Jet Li - Details


Jet LiMaking his Hollywood breakthrough as the sinister Triad boss Wah Sing Ku in Lethal Weapon 4, Jet Li is set fair to follow in the footsteps of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Indeed, given his outrageous flair, his inspired melding of many martial arts and, above all, his genuine acting ability, he's near-certain to outdo them both.

Born in Beijing on April 26th, 1963, Li Lian Jie (his Mandarin name - in Cantonese it's Li Nin Kit) has two brothers and two sisters. His father died when he was only two, and he was consequently heavily influenced by his teachers, becoming a devoted and disciplined student. By the time he was 8, his PE teacher at the Changqiao Primary School noted his extraordinary agility and grace, and recommended he be sent to Beijing's Amateur Sports School for formal training in Wushu, the Chinese national sport and a kind of martial arts performance style, rather than a mode of fighting. Here he fell under the tutelage of Wu Bin, studying academics by day and, by night, practising bends, presses, somersaults, all the tools of the prospective Wushu master.

Wu Bin quickly spotted the boy's determination and ambition, and gave him extra training. Yet still there was no power in Jet's kicks or blows. Studying his pupil's diet, the teacher discovered a fatal deficiency. Years before, Jet's grandmother had fallen ill through eating meat and had been advised by her doctor to give it up. The whole family had followed suit, partly for health reasons, partly because they were so poor. In order to boost Jet's protein intake, Wu Bin would deliver food to the family for years. His star pupil strength quickly increased.

After three years of schooling, Jet had made massive bounds. At 11, he won gold at the Chinese national championships, a feat he would perform on five consecutive occasions. He was taken on to Beijing's professional Wushu team and, over the next five years, performed in 40 countries across the globe, one of his early shows being before President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger on the White House lawn. The martial arts cognoscenti appreciated his intelligent combination of many styles - monkey boxing, chanquan, taichiquan, gun boxing, tongbeiquan. He was superb with both sword and spear.

Jet himself is quick to point out that this mastery did not come easily - he HATES to be called a prodigy, believing the term ignores his years of toil. Wu Bin, he recalls, was kind to his team-mates, allowing them rest when they needed it, but extremely harsh with Jet himself, pushing him to ever-greater extremes. Wu Bin has admitted as much. Recognising Jet's ability and ambition, he followed the stone-hearted adage "a resounding drum must be struck with a heavy hammer", forcing Jet to undergo three times as many exercises as his peers. Many times Jet wavered, nearly gave up like so many of his schoolmates, only for Wu Bin to drive him forward again.


  • 26th April 1963 - Birth