If you’ve seen Marvel’s new Netflix series Iron Fist, then you may have heard of tai chi. Tai chi is an ancient Chinese form of martial arts practiced for both its health benefits and its defense training—although, in today’s Western society, it’s seen more as a form of “meditation in motion” than a means of combat.
This is not the case in China, as tai chi is highly respected as a fighting style, with numerous zen masters training for years to obtain the “iron fist.” So it comes as no surprise that when last week an MMA fighter took down a tai chi master in less than ten seconds, it ignited a firestorm.
MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong is the man in the video giving the beatdown on master Wei Lei, and he is not shy about expressing his thoughts on the fight. Following his tremendous victory, Xiaodong challenged all traditional Chinese martial arts masters to face him.
Xiaodong wants to prove once and for all that mixed martial arts are more effective in combat, and that traditional Chinese martial arts are a way of the past. His challenge is catching steam, as Xiaodong told The Beijing News that several kung fu masters have come forward in order to defend the honor of traditional martial arts.
One of these challengers is Xing Lu, president of the Sichuan tai chi Pushing Hands Research Institute, who invited Xiaodong to a public duel to “teach him a lesson.”
“He is deeply biased against the traditional martial arts and his words were insulting,” he said. “I challenged him so he could have a fresh perspective of tai chi and the true traditional martial arts.”
Lu went on to say that he is 80% sure he will win the fight, citing tai chi masters as having the “iron fist, air foot, and iron back, which need more than 20 years of hard practice.”
In more recent news, according to South China Morning Post, Xiaodong has upped the ante: Xiaodong is now offering 1.2 million yuan ($174,000) in prize money to the winner of his challenge, and said the fight will be broadcast all over the country. He even took to Chinese Twitter to say he could take on two or three fighters at once.
Doesn’t MMA vs. tai chi seem like a great undercard for the potential Mayweather-McGregor boxing bout?
Think about it: Two styles of fighting squared up against one other, in a battle for honor. This has “classic” written all over it.