The Tai-Chi Master (1993) – A Kung Fu Classic with Jet Li

The Tai-Chi Master – Learn Chinese (and Kung Fu) with Jet Li

“Do all Chinese people know how to do Kung fu?”

I’m always asked this question by our students when they first come to LTL.

The answer is no! Nevertheless Kung fu is engrained into Chinese culture and this movie is a great way to introduce you to this, alongside improving your Chinese

It is called 太极张三丰 tàijí zhāngsānfēng and the English name is The Tai-Chi Master.

The Tai-Chi Master – Brief Introduction

The Tai-Chi Master – Where to Watch

The Tai-Chi Master – Main Characters

The Tai-Chi Master – Zhang Sanfeng

The Tai-Chi Master – Chinese Kungfu

The Tai-Chi Master – Taoism

The Tai-Chi Master – FAQ’s

Have a look at the theme song whilst enjoy the Kungfu played by Zhang Sanfeng.

Theme song for The Tai-Chi Master

The Tai-Chi Master – Brief Introduction

The Tai-Chi Master is set during the end of Song dynasty.

Two monks who met in the Shaolin Temple when they were young became good friends, more like brothers.

One is kind and wants nothing but a peaceful mind while the other will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal.

These two monks are kicked out of Shaolin Temple due to some mistakes made by the latter.

They are no longer monks anymore. One is still the same, following the rules taught to them by their master while the other works for fame and fortune. The two inevitably go their separate ways.

What fate will be waiting for them?

The Tai-Chi Master – Where to Watch

The Tai-Chi Master is so popular there is even an English version of it!

You can also find the Mandarin, Cantonese and English version for free on the Chinese streaming site Youku.

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The Tai-Chi Master – Main Characters

The Tai-Chi Master-Zhang junbao
The Tai-Chi Master-Zhang junbao

Zhang Junbao (张君宝 zhāng jūnbǎo) – played by Jet Li (李连杰 lǐ liánjié).

He was a monk when he was very young and lived a peaceful life in Shaolin Temple.

We can even say he is a little dumb, or perhaps gullible is the better word. He listens to what other people say and believes it without question.

He has a very wise master.

He has to leave Shaolin Temple and when he enters normal society he still trusts people too easily and that leads to some people getting killed.

He picks up the nickname Zhang Sanfeng (张三疯 zhāngsānfēng), 三疯sānfēng which literally means “three crazy”.

According to a book his master gave him, he just realises what Taoism is and creates Tai-Chi.

Afterwards he is known as 张三丰zhāngsānfēng and founder of the Wu-Tang Clan.

The Tai-Chi Master-Dong tianbao
The Tai-Chi Master-Dong tianbao

Dong Tianbao (董天宝dǒng tiānbǎo) – played by Siu-ho Chin (钱小豪 qián xiǎoháo).

He was very poor when he was young and then became a monk.

He always wants to win at everything and does his best to learn Kung fu.

He hits another monk with a cruel blow and in a ruthless manner, which leads to him being expelled from Shaolin Temple.

When he re-enters normal society, he just wants money, women and power.

He even betrays his brother and kills the woman he loves.

He believes that 我命由我不由天 wǒ mìng yóu wǒ bùyóu tiān: I control my own life instead of God.

Jet Li started to learn Chinese Kung fu when he was 8 years old.
Siu-ho Chin started to learn Chinese Kung fu when he was 10 years old.

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The Tai-Chi Master – Zhang Sanfeng

Zhang Sanfeng (张三丰zhāngsānfēng), also known as Zhang Junbao (张君宝 zhāng jūnbǎo) was a real person in Chinese history.

He was born in 1247, however nobody knows what year he died. Some people say that he lived to be more than two hundred years old and others say that he died but then came back to life.

There are many legends about Zhang Sanfeng. He is the founder of the Wu-Tang Clan and invented Tai-Chi.

According to Ming history, the first emperor of the Ming dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋 zhū yuánzhāng) heard so much about Zhang Sanfeng he tried to meet him several times to learn how to make his life longer and live healthier, but failed to meet him.

Instead of the clean image we see on TV show, Zhang Sanfeng in real life is very sloppy and even given a name called 邋遢道人 lātà dàoren (dirty Taoist).

The Tai-Chi Master – Chinese Kungfu

When we talk about Chinese Kung fu, one type we can’t avoid talking about is Tai Chi.

The traditional Chinese martial art, Tai Chi, has been widely practised in eastern cultures for centuries as an art form, religious ritual, relaxation technique, exercise, and as a method of self-defence for people of all ages.

Tai Chi is a convenient exercise because it can be practised in any place, at any time, and without any equipment.

It involves a series of fluid, continuous, graceful, dance-like movements that are performed in a slow, rhythmical, and well-controlled manner.

Four things you have to remember all the time when you practise Tai-Chi:

Kind of like yoga and meditation.
  • Mind concentration
  • Balance shifting of body weight
  • Muscle relaxation
  • Breathing control

Tai Chi practice is closely linked to Chinese medical theory.

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The Tai-Chi Master – Taoism

The Tai-Chi Master-Tai-Chi
The Tai-Chi Master-Tai-Chi

If you see Tai-Chi pictures, it is half black, half white. or we can say it is half Yin (阴yīn), half Yang (阳 yáng). Tai-Chi is also linked to Taoism philosophy.

You may have heard of Chinese Confucianism.

Well, we also have Taoism and Taoism has actually existed longer than Confucianism.

In China, Taoism has been as influential as Confucianism.

What Taoism pursues is the unity of man and nature. Taoism is difficult to understand but let me try to explain it in a more simple way:

Taoism is naturalistic. All the things are one; all forms of existence are one.

We identify ourselves with the universe. If we see this fact, then death is life, change is eternity.

What the perfect status is, if you identify yourself with the universe and go up and down with evolution, you will be absolutely free.

The happiness of the finite things is limited, since they have to depend upon something in order to be happy.

If we see life as happy, we will see death as sad. The perfect man is the one who has transcended all distinctions and is happy in any form of existence.

You can visit White Cloud Temple (白云观 báiyún guān) for more knowledge in Xicheng district when you come to Beijing if you are interested in Taoism.

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Are you planing to learn Tai-chi now? Do you believe it ? Leave us a comment below and let’s chat it out!

The Tai-Chi Master – FAQ’s

How do you say the Tai-Chi Master in Mandarin?

In Mandarin the Tai-Chi Master is called 太极张三丰 tàijí zhāngsānfēng

Why should I watch the Tai-Chi Master?

You should watch the Tai Chi Master because you can learn about Chinese culture and enjoy Chinese Kung fu.

The film contains many great Kung fu fights and stars one of China’s biggest stars, Jet Li.

Is Zhang Sanfeng a real person?

Yes, Zhang Sanfeng was a real person in Chinese history.

Can I practise Tai-Chi?

Yes, you can practise Tai-Chi, it is good for your health. In fact we teach Tai Chi during our LTL Summer Camps in China!

Edited by Katie Coy

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    Irene Magnosi , Student Advisor

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