polite and nice!” Ka Yeon says.
With a much-coveted spot on the prestigious Evolve Fight Team and some of the best training partners in the industry, there’s no doubt that the sky is the limit for this promising young fighter. We can’t wait to see what else is in store for her!