Jet Li was Wushu (a martial art) national champion in China several times. He got his first part as a shaolin disciple in the film Shaolin Temple. His first attempt at directing, Born to Defense (1986) (Born to defend), met with failure. It was good film regardless, because it was the first time Li directed and had more realistic fight scenes.
Jet Li started training at the Beijing wushu academy (wushu is China's national sport, largely a performance version of various martial art styles) at age eight. He won five gold medals in the Chinese championships, his first when he was only 11. In his teens, he was already a national coach, and before he was 20 he had starred in his first movie: _Shao Lin tzu (1979)_ (Shaolin Temple), which started the 1980s Kung-Fu boom in mainland China. He relocated to Hong Kong, where he was the biggest star of the early 1990s Kung-Fu boom as well.