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Free Fight Or Tai Chi? Ancient Dispute Settled In 20 Seconds

K.O. in 5, 4, 3 ...
K.O. in 5, 4, 3 ...
Worldcrunch

A decades-old argument might just have been settled: Modern "mixed martial arts' fighter vs. Tai Chi master — who wins?"

In a recently filmed fight, Xu Xiaodong, a Beijing-based mixed martial arts freestyle coach, duked it out with Wei Lei, a famous Tai Chi master from Sichuan. It took less than 20 seconds for Xu to knock out Wei.

Riding the momentum, Xu confidently challenged fighters of any other discipline, including Li Tianjin, another renowned Tai Chi master and Ma Yun's bodyguard, the Taiwan-based United Daily News reported.

The question has spurred new debate on the age-old question among the Chinese diaspora, where both approaches to combat are followed. Among those duking it out online were Ma Yun, the founder of the Chinese internet giant Alibaba, and Jet Li, the Chinese movie star who has held many roles as a martial arts master.

Amused by all the excitement, Ma Yun, on a business trip to Argentina and Mexico, responded on his blog "This is a show where actors and spectators interact best. Pity that some take it too seriously!"

Calling himself a fan of both Tai Chi and freestyle fighting, the Chinese tycoon recalled that he used to walk for miles as a child just to watch a cockfight. And since he was in college, he has had no fewer than eight Tai Chi coaches.

Tai Chi is a martial art, and a Tai Chi master may of course participate in a fight, but those who practice Tai Chi rarely reach the level of a professional fighter, Ma noted. "Most people practice Tai Chi gymnastics, or they are just amateurs who enjoy gathering in a park for exercise", he said.

Chicken v. duck? Apple v. orange?

The question of which style is better for combat misses the point, because the two disciplines have different rules. Ma says it would be "like comparing the number of points scored in a basketball game and a soccer match. It's like comparing a chicken with a duck."

Jet Li, the actor, won several championships in Wushu, a traditional martial art, before making his debut in the film Shaolin Temple and subsequently starring in numerous Kung Fu films. Reacting to the video of last week's fight, he called for continued support for Tai Chi as a sport. Referring to his own discipline, he said, "In ancient times, Wushu was a lethal combat technique. But these days it is more about style than substance."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Western Tanks To Ukraine Trigger Russian Threats — But Also Fears Of Major Counterattack

Germany and the U.S. overcame months of reluctance in the past 24 hours to commit to sending heavy combat tanks to Ukraine. Russia responded with official bluster, but others in Moscow fear that the tanks delivery could be a gamechanger on the battlefield.

Picture of recently mobilized Russian troops

Recently mobilized Russian troops getting ready to depart for service

Cameron Manley

A week of growing expectations of a coming Russian offensive was turned on its head Wednesday as Germany and the U.S. announced their intention to send heavy combat tanks to Ukraine.

The sudden show of resolve on supplying tanks — after months of reluctance, particularly from Germany — has prompted some Russians to fear that Ukraine will now be equipped for a major counterattack. That would be significant reversal after speculation had been growing this month about a Russian spring offensive.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government confirmed Wednesday morning that Berlin plans to send at least 14 German-built Leopard 2 tanks to the frontline. U.S. media also reported that Joe Biden’s administration is expected to officially announce Washington's commitment, with at least 30 M1 Abrams tanks expected to be sent.

The timeline remains unclear as to when the vehicles would make it into combat. Still, both sides on the war acknowledged that it is a significant development with the potential to change the math on the battlefield.

Official Russian response was loaded with typical incendiary rhetoric. Dmitry Peskov, press secretary to Russian president Vladimir Putin, said the new tanks would "burn like all the rest, only these ones are expensive.”

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