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The MMA fighter who beat up a tai-chi master didn’t win the fight

The MMA fighter who beat up a tai-chi master didn’t win the fight

By Ephrat Livni

Senior reporter, law & politics, DC.
Published May 20, 2017This article is more than 2 years old.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on QUARTZ

Edited for content.

The fighting monks of Shaolin Monastery in the Pagoda Forest on Song Mountain in China are globally adored. They’re real but have been made mythical in countless martial-arts movies and the Wu Tang Clan’s hip-hop.

Now, their ancient arts are allegedly threatened by the new. The Shaolin fighting tradition, specifically tai-chi, just lost big time against mixed martial arts, or MMA, in a brisk showdown in China, a battle that was offensive to the government and others. The quick pummeling violated traditional codes of conduct, and the winner, Xu Xiaodong, has gone into hiding, so grave is the situation.

The loss ostensibly also calls into question the relevance of the ancient art of the loser, Wei Lei, practitioner of the “thunder style” of tai chi.

Any such claim may be shortsighted–with all due respect to the fast, loose, and furious MMA fighting style. After all, MMA is new. Shaolin’s Zen monks have been practicing for 1,500 years.


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