Xu Xiaodong

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Xu Xiaodong
徐晓冬
Born (1979-11-15) 15 November 1979 (age 41)
NationalityChinese
OccupationMMA fighter, Youtuber, Political commentator
Known forExposing fraudulent martial artists
StyleSanda
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese徐曉冬
Simplified Chinese徐晓冬

Xu Xiaodong (Chinese: 徐晓冬; born 15 November 1979), nicknamed "Mad Dog", is a Chinese mixed martial artist (MMA) who is known for challenging and fighting fraudulent martial artists. He gained prominence online after he was filmed defeating self-proclaimed Tai chi master Wei Lei in 2017.

Early life[edit]

Xu was born on 15 November 1979 in Beijing.[1] In 1996, he entered Beijing Shenshahai Sports School [zh], where he was trained in sanshou and boxing under Mei Huizhi (梅惠志) and Zhang Xingzheng (张兴正). He competed at least twice at the Beijing Sanshou Invitational Tournament, finishing as the champion and the first runner-up, respectively. He became a sanshou coach at Shenshahai School after graduation.[1]

MMA career[edit]

In 2001, Xu began training for mixed martial arts (MMA) and Muay Thai.[1] He was drawn to the fighting style because of how free it was.[2] A year later, he, Anpei (安培) and Wang Yu (王宇) founded the first MMA team in Beijing, Evil Scouts (恶童军团).[3][4] In 2003, Xu fought against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, Andrew Pi (毕思安) in a televised bout. During the fight, Xu broke Pi's forearm with a kick however Pi managed to eventually get Xu to the ground where he won via Armbar submission.[5] Pi would later go on to found the first professional MMA promotion in China, Art of War Fighting Championship.

Xu was frustrated by what he saw as fraud and hypocrisy amongst martial arts practitioners, and wanted to demonstrate the superiority of modern fighting styles.[6] Many in China believe that kung fu masters have supernatural powers, and self-described masters, including Wei Lei, were known to make such claims online.[7] Xu started a dispute with Wei on social media, beginning with a demand that Wei provide evidence of his abilities, and culminating in a bare-knuckle fight in a basement in Chengdu in 2017; Xu won convincingly in less than 20 seconds.[7][8][9]

After the fight went viral, there was significant blowback on social media where he was accused of disparaging Chinese culture and his family received death threats. Beverage tycoon Chen Sheng offered over a million US dollars to any traditional tai chi fighter who could beat him.[10][11] Following this, police stopped a fight against another self-proclaimed tai chi master, Ma Baoguo who allegedly called them in, and Xu was banned for organizing tournaments at his gym.[7][9][12] Xu continued to fight self-proclaimed tai chi masters.[13]

In 2018 Xu was injured fighting in a series of sparring matches with kickboxers at a Chinese MMA gym. He was left with a fractured skull and needing 26 stiches around his eyebrow following his fourth sparring partner.[14] During this year Xu would also receive vocal support from Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin, who claimed that Xu's actions against fake kung fu artists was good for the traditional art form.[15]

Xu was sued in 2019 for calling tai chi "grandmaster" Chen Xiaowang a fraud, and the Chinese court ordered him to pay Chen approximately US$60,000 in damages and to apologize for seven consecutive days on social media. Additionally, his social credit rating was lowered to the point where he could not rent, own property, stay in certain hotels, travel on high speed rail or buy plane tickets.[16][17] The restrictions were lifted after he paid US$40,000 in both legal fees and the cost of placing the apology.[18]

In May 2019, Xu defeated another martial artist; but was only able to do so wearing clown makeup to hide his face and by fighting under a pseudonym. It took him 36 hours to reach the fight location due to his low social credit score, and Chinese search engines reportedly had stopped listing him.[19][20] Later that year, Xu had to wear Peking Opera face paint and cover his back tattoo during his match with Japanese kickboxer Yuichiro Nagashima so that the fight which took place in Thailand could stream in China.[21] By defeating Nagashima, Xu believed that he could pressure Yi Long, whom Xu has claimed has rigged competitions, to face him in a match.[21] Yi Long has previously criticized Xu, as well for his attitude and claiming that Xu himself is in fact a fraud.[22]

In November 2019 an Iron Palm master threatened to break his arm in a fight, but apologized and backed down after Xu accepted and suggested putting 200,000 yuan on the outcome.[23]

In July 2020 the Chinese Wushu Association decreed that practitioners are not allowed to call themselves "master". This was interpreted by Bloody Elbow (MMA news site) and Radii China as being in response to Xu's complaints about "kung fu fakery".[24][25]

Political views[edit]

In June 2019, Xu made a video on YouTube claiming that he wished to become an Australian citizen while commenting on Chinese actors who live abroad or have foreign passports, claiming that "all patriots are going abroad … long live China".[26]

In August 2019, Xu spoke out on Twitter, Sina Weibo, and YouTube questioning the government's reporting of the Hong Kong protests, stating that the Chinese government was running a "smear campaign", and met with human rights lawyer Chen Qiushi who had shared similar views.[2][27][28] Xu has also clarified on his YouTube account that his statements were about how the mainland government should adhere to the One China, Two Systems policy as promised, rather than a call for Hong Kong independence. He was subsequently visited by Chinese authorities and had his Sina Weibo account wiped for the eighth time.[27][29]

After Chen Qiushi disappeared while reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Xu, a friend of Chen, gave updates on both his and Chen's YouTube channels reporting Chen was uncontactable by family and friends while police claimed Chen had merely been placed in isolation.[30][31] Xu would later claim that Chen was in a "safe place" but under government supervision.[32][33]

Xu has also come to the defense of Fang Fang, a Chinese author living in Wuhan who published the Wuhan Diary which related the experiences of people living under lock down in the city by the Chinese government.[34] Fang Fang received widespread criticism from Chinese nationalists, including Tai Chi practitioner Wei Lei, who was defeated by Xu in 2017. Wei called for martial artists in Wuhan to assault Fang for her work while Xu defended the author who he claims was mild in criticism and was being truthful in her accounts.[35][36]

YouTube channel[edit]

Xu has run a YouTube channel called Brother Dong's Hot Takes [zh] since 2015, consisting of 45 minutes long sports show style monologues, largely about MMA and his own experiences. He records the show in Beijing, and sends it to a friend in America to upload it. Most of his audience are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or are Chinese firewall jumpers.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c He Yiling 何宜玲 (6 May 2017). "《两岸星期人物》格斗中国自尊心 浪尖上的网红徐晓冬". China Times (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 8 December 2020. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Lauren Teixeira (3 October 2019). "He Never Intended To Become A Political Dissident, But Then He Started Beating Up Tai Chi Masters". Deadspin. Archived from the original on 12 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  3. ^ "惡童·再回首——中國第一支MMA戰隊" (in Chinese). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  4. ^ "暴打自称练武十年的踢馆者 "恶童"教练来袭!(视频)-其它-武者网". www.swuzhe.com. Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  5. ^ "他在15年前擊敗過「格鬥狂人」徐曉東,後來成為《英雄榜》創始人" (in Chinese). Retrieved 20 January 2021.
  6. ^ Wu, Jiangchuan (11 May 2017). "Tai chi v MMA: The 20-second fight that left China reeling". BBC News. Archived from the original on 15 September 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Charlie Campbell; Zhang Chi (19 November 2018). "Meet the Chinese MMA Fighter Taking on the Grandmasters of Kung Fu". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on 6 June 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  8. ^ Bissell, Tim (7 May 2017). "Feature: MMA fighter KOs Tai Chi master, Shaolin monk up next?". Bloody Elbow. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  9. ^ a b Atkin, Nick (20 May 2020). "Xu Xiaodong says 'truth revealed' after tai chi master's 30-second KO". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 10 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  10. ^ Keoni Everington (7 April 2017). "Chinese tycoon offers $1.45 million to tai chi warrior who can defeat MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong". Taiwan News. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  11. ^ Zheng, Sarah (5 May 2017). "Chinese tycoon offers US$1.45 million to beat MMA fighter". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  12. ^ Sarah Zheng (28 June 2017). "Tai chi master sabotaged event, MMA fighter claims". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  13. ^ Bissell, Tim (21 January 2019). "Video: MMA's 'Mad Dog' Xu Xiaodong destroys another Kung Fu 'master'". Bloody Elbow. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  14. ^ Atkin, Nick (14 June 2019). "Throwback: Xu Xiaodong gets skull fractured by Muay Thai kick-boxer". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  15. ^ Atkin, Nick (13 November 2018). "Shaolin monk backs Chinese MMA fighter exposing 'fake kung fu'". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 10 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  16. ^ Tim Bissell (25 August 2019). "Xu Xiaodong questioned by authorities after showing support for Hong Kong protests". Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  17. ^ Nick Atkin (24 May 2019). "China orders Xu Xiaodong to publicly apologise and pay damages for insulting tai chi 'grandmaster' Chen Xiaowang". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 26 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  18. ^ SCMP Reporter (23 June 2019). "Xu Xiaodong wants to countersue tai chi grandmaster in Australian court". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  19. ^ Nick Atkin (25 May 2019). "Opinion: China's censorship of Xu Xiaodong for exposing fake martial arts masters is alarming". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  20. ^ Livni, Ephrat. "A fight between fighting styles just got settled by a court in China". Quartz. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  21. ^ a b Atkin, Nick (23 November 2019). "Chinese MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong knocks out Japanese cosplayer". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  22. ^ Atkin, Nick (16 January 2019). "'Fake Shaolin monk' next for Xu Xiaodong – but this one can actually fight". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  23. ^ Nick Atkin (8 November 2019). "Kung fu master backs down after Xu Xiaodong accepts challenge". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 26 January 2020. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  24. ^ Bissell, Tim (15 July 2020). "Chinese martial artists no longer permitted to call themselves 'Masters'". Bloody Elbow. Archived from the original on 17 July 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  25. ^ Kohnhorst, Adan (10 July 2020). "Chinese Martial Artists Must Stop Calling Themselves "Masters", According to Official Decree". Radii China. Archived from the original on 10 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  26. ^ Atkin, Nick (19 June 2019). "Censored MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong says 'I'll leave China to become Australian'". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  27. ^ a b "Chinese authorities question Xu Xiaodong over Hong Kong protest views". South China Morning Post. 22 August 2019. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  28. ^ Atkin, Nick (23 August 2019). "Xu Xiaodong's Weibo account wiped after Hong Kong protest comments". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 21 October 2020.
  29. ^ Nick Atkin (23 August 2019). "Xu Xiaodong's Weibo account wiped after Hong Kong protest comments". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  30. ^ Hawkins, Derek (9 February 2020). "He ducked Chinese authorities to report on coronavirus in Wuhan. Then he disappeared". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Archived from the original on 19 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.
  31. ^ "China Detains, Harasses Journalist, Academics Over Reports, Comments on Coronavirus". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 5 August 2020. Retrieved 6 August 2020.
  32. ^ "Missing Chinese journalist 'under state supervision'". BBC News. 24 September 2020. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  33. ^ Davidson, Helen (24 September 2020). "Wuhan Covid journalist missing since February found, says friend". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  34. ^ Bissell, Tim (22 April 2020). "'Have you no shame?'; MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong slams tai chi master's calls for violence against Wuhan critic". Bloody Elbow. Archived from the original on 2 June 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  35. ^ Bissell, Tim (22 April 2020). "Xu Xiaodong slams tai chi master's threats against Wuhan critic". www.msn.com. Archived from the original on 8 December 2020. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  36. ^ Siu, Wong; Man, Sing (17 April 2020). Mudie, Luisetta (ed.). "Chinese MMA Fighter Hits Back After Threat of Harm to Diary Author". Radio Free Asia. Archived from the original on 13 October 2020. Retrieved 9 October 2020.

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