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Sifu Mimi Chan: Disney Mulan’s Body Double (#117)

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Our Guest Today: Sifu Mimi Chan

Sifu Mimi Chan is the daughter of Grandmaster Pui Chan, founder of the Wah Lum Kung Fu System. She was the model for Disney’s featured animation Mulan released in 1998. She also hosts a podcast called the Culture Chat Podcast

Mimi Chan was born in Boston, MA and moved with her family to Orlando, FL in 1980, where her training in martial arts began under her father, Pui Chan. Upon the family’s move to Orlando, her father built the Wah Lum Temple, the first traditional Chinese martial arts temple in the United States. By the age of 5, Chan was performing in local exhibitions. 

Mimi has won Grand Champion Titles and gold medals in multiple international martial arts tournaments. She was featured in articles in Kung Fu Magazine, and entered the Martial Arts Hall of Fame deemed “Woman of the Year” by Inside Kung Fu Magazine.

In 2011, Chan directed and produced a documentary about her father’s life, Pui Chan: Kung Fu Pioneer. The film world premiered in 2012 at the Central Florida Film Festival and won both “Best Documentary” and “Audience Choice.” >> Watch on Amazon Prime for free.

In this episode, Mimi talked about her upbringing as a daughter of the pioneer, Pui Chan, who brought Chinese martial arts to the United States. Today, Mimi teaches at Wahlum regularly and she brings her students to visit China every year. 

To learn more about Mimi Chan, visit her Facebook page and check out her podcast

Hope you enjoy this conversation and please give us your honest review on iTunes – a star review takes seconds, or a text review to elaborate on your feedback.  I read them all.

Show Notes

  • [06:00] How did you meet with Chris Yen in the first place?
  • [08:00] Why was your father interested in bringing his Chinese talent to the US?
  • [10:00] What does a day in your life (as a sifu) look like?
  • [12:00] How did you family choose to live in Orlando?
  • [13:00] How was your experience growing up in a martial arts family?
  • [16:00] Were there other Asian kids and families where you grew up?
  • [18:00] As a young child, did you ever expressed interest in something outside of kung fu? And how did your family respond to that?
  • [26:00] What are some of the most interesting stories you can share with us, that you experienced while teaching Kung Fu?
  • [30:00] Disney’s Mulan was modeled after you. How did that happen?
  • [33:00] How did it feel to being drawn and animated in a character? To watch a movie with you in it?
  • [36:00] What is your podcast about and how did that project start?
  • [48:00] Let’s talk about health, diet and fitness

Favorite Quotes:

  • [15:00] There’s a martial bond that you don’t really see in many other places, even in sports. I’ve got students who grew up and 20 years later they’ve all been to each others weddings, and they are all godparents of each other’s kids. It’s just a very special bond. Growing up in that environment was extra special because not only did I have my biological family, but I had a martial arts family.
  • [23:00] Doing something that makes you feel good will help with your confidence. I always encourage kids to do martial arts, because it makes them more confident. In that confidence, just standing with the right posture makes you feel different, look different, and thus people will respond to you differently. It’s all interconnected, our body language, our thoughts, etc.
  • [28:00] I like when someone even as a young kid can see that they can be so much more than what life has projected onto them. I don’t know who told them he was a skinny kid or couldn’t do anything, but obviously someone did, or he watches what society paints as the image of strong, and he doesn’t think he looks like that. But then he gets another image after doing Kung Fu, being empowered, seeing Grand Master Chen and being inspired. As a teacher those are the things that are really rewarding.
  • [44:00] Everyday when I get to the temple, my father is suddenly on the roof, or in a bamboo tree, cutting the tree, so my husband said ‘you should blog about his stuff’.

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  • Niklas Drude – Chinese Garden © CC BY 3.0
  • Curreil BEX – China-P

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