tbabkung

“Everybody was kung fu fighting! Those cats were fast as lightning …”
Moments before I interviewed Goodwood and Cape Town’s most outstanding kung fu fighter, Muhammad Janaid Chafeker (aka MJ Li), that song’s chorus was stuck on repeat in my head.
After the fascinating conversation, the song took on a whole different meaning.
Everybody is – or at least strives to be – kung fu masters.
In Chinese, the words “kung fu” refers to any individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long effort and hard work.
So, in essence, Li’s kung fu is kung fu!
The gold medallist at the Legends of Kung Fu World Martial Arts Championships, which was held in Houston, is however much more than just a kung fu instructor.
He is also more than just a radio presenter and a television personality – Li is an inspiration.
“Kung fu is applying energy. An architect, for example, would utilise creativity, mental and physical expression. We need to find our centre and only when we do that, do we actually understand the purpose of our life,” says Li reflectively.
When he talks about kung fu, Li becomes the personification of passion and conviction. He adds that the ultimate goal in life is to “master oneself”, which is a life-long journey.
Li is well on his way to mastering Li, but he admits that even though he practises many hours a day and even spent a few months sharpening his mind in China, he will probably never quite achieve that elusive state of mind.
The English translation of his real name, Muhammad Janaid Chafeker, is “the chosen warrior”, so this is where his adopted mandarin name, Ma Li Jien, comes from, which means “the chosen sword warrior”.
As a Muslim who is mastering an Eastern philosophy, Li sees no reason why these two poles cannot meet in harmony.
“There are millions of Chinese Muslims who have had their roots in China for hundreds of years, ever since the Silk Route was established.
“The Muslims are actually the largest of the 55 minority groups in China, with an excess of 140 million there! Kung fu was, of course, compulsory for all Chinese citizens.
“When you train in the mountain or in a natural environment, it’s tranquil, it’s peaceful. Not turbulent at all,” he says animatedly.
It is clear that his art is part and parcel of the man.
“Kung fu is creative and expressive,” he continues.
Suddenly Li looks a little inebriated and performs a “drunken fist” move, and immediately he becomes alert again – almost poised for the strike when he does a “snake fist” move.
There are apparently thousands of forms, each as fantastic as the last.
He talks at length about Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan, while he carefully analyses each one’s strengths.
Li has so much wisdom to impart that it is comforting to find out that he teaches Members of Parliament how to focus their minds.

***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE AND PHOTO WERE PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. NEITHER MAY BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

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