“A Closer Look at Luan Jujie”
by/tr.：Jiali Shang 近看栾菊杰英文
Luan Jujie was once a household name in China
Luan Jujie was once a household name in China. In 1978, at the beginning of reform and opening up in China, 20-year-old Luan Jujie won the women’s fencing championship at the Bangkok Asian Games, which had earned her the reputation of “the first sword of the East”. Since then, Luan Jujie has won numerous awards, and the highlight was winning the Women’s Foil Championship at the 23rd Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. This was also the first fencing gold medal won by Asia in the Olympics. Prior to this, the world of swordsmanship had always been dominated by the Europeans. Luan Jujie’s outstanding performance in the world championships and her never-say-fail spirit have inspired generations of athletes and helped laying a solid foundation for China’s long-lasting prosperity in the sport of fencing.
After retiring, Luan Jujie got married, had children, and immigrated to Canada, slowly fading out of public life. But as an elite sportswoman, Luan Jujie has never stopped creating new glories. In 2008, 50-year-old Luan Jujie participated in the 29th Olympic Games in Beijing on behalf of the Canadian team. After the competition, she held up the banner of “Hello Motherland” to salute the Chinese audiences. Under the Olympic flags, Luan Jujie once again won the applause and love of the audience in the motherland.
Luan Jujie is worthy of being a legend. The passing years and the growth of age have not diminished her fighting spirit in the slightest. In 2018, 60-year-old Luan Jujie won once again the foil champion and the silver medal of the epee in the veteran division of the World Fencing Championships in Italy. On the sports field, Luan Jujie is a successful warrior. Outside the arena, she is a passionate educator. She has coached in Edmonton’s non-profit fencing club in Canada for over 30 years and has trained numerous award-winning athletes. Luan Jujie’s contribution has won her recognition from the local citizens. In 2008, she was listed in the Edmonton Hall of Fame, and her photo and biography are permanently hung on the wall of celebrities in Edmonton’s City Hall.
Like real gold never stops shining, Luan Jujie is still continuing her legend. If you would like to know more about Luan Jujie’s life stories, please tune in to today’s “Reciter” on “A Closer Look at Luan Jujie”.
1978年3月，20岁的栾菊杰在西班牙马德里举行的 “第29届世界青年击剑锦标赛” 上成为夺得亚军的亚洲第一人，为祖国、为亚洲争得了荣誉，被誉为 “亚洲第一剑” 。作家理由的报告文学《扬眉剑出鞘》讲述了她血战赛场的拼搏精神，在全国引起轰动。之后，她一直在拼搏，一个个世界级的奖牌让她的人生足迹闪耀着光辉：1978年12月，在曼谷举行的亚运会上赢得冠军，被誉为 “东方第一剑” ；1981年，在法国克莱蒙费朗举行的世界锦标赛夺得亚军；1983年，在德国莱比锡举行的第六届国际女子花剑比赛中赢得冠军；1984年，在美国洛杉矶举办的奥运会上夺得女子花剑冠军，成为亚洲夺得击剑奥运冠军的第一人，获得了 “天下第一剑” 的美誉；1985年，在日本神户举行的第十三届世界大学生运动会上赢得冠军；1986年，在芝加哥国际击剑赛上获得女子花剑冠军。
2013年秋天，对我来说是一个多事之秋，诸多不顺烦扰。在一个巨大的晚宴后，菊杰来到我的桌子前，把我一把拉在门厅的一角，劝慰了我半个多小时。她说 “你看我，就是没心没肺，不操心闲事，只专心教我的击剑，所以能吃能睡。” 她的劝慰之词，至今都还记得，我早已翻过了那一页，这其中，也有她的功劳。
2008年的 “菊杰杯” 击剑比赛有些特殊。因为这年的8月，50岁的栾菊杰将代表加拿大队再次出现在北京奥运的剑道上。人们为了支持她参加北京奥运会，运用各种形式帮她筹款，我觉得自己也应该尽一份力。我不知道家里有什么东西可以拿去筹款，就拿了一小袋子收藏的硬币，和一串手链，如果有人喜欢收藏钱币，喜欢这一串我制作的手链，筹到的钱，就用于赞助她去北京参加奥运会。菊杰也把她自己收藏的一套印有她相片的邮票拿出来筹款。
十年后的“菊杰杯”，是2018年的11月17-18日在阿尔伯塔大学教育系体育馆举行，共有来自加拿大近150名参赛队员，其中还有国家队击剑预备队员。年纪最大的是一位81岁的作家、插画师朱丽叶。她跟我聊起菊杰，真是感慨万分： “是菊杰鼓励我跟她一道去意大利参加 ‘2018世界元老击剑赛’，也是她支持我最后一次参加 ‘菊杰杯’比赛。我非常感谢她给我的教练和关照，我相信，她到我这个年纪，一定还在剑场奋战。” 她笑着从包里拿出一套卡片。她将心目中的英雄栾菊杰，用彩色的笔描绘出来，配上文字作为礼物送给栾菊杰。埃德蒙顿击剑俱乐部负责人乔安娜对我说：“十年前，我女儿就在菊杰手下学习击剑，从那时起，我就认识了菊杰。我们都很敬佩她，爱她。”
栾菊杰退役后到加拿大已近30年，热爱祖国，热爱家乡的心从未改变。当然，祖国和家乡也从来没有忘记过她。她60岁获得世界击剑冠军后，正逢江苏省击剑队成立60周年隆重举行庆祝大会，邀请她回家，并给她颁发了省击剑队的 “杰出贡献奖” 。剑场上，栾菊杰培养的运动员上千，获奖无数，光环闪烁，是人们心目中的英雄；生活中的她，却是一个热心的、善良的、平易近人的女性。栾菊杰绝对是一个奇迹，世界剑坛的奇迹！
A Closer Look at Luan Jujie
Written by Jiani and Li Yuzhen
Translated by Jiali Shang
“Jiani, I’m so glad to hear your voice again!” Luan Jujie called me from Livorno, Italy, right in the middle of the award ceremony for the 2018 World Veteran Fencing Competition. At the age of 60, she won the women’s foil champion and the second runner-up in epee. It had been 40 years exact since Jujie won her first world champion, yet her sword hasn’t turned dull with time passing by.
Back in March 1978, at the 29th World Youth Fencing Championship held in Madrid, Spain, 20-year-old Luan Jujie became the first Asian runner-up, brought honor to the motherland and Asia. Sword Out of the Sheath, a reportage by Li You, documented her fighting spirit in the “blood-shedding” arena, caused a sensation in the entire country of China. From then on, Lun Jujie fought continuously and won numerous more medals, which made her life’s journey shine brightly. In December 1978, she won the championship at the Asian Games in Bangkok and was hailed as the “First Sword of the East”; in 1981, the runner-up at the World Championships in Clermont-Ferrand, France; in 1983, the championship at the 6th International Women’s Foil Competition in Leipzig, Germany; in 1984, the women’s foil in the Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, USA..
At the peak of her sports career, Luan Jujie chose to fade away from the centre stage of flowers and applauds; quietly, she set out on a new journey towards her next dream. She wanted to win a place in the International Sword Federation, to become a fair international referee. This, to her, is another way to continue her contribution to the sports of fencing. In 1989, Luan Juejie retired from China’s national team and moved to Canada.
In summer 2008, I visited Luan Jujie for the first time, in Edmonton, Canada. Her godfather Mr. Cao drove me to her place. Luan Jujie’s acquaintance with Mr. Cao was due to the introduction of Li Furong, the head of the Chinese sports-team delegation. In July 1983, the 12th World University Games was held in Edmonton, Canada. Mr. Cao was a photographer back then. After the photo shooting of Luan Jujie, they exchanged contact information and maintained a relationship as pen mate. In the following years, hundreds of correspondences and countless phone conversations sublimed their feelings to father-daughter affection, and her initial thought of coming to Edmonton was also based on the fact that Mr. Cao and his family were there for her in Edmonton. Mr. Cao, close to 80 years old now, always has a big smile on his face when talking about Lun Jujie. He used to say that “Jujie is the pride of China, the pride of Canada, the pride of her family, and of course the pride of mine as well!”
Luan Jujie’s family home is located in a quiet residential area at the west end of Edmonton, a dark-red brick house sitting on a green lawn surrounded by trees. Bunches of red peony flowers were blooming in front of the house, which was such a vibrant scene. The door was opened by her husband Gu Dajin, a handsome, fair-skinned gentleman. He greeted us with a big smile on his face. Walking inside the house, there was a huge screen-wall facing the door. On the wall hangs the “First Sword of the World” by Mr. Yu Daming, a famous painter and calligrapher in Edmonton. The calligraphy exhibits an air of sharpness from a sword. Below the screen-wall, there was a golden key mounted on the inside of a frame. The key was presented by the mayor of the City of Chicago personally after Luan Jujie won the women’s foil championship at the Chicago International Fencing Championship on December 15, 1986. It is a symbol of the title of Honorary Citizen of Chicago. The living room was furnished with various trophies and medals won by Luan Jujie and her two children. Among all the medals, the Olympic gold medal was the most eye-catching.
The backyard of the house is very big. “The yard is a good place for children who come to learn fencing to camp in the summer.” Jujie said. Luan Jujie’s look was very different from what I saw on TV. She is tall with long flowy hair; in particular, she has very long legs. She had a slender built, like a young girl. When she speaks, she always has a smile on her face. She talks rather fast, with a few English words popping up occasionally. The fighting screams in the competition field and the shouting at training as a coach made her voice a little hoarse, but this does not prevent her from being called a Jiangnan beauty.
During my visit, she was busy in the kitchen for quite a while, and there the fragrance came from the kitchen. She told me that this was her invention, boiling noodle with the soup from a meat-stew, and all the flavors would have been absorbed by the noodle. Taking the noodle out of the pot and sprinkling with some chopped green onion and coriander, it can surely concur anyone’s taste buds. Sure enough, I ate a big bowl, which is very rare for someone who doesn’t like noodles.
It’s such a coincidence that both our names have the word “Ju” (meaning chrysanthemum) in it. The ancestors of both of our families practiced the naming convention of using word to signify the generation of their children, and “Ju” happened to be the mid word of our names. Her oldest daughter’s name is Jiajia, who addressed me sweetly as aunty. It happens that my daughter’s name is also Jiajia. These coincidences immediately shortened the distance between us. “She’s a very good girl, a baby doll of our entire family.” Said Jujie with affection. When she said it, Jujie looked at her daughter with eyes full of tender maternal love. Jiajia was very happy to hear her mother’s praise, she raised her head with an even bigger smile on her baby face. Jiajia’s dad also extended his hand and gave Jiajia an affectionate rub on the head.
Luan Jujie recalled those passed years. Thirty years ago, after retiring from China’s national team, to pursue her dream of being a referee, Luan Jujie alone came to Edmonton with the understanding and support of her husband. The airplane carried her dream took off. When the airplane took off from the tarmac, her dream also started its journey of realization. However, this time things were very different from when she visited Edmonton the previous time during her competition. Back then, everything was arranged, and she didn’t have to worry about anything. Now as an international student siting in the classroom with no English language skills, she couldn’t follow the professors’ lectures. Her original excitement and expectation were crushed and shattered. She was in deep despair and was struggling. Yet she saw a gleaming object, and became attached to her life, which once accompanied her to smash the wind and the clouds, the world is invincible-the sword! Although Jujie did not succeed in becoming an international referee, she became an accomplished fencing coach.
The “Edmonton Fencing Club” where she worked is located in a bungalow in the southeast corner of the city. The club’s logo is a shield shape, which makes people feel aristocratic. According to the Edmonton Fencing Club’s website, the club has developed rapidly since Luan Jujie joined in the club. The club has increased to than 300 players from the original 40 at the beginning. Now, Luan Jujie is only one coach of the club who teaches. Under her direct coaching, the women’s foil team has won the Canadian women’s foil team championship, and the men’s foil team won the men’s foil youth and adult national championship in 2008 and team championship two years later. Since then, Luan Jujie’s team has won almost all gold medals in all Canadian fencing competitions.
Luan Jujie comes from a family of fencing. In addition to her younger sister Luan Hongwei and her husband who are also a fencing coach, the sword spirit has also been passed on to her children. Their eldest daughter Jiajia has a heart condition. Although she can’t play the sword heroically, she sees her mother teaching on the spot. Jiajia often picks up the sword to practice a few moves on her own. The second-oldest daughter and the youngest son have both won the team fencing championships in the Canadian Junior Division under the personal coaching of their mother. Luan Jujie’s husband, Mr. Gu Dajin, has been supporting her actively all the way. He also founded a weekend Chinese school in Edmonton. In a busy year, there were nearly ten classes with more than 100 students. Everyone respectively calls him Principal Gu. I used to teach Chinese there for a period of time. When I saw children of all skin colors studying Chinese happily at the Chinese school, I feel extremely proud.
For quite a while, I became a fan of Luan Jujie and drove to her club almost every day. I like to silently watch her putting on her fencing suit, helmet and gloves, and do a few lower waist and half-squatting movements. She then followed a group of small and big children running around the practice field and do basic physical training. She exhibited great perseverance. Luan Jujie is a simple and outspoken person who doesn’t like to bother others, yet she will go out of her way to help others.
To Luan Jujie, the club is her second home. There is a small room for storing fencing uniforms, swords, helmets, and various repairing tools. In addition to being a fencing instructor, she also repairs broken equipment for the students. If any of the team members suffered from a minor injury, she also teaches them how to recover. One time, I saw a little boy twisted his foot, she immediately took off his shoes, held him up, applied ice pack on his foot, and gave his foot a massage. Luan Jujie is also a very good cook; anyone who has tried her cooking knows that Lu Jujie has superb cooking skills.
The club has a huge refrigerator. There are various dumplings, steamed buns, spring rolls, chicken drumsticks, and stewed vegetables. Luan Jujie made all of them at home and brought them to the club for the fencing-team members to enjoy during their recess. Sometimes when it gets too busy with no time to prepare, she brings the ingredients from home and makes them at the club. One day, I took Beijing writer Li Yuzhen and his wife to visit Luan Jujie at her home. Jujie was making steamed buns, and we all joined in making the buns. A while later, a pot of yummy steamed buns was ready. Proudly she told us that the steamer was bought second-hand, costing only $5, and it has been used for many years.
Luan Jujie is a down-to-earth and very approachable celebrity. A friend of mine is a fan of Luan Jujie, and she has been collecting photographs of Luan Jujie. After learning about my friendship with Jujie, my friend was ecstatic and asked me to help her getting Luan Jujie’s autograph. After knowing it, Jujie didn’t say a word. She found a photo from home and signed her name on it.
Every summer, many young players from other countries come to the Edmonton clubs to participate in summer camps. There were also students who made special trips to get private individual lessons to improve their swordsmanship. When the number of students were high, there wasn’t enough rooms for them, some children would bring their own tents and set them up in her backyard. Luan Jujie not only teaches fencing, but also looks after the students’ meals and daily living. No wonder so many young fencers calling her “Mother Luan”.
The autumn of 2013 was an eventful period for me, with many troubles in my life. After a huge dinner, Jujie came to my table and pulled me to one side of the hallway, comforting me for more than half an hour. She said, “Look at me, I am simple-minded, don’t think too much, and only focus on teaching fencing. So I can eat and sleep without any worries.” Till this day, I still remember her comforting words. Now that page has been successfully turned, and Jujie had definitely made a positive impact in the process.
On the fencing strip, Jujie is an elf, full of heroic sword aura. In life, she is a gentle woman who loves beautiful things and life in general. Almost every year, the “Jujie Cup” competition is scheduled around the time of the Chinese Spring Festival, and all participants must wear Chinese traditional costumes. I remember vividly that, at the 2008 “Jujie Cup” competition, she wore a velvet traditional Chinese outfit with golden embroider, and she looked absolutely beautiful and stunning. Before the game started, everyone was busy preparing the venue, and Jujie has also been giving instructions non-stop. She saw me helping and said to me affectionately: “Come here Jiani, let’s take a picture together.” However, I didn’t want to be photographed as I wasn’t wearing beautiful cloth that day; I am a person very conscious about my image. She then said teasingly, “Don’t want to take a picture? “She laughed and said loudly to me; “Hey, you, people usually chase me around wanting to take pictures with me. Now I am asking you, and you don’t want to?” With a wave of her hand, her husband who was standing beside us picked up the camera. Aha, I was “forced” to take a photo with her. Luan Jujie is a person having the decency of returning gratitude. She worked hard in the club and made huge contributions, but she has never asked for monetary reward.
Throughout her coaching career, several American clubs have approached her to invite Jujie to join the them in the US with much more pay, but she declined them all. The Edmonton Fencing Club has given her a place to apply her skills, allowed her to maintain her competitive level in teaching, and her English has also improved through teaching. The Edmonton Fencing Club has treated her like gold and been very kind to her. Hence, she is forever grateful. In fact, she is a coach of the club without a contract, which is unprecedented in any club.
Luan Jujie’s selflessness and dedication had won the hearts and recognition of everyone. In 2003, the Edmonton Fencing Club set up an annual “Luan Jujie Cup” fencing competition to commemorate her 15th anniversary in coaching. It is very rare in Canada to name an event after an athlete. When the decision was announced, all the attendees of the meeting stood up three times and applauded her. As a fearless fighter on the competition field who didn’t shed a tear with the sward piercing her arm, Edmonton people’s kind gestures made her tearing up with gratitude. At the global scale, Luan Jujie was selected to enter the Hall of Fame by the International Sword Federation in 2003. The Hall of Fame is for honoring athletes who made paramount contributions to the sports of fencing over its one-hundred-year development history.
Luan Jujie was also named as Canada’s “National Excellent Coach” for seven consecutive years. Edmonton is the capital of the Province of Alberta, Canada. Edmonton has a Hall of Fame that was established in 1951. The laureate is selected once a year to recognize citizens who have made outstanding contributions in the three fields of culture and art, community service, and sports. On June 11th, 2008, Luan Jujie was selected by public voting. Being named to the “Edmonton City Sports Hall of Fame”, this was the best recognition of her 19 years of enthusiastic promotion of sports.
In the same year, four people in each of the three fields were selected, and Luan Jujie was the youngest one. Thousands of people from all walks of life, including Alberta Chinese Governor Lin Zuomin, Mayor Mandel, and Chinese Consul General Wu Xinjian in Calgary, attended the award ceremony. Jujie gave me a ticket, and I was sitting in the audience section with respect and joy. That night, Luan Jujie wore a particularly beautiful cheongsam, with her long hair tied into a bun; at the height of nearly 1.7 meter, she was tall and radiant. Looking up at the only Chinese on the stage to receive such a prestigious award, the pride from my heart made me want to rush over her side and hug her passionately. After the ceremony, many people waited to take pictures with her.
The 2008 “Jujie Cup” fencing competition was a bit out of the ordinary. Because in August of this year, 50-year-old Luan Jujie would once again represent the Canadian team in the kendo of the Beijing Olympics. In order to support her participation in the Beijing Olympics, people used various means to raise funds. I felt that I must do my share. I didn’t know exactly what I can use to raise money at home, so I took a small bag of collection coins and a string of bracelets. If someone is a coin collector, or someone who likes the bracelets that I made, I could use the money I raised to help her go to Beijing. Jujie also took out an album of stamps with photos of herself from her own collection to raise money.栾菊杰
Luan Jujie had succeeded. At the Beijing Olympics, 50-year-old Luan Jujie represented Canada in the women’s foil competition. After defeating the European champion, Luan Jujie proudly took out the carefully prepared banner from her bag and held it high over her head. The banner read: “Hello Motherland!”. At that moment, the audiences stood up for her, shouting, and applauding.
Though living in Canada, Motherland China, which given birth to and raised her, has always been in her heart. She returned to China many times and taught fencing skills to young Chinese people. Jujie once said to me: “Wherever I go, I want to use my fighting spirit to inspire young people today.”
Ten years later, the “Jujie Cup” was held at the University of Alberta’s Department of Education Gymnasium on November 17-18, 2018. There were nearly 150 participating players from Canada, including the national team’s fencing reserve. The oldest is an 81-year-old writer and book illustrator Juliet. She talked about Jujie with me with gratitude. She said: “It was Jujie who encouraged me to go to Italy with her to participate in the 2018 World Fencing Competition, and it was also her who supported me to participate in the Jujie Cup competition for the last time. I am very grateful for the coaching and care she has given me. I believe that when she is at my age, she must still be fighting on the sword strip.” She smiled while taking out a set of cards from her bag. She painted her hero Luan Jujie with colour pencils and gave them to Luan Jujie as a gift. Joanna, the head of the Edmonton Fencing Club, said to me: “Ten years ago, my daughter learned fencing under Jujie, and I got to know her from then. We all admire her and love her. “
Luan Jujie has been in Canada for nearly 30 years since her retirement from China’s national team, but her love of the motherland and her hometown has never changed, and the motherland and her hometown have never forgotten about her either. The year that she won the world fencing championship at the age of 60, it happened to be the 60th anniversary of the Jiangsu Provincial Fencing Team. She was invited to go home to be part of the celebration and received the Award of Outstanding Contribution by the Jiangsu Provincial Fencing Team.
On the fencing stripe, Luan Jujie has trained thousands of athletes and won countless competitions, making her a shining hero in people’s hearts. Outside of the piste in everyday living, she is a warmhearted, kind, and approachable woman. Luan Jujie is definitely a legend, a legend in the fencing world!
Preamble, Executive Editor，Translation: Jiali Shang
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