Jaden Smith, star of the new movie “Karate Kid,” trained every day for four months in order to learn kung fu, the martial art performed in the film. Wu Gang, the stunt coordinator of the Jackie Chan Stunt Team, was hired to be the fight coordinator for the remake of the 1984 original. Wu worked 11-year-old Jaden at such a level of intensity that he cried at one point. Many of the training scenes included in the film are actual sessions that Smith experienced.
With a focus on stretching, front kicks and upper blocks, Smith has been quick to point out that the training was real and consisted of grueling, intense training. Training sessions ran from five to eight hours many days.
The term “kung fu” is not actually a specific form of martial art, but more truly translated as “work” or “skill.” The term kung fu is most often used to describe the gamut of Chinese martial arts and a range of techniques. In the film, Jaden Smith learns and demonstrates Wushu martial arts, a physically demanding, active kung fu sport taught and practiced in China.
“Whenever I teach anyone kung fu, but especially a kid, the first thing I teach them is respect for other people. Kung fu isn’t about fighting, but about helping people,” Wu Gang remarked in an interview with People magazine. Martial arts, with its focus on discipline and respect, often transforms the way children behave. Will Smith, Jaden’s movie star father, has seen the benefits of the intensive training in his son already. “Jaden had changed. When he takes his shoes off, he doesn’t throw them in the corner, but puts them away neatly.”