After MMA fighter defeats tai chi master, the martial art's business goes on as usual at its birth village

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/5/7 17:41:24

Roza, a Greek woman, learns tai chi from a private trainer at Chenjiagou. Photo: IC

A man practices tai chi at a landmark in Chenjiagou. Photo: IC

A few students receive lessons at a private tai chi school in the village. Photo: IC

A hundred Taoists spell out the words "support tai chi" with their bodies in response to MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong. Photo: IC

Every summer, parents from all over China send their children to Chenjiagou to study tai chi. Photo: IC

Xu defeats tai chi master Wei Lei in combat within 20 seconds. Photo: IC


Footage of a rare match between a tai chi master and a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter went viral at the end of last month. 

In the bout, Xu Xiaodong, a 37-year-old retired MMA fighter, threw a quick succession of punches at tai chi master Wei Lei before bringing him to the floor and pummeling him in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province. Xu was victorious in just 20 seconds.

The previously unknown fighter has now become something of a sensation. Netizens are divided over the fight. Some are encouraging Xu to expose more "fake" masters. In recent years, the abilities of traditional martial arts practitioners have been wildly exaggerated. There have even been videos circulating online which allegedly show master sending people (usually their students) flying across the room with their "energy forces." However, others are saying that one bout is not enough to say conclusively whether tai chi is an effective fighting style or not.

Since then, Xu has issued an open invitation to all martial arts masters who want to challenge him, declaring that "90 percent of tai chi practitioners are fake." Some masters have said in response that they will take him on to defend their fighting styles, including a few tai chi masters in Chenjiagou, the village where the form of martial arts is generally believed to have originated towards the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Despite this online furor, for most people in Chenjiagou, Central China's Henan Province, it's business as usual. The small village has many private tai chi classes. All the villagers walking on the streets and farmers in the fields can demonstrate a few tai chi moves. Many come from all over the world to study.

For the Chen family, who claim their ancestor created tai chi, the situation for the martial arts has changed. Chen Bihua, the director of the Chen family's board of trustees, told media that he thinks it's great that tai chi is developing, but he feels the "real" tai chi has gone. While it was originally created for use in combat, he says that these days masters simply put on a show. He's also worried more people are using it to make more money rather than inheriting the true spirit of the martial art.

Newspaper headline: Root of tai chi

Posted in: IN-DEPTH

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