Xu Xiaodong

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Xu Xiaodong
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 has been called the founder of MMA in China. He gained prominence online after he was filmed defeating a self-proclaimed kung fu master in 2017.

Early life[edit]

Xu was born on 15 November 1979 in Beijing.[1] In 1996, he entered Beijing Shichahai 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 Shichahai 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 founded the first MMA team in Beijing and organized China's first MMA tournament. He has been called the founder of MMA in China.[1]

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[4]

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.[5] Police stopped a fight against another self-proclaimed tai chi master, Ma Baoguo,[6] and Xu was banned for organising tournaments at his gym.[4] Xu continued to fight self-proclaimed tai chi masters.[7]

Some observers including MMA fighter Cung Le have noted that, barring mystic elements, kung fu practitioners have performed well in MMA.[5]

Xu was sued in 2019 for calling tai chi "grandmaster" Chen Xiaowang a fraud, and ordered to pay him approximately US $60,000 in damages and to apologise for seven consecutive days on social media. Additionally, his social credit rating was lowered to the point where he couldn't rent, own property, stay in certain hotels, travel on high speed rail or buy plane tickets.[8][9] The restrictions were lifted after he paid US $40,000 in both legal fees and the cost of placing the apology.[10]

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.[11][12]

Political views[edit]

In August 2019, Xu spoke out on Twitter, Sina Weibo and YouTube questioning the governments reporting of the Hong Kong protests, stating that the Chinese government was running a "smear campaign", and met with human rights lawyer Chen Qiushi [zh] who had shared similar views.[2][13] He was subsequently visited by Chinese authorities and had his Weibo account wiped for the eighth time.[13][14]

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]


  1. ^ a b c d 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). 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. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  3. ^ Jiangchuan Wu (11 May 2017). "Tai chi v MMA: The 20-second fight that left China reeling". BBC News.
  4. ^ a b c Charlie Campbell; Zhang Chi (19 November 2018). "Meet the Chinese MMA Fighter Taking on the Grandmasters of Kung Fu". Time Magazine. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  5. ^ a b Keoni Everington (7 April 2017). "Chinese tycoon offers $1.45 million to tai chi warrior who can defeat MMA fighter Xu Xiaodong". Taiwan News.
  6. ^ Sarah Zheng (28 June 2017). "Tai chi master sabotaged event, MMA fighter claims". South China Morning Post.
  7. ^ Bissell, Tim (21 January 2019). "Video: MMA's 'Mad Dog' Xu Xiaodong destroys another Kung Fu 'master'". Bloody Elbow.
  8. ^ Tim Bissell (25 August 2019). "Xu Xiaodong questioned by authorities after showing support for Hong Kong protests".
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ SCMP Reporter (23 June 2019). "Xu Xiaodong wants to countersue tai chi grandmaster in Australian court". South China Morning Post.
  11. ^ Nick Atkin (25 May 2019). "Opinion: China's censorship of Xu Xiaodong for exposing fake martial arts masters is alarming". South China Morning Post.
  12. ^ Livni, Ephrat. "A fight between fighting styles just got settled by a court in China". Quartz.
  13. ^ a b "Chinese authorities question Xu Xiaodong over Hong Kong protest views". South China Morning Post. 22 August 2019.
  14. ^ Nick Atkin (23 August 2019). "Xu Xiaodong's Weibo account wiped after Hong Kong protest comments". South China Morning Post.

External links[edit]