Today, evidence of Cha’s influence can be found in China in the most unlikely of places. For example, Chinese e-commerce pioneer and Alibaba founder Jack Ma is a huge fan of Cha, and martial arts more generally. Ma adopted the nickname Feng Qingyang, a swordsman from one of Cha’s books, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer (1967). Alibaba’s values are also dubbed “Six Vein Spirit Sword,” a reference to Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils (1963). Employees at Alibaba have nicknames based on Cha’s novels, or other martial-arts characters.

Cha hasn’t written a novel since the 1970s, and rarely makes public appearances anymore due to frail health. But the lessons of Cha’s novels are still as relevant as ever.

“In an age of the Paradise Papers and everything, people can appreciate when the people in power are after the money and not the well-being of the everyday man,” said Holmwood. “There’s a universal desire to imagine that the powerless can prevail, and kick their ass with a spinning kick.”

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