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Martial Embarrassment

MMA fighter claims Tai Chi master staged win

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Truer words were never spoken. For a time, fights between MMA (mixed martial arts) fighters and TCMA (traditional Chinese martial arts) masters had been a popular fad. Usually, the TCMA fighter would win in what looked like a dubiously staged performance, thus “proving” the superiority of the Chinese style of fighting and riling up comment sections of the internet.

The world had, mostly, moved on.

Except for Peter Irving.

Due to time differences, many of the videos uploaded by tai chi masters had not made their way over to Western countries until just recently. Here is one such example.

The video focuses on Ma Baoguo, a master of Hunyuan Tai Chi, a seemingly frantic martial art that takes inspiration from air-dancers. In the footage, Ma accepts a fight challenge from MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong, the individual that started all this. As proof of his skills, Ma then shows and commentates over a recording of him sparring with British MMA fighter Peter Irving, who he claims was the British 90kg kickboxing king, as well as an international champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and a champion in European MMA.

Official records have Irving with a 15-8-1 record (wins-losses-draws) with none of his fights happening at global promotions.

This all happened a month ago.

However, just last week, Peter Irving released a statement on his Facebook page that addresses this video. He says that he was originally hired as an actor for what he thought was a role in a vanity project and was prepared to ignore it when the video resurfaced. Unfortunately, now that he has been used as a patsy to promote the Chinese method, Irving decided to clear things up.

Well this is a bit embarrassing, and I’m not quite sure how to respond. I did an acting job a year or two ago as the uke in a vanity project for this old Kung Fu guy Ma Bauguo, which I understood to be just a tribute to him that wasn’t for general release anyway. Recently, probably because of the tension about the MMA fighter challenging traditional martial arts in China, he decided to edit the footage and claim he’d beaten me in a real fight. When I heard I just thought it was a bit ridiculous and I felt sorry for him, and thought he was just rather sad. There’s a lot more important things happening in the world to get upset about than grown men in pyjamas having straighteners.

It turns out though that even BJJ scout had disseminated the edited footage and now I’m embarrassed for me as well as him. He’s an old man, so I can’t really come off looking better by offering to fight him. I suggested instead to Chinese journalists that contacted me that I could take a team of Jiu-Jitsu/MMA fighters to fight his school, and I’ll just put him to sleep without hitting him or hurting him. Anyone got the contact for the billionaire who offered all that money for defending kung fu against MMA?

Of course, this statement doesn’t take away from the fact that it is all still a “he said, he said” situation. One thing to note is that Irving’s last recorded professional MMA fight was in a win against Thomas Denham in 2013.

Could it be that Irving’s loss to Ma was so brutal that Ma effectively retired him from professional MMA?


Cover image from and


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

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