Bellicose MMA coach stirs up wushu establishment after beating tai chi master

By Xu Ming Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/4 20:36:12

Xu Xiaodong Photo: CFP



On Sina Weibo, Xu Xiaodong still describes himself as a promoter and coach for MMA. But he made a name overnight after knocking down a tai chi master in seconds and claiming he was exposing what he said "fake martial artists." Now he is swarmed by fight challenges, and his fame is mixed with joy, bewilderment and doubt.

The previously unknown man became a sensation after a live broadcast showing him beating a tai chi master in a fight in less than 10 seconds on April 27. The video, which has been viewed and reposted millions of times, no doubt strengthened his confidence in his quest to "defeat martial arts frauds in the name of the people."

"[I] crack down on fake things, because they are fake. Fake things must be eliminated. No question," the 38-year-old MMA coach bluntly retorted to Global Times when questioned about his purpose.

Taking on the world

If it had not been for the live broadcast of him thrashing tai chi master Lei Lei, the 38-year-old MMA fighter, who is now challenging "the whole wulin (traditional martial arts circle)," as reported, might have remained nothing more than an obscure coach. Now, this man is dragging wulin and several major kung fu branches, ancient terms that can only be found in martial arts novels and movies, into the modern era.

In a Weibo post on May 1, Xu announced that he had reached an agreement with Guo Chendong, initiator of a kickboxing TV program, who would provide 1.2 million yuan if he accepted challenges from those in charge of different wushu branches.

"Without any rules - kicking crotches and poking eyes are allowed … I have to beat two to three challengers a night to win. … I'm not afraid of losing," he wrote.

Xu could not have expected that his fight with Lei Lei could get him so far. In one of his Weibo posts, he said he did not expect the battle with Lei Lei to be viewed by so many people.

As he revealed, the fight with Lei Lei was largely due to a personal grudge, even though he had frequently railed against false tai chi masters in his Weibo posts. Now, through the 10 seconds Xu is getting everything he wants.

After beating Lei Lei, he quickly grasped the opportunity, and his new found fame and heated discussions gave him confidence to start his campaign of "cracking down on wushu swindlers."

The popularity can easily be cashed. When a live broadcast platform offered 500,000 yuan to cooperate with Xu, he snorted that "It is too little. I'm worth millions now."

His easy victory against the tai chi master astonished numerous netizens, particularly those who have built an image in their minds of the miraculous powers wielded by tai chi masters through novels and movies. On the other hand, he is obviously doing something many people want to see: His fans on Weibo grew by tens of thousands after the brutal broadcast.

Five years ago, CCTV revealed that the miraculous kung fu feats of one tai chi master, Yan Fang, was actually fake. In real life, it is not rare to see people using the name of wushu to swindle money.

Xu said only 1 percent of traditional martial arts is authentic and 99 percent is false, and there is "bragging and cheating."

"Now what I'm doing is making the environment for wulin cleaner," Xu claimed.

Publicity stunt?

Sporting a crew cut, Xu is a very physical man who doesn't hide his feelings. His foul-mouthed tirades and defiance have won him many fans, who say he is a "true man."

"This may change the whole history of China's wushu! This may impact wushu around the world! … I'm just so arrogant!" Xu's Weibo posts are often filled with exclamation marks, and reflect how tempestuous their author is.

In his latest video, he takes aim at Shaolin Temple, after a monk said he would fight Xu, but the Temple subsequently denied there was such a monk. "Shaolin Temple is not a temple! Shaolin Temple is a listed company!" he exclaimed.

Now Xu spends a great deal of time promoting himself on Weibo, broadcasting live videos, making announcements, answering paid questions from netizens, and occasionally correcting people who misspell his name.

While preparing for his Sunday news conference to announce something "important," he also has to spend time responding to doubts and even vicious attacks. Because some of the things he does in the name of cracking down on false wushu leaves some netizens unconvinced.

Many people have noticed that Xu mentioned @Wang Sicong on Sina Weibo, the only son of Chinese tycoon Wang Jianlin, in the beginning of his "cracking down on false martial arts" idea, guessing that he may have already sensed the business opportunities. He said he wanted to fight world flyweight boxing champion Zou Shiming, even though he explained that the money made will be given to charity. Though Zou declined his challenge, Xu did successfully sell his idea to Wang Sicong, who publicly expressed his support.

Many other people are on Xu's radar. Xu has said that Bruce Lee, the martial arts star, has merely average skills, and he has also challenged the bodyguards of Jack Ma and Shi Yongxin, the abbot of Shaolin Temple. 

So far, many members of the business, sports and entertainment circles have become involved. Even if Xu explained many times that his only aim is to "attack frauds," many say his quest is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

In his latest posts, Xu has been busy accusing those who are "trying to slander him by forging his Weibo posts (which include cynical remarks about the country and its past)."

"All those who smear me viciously, delete those pictures right now. Otherwise I will turn to the law," wrote Xu.

To many, even if the posts are true, they are forgivable for a young man who might be just ignorant or easily led by rumors. As some netizens said they would not deny Xu's "attacking frauds" campaign just because of that.

But a netizen named Nidedangan revealed that Xu claimed people smeared him right after he deleted those posts. Now, the netizen has saved and posted more of Xu's posts on Sina Weibo. This has caused many of his supporters to despise Xu, because if what the netizen said is true, then Xu is a liar himself.

Whether the posts are true or not, Xu now finds himself caught up in a storm of his own making.



Newspaper headline: Caught in a storm


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