Bukwas – Wild man of the woods, is a significant supernatural spirit being of the Kwakuitl Nation and casts a haunting figure in their great annual winter dance.
Setting foot inside the cage is only something a wild man would do, well that is the preconceived notion. Comox Valley, British Columbia native, Chris Anderson is an unlikely case when it comes to a cage fighter. The Battlefield Fight League welterweight champion has stepped foot on the canvas five times in his professional career and come out on the right end of the battle on all five occasions–this does not mean he enjoys being locked across the cage against another man.
“It’s the reason I have dedicated my professional career to getting sports gear to indigenous communities across Canada–it is not fun being locked in a cage with another person, and have to look them in the eyes, and understand its you or me,” said Anderson. “I decided if I was going to do it, it had to be for something beyond myself. Because trust me, this game isn’t easy. What drives me is the stronger I get the more good deeds I will be able to do, and along the way motivate the youth to chase their dreams no matter how hard or difficult,” he said. “I have been the underdog almost my whole career and somehow found a way to win, and I’m going to keep soaring until I am on the worlds biggest stage.”
Blood, sweat and tears go into a fight camp. They have to go to battle in the gym to prepare for fight night, and they have to prepare mentally each and every day to be able to even think about pounding on another man’s skull.
The 27-year-old does not fight for fun. Heck, no one likes to be punched or kicked in the face –it hurts. The more he faces his fears inside the cage, the more he can bring hope to those people he helps outside of it.
“All of my opponents were good guys. Some I had a beer with after the show and met some of their family–who were in the crowd,” Anderson said. “Along the way it hit me, ‘damn I just beat the shit out of this guy in front of his family and friends.’
He trains multiple times a day, to then crawl out of bed sore, just to do it all over again the next day is exhausting. “During this break [A knee injury halfway through amateur career] I really was not feeling the juice was worth the squeeze. I was not sure if I had it in me, the chance of success in this game are very low and the brutal reality sunk in, I don’t think I can do this,” noted Anderson.
Since then, Anderson has undergone some deep contemplation.
“During this time I found interest in my indigenous heritage. I learned what I could from my family about our own heritage. I also took up interest in the culture of other Native American Nations,” Anderson explained. “The story of a Lakota war leader made me rethink what a warrior was. The philosophy of what a warrior is to indigenous culture is not what one thinks of a warrior,” he said. ‘The warrior is not someone who fights, the warrior is someone who sacrifices himself for the good of others.’ His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless and above all the children.”
Violence is a part of MMA, and violence is what Anderson brings with him in battle. All but one of “Bukwas” five pro bouts have been finished by (T)KO–most of them in bloody messes.
Anderson started off his amateur career as a taunting, Nick Diaz-esque, fighter. He would trash talk his opponents in the cage in order to get a mental edge over them. At some point during his amateur journey, he decided that that wasn’t his character and he moved away from those antics. The war of words inside the cage wasn’t necessarily in his wheelhouse.
“The story of the Lakota chief is both tragic and inspiring,” Anderson explained. “Some of my cousins showed me their Bukwas dance and I was gifted a Bukwas mask–which has very significant meaning to me, more so than any world title could. I have been gifted by the communities with things money cannot buy; eagle feathers and blankets,” he says.
“I always think of my grandma when I hear the music–she passed away in 2014. Two days before my first title fight, which had an effect on me and my journey,” Anderson says. “She loved her culture and loved charities, a lot of my work would be done in her honor. Since my rebirth as the “Bukwas,” which translates to “Wildman of the Woods”. I have been unbeaten in 10 fights, never losing a round in the process,” he said. “I was #1 amateur in Canada and now top prospect as a pro, grabbing two amateur titles and a professional world title. But the accomplishments I am most proud of have happened outside the cage.”
“Bukwas” has taken his earnings and been able to support indigenous communities that were in need of sporting equipment and other items.
“I visited Alert Bay [A village in British Columbia] where my grandma was born, and brought brand new sports equipment for their rec center. During my time there, I met family and learned history; it was an awesome experience,” he said. “I have sent MMA gear to another nation on the mainland, where my friend runs a gym for Indigenous youth. The biggest shipment of sports goods went across Canada to the community of Attawapiskat in Ontario, where suicide was an epidemic for youth,” says Anderson. “I even helped fund a water well for a tribe of people in the Congo threw Fight For The Forgotten. These moments would fuel my spirit for fighting and would help me find a way, even when I want to quit. After my latest victory we are seeking more communities to visit. I don’t know what is next, but with each victory inside the ring, is another accomplishment outside of the cage.”
Fighters from all over the Lower Mainland gravitate towards Anderson, and it’s not because of his ability as an athlete, but it’s his work ethic and the energy he gives off.
Trainer Marc Beer says that his fighters look up to Anderson and “respect his purpose, and love learning from him.”
Anderson’s girlfriend, Kailyn Regner is a big part of his martial arts journey. She stands in his corner each and every fight, despite this being out of the ordinary. She is able to see all of his efforts inside the cage play out outside and truly realizes what “Bukwas” is doing for the bigger picture.
“When he wins his fight, that means he gets the money to be able to help others, and most of the time that is the youth,” Regner explained. “It means so much to me to see him do this, to see his goals that are so meaningful and kind. He has come such a long way over the years, becoming someone I myself admire. He has always been very kind hearted, compassionate and caring, but this is a whole other level and I couldn’t be more proud.”
While most men and women go in there for one purpose and one purpose only, Chris Anderson has proved that for him, the purpose is much larger than what happens inside a cage.