A Journey of Gong Fu
Just a Little Incentive
By Adrian Dorsey
You must know what it is like to procrastinate indefinitely. I believe we have all done it from time to time. I guess this was how I was with making a decision on embarking along the process of investing in formal training of Gong Fu. I had my DVD version of the Yang style long tai chi form as well as the Classic Yang style sword form and I actually did siphon as much as I could from those tapes. However, there is only so much one can learn from a video. I just knew that I was missing components in the understanding of various postures. I just felt that I was lacking. Plus I had no idea of the offensive and defensive applications. Now I do credit Dr. Yang Jwing Ming for supplying some application material which I was able to sport with but I had no training partner to get that feeling of physical opposition. I would practice the material every night as I worked the graveyard shift of the front desk of the hotel my parents managed in Vulcan, Alberta, Canada. There was enough room in the lobby to do my stuff after the bar closed which gave me a window of a few hours before the cook arrived at 5:30 am to prep the kitchen. I continually thought about finding a teacher to answer my many questions. I would wander back into the Dragon’s Den from time to time and eventually purchased another Paul Chen damascus folded steel sword that was actually a Japanese katana. Unlike most katana’s though this weapon did not have that curved blade, it was straight and narrow with a hand and a half (tsuka) handle made of satin rose wood with matching scabbard. I believe this particular design was inspired by the old samurai television series in Japan called Zatoichi, the Legend of the Blind Swordsman. I would follow this purchase with yet a third Paul Chen masterpiece which would be the damascus tai chi jian. I would never be able to go back to the stainless steel counterparts available in the shopping malls. I knew I had two of the finest weapons available that any serious practitioner could be proud of. The owner of the Dragon’s Den offered to introduce me to one of the instructors if I was willing to take that extra step. I would hesitate but was seriously considering it. Yeah, don’t mock me, we have all been there from time to time.
Then it happened. One night while at work around 4:30 am in the morning. I went down to the bar to empty the money out of the vlt machines. The bar manager who was also the owner’s son, was still there along with the cook. They were drinking. I knew that the following morning the cook and I had to take the empty bottles in from the bar and he was looking pretty hammered. So I paused long enough to ask him if we was going to be able to show up around 9:00 am. A good haul would easily split over a hundred dollars between the two of us. So we chatted for a few moments while I waited on his doubtful affirmation. I was not bothered one way or the other but was trying to demonstrate pleasantries more than anything. The next thing I knew the owner’s son was throwing himself at me in a rage of fists. The unexpected confrontation caught me off guard but I held my own and the exchange see sawed back and forth. At one point I was evading him with a ward off left without even thinking what I was doing. That was the problem. I had no idea what I was doing. I was clumsy and dis-coordinated. I did find out I could take a wallop in the face without flinching. I finally got out of the situation with the pail full of vlt money and walked back to the office wondering what in the hell that was all about.
What bothered me afterwards was the stark realization that I was barely able to hold my own. Now I was not pummeled or pounded into oblivion I gave as much as I received. The haunting after shock was the fact that I was facing one opponent. What would have happened if there had been more than one? What if my children had been in the midst of it? The mind begins to go into what I can only describe as a kind of post traumatic stress syndrome after experiencing a violent encounter. This really started to nag at me.
In the end, two months later, after Christmas of 2002 passed and we brought in the new year I finally made my decision. On January 17th, 2003, I took the night off. Traveling into Calgary I made my way to the Dragon’s Den. I would be introduced to Sifu Muri Parsons who was instructing a short Yang style tai chi form at 7:00 pm that night. I was delighted to be actually doing this. I felt a friendliness with Sifu Parsons that was inspiring. I guess one of my fears was finding teacher who had a militaristic chip on his shoulder. I did not want to be yelled, cajoled, or bitched at in any way. I wanted a class where I could progress at my own rate without being humiliated. My concerns would prove to be unwarranted. Sifu Muri was no pushover. He was assertive and definitely demonstrated the proper method of posture and executing application as well as form but he did it in such a way that was inspiring. At least that is what I discovered over the next two and a half years. I will tell you more about that journey in time.
The bottom line was I had made a decision. No man was every going to lay their hands on me again. I would make sure that I could not only protect myself but those I care about as well. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Mine began that particular freezing Alberta winter evening.