When Keanu Reeves and Tiger Chen were in the red chair to talk about their film Man of Tai Chi, they remembered their first meeting (Keanu says he "couldn't move" because of a neck surgery), and Tiger talked about the philosophy of tai chi, a martial art in which "the biggest opponent is yourself." Check out the conversation above, and watch the full interview right here.
George Stroumboulopoulos: What do you remember from that day when you guys first met?
Tiger Chen: He - he cannot move.
Keanu Reeves: I couldn't move. No, I had had neck surgery, so I had a plate put in my neck, I have a fusion. So that must have been very interesting, then, you're going to teach this guy movie kung fu.
TC: Yeah, it was like: "can you move?" "Yes. Like this."
GS: What's interesting about this story is the purity of that particular style, and how it shouldn't be sullied in any way. Talk about that and how important it is to honour the style, tai chi.
TC: Tai chi is kind of a traditional martial arts style, internal martial art. But a lot of people these days think tai chi is just for healthy. Because when you're training in tai chi it goes slow, smooth, calm. But they didn't see with the tai chi fighter, it's the same as another martial art: they have a hard style too.
GS: In my neighbourhood, if I'm up early enough, which is hopefully not too often, but I'll be up early, and I'll see people in the park practicing, and it actually looks really beautiful. It looks poetic in a way.
KR: You don't want to just run down and fight them?
GS: No, no, no. They're also, they're 80, so I can't. Although next time it happens, I am going to, and I'm going to say blame it on Keanu.
KR: Let's do some hard style!
GS: But yeah, the fighting, you don't see that part of it too often, right?
TC: Yeah, but tai chi also has a hard style too. There's part for fight, and there's part for healthy. So it depends which way you want.
GS: In the film, the better a fighter he becomes, the more he loses his humanity. Is it true in the style that the better you become in the hard style, that you maybe lose some of that other sense of you?
TC: I think so. Because the harder you want, you want to hit people, you want to go fight with people. But in our traditional way, Chinese martial arts, is that the biggest opponent is yourself. You don't want to go out, you want to go in. You want to fight yourself, fight your heart. That's the most important stuff for us. So if you try to fight someone else, that means you're not strong enough, so that's why you want to prove it, you're strong, you want to prove it, you're better. But you're not.