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MMA Fighter Backs Down

Outspoken TCMA critic has a sudden change of heart

Is anyone still following the whole mixed martial arts (MMA) versus traditional Chinese martial arts (TCMA) debacle? We wish we weren’t either.

Unfortunately, in a controversy like this it was only a matter of time before either party involved decides to come ot and raise the bar of sheer absurdity. This time, however, the news had less confrontation and more groveling.

The Economist reported that Xu Xiaodong, the MMA fighter who started this whole movement off by brutalizing a taichi practioner and then celebrating like a Harry Styles fangirl, has been seen in a video that’s missing much of his usual pep and vigor.

Previously (Weibo)

Previously (Weibo)

“I have lost my career and everything,” Xu said in the broadcast. In addition, his Weibo account was deleted early this month, along with a selection of reports on his original fight last month.

In an interview with the BBC, Xu said that he would refrain from speaking out as much from now on and become a student of traditional Chinese martial arts.

This is a complete reversal of his previous stance.

Only a month ago, Xu was spouting off against the “fakers” that he sees in the TCMA community. He challenged any and all practioners to prove themselves, even offering to fight two or three opponents at the same time.

So why the 180-degree turn?

It not entirely impossible that Xu simply realized that what he utilized in combat has foundations in TCMA, had a change of heart, and decided to become a student in order to further his advancement in MMA.

But that probably wasn’t it.

The smart money would be on the fact that TCMA is an intergral part of China’s soft power push and is one of President Xi’s favorite sports. Given how the Belt and Road Forum (BARF) was just recently held, maybe Xu felt that it was not a good move to belittle and undermine one of China’s key international relations priorities.

But even though Xu has now stepped out of the ring, it does not necessary mean an end to the conflict in martial arts, as evidenced by the latest boxing/taichi fight.

As they say, styles make fights. And despite the public outcry, we think that when it comes to different martial art styles in fights, the more the merrier.


Cover image from NetEase


Ethan Yun is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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