I’d like to give a commentary on the recent  “no holds barred” fight in China between retired MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong and tai chi “master” Wei Lei that’s drawn so much online attention recently. (and continues to do so)



I realize I’m a little late on the take with posting about this but I wanted to see what kind of input it drew around the web first. There’s talk of this being the deathknell of traditional Chinese martial arts, that it wasn’t fair to tai chi as Lei wasn’t a “true” tai chi master, that because Xiaodong was 13 years retired from MMA it sent an even clearer message on the state of functional Chinese combative arts, etc. etc. etc. There are always people complaining about the protocols of the bout and how it played into the other’s hands. Could this happen to any traditional art? Sure, this came as no surprise. Should one art or methodology be represented and spoken for by one individual who may or not be qualified to be the spokesperson of that said art or methodology? No. (It’s always the individual at the end of the day. What if it was a streetwise aggressive tai chi specialist who came up from a violent street background and an MMA fighter who was 5th-rate and never fought in the ring or with resistance? Meaningless.) Does it say something on the state of traditional Asian martial arts in general? Maybe. But I’d like to make a comment from a different angle.


The interview with Xiaodong post-fight explaining his viewpoints and the escalation.

From a purely tactical point-of-view, this is what happens when you allow the other person to dictate context: the rules (start, time limit, referee, rounds), the time, the place, the date, the crowd, the exposure (filmed for Youtube and Facebook entertainment). You lose. Look at this from a bigger purely pragmatic view from a personal defense/conflict management position because we too often tend to look into the micro-aspects and become anal-retentive. This is also caused by ego: the Internet is, again, not a self-defense scenario and Lei took the bait – hook, line and sinker. )He actually did his share to provoke it after seeing the video that Wim posted. He let ego and pride get in the way of something that could have easily been brushed off (or ignored) but “defending his style’s honor” was at stake, whatever the hell that means. This is about two individuals at the end of the day, not a methodology over a methodology. Two willing individuals (who agreed willingly to settle this with aggression) who escalated a social media feud and now it’s been blown into something much greater than need be. One lost, and fairly, might I add. Deservedly? Maybe that as well with the poor choices made and the predicament he volunteered himself into.

*And, for those who think I’m biased in any way, I’m not, I don’t care one way or the other. I look at these things from a learning perspective, solely. But, if needed, I have instructor-level rankings in both tai chi/qi gong and in shootwrestling (a modern MMA-type hybrid combination of striking, grappling and clinching) after over 20 years in both.

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