Disgraced Chinese tai chi master Ma Baoguo has apparently walked away from martial arts after a resurgence in online ridicule over the weekend.
The 69-year-old became an overnight celebrity in May when he was knocked down three times in 30 seconds in a fight with 50-year-old amateur boxer Wang Qingmin in Zibo, Shandong.
Ma’s official Weibo account posted on Sunday for the first time since May, writing that “Ma has returned to a peaceful life, away from the martial arts circle of right and wrong. I hope everyone can understand it”.
This came in response to a renewed interest in the martial artist as netizens created spoof videos, coinciding with the six-month anniversary of his viral loss to Wang.
Ma’s account addressed the rise in videos, which had also seen him trend as a search topic on Weibo once more.
“Recently, a lot of various clips about Ma Lao have appeared on the internet. The information on the internet is very messy, so everyone must be able to distinguish clearly.
“This is our only window platform to the outside world. All information is subject to this release. Thank you.”
That was the first post on the account since a similar denial in mid-May following the dramatic knockout by Wang within 30 seconds.
Chinese netizens have been creating videos inserting Ma into well-known action films or doctoring images to place him in films such as The Godfather , where he replaced Marlon Brando .
The ridicule has from all corners. Even Ke Jie, the 23-year-old Go world champion, released a video on Chinese-platform Bilibili spoofing Ma.
Another video, posted by PP Sports, showed Germany football coach Joachim Loew, whose side were thrashed 6-0 by Spain in the Uefa Nations League on Tuesday. It had been edited so Loew explained why his face was swollen, much like the posts Ma made after his defeat to Wang.
It has been pointed out that videos spoofing Ma on Bilibili have been viewed more than 100 million times.
Such videos often focus on sayings from Ma’s own videos, including “rat tail juice”, “sneak attack” and “young people do not speak martial arts”.
Many users have set up fake accounts pretending to be Ma, which he denounced on his official account back in May.
“There are now many people on the internet pretending to be Mr Ma Baoguo to post false news,” the official account posted back then.
“We have not accepted any interviews with anyone. All the news is based on the official Weibo account of “Hunyuan Xingyi Taijiquan Ma Baoguo” that has been certified with V. Yes, the picture below shows some fake accounts, please tell the netizens clearly.”
Elsewhere, another edited photo saw Xi’an’s Changan University move to deny that they had employed Ma to teach martial arts to students.
Someone had doctored images of the “announcement” and shared them on social media – the giveaway being the real university has a blue “verified” logo rather than the red “V” in the pictures – as reported by Chengdu’s Red Star News .
“We don’t know who sent this picture and there is no way to verify it,” a staff member was quoted as saying. They also refused to confirm whether Ma Baoguo was an alumnus of the university.
Earlier this year, the China Wushu Association issued a proposal to clear up the definition of martial arts.
This came in a response to Ma and other self-proclaimed “masters” going viral online after humiliating defeats.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.