With the UFC holding an event in Macau, and the RUFF promotion being awarded the only permit to hold MMA events on mainland China, there is no question that the popularity of MMA is growing in the country. Martial arts is a big part of the culture in China, but the country is slowly embracing mixed martial arts. The country has produced its first million yuanearning fighter in RUFF featherweight champion Zhang Meixuan, and along with that a behind the scenes documentary of the making of “Grandmaster” has sparked debate among martial arts practitioners as to what style is the most effective. Which, if you recall, was the original goal of UFC 1.
While ‘old school’ martial artist argue that Wing Chun and Tai Chi have the most effective techniques, the younger generation argues that those techniques are completely useless in a real fighting situation. An article from The Economist talks about the debate:
Traditional kung fu, incorporating different styles such asWing Chun, Shaolin and tai chi , though still popular, has been in decline for decades, because of a one-two to the head, first from Maoism and now from commercialism. Youths with smartphones and short attention spans have no time for breathing exercises and meditation. The MMA crowd also accuses kung fu of being useless in an actual fight, and believe even Jet Li and Jackie Chan, two fighting film stars, are more like dancers than real toughs.
Into this debate has stepped Wong Kar-wai, an award-winning director from Hong Kong. His new film, “The Grandmaster”, opened the Berlin International Film Festival on February 7th. For many, Mr Wong’s film is just another kung fu epic. In China, however, the film has sparked further debate on the connections between traditional martial arts, beautifully portrayed in the film during the 1930s, and more modern forms.