MMA star’s thrashing of Tai Chi master leaves China furious


Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, Xu Xiaodong, is facing outrage after taunting masters of the traditional Chinese martial arts.

Calling them ‘overly commercialised frauds’, Xiaodong challenged them to a fight. Wei Lei, a practitioner of the ‘thunder style’ Tai Chi accepted the challenged. In the fight, Xiaodong beat Lei in only 10 seconds.

While Xiaodong may have proved his point, he is now facing outrage. The video went viral and many Chinese saw this as an insult to Tai Chi which is a cornerstone of Chinese culture.

The state-run Chinese Wushu Association posted a statement on its website stating the fight “violates the morals of martial arts.” The Chinese Boxing Association also issued similar criticism of the fight.

Xinhua, the state news agency called Xiaodong a ‘crazy guy’. They stated the fight had people questioning whether Chinese martial arts were of any use.

The criticism has been so furious, Xiaodong has been forced to go into hiding.

“I’ve lost everything, my career and everything,” he said in a message circulating online. “I think many people misunderstand me. I’m fighting fraudulence, but now I’ve become the target.”

Tai chi, while a martial art, is viewed as a spiritual breathing and balancing exercise. Traditional Chinese martial arts include different disciplines. It is know broadly as wushu and is practiced by the monks of the Shaolin Temple. It became popular around the world through Bruce Lee.

MMA on the other hand is a ‘no-holds-barred’ fighting style. It has developed from fighting styles all around the world and is extremely violent.

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Xiaodong has not responded to request for an interview, stated the New York Times. His Weibi account was taken down as authorities tried to trample the controversy.

Lian, speaking to NYT, said he supported Xiaodong’s call to challenge Tai Chi, even though it had infuriated people.

“No one can avoid fighting.’’

He further stated that defenders of Tai Chi were angry because Xiaodong had threatened their livelihoods. However, he said, Xiaodong has missed an important point when it came to his fight.

“The key difference between what Mr Xu does and martial arts is that martial arts isn’t a competitive sport,’’ he said. “It’s not about really hurting. It’s about giving your opponent ‘face.’ And Mr Xu’s style is about beating your opponent to near death.”