Kung-Fu Kingdom Exclusive! Regular Kung-Fu Kingdom contributor Glen Stanway was lucky enough to join Asian action superstar Jackie Chan for his 60th birthday celebrations in China!
As a practitioner and coach of Chin Woo kung fu, I have trained in the Far East many times over the last twenty years, visiting Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, but never had the opportunity to see the real birthplace of the art that I teach, mainland China.
I initially went to Tianjin, seventy miles south east of Beijing, to stay with my friend and former Great Britain Wushu Team member, Alexis Georgiou. Modern wushu is an acrobatic martial art akin to gymnastics and is the national sport of China. Alexis originally went to China to learn modern wushu, and now lives in Tianjin teaching English. Whilst there, Alexis’s wushu coach, Mr Zhu, arranged a VIP visit to the Huo Yuanjia memorial. Huo Yuanjia is a national hero in China and was born in Tianjin. This was a true honour for Alexis and I, having trained together in Chin Woo kung fu, the association started by Master Huo in 1910. The story of Huo Yuanjia was portrayed by Jet Li in the film “Fearless”.
Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu:
Coach Zhu introduced me to Coach Song of the Tianjin Chin Woo School, who took us to the memorial. The memorial site covers a vast area, built on the site of Xiaonan Village, where Huo Yuanjia grew up. It contains the mausoleum for Huo Yuanjia and his wife, a temple, a conference centre, and a museum built in a “Yin Yang” design. The museum contains many rare objects, photos and books from Huo Yuanjia’s early life to the present day Chin Woo associations. In 2013, I published the book, “Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu”, which is all about Huo Yuanjia and the history of Chin Woo. It really was a special highlight for me to go to the Huo Yuanjia museum and pay my respects at his mausoleum. I gave Coach Song a copy of my book by way of thanks, and he said he is going to see if the museum will display it.
The Huo Yuanjia memorial:
After a tour of the training facilities at Tianjin Chin Woo, Coach Song said that my students would be very welcome to stay there anytime, and train with their professional wushu team, one of the best in China.
After three days in Tianjin including a visit to the Great Wall of China, I travelled to Beijing to join over seven hundred other Jackie Chan fans, from more than fifty different countries.
On the first evening, everyone was bussed to the Beijing Workers Stadium for a sell-out concert featuring Asia’s top singers and bands, and Jackie Chan himself. The concert was in aid of Jackie Chan’s foundation, which does charitable work all over the world.
Jackie Chan’s Love & Peace Concert:
The next day, 7th April, was the actual day of Jackie Chan’s birthday. The morning was spent visiting Tiananmen Square with a three-hour tour of the Forbidden City. In the afternoon, we were taken to Jackie’s birthday party. The film star played games with the fans, showed them old videos and photos from his life and career, and gave away over sixty items of clothing he had worn over the years as prizes, with photographs of him wearing them. Jackie had his photo taken with each and every fan individually, and gave everyone a bag stuffed with Jackie Chan merchandise. Fans also had the chance to give Jackie birthday presents, and he is now the proud owner of a Kung Fu Kingdom t-shirt, as well as a copy of my book! In the evening, the fans were taken to China’s most famous Peking Duck restaurant for a roast duck banquet, where Jackie’s son, Jaycee, popped in to thank the fans for helping his father to celebrate his birthday.
Jackie Chan’s Birthday Party:
The following morning, everyone was transferred nearly eight hundred miles by bullet train to Shanghai. After a gala dinner of local cuisine, we were treated to a night time tour of the Shanghai Bund, the neon lit riverside. On the final day, we were the first-ever visitors to Jackie Chan’s Film Gallery. The brand-new museum features props, rare photos and activities to try, from Jackie Chan’s extensive career. Some of the more impressive props included costumes he had worn in films such as “Project A”, “Shanghai Noon” and “First Strike”, the para-glider from “Armour of God 2: Operation Condor”, the 4×4 Rally Car from “Who Am I?” and the twelve bronze heads from “Chinese Zodiac”.
In the afternoon, we were treated to a screening of Jackie Chan’s most recent Asian box office hit, “Police Story 2013”. Once it had finished, we were told to remain seated, and they began showing “Chinese Zodiac”. About twenty minutes into the film, a crowd of photographers arrived at the back of the room, and the birthday boy himself made a surprise appearance. He wanted to personally thank all his fans for their support and helping him celebrate.
Police Story 2013 Trailer:
It has been an amazing experience – a genuine “dream-come-true”. It was Jackie Chan’s movies that inspired me to take up training in gymnastics and martial arts, and to get to meet him and join in with his birthday celebrations was just incredible. His generosity and warmth towards people of all nations is vast. Very much in keeping with Jackie’s philosophy, I have made many, many new friends from all around the world. The trip to Tianjin has also opened doors for my students if they ever want to train or compete in China.
The celebrations happened to coincide with my own birthday. It will take something pretty special to top that as a way to spend a birthday I reckon!