At least three traditional martial arts masters have picked up the gauntlet thrown down by mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Xu Xiaodong, saying they were willing to face him in combat to defend their tactics and traditions. But exponents of traditional martial arts said that even if the challengers lost in the ring against Xu, it would not mean their approach was inferior to the modern MMA way. How Chinese martial arts came to be: from hired killers to soldiers, the mafia and performance Xu, a trained kung fu free-combat sportsman who taught himself MMA, has claimed that traditional martial arts are outdated and only good for keeping in shape. In combat, free-style fighting or boxing was more practical, The Beijing News quoted him as saying on Monday. Gone in 10 seconds – Chinese MMA fighter wipes floor with ‘thunder-style’ tai chi master Xu’s comments came after he took just 10 seconds to defeat tai chi master Wei Lei – who also calls himself Lei Lei – in a fight in Chengdu, Sichuan province, last week, reigniting debate over which approach is superior. Wei is a practitioner of the Yang style of tai chi, characterised by slow, steady movements. Xu said on his microblog that he could take on two or three traditional martial artists and a number had already accepted. Mixed martial arts vs tai chi group brawl stopped by police in Shanghai Among Xu’s challengers were two tai chi masters Lu Xing and Wang Zhanhai; Guangzhou native Li Shangxian who specialises in the Shaolin Meihua Zhuang form of Chinese boxing, and Yi Long, a monk known for his martial arts prowess. WATCH: A tai chi master repels his opponents Lu told the Chengdu Business News that he wanted to teach Xu a lesson. “He is deeply biased against traditional martial arts and his words were insulting. I challenged him so he could have a fresh perspective of tai chi and the true traditional martial arts,” said Lu, who specialises in a form of tai chi known as tuishou, or pushing hands. Why Chinese exercises such as tai chi are so good for patients’ all-round health Lu said he was 80 per cent sure of winning because tai chi masters had “an iron fist, air foot and iron back, which took more than 20 years of hard training”. Xu’s form of martial arts was more about projecting an explosive force, he said. Wang, a Henan native who practises the Chen style of tai chi, said he decided to fight Xu to silence online dissenters. Tai chi master ‘sabotaged fight’, mixed martial artist claims The Chen style of tai chi is characterised by a “silk-reeling” movement that alternates fast and slow motions and bursts of power. WATCH: The 10-second duel Yi, the fighter monk, wrote on his microblog that he would not stand for the MMA fighter insulting traditional Chinese martial arts and “deceiving the public”. Jiang Lugui, president of the Taohua Tai Chi Research Institute under the Sichuan Martial Arts Association, said tai chi had changed over time from a combat technique to a form of exercise. “People practice martial arts not to kill but to cultivate a healthy body. Tai chi has largely developed into a competitive sport or exercise for health,” Jiang said. WHY A KICK IN THE TEETH IS GOOD FOR CHINESE KUNG FU “The practical nature of tai chi, to kill or overpower someone quickly, is no longer the reason people practise it.” He said tai chi was now more of about showing technique and even some senior kung fu masters might not win a fight because they had stopped practising the combat element. “Traditional martial arts called for long hours of practising some lethal moves to overpower an opponent quickly. But this is not appropriate in the modern era,” Jiang said. Another tai chi master from the Beijing Martial Arts Association, said tai chi and mixed martial arts did not follow the same rules and exponents of the two should not go up against each other.