Scandal-hit Li Yang announces plan to combine kung fu with ‘Crazy English’

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 18 August, 2014, 5:23pm

“Crazy English” founder Li Yang has announced plans to combine kung fu with language classes as he aims to make a comeback from a series of well-publicised scandals.

Li plans to run a programme that would allow students to hone their English skills while learning martial arts at the same time, The Beijing News reported.

Li also said that he is considering offering Chinese-language classes to foreigners and would charge a tuition fee of 30 yuan for every Chinese character learned, the paper added.

The unorthodox educator announced last month that he had converted to Buddhism. He posted pictures online of himself at the Shaolin Temple with the abbot, Shi Yongxin.

“Everything is about business, just like converting to Buddhism. Crazy English will have a long-term cooperation with the Shaolin Temple,” Li was quoted as saying.

Li could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Born to a grass-roots family, Li learnt English mostly by himself and became an English-language talk show host on Chinese television in the 1990s. He started promoting Crazy English, which places heavy emphasis on practicing the language orally and in a loud way, in 1994. He claims at least 20 million people have learned English through his methods.

Crazy English is believed to have more than 2,000 employees. The company helped make Li an idol to hundreds of thousands of China’s post-80s generation, as he became a household-name across the country.

Li drew much criticism after his former wife, Kim Lee, posted pictures of her being abused by him on social media in 2011. Li admitted to committing domestic violence, and his wife divorced him on those grounds last year. A Beijing court ordered Li to pay 12 million yuan (HK$15.1 million) to Lee in compensation as part of the divorce settlement.

Li also sparked controversy when he briefly joined the US direct-sales company Amway last year as a sales representative. The firm uses a variety of multi-level marketing techniques to sell home and beauty products but critics in China have frequently accused it of being a pyramid scheme.

Li wrote on Weibo last month that he planned to “build the world’s biggest kung fu and language promotion centre” in Dengfeng, where the Shaolin Temple is located. He said the first Shaolin kung fu Crazy English winter camp would be held at the temple next year.