Athletics Yoga Tai Chi
Wrestling Record: Wins – 1350 Ties – 2 Losses – 4 Losses
The 1350 matches include the ‘average amount of bouts during wrestling practices, and exhibition matches with other schools and official matches’. The reason bouts during wrestling practices is included is because during each match with a team mate, it was considered a ‘semi-official match’ anyway. If it was just official matches it would be about 150. The ties, are only the official ties…..and does not include the ties in bouts during wrestling practices or any other time. The losses are the only losses.
- First Match…..Loss 5-3 to the BC High School Champion in the High School match, however, defeated two months later in the next match 5-2, then defeated him again in the BC Senior’s Competition 5 – 0.
- 2nd Loss: Canadian Seniors Championships to 9 time Canadian Senior Champion. Loss 1-0.
- 3rd Loss: Loss again to same Canadian Seniors Championships, Peter Martyn to now 10 time Canadian Senior Champion. Loss 1-0. He used the same move and gained one point.
- 4th Loss: To the Japanese National High School Champion. Loss 3-2, by default when i forfeited the remainder of the match after the 2nd round, when in the 3rd round with one minute remaining, a tie up to then….i forfeited the match due to him breaking my ankle while he was defending a move i was attempting to make on him. He exposed my back to the mat which gave him an extra two points; immediately I turned him over and exposed his back to the mat but he bridged-skidded off the mat quickly therefore inhibiting a third point to tie it up. Usually at this time, in World Champions, the Gold Medals were by the Russians or the Japanese. I’m not sure, but I think the guy I wrestled went and won the Gold Medal there that year or the next year, it seemed to me he was unbeatable, therefore, foolishly i had made the move.
Medals & Distinctions -1967…….
- Co – Captain and Assistant to the Coach of Burnaby Centrals Wildcat Wresting Team which remained undefeated as a team in 1967 for two consecutive years…….the first time ever a high school team to win two years in a row the Team BC High School Gold Medal.
- Received the Outstanding Wrestler’s Award, held at UBC War Memorial Gym.
- Also received the BC Seniors Gold Medal ….held at the Vancouver Downtown YMCA.
- Received the Canadian Gold Medal in the first ever Canadian Winter Games at the Junior National Wrestling Championships, held at Montreal during Expo ’67.
- Was invited to give the Wrestling Demonstration given at Toronto City Hall during Expo ’67.
- Canadian Silver Medal in the Canadian Senior’s Championships, held at the University of Toronto.
Medals and Distinctions 1968………
- Co – Captain of the Team and Assistant to the Coach…….teaching advanced moves of Burnaby Centrals Wildcat Wresting Team which remained now undefeated as a team for three consecutive years, the first High School Team to win three years in a row the BC High School Gold Medal Wrestling Championships, held at UBC War Memorial Gym.
- Received the BC Seniors Gold Medal, and Honorary Mention for Outstanding Wrestler, held at the YMCA on Burrard Street, Vancouver.
- Received the Canadian Silver Medal in the Canadian Senior’s National Championships, held at the University of Alberta, Edmonton.
- Received the Gold Medal at the Pacific Northwest Open Wrestling Championships, held at the UBC War Memorial Gym, attended by University Students from Western Washington University, UBC and SFU wrestling teams.
- Gave the First Provincial Public Wrestling Demonstration, at Sprott St. Recreation Centre in Burnaby…… introducing Pee Wee Wrestling for children 8 – 12……this was later taken by others coaches changed into Junior High School Wrestling in BC at all Junior and Senior High Schools.
- Was requested by our Coach to be the Honorary Coach for Burnaby Central High School when competing against the visiting Japanese National High School Wrestling Team. We were defeated in every single match in every BC high school which the Japanese visited. BC High School wrestlers only scored 2 points in total against the Japanese Wrestlers, these 2 points were my 2 points against my Japanese opponent as mentioned above.
- Requested by the Lead Instructor and Coach of the Simon Fraser University Clansmen Wrestling Team to lead the conditioning and teaching of advanced wrestling moves to the SFU Wrestling Team.
- Winner of the Burnaby Central High School Grueling Gauntlet Award 1968. This was a special gauntlet created this year. The Gauntlet comprised a series of calisthetic exercises, climbing ropes, sprinting and running. Invitations included both girls and guys and all participants of the school, including the team members of all the sports of the school: hockey, football, basketball and wrestling and the special MVP Gold Medal Winners of the BC High School Track and Field Championships, the MVP Gold Medal Winners of the BC High School Basketball Championships and the BC Medal Winners High School Wrestling Championships.
- Was awarded at Burnaby Central High School, the Student Athletic Award Runner-up of the Years 1967 and 1968.
- Awarded the Student Civic Award Runner-up of the Years 1967 and 1968.
The athlete’s saying: “You are only as good as your Coach”…..applies here. In all my endeavors….the Coach worked with me and guided me through the things to do. I did not criticize him when he pressed me to go to the limit and try to get beyond it. His conditioning exercises and circuit trainings were a composite which brought our team to be in better physical condition than any other high school or club or university in the country. Yes, it was hard gut wrenching work every day of every workout resulting in almost all of quitting at one time or another. If…you won your match, you realized it was because the Coach pushed you to focus and remember what he taught you. In my case, he sent me to the YMCA to learn from Rod Carroll, former Bronze Medal Winner at the Pan American Games, and from his Coach, Coach Nesmith, the Head Coach at UBC. A couple other team members were there as well, then together five of us from our high school represented BC at The Canadian Senior’s National Championships. I should never forget that somehow, i was able to regularly exercise for 5 hours straight needing only one sip of water and shed no more than a drop of sweat due to the grueling conditioning by Coach MacRitchie. Many across Canada considered him the best coach in Canada at the time and for many, many years,…..he certainly was the best coach for me.
As regards awards as Athletic Runner Up of the Year at the High School, well that all due to the Coach working with me. The other Co-Captain of the Wrestling Team, was also Captain of the Football Team. He busted ass so to speak and deserved the Athlete of the Year award that year and the previous year the Captain of the Basketball Team…..lead the team to win the BC High School Basketball Championships plus was awarded the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the Tournament. A humble guy and a good player.
Again, as regards the Student Civic Award Runner Up all credit is due to Coach. He asked me to do certain things and i did them. End of story.
Guelph University Pan American and Mexico Olympics Wrestling Training Camp 1968
This special training camp was attended by all the Gold and Silver Medal Winners of the 1968 Canadian Senior’s National Wrestling Championships which was held in 1968 in Edmonton at the University Of Alberta…. the Training Camp was held at the University of Guelph Ontario Agriculture Branch. Those participants placing second in the matches were invited to the Guelph Training Camp. It was a second opportunity to overcome the winner and if doing so become the representative to the ’68 Olympics and go and train there in Mexico. In an unusual occurrence, it turned out i defeated the opponent, however, as a special favor during these preliminary exhibition matches to the Olympics, despite tying my opponent 1-1, then defeating him 1-0 and then again 5-0, I was requested to allow my opponent to represent Canada at the Mexico Olympics anyway – as he had already been chosen unanimously to be the Captain of the National Team when representing Mexico. Peter had been 9 time Canadian Senior’s Champion prior to my first match with him when he defeated me 1-0, now he was 10 time Gold Medal Champion of Canada having defeating me 1-0 again. In training camp, it so happened I was ready for his same move with the result the match was a tie. In the following match i gained the upper hand and edged him by 1-0. This match required a third match. The last match was 5-0 in my favor and would have had several more points had we not gone off the mat at various times. The Camp Coach was required to ask myself would I mind if Peter went instead. An important question, I said i would first contact my Coach at the high school. Despite three attempts to contact my coach by telephone, I was unable to, therefore rather reluctantly agreed to the training camp coach’s request, but accepted the request upon two conditions. These conditions, I considered a honorary token to our Coach, Don MacRitchie, of Burnaby Central High School. 1. That I would lead the training exercises of the Camp Team on the regular conditioning circuit we used to do at our high school as ‘demanded’ by Coach MacRitchie. The reason being was that the circuit training and other exercises we were doing at the camp were not pushing us to our extent. 2. That we would do the Coach MacRitchies ‘The King of the Mountain’ right afterwards. The King of the Mountain was an Exhibition Match between members of the wrestling team; in it the littlest guy would fight his same weight class opponent. This winner would then fight the wrestler in the next weight class ‘up above him’…..if he managed to tie or be the winner against the wrestler in the next weight class (the Silver Medal Winner first would fight first before the Gold Medal Winner of that weight class), then this wrestler continued to fight the next opponent in that weight class (the Gold Medal Winner next) and so on for each succeeding weight class….he would continue until he lost, but if he managed to defend himself and a tie was called, he would to continue to fight again…….until he lost. This exercise was called The King of the Mountain, it is also excellent for conditioning purposes. The training camp coach accepted my terms and was i surprised to find I remained undefeated in the King of the Mountain test, including up to the Gold Heavyweight Division, in fact scored points and won several matches against opponents of the heavier weight classes. Peter did go to Mexico and did the best ever in his Olympic career, receiving a Bronze Medal in Mexico in the ’68 Mexico Olympics; it being, I believe, the only medal Canada won for wrestling in Mexico. Peter was an exceptionally nice, kind guy…….I was very very glad for him and glad for Canada as it was the only medal Canada had gotten in wrestling for several years, and one of the few awarded to Canadian wrestling in its histories of wrestling in the Olympics.
Coach MacRitchie, our high school coach, was an outstanding and unique coach, especially for conditioning – getting the athlete in shape! – As an Assistant Coach to him, my job was to talk the other wrestlers to come back to the team and not quit because the conditioning exercises (the circuit) was so hard to do, it made many wrestlers vomit….so exhausting it was! When they vomited several times, day after day for instance, they would get pissed off and quit right then, right there! My job was to get them back on the team. I was a good re-recruiter!!! :-))) We never had anyone actually quit more than a day or two.:)) That was more credit to the Coach, than to myself:))
Oddly, I always finished the circuit first. I attributed this to one thing: 1. to ‘listen to the coach’. 2. don’t argue with him. 3. don’t criticize him directly to him or behind his back. The day, i decided to also stop listening to the others criticize the coach…..was during an exercise where i noticed my mind inside when my eyes were closed – was filled with ‘the light of day’. If a fellow wrestler nearby started his complaining and criticism of the coach, then my own mind would immediately become dark for a minute or two, but if I concentrated on just hearing but not listening to my fellow teammate doing this criticism, then still the light of day would remain in my inner mind and I was able to do my exercise….even better than before! From then on……This is how, I got in shape.
Coach MacRitchie was the originator of and created the King of the Mountain ‘exhibition matches’ as a special conditioning exercise to prepare for Matches that the team would be participating in. Almost everyday in wrestling class we had to do the King of the Mountain exercise. Each match was 3 minutes, same time as an official bout, but the winner getting either 30 seconds rest, or sooner if he felt ready to go at it again. If necessary as the winner went along, a maximum 1 minute rest as was usual in official matches was allowed between matches. Oddly again, I never lost a match. I had many ties, but never a loss and this included up to our own heavyweights. Our high school team included most of the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals of the BC High School Championships for three years; we had one Canadian Seniors Silver Medal Winner……who was now the Gold Medal Winner at the Guelph Training Camp for the 178 lb.class and from the high school we also had a new Silver Medal Winner of the men’s Canadian Senior Championships here at the Training Camp in the 168 lb. class. Then there was myself….so, we had participants from BC at the Guelph Training Camp. Usually Ontario wins most everything, however this year we had the Heavyweight Gold from BC (from UBC) and also the Silver in the 191 lb. class from the Vancouver YMCA Senior’s Wrestling Club……, therefore had 5 BC wrestlers at the Guelph Training Camp. There were 2 from Saskatchewan – the Gold in the 154 weight pound class and the Gold in the 191 pound class; Quebec had one from Montreal in the 106 pound class. The rest of the wrestlers were from Ontario. During the Training Camp at Guelph doing the King of the Mountain, remaining undefeated to that point, the last match was with the Gold Heavyweight from UBC. He was Hungarian, son of the UBC Coach, his brother was on our high school team and he won the National Gold in the 168 weight class division. Both brothers were into extensive weightlifting and both looked like Arnold Schwartnegger, especially the older brother who was the heavyweight, he weighed in at 235 pounds. Oddly, it was in this last match that I lost all my fear; being a bit of teacher i.e. a wrestling teacher, it was my opinion that this strong, atlas looking 6 ft. 4” – 235 pound guy was not using the potential of either the strength he had nor the speed he was most likely capable of. Having lost my fear, therefore, I decided to ‘shake him up’. When coming to the wrestler’s grapple-lock: head to head – hand on back of the opponents neck, the other hand on the opponents elbow joint. Although illegal to do and if caught by the referee would have got a ‘caution point’ against me….before putting my hand on his neck, i hit him quite hard on the cheek and jaw…..then immediately ‘locked up’ with him and began shaking him to and fro, from side to side….down and up and began pushing him backwards…..then i broke away from him and let him drop to the ground. Returning to the centre of the mat, when we came to do the wrestler’s grapple- lock again, this time i hit him with an open hand triple hard on the same cheek/jaw line and instead of grappling with him very tight as we would usually do, I stayed loose and shook him again from side to side. Still, again the referee did not see me strike him with my hand. But this time it worked! He looked at me, now shocked because while the first time I hit him it might have been forgiven, but now being hit twice like this….I got his specific attention. I backed off and started doing a Cassius Clay thing, taunting him to come on to the centre of the mat and ‘get with it’. Actually, my objective was ‘to awaken his power and his speed’…..and to ‘wake up’ and beat me. Probably I was much faster as i was only 113 pounds but still he could improve his speed so that in his own weight class he could become ‘extremely fast’…..therefore, with him ‘more alert’, I did not grapple-lock with him but only feigned to do so and went underneath him for a takedown. I assume because now ‘he was awake’ and probably pissed off..or at least getting pissed off “a bit”..(because a wrestler “rarely gets pissed off”)……when I went for the takedown….he reacted even faster than I thought….and I could not neither get in close enough to do a full stand up takedown on him i.e. the plan was to come in under his arms, lock my arms around his waist and stand myself up while lifting him up in the air….at which point i would have then turned him upside down and put his back on the mat or if he resisted appropriately i would have scooted behind him and lifted him up from there and set him down backwards so his back was on the mat/or tripped him so he fell forward on his knees to the mat. Couldn’t do it! He resisted full force……quickly!…… he had his legs straight out strong and backwards and I had to sink beneath his great weight; i had to flatten out and was unable with one hand to hold his leg steady then pull it towards me so to use it as a fulcrum to pull myself to him and behind him….which if I had done so….i would have been easily to get on top of him from the side….and gain a point! Not able to do so, i pushed him to the side and stood up. At that point, he was on his knees with one hand on the mat and starting to stand up. By the time he got to the centre of the mat Time was up! The match was over. The next best move would be to come straight forward to him just under the chest, stand him up and trip him backwards in a single move. There was no chance, the referee stopped the match and awarded us a tie. The last match for me was fun, it was just a ‘fun time’. Most of my bouts were ties, however had a couple wins…..against the 106 pounder – which i took for granted to win, then won 5-0 against my opponent (Peter) in my same weight class – won against the following: 123 lb. Silver……(the 123 lb. Gold did not participate as he had the flu and was in its severe part of the flu….and it may have been he would have beaten me!), the 132 – both the Gold and Silver, the 143 pound Silver, the 152 pound Gold, the 178 pound Silver…..all the rest were ties.
Only one wrestler i ever met did Yoga. While being a student from another high school, he came to our wrestling classes for a few months to become a better wrestler and get the good physical conditioning. He would arrive early to do what he called: Yoga. To him they were special warm up type of exercises. It was the first time i had heard of Yoga, but due to childhood knee and ankle multiple injuries, i could neither stretch nor sit in the positions and poses he showed me how to do. However, many of the leg stretches i did include all the time prior to each of my matches and have continued to do them for all of my life. I think the secret in doing hatha yoga stretches is to stretch….comfortably as far as possible, remain calm, become conscious again of what’s happening at the moment, relax consciously a little further, feel your energy in your body and blend it with your mind, breathe lightly, then breathe deeply, then breathe widely then hold the breath firmly but gently and let the breathe go very deep until it spreads from the abdomen like a gentle energy. That should take up to about one, two or three minutes, when ready stretch to the next limit while in the same position, focus on the spot of the limit and if possible gently touch the spot with a mild pressure to make an indent into the muscle tissue or tendon or ligament, breath a long breath and attempt to have the energy of the breathe meet and pervade the spot of the limit, hold the position, importantly remembering the entirety of remaining relaxed everywhere else in the physical body, let the mind enjoy to mix with the breathe at the spot of the limit and beyond to include all the muscles in the area. Then move to the next position and repeat the same.
Later, in 1970, Australia, i think it was February….in Brisbane at the first of its kind workshops where Ayurvedic Medicine was being taught. The teacher was Amrit Desai, from India. I came to the first part of it, however, everything he said was so strange to me, i left after a few hours the first day. Much later, in 1980 in the Blue Mountains of the hills of Pennsylvania at the Kripalu Yoga Ashram, although having completely forgotten seeing him before, Amrit Desai was now a Yogi. He was one of four disciples to his Guru, a Swami of whose name i am sorry to say, i have also forgotten. Amrit Desai was taught by his Guru to do a certain type of Hatha Yoga which instead of remaining in a certain position, then stopping everything and then putting oneself into another position and doing that pose or exercise, then stopping again, etcetera etcetera….Amrit Desai was taught to move directly from one position to the other with no complete stopping…..yes, he might remain in a certain position for some moments or quite some extra moments….but the whole, entire sequence was done essentially considered as not stopping and done as a continual flow…..almost like a tai chi system of movements as tai chi flows from one step to another when doing the kata of the tai chi. Yogi Amrit Desai was awarded the great title Supreme Hatha Yoga Teacher in India…..several years in a row, until i believe he was requested to not participate as a competitor to allow others to gain the title. Apparently each year there were over 300,000 participants for the hatha yoga title. While doing the Hatha Yoga, Amrit Desai would connect with his chakras as he went into the various different positions and postures….the entire process taking from 30-40 minutes……during which time a miraculous energy…..referred to as the “Shakti” energy….which manifested itself as an energetic white light…..would enter and heal or provide the transmutational energy for the healing of a student or even a first time visitor of whomever was attending the hatha yoga session being done by Amrit. I attended one such session. Yogi Amrit Desai was called a Yogi because he could transcend the physical death process consciously and consciously enter the next plane, the Astral Plane. This he did during his meditations. Thousands of people from around the world experienced visitations of Amrit Desai either in their meditations or in their dream-meditation state. Typically, he wore a pure white robe during such visitations and made frequent visitations to the same people. A few were his students and many were not but all say he came as an ambassador of Love. Thousands of people over the next twenty years visited The Kripalu Ashram and were healed by the miraculous Shakti energy. Later, Yogi Amrit Desai became a Gurudev.
I always believed it was inappropriate to try to imitate the hatha yoga that Gurudev Amrit Desai was doing so i never did it. It seemed to me the entire life had to be extremely disciplined with a tremendous amount of effort put into the mediation, and quite simply, i was not prepared to commit myself to that level of discipline.
I did meet two other students of Hatha Yoga, both at different times and one was a student of the Iyengar Hatha Yoga. He had just returned from spending a year in India with Mr. Iyengar. The Iyengar Yoga is done to make the body strong, and have energy. I attended an impromptu session or class with this student. He was exceptional fit, trim and muscular, vibrant and flexible physically. He remarked to me he had achieved his goal of being healthy and was grateful for the time of doing it. I don’t know if he became a teacher of it or not, but the class he gave was so hard to do…to stretch properly “that far”, i thought there was no way i could do it….even in a year. The other fellow just did yoga on his own. He was also naturally muscular, trim and fit, and healthy and he did it for that purpose.
There were two high school footballers who were brothers who kept scoring touchdowns, they kept The BC High School Provincial Championships in their home town for about three years of Richmond. Finally, when they graduated some other school had a chance to come ahead. Erroyl and Darryl Jang began teaching the Tai Chi Yang Style on East Vancouver, then a lit bit later, Doug Lee began teaching also. Erroyl was the main teacher, a powerful full fledged muscular guy who looked like a real ancient warrior with the long black hair and chinese beard…..the guy you wouldn’t want to fight if you had to and if you saw him you would wonder how he got from China to here. The teaching of Tai Chi was in fun and done gently. The important part was to get the movements…..the kata, or steps. I believe it was the first public Tai Chi Class in Vancouver. I learned the first one third of the kata, and about that time the class was cancelled, can’t remember why. There were two other instructors in Vancouver who taught private, personal classes with very small groups in their home. They were too expensive so i never got the benefit there. One guy i knew did. In less than a year….because part of the training was to include changes in his diet..and to do different, other exercises….was basically unrecognizable. He looked radiant and healthy and happy whereas before he was always depressed, or anxious ridden and dull looking. Asking him how that happened, he said “I just do what the Sensei says”. He wouldn’t discuss or show me what he had learned, as that was part of the Sensei’s wishes.
Along with doing Hatha Yoga which i learned from a book or two initially, i did the one third of the Yang Style Tai Chi kata for about five years, everyday, sometimes for a long time. I found it kept me grounded, developed more strength in my legs due particularly to the horse stance, the balance requirements when on one leg and in the slow movements from one movement to the next. I enjoyed it a lot, however, never understood the martial art implications or what was considered the inner part of it developing the “chi”. Perhaps i was doing something right as one time a co-worker native guy on a forest fire fighting crew….got drunk everyday for a couple of weeks and one morning, without notice, walked right to me while i was sweeping the cafeteria and punched me in the jaw. Immediately, my hands went to the first position of the kata and right there his hands were caught in mine before he could punch again, but more important was he couldn’t move…in any direction! In two moments he came back to his senses, calmed down and lost his drunkenness. As soon as i saw that, i let his hands go. Later, he brought his chief and they had a big powwow about what had happened. Apparently, the cook had saw some ‘light’ when he couldn’t move…..i had seen it too, and i thought that light appeared as a protectorant light……for the both of us. Maybe it was the chi…..i don’t know. I do know that the practice of the Tai Chi improved my physical strength very gradually, improved my concentration, as well as my patience and good mood. It was a slow moving exercise…..in fact doing it as slow as possible seemed to be one of the best ways to do it. I don’t think i ever did it quickly, or fast even once. I should have learned the rest of the kata and the martial art aspect to it.
Years later came Yu Wen Li. His name meant “Flying Tiger”. In order to become Captain of the Guard, and Instructor,……he had to defeat 14 all at once, and again with weapons. He came from the Province of Canton (Guangzhou) China and worked for his Auntie May Ling and his Uncle Ting ….they owned The Bayshore Restaurant on Marine Drive, in White Rock. I went there a lot because they were kind and friendly and the food was pretty good too. Yu Wen didn’t speak english when he came here so to practice it with the public he became the janitor, then he became the cook. After six months he spoke enough ‘to get by’, that was when i learned he did Tai Chi. Whether cooking or sweeping or mopping, he did everything effortlessly…..and was happy. He was tremendously handsome and good looking, and always cheerful….courteous, kind or thoughtful and spontaneous. For months i wondered if he would teach me the Tai Chi, so asked him. He apologized he didn’t speak english well enough and would think about it. A few months later he agreed. It would be in the garage behind the restaurant. One hour, every Saturday morning. He wanted to know how much i would practice. I told him 30 minutes everyday, then 5-6 minutes five times a day. He was to teach me the Tai Chi Cheng Style. I was his first student in Canada, it was early spring. During the summer, he was requested to teach a class downtown at the Chinese Cultural Centre. His best student, a woman, after six months won the top medal in the Mixed Martial Art Competition held in Chinatown. The next year, many more students came and the Team won all the First Place, all the Second Place, all the Third Place and some of the Fourth Place positions in the same tournament. The following year, Yu Wen was called by his wife’s father (his wife was also a member of the Provincial Team, and together they also had represented The Martial Art Demonstration Team for the Government of China)…..to return to China and do real estate in the coordination of the one thousand square miles that was to be transformed into the world’s largest manufacturing base. Yu Wen was 36 when he first arrived here and left two years later.
Yu Wen only taught me the kata…..one third of it, he said. He gave me two videos and then when the news came he had to go move to Vancouver, he showed me ‘what was Inner Power’. Doing push hands technique….as per strength and size, both of us were almost the exact same size and weight. Neither could he offset me, and nor i offset him. When he switched to Inner Power, he let me know. Suddenly i was up and in the air landing about 10 feet against the wall of the garage and fell to the ground. In the other movement, an angle movement….it was the same, however, i landed on the soil of the garage and stumbled before falling to the ground. Again about 10 feet away from him. He laughed and laughed saying in the now understandable english…..”Inner Power,…..Inner Power”. He attempted to explain to me how the chi comes from below the waist up to the waist then through the arms. Still, i didn’t get it!?! He explained you had to do Yoga, and Stretching everyday……1 1/2 hours at least. Then practice the martial art more…..hours. He showed me his yoga pose, it was called the Eagle. Standing on one foot, he lowered himself while the other leg crossed over his opposite knee so the foot was at the opposite hip….then sat down with a perfectly erect back and sank down so the leg he was standing on was fully bent……then he put his arms straight back behind him, but lifted him. When he settled in like this with his black hair and large raven eyes, he looked like an Eagle. There he would remain motionless for a half hour or more. This he said, was ‘his’ exercise implying it was one of the most difficult exercises. I took it to mean that others knew of his proficiency in this exercise. The meditation in it was to practice flying.
Yu Wen once cooked me a meal at his house when i visited one time in Vancouver. He began cooking shortly after i arrived, he was so happy about it…cooking! He said he would make ‘a special food’ for me….just for me. It was delicious, just regular food but by the time the meal was finished all the deep stress and tension in me that i could not seem to get rid of……was gone! As well as all anxiety and fear which according to me i had had none, but no knew a different entirety of myself. Well, i cannot tell you how grateful i was to have had that meal. Yu Wen was more than a martial artist. His interest was in healing. Using his index finger, in a special technique where he ‘vibrated’ his finger repeatedly quickly, he could immediately cure problems in the eye. His Instructor was very well known for placing his hands on a person who for instance had cancer……and it would disappear either right away or within a few days. He was a QiGong Master.
When Yu Wen taught me, one of the first things he did was explain what was “empty foot”. I had read about it, heard about it but no one explained it or could explain it to me. It meant “no weight on it”. Tai Chi Cheng Style is the slow then the fast style of Tai Chi. Some movements were slow, while others were fast and others lightning fast. He showed me three movements in each lesson. One movement required doing several things, perhaps up to ten different things so it was of concern to me to be able to remember everything and do all three by the next week. Suddenly on Tuesday evening, Yu Wen appeared in front of me at my home….right in front of me and showed me exactly that part of the next move to do. Then disappeared. When it got to another part i was in difficulty of doing, again he would appear and pick up where i needed to be taught next. By the end of this thirty minute session, I knew very well all the three movements. In this way Yu Wen taught me for six months. When i saw him on Saturdays, neither he or i mentioned it. There was more to Yu Wen than he let on.
It used to be, i would practice out on the yard where i stayed. I was the caretaker of an eight acre property which was situated at the end of a street, beside a ravine and overlooking a forest of trees. We had 110 foot trees right out the door which swung like toothpicks during the November winds. After Yu Wen left to Vancouver, here i would practice in the evenings for an hour or two the kata. Gradually, i included and twinned my breath and my breathing to the movement…..and then all movements. Some months later, i let in the yell of the “Ha” and let it come from the Tan Tien below the waist through the waist. Movements became with a deeper wide leg stance, more solid, patient and control, the empty foot a feather. Intuitively came the sense of what the movements were for in the martial art sense which encouraged the importance of the movement. The session was full and vivid after which i felt energized and aware of my own energy. I was very pleased when one day while waiting for food to be made at another Chinese Restaurant, i was practicing by the restaurant back door in its parking lot. Two guys came a minute later, one of them owned the Dry Cleaners next door and they stood nearby talking. I was going to stop but was interested more in doing the exercise. When i finished, the one guy came over and said “Where did you learn that?” I told him. Have you ever been to China, he asked. No, i said. Well, he continued, I just returned from a tour there. I couldn’t believe how all the martial art students put so much passion into it……you are just like them! implying he was absolutely amazed anyone over here was doing it at such a same level. I teach a Karate Class here he said and have been trying to get my students to do the kata with the passion you do and not one has got it yet. You are the first one i see doing it, even i am trying to do it like that and i have a black belt, i went to China to improve, to learn how to do that. I was very happy he told me that, and hoped one day i too would be able to go to China.