For Alibaba founder Jack Ma, his lifelong dream isn’t just to make it easy to do business anywhere, but to share with the world the one thing he feels most passionate about: Tai Chi.
Soon this dream will become a reality, as his first movie – “Gong Shou Dao” – a short film featuring Ma and 11 of the world’s most well-known martial art practitioners and action stars—premieres on big and small screens in November. The movie’s goal is to pay tribute to a much-respected martial art practiced in China for over 5,000 years.
“Among friends, our private joke is that Jack’s real aspiration is to become a Tai Chi master, but by accident, he established Alibaba and Ant Financial,” said Jet Li, one of Hollywood’s most beloved action stars who is also Ma’s primary collaborator in his goal to turn Tai Chi into a globally practiced sport.
Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Li said a popular misconception about Tai Chi, known for its soft and fluid movements, is that it’s merely a defensive martial art or exercises that old people in China practice in the morning in parks.
“But actually, Tai Chi is much more than that. It is a philosophy and a practice that focuses on achieving balance in life. Everything in life is based on Tai Chi—from heaven and earth, to men and women, to politics, to military, even in business,” said Mr. Li.
As a longtime Tai Chi practitioner, Ma has said in past occasions that the benefits of this form of martial art transcend physical wellness. But Tai Chi offers practitioners a spiritual uplift that enhances their daily lives in all aspects. Tai Chi, he said, deserves a prominent place in the world of sports inside and outside of China.
With that in mind, Ma has commissioned Li to take Tai Chi to all corners of the globe by transforming it into a sport that can be participated anytime anywhere, through competitions and tournaments. Moreover, the ultimate goal for both men is to one day see Tai Chi universally practiced and become Olympic event, said Li.
As for Ma’s own skill at Tai Chi, the action movie star said it was important to think beyond the martial and look to the spiritual.
“If you ask me ‘is Ma a good Tai Chi fighter?’ I would say ‘not really.’ But I would definitely say is that Ma is an embodiment of the Tai Chi philosophy,” he added.