Under China’s current “confident” climate, traditional wushu is a “protected” artform. It doesn’t matter how unskilled you are. You’ll get all the publicity and exposure you want. Bragging is supported by the system. That’s why 鄭加寬 is such an influencer in China.
But when put to the test, these folks not only reveal that their skills are only good for performances, they also reveal their poor upbringing. After 鄭加寬 threw in the towel during his rematch with TKD/capoeira exponent Zhang Long, his sponsors and his teacher Ma Baoguo announced that they had nothing nothing to do with him.
The final scene shows wushu master Tian Ye telling Chinese youths not to be misled by foreign martial artforms like TKD. He challenged Zhang Long to a match and was swiftly knocked out. I’m not sure what excuse he gave.
The next video shows a very interesting match between former wushu exponent Tang Duo Ji and Taiji master Lei Lei. The latter needs no introduction. He was heavily promoted by CCTV in documentaries on Taiji, demonstrating consummate skills that wowed many Western audiences.
Tang did not get such good publicity, but he was also quite a prominent influencer who used to brag about how his creation, a boxing style called “gong quan” could defeat muay Thai and other foreign artforms.
However, Tang changed his mind after being soundly beaten by muay Thai and decided to focus on boxing. Lei Lei tried to paint Tang Duo Ji as a traitor and boasted that his Taiji skills would easily beat Tang in the boxing ring. Not only that, even though he was just a guest at the ring, he lectured the crew and acted like he was the organiser.
A man like Tang Duo Ji really deserves our respect. After being beaten by a stronger opponent, he abandoned his fake and showy past. He humbly trained in an artform that works. It doesn’t matter if that artform is foreign or Chinese. A Chinese person who excels in it is doing his people proud. So what if the system does not support him or give him publicity befitting a star? Tang Duo Ji had gone beyond that. Meanwhile, stars like the recalcitrant Lei Lei supported by the system, are still giving excuses for their failures and still attracting hordes of “patriotic” fans who believe in the self-glorifying fantasy projected on the silver screen.
Proverbs like 闭门造车,出门可辙 have encouraged insularity and complacency in China for thousands of years. I have no interest in martial arts, but in dramatic fashion, recent developments in this arena hold many important lessons for every single one of us.