An MMA fighter beat a Tai Chi master, causing chaos in China
Despite its rise in prominence around the world, mixed martial arts has only recently begun to take hold in China. Part of that is due to how connected martial arts are in Chinese culture, with fighting styles still in practice that date back thousands of years. When something is that deeply ingrained, introducing something that seeks to completely supplant the old is going to be viewed with skepticism.
For years now, several MMA fighters have challenged traditional martial artists from disciplines ranging from various styles of Wushu to Qigong to Shaolin King Fu and more. And so far the MMA fighters have generally come out on top. Most of those fights, however, didn’t go viral.
For weeks now, Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong has been claiming that traditional martial arts are overly commercialized frauds. He repeatedly taunted masters of a variety of disciplines, challenging them to a fight. One of them finally accepted, but probably wished he hadn’t.
Wei Lei is a practitioner of Tai Chi, specifically the “thunder style.” Tai Chi is best known in the West as an aerobic exercise that focuses on disciplined breathing and a specific set of movements, typically done in slow motion, but its origins are very much based in combat. It is classified as a Wudang martial art, meaning it is considered a fighting style that channels inner power, focusing mind and body as one.
The fight lasted roughly 10 seconds.
Xu was ruthless, catching Wei with a series of punches that sent the Tai Chi master to the ground. Xu then jumped on him and hit him a few more times before the referee called the fight. Xu barely broke a sweat, while Wei was left dazed and confused.
The video of the fight quickly went viral, and the reaction was ugly. The Chinese Wushu Association issued a statement claiming that the fight “violates the morals of martial arts,” which is probably little comfort to Wei. The backlash against Xu was fierce, with some people claiming that the fight undermines centuries of cultural pride, leaving them to question what good are traditional Chinese martial arts.
Following the fight, Xu was forced into hiding by people angry with his actions and denouncing his character. Xu, for his part, claims that he simply wanted to highlight fraud.
“I’ve lost everything, my career and everything,” he wrote in a message released online. “I think many people misunderstand me. I’m fighting fraudulence, but now I’ve become the target.”
While the traditionalists in China will try to downplay Xu’s victory, it will likely help to further expand the presence of MMA in China. Check out the clip below to watch the whole fight – it won’t take long.