Karate Kid, meet “kung fu granny”, a 98-year-old villager in southeastern China who has become famous by practising the martial art her entire life.
The woman, named Zhang Hexian, even received the stamp of approval from the corridors of power when foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said she represented that “kung fu spirit never gets old” in a June 18 tweet.
Zhang said her father introduced her to kung fu when she was five years old. She even met her late husband, a fellow student at the time, during these classes.
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Zhang said she became especially good at hand-to-hand combat and fighting with a cudgel, a short blunt wooden baton.
She told state broadcaster CCTV: “I would practise boxing every day and do movements like chopping, pushing and thrusting. Although I am old, I still have the strength.”
Zhang lives in Zhangkeng village in the eastern province of Zhejiang, which is called a “kung fu village” because most of the population practises the sport. One of the schools, called Xiao Hong Boxing, is around 500 years old.
Earlier this month, Zhang was honoured as the chief referee at a martial arts contest in the village. She also performed during the event, showing off her cudgel skills with her son and teaching foreigners how to box.
One of the core tenets of all martial arts is that learning how to fight is meant for self-defence, not for attacking people. Zhang said she likes to tell her family: “Learning kung fu is for defending, not for bullying others. We should help others.”
The most famous incident of Zhang using her kung fu was when she encountered a man beating his wife and Zhang subdued him.
Recently, Zhang has been teaching kung fu to others for free in the courtyard of her home.
The kung fu granny said she hoped more people continue to learn the sport.
“I am old, so this task can only be handed down to the next generation,” she said.
This article ‘Kung fu granny’ is a 98-year-old celebrity working to pass along the spirit of the martial art first appeared on South China Morning Post