23 February 2019
Xu Xiaodong (right) has come under fire for his disparaging remarks about Tai Chi following a duel in Chengdu last week. Photos: Baidu, YouTube
Xu Xiaodong (right) has come under fire for his disparaging remarks about Tai Chi following a duel in Chengdu last week. Photos: Baidu, YouTube

MMA fighter’s comments about Tai Chi enrage Chinese ‘wulin’

Chinese “wulin”, or martial arts circles, are seething with outrage after a 38-year-old MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter made disparaging comments about Tai Chi following a headline-grabbing duel in Sichuan province last week. 

Slamming remarks made by Xu Xiaodong after he beat a Tai Chi master, followers of traditional Chinese martial arts have dubbed the MMA fighter as a “madman” and a jerk. 

Xu triggered a storm of protest with his comments after he trounced Tai Chi master Wei Lei in a contest in Chengdu.

In the fight that took place on April 27, Xu took down Wei in just a few seconds, fueling fresh debate in China about the merits of MMA versus Tai Chi.  

Following his victory in front of a packed audience at an indoor hall, the MMA fighter boasted that it was really no contest as Tai Chi is a sham.

The traditional martial arts style is “a lie” and it serves no actual fighting purpose, Xu said, throwing an open challenge to other Tai Chi masters.

The comments enraged the traditional martial arts community, which felt the MMA fighter had been arrogant and also wrong in putting down a revered Chinese practice.  

Following his comments after the fight last Thursday, Xu was surrounded by several Tai Chi masters who dared him to have a match with each of them, Apple Daily reports.

Xu was forced to call the police after bickering with the challengers for half an hour.

According to reports, he did not immediately accept the challenges thrown at him that day, but claimed that he can easily beat the masters of all styles of Chinese traditional martial arts.

One of the masters that Xu is reportedly keen on having a match with is Li Tianjin, a bodyguard of Alibaba founder Jack Ma.

Learning about that, Ma, who is known for his enthusiasm for both Tai Chi and MMA, said in a Weibo post yesterday that martial arts should be seen as something fun and that debate on various styles is pointless.

Tai Chi and MMA can’t be really compared as the as the two sports are guided by different principles, he added.

Now, we can only wait and watch as to how long the controversy surrounding Xu will last and if the MMA fighter is really as good as he claims to be.

Meanwhile, one thing is for sure — his quick victory in the April 27 contest has left Wei, a self-proclaimed Tai Chi master, red-faced.

Wei, founder of the “Thunder-style” Tai Chi in Chengdu, was knocked down in less than 20 seconds, video clips posted online show.

After the match, Xu criticized traditional Chinese martial arts, saying it was all just fancy style and no substance.

As for Wei, he claimed in an interview later that he showed mercy to Xu and refrained from using his “internal strength”.

If he had really used his skills, Xu could have been knocked down fatally in the fight, something that Wei wished to avoid, the Tai Chi master said, according to news website

Chinese Wushu Association, which promotes martial arts, said the privately-agreed match between Xu and Wei went against the principles of martial arts and that the contest ought to be condemned.

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