With an average height and plain looks, Li Tianjin does not impress at the first sight, but he has an eye-catching role: the bodyguard of business tycoon Jack Ma.
In a biography on Ma, there is a story that highlights the superb martial arts skills of Li Tianjin.
When Ma and members of a green NGO went to a prairie in Inner Mongolia autonomous region for a field survey, they came across a Mongolian wrestler who raised a challenge to them. But the Mongolian wrestler's arrogance was dampened by Li, the low-profile tai chi master who beat him down in the blink of an eye.
Born in Chenjiagou in Central China's Henan province, the birthplace of tai chi, Li Tianjin is the youngest among his five brothers, but the most talented one in terms of martial arts skill. He started practicing tai chi at eight years old, and was apprenticed to a master of Chen-style tai chi at 14.
In 1998, 19-year-old Li won his first award in tai chi competition and secured more titles in the following years.
Taichi often strikes people as a slow and gentle sports game practiced by the elderly for health benefits, but Li Tianjin's story proves that it is a technique that can help you beat the attacker.
Li said the secret of tai chi lies in meeting the incoming force with softness and following its motion while remaining in physical contact until the incoming force exhausts itself or can be safely redirected.
In Jack Ma's eyes, this applies to business too. He summarized the essence of tai chi, or running business, in three words: "calm", no matter what happens, remain calm; "follow", follow the trend; and "abandon", learn to abandon burden in life.