This Saturday will see the premiere of a new aggressive arts movie, “Gong Shou Dao.” With a run time of aloof 20 minutes, it absolutely wasn’t fabricated for its box appointment potential. The abbreviate film, which stars Jack Ma — the architect and controlling administrator of Alibaba, China’s bigger e-commerce belvedere — brings calm 11 of China’s best-known aggressive artists and will premiere during the eighth anniversary Singles’ Day arcade event, aback hundreds of millions of the world’s consumers will abrade Taobao, Alibaba’s arcade platform, for deals.
The man abaft the blur is Jet Li, a acclaimed amateur whose movies accommodate “Shaolin Temple,” “Fist of Legend,” and “Hero.” Li and Ma are co-founders of Taiji Zen, a affairs aggregation that promotes wellness through a aggregate of tai chi and meditation. Central to the company’s appearance is gongshoudao (GSD), a new anatomy of tai chi that Li and Ma achievement will drag Chinese aggressive arts to Olympic status.
Sixth Tone put questions to Li about the ability of tai chi, his accord with Ma, and his approaching hopes for GSD.
Sixth Tone: What is appropriate about GSD compared to added forms of aggressive arts, and how does it chronicle to the Olympics?
Jet Li: I was aloof 8 years old aback I began acceptance aggressive arts. I’m 54 now, and over the accomplished four decades or so, I’ve been advantageous abundant to achieve article of a name for myself, acting in Hollywood movies and traveling the apple giving talks on this audibly Chinese anatomy of combat. Countless Chinese dream of the day that aggressive arts are clearly accustomed as an Olympic event, but so far, we accept been unsuccessful.
A key acumen for our abortion to date is the actuality that there is no accord on the standards or categories of the assorted forms of wushu — aggressive arts. There are artlessly too abounding styles and variations to arete admittance in the Olympics aloof yet. Use your fists, and bodies alarm it boxing; use your legs, and they alarm it taekwondo; bandy your adversary to the floor, and bodies alarm it judo. How, in the end, should we arrange article as ample as Chinese aggressive arts? Jack [Ma] and I achievement that GSD will at atomic ascertain it for the purposes of all-embracing sport.
Sixth Tone: You accept baffled several altered aggressive arts styles. Why did you accept to abject GSD on tai chi?
Jet Li: About seven or eight years ago, I apprehend a Harvard University abstraction that looked at 800 appear medical affidavit adherent to the about claim of tai chi, some of which assured that it could accommodate abatement for sufferers of affection disease, aerial claret pressure, arthritis, and depression. This akin of altercation is about absent in China, area we tend to booty it for accepted that tai chi is acceptable for us. Yet alike if it is good, that doesn’t beggarly it’s a bewitched catholicon or that it obviates the charge for medicine. We charge accumulate putting our acceptance in science.
Around the aforementioned time, Jack and I met to allocution about his dream of cutting a blur to advice popularize tai chi. Having accomplished tai chi for 30 years, he sees it as a attribute of acceptable Chinese culture. Two years later, we founded Taiji Zen together. Our aggregate ambition is to get Chinese aggressive arts — accurately GSD — anointed as an Olympic event. To this end, we accept fatigued up abundant rules for GSD, with an eye against authoritative it added antagonistic and watchable. Domestically, the aboriginal GSD clash will be captivated in Beijing on Nov. 15.
Sixth Tone: In the past, China has bootless to argue the All-embracing Olympic Committee (IOC) to accommodate acceptable aggressive arts at the Games. How do the affairs attending now?
Jet Li: In January, Alibaba put its name to a 12-year affiliation with the IOC. Covering the aing three Olympic cycles, the arrangement establishes Jack’s aggregation as one of the IOC’s arch all-around ally and absolutely gives GSD a leg up in the action for Olympic status. In fact, Jack alone explained GSD to the IOC’s accepted president, Thomas Bach, in August.
I don’t agnosticism that the Olympic spirit is a acceptable thing. Yet alike as the adventure to be higher, faster, and stronger has accustomed us to redefine humanity’s limits, it has additionally damaged athletes’ bodies. In our attempts to advance ourselves, we’ve absent afterimage of an important allotment of the antic mindset: balance. The apple today is alteration at an amazing pace, so it’s alone accustomed to feel off-balance. But to digest one of Jack’s best quoted comments, it pays to apathetic bottomward if we appetite to alive blessed lives.
In 1997, about the time I was filming “Once Upon a Time in China and America,” I begin myself affected with agnosticism for the aboriginal time in my life. Anytime aback I was a little boy, I had consistently believed that if I artlessly formed hard, admired the law, and did my best, there was annihilation I couldn’t accomplish.
However, at that point, I accomplished that in animosity of all my wealth, I was still bistro the aforementioned things I had consistently eaten and bubbler added or beneath what I had consistently admired to drink. The alone aberration was that aback I was younger, I’d abate myself in Beijing’s accessible restrooms, area added guys stood in curve pissing all over the urinal trough. Now, though, I lived in a big home with article like eight bathrooms. That was the admirable sum of all my achievements: a altered bath for anniversary day of the week.
I acclimated to accept there were alone four things that mattered in life: fame, money, power, and love. Now, I apprehend that’s not the case, and I apperceive that I charge accretion a bright angle on what activity is absolutely about. Not continued ago, I begin myself chatting with Yang Xingnong, Taiji Zen’s CEO and the administrator of our academy. Over the advance of two hours, we talked about aggregate from movies and aggressive arts training to alms and altruism, yet we kept ambit aback to the aforementioned questions: What is life? What is pain? What is love? What, at the end of the day, is the point of living?
Sixth Tone: How does your adjustment of tai chi abduction those moral revelations?
Jet Li: GSD combines concrete training with the array of attentive self-reflection you ability apprehend from Zen Buddhism. Over the accomplished few years, I’ve spent six hours a day meditating, analytic for the answers to these questions. I’ve approved activity after life’s mundanities — I already went over a anniversary after showering — and attempted a brace things added grandiose, such as aback I spent several years staring into caves aerial in the Nepalese Himalayas. I’m happier than I’ve anytime been, because today, my thoughts and purpose are absolutely aligned.
When bodies apprehend the name Jet Li, they tend to anticipate of the aggressive artist, the kid who started acceptance aback he was 8 afore acceptable a civic best and entering the blur industry. My aboriginal movie, “Shaolin Temple,” came out in 1982 and bankrupt Chinese acreage box appointment annal for a Mandarin-language film. Admitting I went on to adore a acknowledged career in Hong Kong and Hollywood, that Jet Li has now stepped out of the accessible eye.
These days, I absorb my time cerebration about how I can advice bodies alive better, including through accommodating work. Ten years ago, I launched the One Foundation, a alms focused on allowance communities balance from disasters, attention and educating children, associate support, and innovation.
Sixth Tone: Your 1982 blur debut, “Shaolin Temple,” fabricated Chinese admirers abatement aback in adulation with aggressive arts. Are you assured to leave a agnate consequence with GSD?
Jet Li: I like to say that while “Shaolin Temple” active absorption in aggressive arts, it bootless to abduction their essence. The action-packed cine aggressive a bearing of kids who dreamed of one day actuality aggressive artists, but concluded up as aegis guards. My accepted achievement is that Taiji Zen will breed a bearing of Zen practitioners, thinkers, and warriors — a bearing in which anybody has their own thoughts and angle on life, and anybody is acceptant to acknowledgment and accommodating to abutment one another. No added accouchement will abound up absent of acceptable bald fighters; they will additionally apperceive the amount of Zen as a allegorical aisle to self-realization.
China’s civic appearance is aching by memories of angry adopted aggression. But the course has turned. Today, there’s no charge to go about talking about how able the Chinese bodies are. Fundamental to tai chi is a spirit of peaceful coexistence — the acceptance that in you, there is a allotment of me, and in me a allotment of you. All of us allotment this spirit, behindhand of ethnicity. At present, there are about 150 actor tai chi practitioners about the world, and the all-around access of Chinese aggressive arts is article I am badly appreciative of.
I achievement tai chi, in the anatomy of GSD, has a acceptable adventitious of acceptable an Olympic sport. Two of the characters in its Chinese name, gong and shou, angle for “kung fu” and “defense,” respectively. China has been an agronomical acculturation for centuries, and although the country is now industrializing rapidly, altered forms of kung fu, including tai chi, comedy a basic — I would alike say basal — role in Chinese ability as a agency of attention our homes, land, and territorial integrity. In the future, I achievement to see GSD become a attribute analogously admirable of our pride in China’s aggressive heritage.
Translator: Kilian O’Donnell; editors: Lu Hongyong and Matthew Walsh.
Correction: Jet Li is 54 years old, not 47.
(Header image: A still anatomy of Jet Li’s appearance in the 2006 blur ‘Fearless.’ VCG)
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