The BBC reports a quick outcome to a televised bout fought between Xu Xiaodong, a practitioner of modern mixed martial arts, and Wei Lei, a Tai Chi master. It was over in a few seconds, with a few more of the traditionalist, hopelessly outmatched, shielding himself on the ground.
Millions of people have since watched video footage of the competition, and it has triggered a huge discussion in China on whether traditional martial arts – or wushu – can ever truly be effective in combat. Tai chi is now associated by many with older people, who use the series of movements to improve posture and release stress and anxiety. They can often be seen in Chinese public parks in the morning, slowly stretching out their arms.
But it has been part of Chinese martial arts culture since the 16th Century. Films and TV dramas have historically portrayed martial arts masters as great heroes in conflict, with almost supernatural strength.
Here’s the infamous video of Aikido master and telekineticist Yanagi Ryuken, whose (partially apocryphal) $5000 challenge to fight anyone was taken up by an MMA fighter.
The website Bullshido focuses mostly on Westerners exploiting Asian concepts to sell quack fighting techniques to Americans, and has many amusing don’t-read-the-comments videos of them at work. The resemblance to Christian revival shows is often uncanny.
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