The Chinese MMA fighter who went viral after pummelling a tai chi master in 10 seconds last year has broken his silence to declare his intentions of exposing “kung fu fakery”.
Xu Xiaodong, 40, famously called out “thunder master” Wei Lei on social media for claiming he had mystical martial arts powers, and their quarrel quickly escalated into a fight in a basement in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in May 2017.
Wei took a “praying mantis” stance but Xu – nicknamed “Mad Dog” for his aggressive style – advanced and reigned down blows on his opponent, quickly knocking him to the ground before a referee intervened. The controversial fight created fierce debate in China over the virtues of traditional versus modern fighting techniques.
“A lot of people have been brainwashed by these fake kung fu masters,” Xu told Timemagazine at his Beijing gym. “I’m trying to wake them up and let them know what real traditional kung fu actually is.”
Such was the outrage of some, a Chinese tycoon offered a total of US$1.45 million to anyone who could defeat Xu and “defend the dignity” of martial artists.
In June 2017, police shut down a contest arranged by Xu in Shanghai where he and a team of MMA fighters were set to battle a team of tai chi fighters.
Xu claimed in a social media post that his principal adversary, tai chi master Ma Baoguo, had asked his nephew to call the police before the contest started.
China’s General Authority of Sport then banned kung fu practitioners from organising unauthorised fights last November.
“A lot of people, more than I expected, insulted me,” Xu said. “They said that I undermined Chinese traditional martial arts and attacked Chinese culture.”
Xu said he was assaulted in September 2017 by two strangers claiming they represented traditional martial arts.
He said the attack went on for 15 minutes, and forced him to withdrew from public life for a few months.
“I have to think about my family,” Xu said. “At that time, I was afraid of going out with my family in public. I felt lonely, but I have to do this in order to protect my family.
“Chinese people want to know the truth about everything. Kung fu is a dream for everyone, especially Chinese men. But there is a lot of fakery in this dream, most of it is fake.
“I was attacked because I revealed what people believed in was fake. People don’t like to admit that they were fooled.”
In April, Xu defeated kung fu master Ding Hao in under two minutes, but said he was barred “indefinitely” earlier this month from organising tournaments for fighters at his Beijing gym.
But Xu said he is still planning on organising another event where he fights three “top” kung fu masters in a single day.
“I cut their way of making money by exposing them,” he told Time. “So I cannot stop, as then the whole weight of pressure will come crushing down on me. I have no choice but to keep on fighting.
“A lot of people are scammed by fake martial arts, they are brainwashed. What I want to do is fight the fakery, and let them know what is true.”