One viral style-vs-style street fighting star tried to confront another viral style-vs-style street fighting star recently. However, Pierre Francois Flores’ trip to China to see Xu Xiaodong did not result in the kind of sloppy, ham-fisted, brawl we’re familiar with when it comes to these two.
Nicolas Atkin of the South China Morning Post — the only other person who writes about Xu as much as I do — has the scoop that Montreal’s Flores’ turned up in Beijing hoping to find Xu.
“I am here to prove to Xu Xiaodong another version of wing chun,” said Flores to a local reporter on the ground.
Flores’ coming out party, to the Internet’s hordes of craven fist-fight addicts, came in 2017 when he beat the snot out of karate black-belt Đoàn Bảo Chau in Vietnam. Flores, largely thanks to his size and youth advantage, bewildered Chau in the clinch before dropping him with a lazy (cheap?) head kick.
Flores, who is originally from Argentina, is an instructor at Shaolin Wing Chun Nam Anh Kung Fu in Montreal. He has visited Vietnam a number of times to engage in what he terms as ‘friendly martial arts exchanges’. The exchanges look like street-fights and have resulted in him KOing a few old men and being pasted by at least one person he was adequately matched against.
Xu, director of the Beijing MMA association, rose to fame in 2017, too. He blasted a tai chi master in around 10 seconds in an unsanctioned fight at a gym in Chengdu, China. Xu took that fight after arguing with traditional martial artists on Chinese social media platform weibo. Xu’s position was that kung fu that boasted supernatural abilities was hogwash and that MMA was superior for combat and self-defense. He told the world he would fight anyone to prove to this.
Since then Xu has had half a dozen brawls with tai chi and wing chun practitioners across China. His actions have ran afoul of the powerful Chinese Wushu Association (which is very cozy with China’s authoritarian government) and that has resulted in online censorship and a reduction of his social credit rating (meaning he can no longer own or rent property or travel on high speed public transit in China).
For Xu’s most recent fight, in remote Xiajiang (home to the oppressed Uygur people), the promoter told Xu he had to wear clown make-up and go by a name that translated to Winter Melon (a jab at Xu’s physique). These instructions were almost certainly stipulated by people connected to the Chinese Wushu Association and/or government.
Commentators have recently theorized that with Xu’s name and exploits being scrubbed from Chinese internet searches there was a chance that his viral freak fights would become a thing of the recent past.
Flores hasn’t gotten the memo, though. He flew to Beijing from his usual haunt of Vietnam hoping to catch ‘Mad Dog’ on the flesh. However, Xu was nowhere to be found.
“He’s a very brave warrior, and I know him because I watch his training, he’s just like a lion,” said Flores to local news. “But there’s a saying in Vietnam — before you get into the battle, know yourself, and know your opponent. When you do, you know the result of the battle.”
Flores told media that he was in Beijing because Xu had issued an open challenge to traditional martial artists two years ago. “I accept this challenge and that’s why I’m here,” said Flores. “Xu Xiaodong not only defeated Wei Lei, the tai chi master, but after he beat up many masters of wing chun.”
Whether Flores gets his shot to avenge wing chun in a fight against Xu remains to be seen. If it does happen — and the Chinese government don’t erase it before it hits YouTube — you’ll find it on Bloody Elbow.