This is the legendary Taiji master Lei Lei, featured on CCTV4 an official mainstream TV station in China. He was one of the 10 top Chinese pugilists promoted by the Chinese authorities to promote China’s international image.
In the following video, broadcast in 2017, Master Lei demonstrated his mystical Taiji prowess. In the first demonstration, he slapped a watermelon with only moderate force, causing no visible damage on the skin of the fruit. When cut open, however, the damaged area was deep and diffused. This is the inner strength (seemingly weak but remarkably powerful) often mentioned in Chinese martial arts. Imagine what happens to your internal organs if Master Lei Lei hits you with the same moderate force. If you watch the video closely, however, you’ll see that there quite a bit of “acting” on the part of Lei Lei’s visitors.
In the next demonstration, the master let a pigeon rest on his palm and prevented it from flying away simply by exerting forces that prevented the bird from making use of Newton’s Third Law. All this must have wowed audiences not only in China but also elsewhere.
Enter Xu Xiaodong to debunk the myths. Many saw him as an arrogant troublemaker, seeking attention by challenging the masters of traditional martial arts who had plenty of publicity from the mainstream media and many students.
Actually, Xu was initially very impressed with Master Lei Lei’s skills. He was merely curious to find out more from the man himself. That was until an insider at CCTV4 informed him that Lei Lei’s mystical skills were all fake. The water melon had been rolled to loosen up the pith (and injected with water to cause damage). The pigeon also had strings tied to its legs and the camera angle ensured that the strings were not visible.
Xu Xiaodong was shocked and angry after being informed. This whole thing was a scam and conmen like Lei Lei had been cheating hordes of students in his school and millions of people watching TV out there. There is a saying from some of our very compliant and conforming educators that we shouldn’t trust everything we see on the internet. But here is a stunning example of an ordinary citizen using his own resources to expose lies propagated by CCTV4. Xiaodong decided that he had to teach Lei Lei a lesson and the following video demolished the master’s reputation.
After the fight, Lei Lei explained that he tripped and fell. He also claimed that if he had used his inner strength, Xu Xiaodong would have died. By now, nowbody believed him. He lost all his students. When questioned about the video in which he demonstrated the power of Taiji to a Westerner and two lay people, Lei Lei revealed that the whole programme was staged by the producer and he had no say as to how the show would be broadcast to the public.
The embarrassing truths revealed by Xiaodong got him into trouble. The victor also suffered. Xiaodong had his social media accounts suspended on a few occasions after netizens complained about him. They complained about his back tattoo (not allowed in China), his vulgarity, threatening masters and holding illegal fights etc. He couldn’t get any sponsors and his gym in Beijing was not thriving. He had to do his fights in Thailand nowadays and even though he has many followers and even admirers in China, the authorities have been keep a close eye on him. Only daredevils like Chen Qiushi (now missing) dare to show their support publicly.
While Xiaodong’s political inclinations are obvious, he is always careful to remind audiences that he’s criticising sportsmen and their organisers and not political leaders. He has been censored, but luckily, he has friends overseas managing his YouTube account.