Xu Xiaodong challenges you!

What if Xu Xiaodong were to challenge you today, do you think you'll win using kung fu/tai chi against his MMA? I guess the real question is, is kung fu/tai chi still relevant as an actual fighting art against more modern fighting arts such as the MMA or Krav Maga, or is it just good for health/performance, and the occasional push hands?
The real question is why would he challenge Marin ?

Xu Xiaodong is on a supposed mission to expose "fake" martial artists in China. He's claiming that kung fu/tai chi martial arts do not work, so are thus fake. He's saying that kung fu/tai chi masters are swindling people, so he's challenging them to prove to him that kung fu/tai chi is not a scam. So, the real question is not "why would he challenge Marin," the real question is IF he did, would Marin win? This is not about Marin in particular, this is about kung fu/tai chi in general, and how it stacks up against modern fighting arts. Is kung fu/tai chi still relevant as a fighting art? Taking into consideration that there are no actual kung fu/tai chi fighting competitions being held, unlike MMA, so people really don't know if this is really effective in a real fight.

Robin Wu

Panda Cub
Suppose your agenda is to prove that a martial art style is ineffective. Why would you go after practitioners you suspect are fake and doesn’t even know the art? Wouldn’t it make more sense to at least go after people you suspect are skilled in their respective art?

Xu Xiaodong’s mission is to expose the ‘fake’ martial artists as you said. If that’s the agenda, then going after people you suspect are ‘fake’ in their styles makes a lot more sense to me. I do not recall him ever saying that Kungfu/tai chi are fake, but I do recall him saying that fake martial artists disgust him.

I view Xu Xiaodong’s mission as trying to ‘purify’ the community as opposed to prove martial art systems as ineffective.

If you are trying to expose the fakes while simultaneously trying to provide evidence that a fighting system is ineffective, I think you would have to target both ends of the spectrum - the fakes and the genuinely skilled ones. As far as I know, he is only targeting the 'fake' side of this spectrum, leading me to believe his mission is strictly exposing the fakes.

Now suppose someone actually says ‘yes’ on whether they think they can beat Xu Xiaodong, can you see yourself being persuaded from a written response?
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Lao Tou
Staff member
Firstly, Xu is not challenging people, they are challenging him. The people who are challenging him are just delusional fakes who take offense at his comments. There are a lot of delusional martial artists in China. Generally, Xu is not sayuing that Chinese gongfu or Taijiquan is fake and does not work, he is saying that delusional bragging fakes do not work and there are a lot of them in Chinese gongfu and especially taijiquan and he is right.

Second, I would not get involved with this because I would not take offense at Xu's comments, in fact I quite agree with him and appreciate the service he is providing, cleaning out the fakes. In fact my gongfu brother, Tudi of Chenyu, is good friends with him and works out with him pretty frequently. I was hoping to meet him last time I went back to China but time did not allow.

Now, if that question was directed at me I did not read it that way. But if it had been directed at me I would say first that Xu is out of my weight class, he is much heavier and bigger than me and mismatched weight class fights is not how sport fighting works, and XU IS a sport fighter. I am not a sport fighter, and I am also nearly 50 years old. I have no delusion about my abilities or what I have spent my life doing; chasing a very hard to find and learn authentic version of a particular traditional gongfu. I know how to USE it, and I do have some ability to use it effectively against others, but since I have not spent my years preparing for sport fights, conditioning my body, cutting weight, getting hit in the head, and generally fighting all the time then i would not be well prepared to step into the ring with someone who has and does these things as a lifestyle. Training to be a competitive sport fighter is a full time gig. Training a traditional martial art is quite a different thing.

My gongfu brother who works out with him is just a bit bigger than me. He also trains BJJ and MMA etc so he is familiar with sport training. He said Xu is too big, too much for him but is very nice and accommodating his older age and is gentle, a good guy. He said that Xu would be too much for me as well, but for tuishou I would probably have the advantage. In the end one has to really understand what game, (what practice) one is invested in, and then be very honest about that. The philosophy of Taijiquan and many other decent martial arts is to always avoid playing others' game, and clearly know what yours is and play that. If you are outmatched in a particular area then that is not a fight you want to get into. This is the reason that Floyd Mayweather agreed to a BOXING only fight with Conner Macgregor. Mayweather is not a grappler or kicker and he is not stupid so he made sure the fight he agree to was within his skillset. He would have lost otherwise.

There are huge numbers of idiots in gongfu and Taijiquan in general. I am not one of them, in that I am honest with myself and others. I have no agenda to lie about being the world's greatest fighter, or any of that. I am much more interested in developing the art that I love which has many practical self defense, health and quality of life benefits. I am also not shy about acknowledging that I do have my own level of effective martial ability, but everyone has limits. Best to know what yours are and learn to be comfortable with them rather than build a life of grand deception.
Thank you for your responses. I really don't have an agenda apart from wanting to know how people here see taichi/kung fu in the realm of fighting arts, how confident they are that it's still relevant against modern systems. If my understanding of what Xu Xiadong is doing is incorrect, I apologize; but I did clearly state at the start that it's a "what if" scenario, without giving a reason why he would challenge you. The sole reason for the post is to ask what the community thinks of the fighting prowess of Chen taichi, and the motivation for learning it (health/performance/combat). Marin's answer is very well thought of, and of course completely logical if we're talking about a competition with set rules such as the MMA; however, if it were an all out brawl, like let's say Xu Xiaodong just didn't like your face for no reason, and assuming the weight class difference isn't too far off, would you, as a genuine practitioner of Chen style taichi, have a fighting chance? If you say yes, then does that mean you had actual experience in a fight using taichi? And if so, it would be great if you would share the experience/story with us.
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Lao Tou
Staff member
Thank you for your responses. I really don't have an agenda apart from wanting to know how people here see taichi/kung fu in the realm of fighting arts, how confident they are that it's still relevant against modern systems. If my understanding of what Xu Xiadong is doing is incorrect, I apologize; let's just say my post is just a what if scenario instead.

I dont think anyone took offense.


FIrst of all, the guy in that video has no clue what he's talking about. He's just probably read a lot on the internet, and maybe even a book or two, but seems to know absolutely nothing about the subject from a practical perspective.

That said, I had basically the same questions that you have now maybe 10 or 12 years ago. Not about MMA vs. taiji specifically, but really about how would one know if they were learning a bullshit martial art? My solution was to find some people who had actually worked in the field of violence. One thing they are all very clear on is that there are different types of violence. Consensual sports fighting is different than fighting in a bar, and both are different than defending yourself against criminal assault. The nature of who you're fighting in those instances is very different, as well as the context in which the fights occur. So the first thing is to define what kind of violence you either want to participate in (sport) or protect yourself from (self defense). (Those are two locations on a spectrum, there are lots of others, i.e. if you have an older uncle who gets violent when he's drunk, that's not consensual, but you also can't punch him in the throat at a family picnic.)

Once you know what realm of violence you're looking at, you have to understand that a martial art is a set of tools that can be very effective for fighting, but won't by itself make you a fighter. It's the same as how an expensive set of tools won't make you a great carpenter or electrician. At the same time, I can be a great carpenter and have really nice tools, but if those tools are for an auto mechanic, they're not going to help me build a house.

So you're questions are valid, but I think you might benefit by looking at the broader context of violence, and then come back to whatever art interests you and ask yourself, "does this fit my needs for what I want from a martial art?" Personally, I like the fighty stuff, but there's other stuff that I like, as well, and if I'm going to commit to learning something as difficult as taiji gongfu, it needs to fill more than one need (but fighting utility is, in fact, one of those requirements).

If you do decide to do some research on violence and self-defense, I would recommend finding people that are recognized as experts by other experts in the field, and who understand that fighting only happens once a lot of other stuff (your *real* self defense, so to speak) has failed. Stay away from the guys who claim to be the deadliest, most qualified, or the only ones on the block/internet who know what's up.