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The teen kung-fu champion from Walthamstow hoping to become the next Jackie Chan

Junayde Guven is auctioning off his own paintings to fund his dream of becoming a professional stuntman and kung-fu actor

By Marco Marcelline

Junayde Guven at the World Kung-Fu Championships in Wushu, China last year. Credit: Guven

Junayde Guven has just got back to London after training with kung-fu acting legend Jackie Chan’s stunt-team in China. 

Speaking at Lee’s Spiritual Healing, a new reiki and meditation centre in Walthamstow town centre where his paintings are being exhibited, the 16-year-old eagerly chats about his kung-fu triumphs, challenges, and gargantuan ambitions.

“It was all one big family”, he says, reflecting on his three and half week stint there, which happened shortly before he won a gold medal in the 16 -18 age category at the World Kung-Fu Championship in China.

Junayde explains that his kung-fu journey began after being inspired to take up the martial art when seeing Jackie Chan films as a young child.

“Everything that I’ve done, the reason that I started training is because of Jackie Chan. I remember watching his films at three years old, I just loved them. There was a kung-fu club that opened up near my house that my brothers joined. When I went to go watch them I fell in love with it. It’s pretty much history from then on. I’ve been training for 13 years now; I started when I was three.”

His parents “fully supported” him doing kung-fu because he was a “very hyperactive” child and it was “a good way to get the energy out”, he says.

At the age of six, he managed to briefly meet his idol when a schoolteacher organised a trip to the BBC, where Chan was filming a show. It’s a memory he “will hold onto forever”.

“When [Chan] finished shooting a scene, I remember running up to him and giving him a hug and saying, “You’re my favourite person of all time” and then my brother came and we got a photo with him”, he recalls.

Given the lack of sponsorship opportunities in kung-fu, martial artists are required to pay their own way to attend competitions, which like the World Kung-Fu Championships, are regularly held in places as far-flung as China, kung fu’s birthplace.

Junayde’s parents have been funding his competition trips so far, and in a bid to ease their financial burden, he is is auctioning off artwork he painted during the pandemic.  The paintings, which are hanging on the walls around us, are inspired heavily by Chinese philosophy and Zen Buddhism, in which he is well-read. They were mostly made during the lockdown and reflect the social isolation that it brought. 

In My Mind by Junayde Guven

By selling the paintings, he will be able to come closer to his ambition to become a stuntman and then hopefully a kung-fu actor, like his idol Jackie Chan, he says.

One, named ‘In My Mind’, depicts a lone individual sitting on the edge of an incomplete white circle, called an ‘Enso’, a symbol from Zen Buddhism. He painted it using martial arts movements, he says, adding; “The little red person represents the meditator, trying to calm and control stray thoughts, emotions, and the many processes that may be going on inside their head”. 

Another, Alone, was created in Chinese ink via a calligraphy brush. It shows a lone figure, who Junayde says “is dealing with their problems and issues” by themselves. The takeaway he wants viewers to get from the painting is, “If you can be anything in this world, be kind”.

Beating kung-fu competitors from the United States, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine to come top in the world for his age group is no mean feat and Junayde could easily choose to gloat. He doesn’t. “I celebrate my wins for one day and then I move on. I can’t think, ‘Oh I’m world champion now, I’m the best, I’m going to stop training’. No, I want to be even better.”

Junayde’s artwork is to go on auction on 28th January. It is currently available to view at Lees Spritual Healing, 38 High Street Walthamstow, E17 7LD