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Planned event likely sought to end the argument between supporters of the two combat styles, which has been bubbling over since MMA fighter defeated tai chi master in April

Police in Shanghai on Monday closed down an unlicensed fight between two teams – one led by a tai chi master and the other by a leading mixed martial artist – just weeks after footage of a similar, very bloody, contest went viral online.

The event, dubbed a “group brawl”, was set to pitch four MMA fighters, led by Xu Xiaodong, against four tai chi experts led by Ma Baoguo, Guangzhou Daily reported.

The planned fight came just weeks after Xu, a fighter and promoter of mixed martial arts, doled out a severe beating to another tai chi master, Wei Lei, in a bout that lasted just 10 seconds. Many commentators described the fight as a clear victory for modern combat techniques over traditional styles.

Monday’s bout, however, failed to get underway after police raided the venue, the report said.

Footage of the incident posted on YouTube shows the would-be combatants preparing for the bout in front of a crowd of spectators, before the lights go out and police come in.

Officers are then seen talking to Xu who can be heard saying: “I will certainly cooperate, but don’t push me. You won’t be able to push me!”

He is later seen being escorted from the premises.

In late April, Xu – known as “Mad Dog” for his intense fighting style – scored a convincing victory over Wei, after making controversial remarks about tai chi in which he said he wanted to “expose” its lack of merit.

“[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question,” he was quoted as saying by state-owned tabloid Global Times after his win.

Wei was once featured in a Chinese Central Television documentary as “one of the greatest tai chi masters in China”.

Xu’s crushing victory in their head-to-head contest led to a passionate debate online about the relative merits of the two martial art forms.

Many people suggested that Wei’s defeat showed that traditional martial arts had been found wanting in a real combat situation.

Supporters of the centuries-old art form, however, pointed to its place in Chinese history and culture. Others, of a more patriotic bent, seemed outraged that MMA, a form of combat championed in the West, could be considered superior to a traditional Chinese martial art.

The Chinese Martial Arts Association said in a statement in May that the initial match had been illegal, and had “violated the morals of martial arts”.

Wushu is a traditional Chinese exercise activity, an excellent part of traditional culture, with merits for physical fitness, self-defence and health cultivation,” the statement said.

Other martial arts experts, including tai chi masters Lu Xing and Wang Zhanhai, rushed to challenge Xu to provide “fresh perspective on martial arts”, Lu was quoted as saying to local media.

Meanwhile, Chinese tycoon Chen Sheng, founder of the Tiandi No. 1 drinks company, even offered to raise the stakes by putting 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) into the mix to “defend the dignity” of traditional martial artists.

Xu’s microblogging account was deactivated after the national attention, but internet users excitedly referenced the latest incident with the police as his “resurrection” after months of silence. They also complained about the apparent deletion of messages relating to the planned Shanghai bout.

“Blocked again! This is regional politics!” one person wrote.

“[Xu] can defeat all of the ‘fakeness’ across the lakes and rivers, but he cannot defeat the government!”


If you’ve seen Marvel’s new Netflix series Ironfist, then you may have heard of tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of martial arts practiced for both its health benefits and its defense training. Though, in today’s Western society, it’s seen more as a form of “meditation in motion” than a means of combat.

 ​This is not the case in China, as tai chi is highly respected as a fighting style, with numerous zen masters training for years to obtain the “iron fist.” So it comes as no surprise that when last week an MMA fighter took down a tai chi master in less than ten seconds, it ignited a firestorm.

MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong is the man in the video giving the beatdown on master Wei Lei, and he is not shy about expressing his thoughts on the fight. Following his tremendous victory, Xiaodong challenged all traditional Chinese martial arts masters to face him.

Xiaodong wants to prove once and for all that mixed martial arts are more effective in combat, and that traditional Chinese martial arts are a way of the past. His challenge is catching steam, as Xiaodong told The Beijing News that several kung fu masters have come forward in order to defend the honor of traditional martial arts.

One of these challengers is Xing Lu, president of the Sichuan tai chi pushing hands research institute, who invited Xiaodong to a public duel to “teach him a lesson.”

“He is deeply biased against the traditional martial arts and his words were insulting,” he said. “I challenged him so he could have a fresh perspective of tai chi and the true traditional martial arts.”

Lu went on to say that he is 80% sure he will win the fight, citing tai chi masters as having the “iron fist, air foot, and iron back, which need more than 20 years of hard practice.”

In more recent news, according to South China Morning Post, Xiaodong has upped the ante:. Xiaodong is now offering 1.2 million yuan ($174,000) in prize money to the winner of his challenge, and said the fight will be broadcast all over the country. He even took to Chinese Twitter to say he could take on two or three fighters at once.

Doesn’t MMA vs. tai chi seem like a great undercard for the potential Mayweather-McGregor boxing bout?

 Think about it: Two styles of fighting squared up against one other, in a battle for honor. This has “Disney classic” written all over it.


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