Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and movie star Jet Li promote new form of Tai Chi

A new kind of Chinese martial art called Gong Shou Dao (GSD), drawn from Tai Chi, was unveiled on Wednesday.
Chinese billionaire Jack Ma and movie star Jet Li promote new form of Tai Chi

Chinese action film star Jet Li, left, and Jack Ma, chairman of the Alibaba Group, promote Gong Shou Dao, a martial art drawn from Tai Chi, before a competition of the sport on Wednesday in Beijing.

A new kind of Chinese martial art called Gong Shou Dao (GSD), drawn from Tai Chi, was unveiled on Wednesday. 

Its founders — Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group, and action movie star Jet Li — have said their ultimate goal is to make GSD an Olympic sport.

Standing on a 1.5-meter-high platform with a diameter of 3 meters, two martial artists fight each other using traditional Tai Chi techniques. This new form of martial arts competition — and a new kind of sport — is called GSD. 

“Since martial arts became one of the programs in the Asian Games in 1990, all the martial artists in China have been thinking about when it will make it into the Olympic Games. However, we have been working for several decades, but still fail to make it,” Li said.

“I tried to find out the reasons why martial arts were not accepted by the Olympic Games. When I talked to my friend Jack Ma about my thoughts several years ago, we reached a consensus that it was because we had not confronted the issue head-on.”

Li and Ma learned from the experience of Japan and South Korea, who respectively introduced Judo and Taekwondo into the Olympic Games. 

Both men decided to focus on just one kind of Chinese martial arts and try to modify it to meet the requirements of an Olympic sport and promote it to the world. Their choice was Tai Chi, an iconic Chinese martial art.

“There are about 150 million people practising Tai Chi all over the world, but most of them are over 40 years old. If we want to involve more young people and make it meet the Olympic standards, we must make some changes,” Li said.  

Different to other martial arts sports, all the techniques used in GSD should be from Tai Chi. 

“Most people practise Tai Chi by themselves, and we call it the Tai Chi 1.0. Some are practising pushing hands, we call it the 2.0 version,” Li said. “Now we have GSD, and we think it is the Tai Chi 3.0 version, which has been integrated with more characteristics of modern sports. We know it is not easy to make it into the Olympic Games, and we might fail again and again, but we must try. It’s our dream.” 

Li started to learn martial arts at the age of 8, and became a champion at the National Games in 1975 when he was just 12 years old. 

The turning point of Li’s life came in 1982 when he starred in the movie “Shaolin Temple,” which became the most successful film in China at that time, and helped make Li one of the most famous action movie stars in the world.

Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, has been practising Tai Chi for three decades. He has been touting the health benefits of Tai Chi, saying they transcend physical wellness and offer practitioners a spiritual uplift that enhances their daily lives. He also said Tai Chi deserved a prominent place in the world of sports in China and abroad.

A week ago, a short film, also named “Gong Shou Dao,” premiered at cinemas and on online video sites. It features Ma and 11 famous martial artists and action stars.

Ma, who played a Tai Chi master, said its goal was to pay tribute to Tai Chi and promote GSD. “Tai Chi is a kind of philosophy which emphasizes the balance of yin and yang, the two opposing principles in nature. I used this philosophy in enterprise management and I believe it will benefit everyone’s daily life,” he said.

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