Li Tianjin shows off moves used to take down an attacker.
A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Alibaba founder Jack Ma, with a net worth of 28.3 billon USD, replaced Li Ka-shing as Asia’s richest person. This week, however, the media have taken special interest in Ma’s bodyguard, a coach at a Tai Chi temple in Hangzhou.
Li Tianjin, measuring 1.7 meters tall and weighing 85 kilograms, has been practicing Tai Chi since the age of eight. Li was born in Chenjiagou, Wen county, Henan province, the birthplace of Tai Chi.
Li is the youngest among his five brothers, but the most skilled at martial arts. He started practicing Tai Chi at the age of eight, and at just 14 years old, he became an apprentice to Wang Xian, a master of Chen-style Tai Chi, Qiantang Evening News reports.
In 1998, 19-year-old Li won his first award in a Tai Chi competition and continued to take more titles in numerous national championships throughout the following years.
Li Tianjin and Jack Ma exit after a meeting at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, U.S., when Alibaba was planning its initial public offering in September.
A story depicting Li Tianjin’s excellent martial arts skills is even featured in a biography on Ma:
“When Ma and members of the Nature Conservancy went to Hulun Buir Grassland in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for a study, they met a Mongolian wrestler who raised a challenge to them, saying, ‘three of you can pick one of us to have a fight.’ Li Tianjin stepped up and said, ‘Which one is the best wrestler among you all? Come on, fight with me.'”
In the end, the “best” Mongolian wrestler was beaten by Li Tianjin.
Tai Chi is a slow and gentle sport usually practiced by the elderly, but Li proves that it can be entirely effective as a form of self-defense.
Jack Ma is a big fan of Tai Chi, and has previously applied it to his business approach. He said he appreciated the essence of Tai Chi culture, which can be summarized in three words. The first is “calm”: no matter what happens, remain calm; “follow”, as in follow the flow after knowing one’s own strength; and “abandon”, to abandon your burden in life.
By Lucy Liu
[Images via NetEase]