Monday, November 28, 2005


In the previous post I discussed Dr G spending most of his time with the women, and usually ignoring the men. In fairness, I need to talk about lunch.

The first time I went to lunch with the Ba Gua group, I cannot recall the reason. It was both men and women. It must have been an after class type of lunch. We all went inside and sat at one big table.

Lest anyone forget, this was when I was sick. Anxious, nervous around strangers or of enclosed spaces. The restaurant was small and it was packed. There was lots of noise and bustle. I recall I was sitting next to Arol who was either next to or maybe one person removed from Dr G. In keeping with the unspoken rule, all the men were on one side of the table, all the women were on the other side.

We are inspecting the menus looking for something to eat. Part of the meals was soy milk. Soy milk would come in two varieties, sweet and sour. Dr G says "what kind of soy milk should we get". I instantly blurted out "Sweet!".

You would think I had just killed a baby.

The entire table stops looking at the menus and looks at me. Dr G gives me an absolutely withering look. I am surprised my hair did not catch on fire. I literally look around the table, look at Dr G, then I looked at Arol. I shrugged my shoulders and, refusing to look at Dr G, said "He asked what we wanted".

I am a loud and boisterous kind of person at times. Under the pressure of being in the enclosed restaurant with strangers, I didn't really think about what I was saying or who I was with. Dr G asked for an opinion, I gave my answer loudly and instantly. No big deal to me. I still to this day do not understand what it was that was wrong. I can make a guess. Part of my health problems was that I was partially deaf. I wonder if instead of speaking loudly, I shouted instead. Sometimes people tell me I am loud. It is hard to tell that about yourself.

I pulled my head down into my neck like a turtle and pretended I did not exist. I tried to turn invisible. I don't even remember the rest of the meal. I only wanted to get out of the embarrassing situation for I didn't even know what reason.

Getting back to Dr G's dealings with the men in the class. For a period of time, them men's group and Mike would go to lunch. The practice area was close to a major street that had many small restaurants of different types in it. We would all walk over after class to go eat. The destination was usually a chinese restaurant. The restaurant was divided into a front and a rear area. We would go to the rear area and, because of the time of day, it was like being in a private restaurant. No one else was around.

The point of these lunches was for people to become familiar with each other. I was new and as a person might suspect from my description of Dr G ignoring the men's group, the combined group of the men and Dr G were not exactly meshed. It was very odd. Dr G was the instructor, everyone respected him and listened to him. Yet when everyone was together, there always seemed to be an undercurrent of tension.

I attributed it to Dr G himself. Dr G was always talking about family style, about how Ba Gua was based on relaxation and letting go. Dr G was one of the most tense, strict and tight people I have ever known. Just being in his presence made people tense. I think it is that feeling that the men reacted to. Dr G would come by, some man or men would get tense, and Dr G would flee back to the women.

The lunches were an attempt to get by this. It did not pan out very well. We all went to lunch. We all sat there, talked, ate together, discussed various things. It never worked because it was fake. Everyone's personality came out in the intimacy of the lunch. There was no place to run like the women's group or to go practice.

Lonnie was desperate for Dr G's attention. This made him totally fake and dishonest. He would never contradict Dr G. He would say things that he thought Dr G wanted to hear. Lonnie would best be described as a sycophant. George was a follower. He would follow whoever was the leader. If Dr G was the leader, George followed him. If Lonnie was the leader, George would follow Lonnie's example of being sycophantic.

Jeff liked to hide. It was kind of funny because he was the best martial artist. It was probably that training that made him hide. Jeff was interesting in that he seemed friendly but it was an act. He had real trouble getting along with people. He would be the obvious fake kind of friend. Laughing at what people said, or sitting quietly, absorbing every word.

Chris was standoffish. I think I had something in common with Chris. Chris acted arrogant. As if he was better than every one else and he was only there to be with Dr G. At the lunches, his body posture was held back as if he did not feel he was part of all of us. He would talk, but he was not really interested. He had better things to do, or he could not believe the uninteresting things others were talking about.

Arol and Tim were the most normal of everyone. They had nothing to hide, no game to play, no one to impress. Dr G or the others would describe them as stupid or childish. It is funny to think that being normal would be described as stupid or childish. Arol and Tim would sit there and talk about anything, until Dr G let them know they shouldn't

Arol was very persnickety about his food. He was allergic to, or did not like, the food additive MSG. There was always some conversation or the other about MSG. Was it in the food? Did they put it in there without telling us? Arol thought he had a headache so he would not eat anymore food because he knew there was MSG in it. Everyone treated him similar to a hypochondriac or a complainer. That was wrong because now I know that MSG is bad for you and will give some people headaches. Arol was not trouble, he was right long before the rest of us were.

The most memorable lunch was not even the lunch. It was the walk to the lunch. The major street we were nearby was a popular destination. There were many people walking the sidewalks. There were also many homeless people and other young people who were there because the street was a well known drug market.

The group of us are walking up to the major street. We are all dressed in our outfits which were black pants with a white shirt. No attention grabbing Chinese symbols or Fists or any kind of obvious kung fu insignia. Just plain black pants and white shirts. Some people changed into street clothes.

I think it was probably our manner, and Dr G of course, that grabbed attention. We all moved as a group which is what we were. There was a group of 6 or 8 men dressed in black pants and white shirts moving purposefully in a group. Maybe it was because of the drug market reputation of the street. We might have looked like police or something.

Then of course there was Dr G himself. Just as the women could feel his kung fu energy and become infatuated with it, anyone walking down the street could feel it. There is no mistaking power. When you feel power approaching, you know it. If no one looked at the rest of us at all, they were pulled in by Dr G's power. Then you had Jeff who was also powerful, and Lonnie, who was less powerful, but powerful enough to involuntarily pull people gaze to them.

We are walking up to the intersection of the cross street and the major street. There is a homeless man sitting on the ground. We are walking purposefully up to the corner and the homeless man loudly says "Fucking Asians". Mike and Jeff were both Asian. They both turn and begin to walk down the street. The homeless man says "Ya, I killed a bunch of Asians in Vietnam and I should killed a lot more".

To me it was obvious the homeless man felt Dr G's power. There was no other reason for this outburst to a group of 8 men. Seriously, we all could have turned around and kicked him senseless. Which is exactly what I wanted to do.

If you are new to this blog, I came to Dr G from a Wing Chun school that was run by a sadist. The teacher thought hurting people was the greatest. He would encourage students to go look for people to start fights with. He told me to go look for homeless people to practice on! I never did such a thing, but I did develop a very.....angry or intolerant attitude.

I heard that man say that stuff which was directed at Dr G and I wanted to do something about it. I know I tried to stop and confront the man. Everyone else kept on walking. I wanted to discuss what he had said. Everyone ignored me. It was strange. I can understand it is stupid to be dealing with a homeless man. To me it seemed like they ran away from the homeless man. I guess it depends on how you think.

I would have been satisfied to see Dr G stop and give the homeless man a peace lecture about how he knew the homeless man was troubled and he was sorry he did not like Asians. For Dr G and the others to pick up the pace and run away from a homeless man confused me. I had serious doubts about what kind of men they were.

So Dr G did not completely ignore us as it might have sounded in the previous post. We did have these lunches together which lasted for an hour or so. They did not continue thruout my 3 years with Dr G. In fact, they took place over a short time period. I think it was because they did not work. Nothing was happening. We were going to lunch, spending money to eat, but there was no progress made. Nothing new that was not already done at the class.

No one seemed to get friendlier or more chummy. No one's personality changed from standoffish, or stupid, or hiding, or controlling or sycophantic. They stayed exactly the same.

The Harem

In the previous post, I mentioned how my doctor Yumiko was infatuated or in awe of Dr G. For new people dropping in, Yumiko is a female doctor. It should come as no surprise that the other women in the class were also infatuated with Dr G.

Previously I described how when I joined the class, it was about 8 men and 20 or so women. I mentioned that Dr G specifically made a point out of seperating the two groups, and pointedly mentioning he was doing it to prevent any kind of sexual interactions that could be misinterpreted.

I didn't care. I wasn't there to flirt with women. I was there to learn Ba Gua and to cure my health problems. I don't know how the other men felt. I never discussed it with them. No one was put out enough by the suggestion to bring it up themselves. George's wife was among the women. She was one of the leading or higher students.

Come to think of it, I DO recall there was another reason for seperating out the men and women. There is a man whose name I have the darndest time remembering. I think it was Chris. He was the one that slammed me for being honest. Chris and one of the women had dated. After time, they stopped dating. Supposedly this created some kind of tension within the group that was undesirable. I think the woman might even have dropped out of class because of the awkwardness of the situation.

Every week, we all showed up. The entire class did the warm ups, then sat down to listen to Dr G give his talk. After 45 minutes or an hour, he would finish and we would all get up and separate into the men's and women's group.

Dr G. would meander over and check up on us. Speak to all of as a group. Maybe say hello, how are you?. Looking back I notice the oddity of the interactions. At the time I didn't pay any attention. Dr G would stay there for a very short times. Sometimes maybe 5 minutes or less. Then he would go over to check on the women.

I have taken martial arts for some time. Women do not belong in martial art classes. They are a distraction, and most of them do not work. Many of them are there because it is an "in" thing, or to hook up with men that are viewed as "tough". In China, traditionally men NEVER taught women. If the women were to learn kung fu, they would learn kung fu from another women who taught a style of kung fu designed for women.

Only a few of the women students were Asian. Maybe one or two. The remainder were mostly caucasian with a maybe 1 or 2 latin women. Only 1 of the Asian women knew kung fu well enough to do it properly. Yumiko. The Japanese women who had done chi kung and kung fu for some time. The majority of the rest of the women were people off the street. Never took a martial art class in their life. They signed up because friends signed them up or some other reason.

This bothered me. To see Dr G go over to spend time with the women, was, in my point of view, a waste. All that instructional talent was going down the drain because the women did not have the necessary training or skill to benefit from Dr G. I watched him go over and walk from woman to woman, talking about this and that. After awhile, I realized what I was seeing.

Dr G was flirting with the women. He did not go over there to give them specialized instruction in kung fu. He went over to play games with them. Just like Yumiko, every single one of the women was infatuated with Dr G. It is very hard to describe this to someone who does not understand kung fu. A strong kung fu man will literally act like a magnet with women. It is not a saying to be funny or clever. There is a literal force of attraction that will pull women to the kung fu man. That is what was going on with Dr G. Those women were unable to resist the pull of his kung fu power.

They all fawned on him. It bothered me because it was wrong. This was a serious kung fu class I was told. Instead of teaching people who could benefit, the men, Dr G was over flirting with women. On top of that, it was even more wrong for Dr G to flirt with them because he understood completely the hold he had over women. He knew it was impossible for them to resist him. Basically he was a like a cat playing with a toy. Using his energy to make this harem of 20 women treat him like a god.

You should keep that in mind. As the story progresses, I am certain you can guess where it will lead.

I will be totally honest and say that I was jealous of the attention that Dr G gave to the women. I wanted him to come over to the group of men and spend 10 minutes or 15 minutes helping us out. As I stated above, Dr G would spend 5 minutes with us after the talk, then he would go to the women's side of the quad.

We would never see him again. I might look up and see him approaching one of the senior students, particularly Jeff. Maybe Lonnie. Otherwise, the talk was about all the men got for the most part.After the class was officially finished, Dr G might spend time talking with us. All the women had left. He had no alternative. ;)

Class Recomendations - Trust, Faith, Family

The last few entries have had a negative kind of feeling about them for me. I related how I discovered that Dr G and the group had set up the situation with the new student as a way to show me that I could leave if I did not belong. I discussed how my attitude was standoffish, anxious, and difficult to deal with. I wrote about how the class had an oppressive and stiff atmosphere.

After re reading all of that, I found myself asking the natural question that most people are probably thinking of. Why did you stay? If they tried to trick you into leaving, or the class was mentally sickening, why did you stay?

Faith. That was why. Faith.

Yumiko, the doctor from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine that had recommended me to Dr G., was one of the most outstanding women I have ever met in my life. She was strong, intelligent, educated, understanding, caring, tolerant, patient....she was the second best woman I have ever met in my life.

I had been a patient of Yumiko's for months before she recommended me to Dr G. She had dealt with my health problems and my behavior. Looking back, I can see that I was a precocious patient. It was probably trouble for Yumiko to deal with me. There were only two times that I can remember Yumiko saying anything cross with me. I deserved it.

I had an appointment with her. I had just learned about acupuncture. I did not really understand how it worked or any of the theories behind it. The friend of mine who had convinced me to sign up for acupuncture talked about going on a regular basis. I had the feeling that acupuncture was a regular thing like going to a masseuse or attending a class. After the appointment was done, I went to make another appointment. She had one available in 2 or 3 days, and another one that was maybe a week and half or two weeks later. Thinking as I did, that regular appointments were necessary, with the large gap between the two appointments, I did not want to wait 2 weeks to come back. So I signed up for both of them.

I came in the 2 or 3 days later for the next appointment. Yumiko said "here you are again". That was it. She put out an air of "why are you here?". Her energy felt like it was pushing me away, and that it was chastising me. I never did that again. I thought so highly of Yumiko that all she had to do ws so those 4 words with that attitude and I immediately did as ordered. She was to special for me to anger her.

The second time that Yumiko became cross with me was much later in the relationship. I had know her for months by then. Honestly I was probably flirting with her by that time. In my mind I felt that she responded to me. Not as a sexual partner but as a superior who was affectionate towards a subordinate. That was fine with me. I did not want her as a sexual partner. I wanted to be a special person to her like she was a special person to me.

I felt I had the familiarity to ask her fairly regular things. In the treatment room one day I asked her something. Where she had gone to school, if she had brothers or sisters, something fairly normal like that. She did not respond to my qeustion. I did not understand her subtlety. Asian people will ignore or avoid a question they do not want to respond to. I did not know what was going on. I am also by nature a stubborn and relentless person. I repeated my question. She again ignored my question.

This time I knew something was going on. Now my curiosity was sparked so that I became reckless. I undeniable rephrased my question in a way that she could not ignore. Yumiko very plainly and clearly said "That is not for you". For some reason it was a stunning thing to say. There was no rancor in her delivery, no anger or upset. It was a matter of fact statement. So blunt as to be impossible to ignore.

I had never heard anyone talk like that. Most blunt people are angry, yelling and screaming. Or a short and concise sentence like that has no effect. For some reason though her words felt like a concrete block falling into a pool of water. I knew I was being rebuked. I shut my mouth and laid there wondering what the heck was so important to her that she would tellme "That is not for you". That was one of the incidents that set me off on a search to understand why people from different cultures act differently. I could swear the question I asked Yumiko was something I would ask someone on the bus. And they would answer without hesitation because the question was innocuos.

That description of some of my relationship with Yumiko was to try to give the reader a feeling for how intimate I felt our relationship was. How I aboslutely trusted her professional and personal opinions. When Yumiko recommended Dr G to me, she was almost adoring in her tones. For someone as high as Yumiko, to be talking like a star struck schoolgirl about Dr G, I thought this guy must be close to godlike. I wanted to get in touch with this guy and hold on if he could inspired childlike behavior in the hard as wood Yumiko.

I am not making that up. Yumiko was literally hard as wood. I believe I said she was Japanese. She had done martial arts and chi kung as part of her schooling. She also grew up in a culture that is based on an understanding of chi. This had made her, at the age of 24 or so, hard a a rock and strong as a kung fu master. When she walked, she literally pounded the floor. It was like someone hammering on the floor the sound was so noticeable. I brushed against her once or twice. If you have taken kung fu, you know that you can tell how good someone is by touching them. By brushing against Yumiko, I could tell she was stronger than me. I think she could have taken me apart. She was inches shorter than me and 10's of pounds lighter. It was amazing and kind of fearsome. I think that was one of the reasons I was infatuated with her.

To get back to "Why did you stay with Dr G if it was so bad", one of the reason should be apparent now. Yumiko spoke of Dr G in childlike tones of schoolgirl adoration. To me this meant that Dr G was godlike. If Dr G was godlike, and I was a part of his class, it was going to take a bulldozer to pull me away. There was no way I would voluntarily walk away from someone who was so impressive that he could inspire infatuation in Yumiko, my idol.

There was more to it than that. The weekly talking that preceeded the Ba Gua practice would always focus on certain things. In the beginning there was a lot of talk about acupuncture and acupuncture theories. That made sense as Dr G was a Dr of Acupuncture. It was material he was familiar with from his schooling.

The weekly talks also focused on what he had learned from his Ba Gua teacher, Gong Bao Zhai. This was what he described as family style. As with any family, it was based on qualities that make for a strong family. Trust, Faith, Obedience and Patience.

I came to the class with breathing problems. During my first few months there, I questioned Dr G about teaching me breathing exercises. He would ignore me, or turn the conversation to something else. Being the direct American I was, at some point or the other I pressed him and would not drop the matter. At those times, he would counsel me, "You have to be patient. When I think you are ready, then it will happen". When I said "What if I die before it is time to be ready?", Dr G would tell me, "Have Faith. You must have faith for this to work. Faith in me, Faith in the Ba Gua system, Faith in your kung fu brothers and sisters, Faith in God. You have to keep your hope alive that things will work out the way you want".

I had no choice so of course I began to belive in Faith, Trust, Obedience and Patience. If that was going to cure my health problems, sign me up. And because I was so desperate, I flung myself into this belief with all my heart. I grasped onto those concepts like a drowning man grasps a life preserver. Because I was so sick, I was very negative and down. For me to do an about face and to honestly, in my heart and to the core of my body have Faith in Dr G or anything else was nothing short of a miracle.

I accepted what Dr G said completely. I believed he had my best interests at heart. When I thought that class was downer or too strict, that was me. It was my problem. Dr G said I was the problem, it was my lack of faith and hope, so I needed to change. When I thought that Dr G was holding out on me with breathing exercises, it was because I was a bad person who was not patient. When the other students did not behave as I expected, it was my fault. I was the one with the wrong attitude. I did not understand the family style of Ba Gua.

When Dr G tried to get rid of me. By sitting up the play with the new student joining and then leaving, it did not work for one simple reason. I couldn't see it. It was not because I was blind. I saw everything that happened. It was not because I was deaf. I heard every word that was said. It was not because I could not feel Dr G's energy trying to possess me and force me to leave the class.

It as because I had Faith.

I knew that Dr G was a good man. I only had to have Faith, Patience, Hope and Trust and he would take care of me. Yumiko, my idol, had implied that Dr G was close to godlike. God would not do anything bad to a person or hurt them. God would not refuse to help a sick person like me.

I could not see the play that was set up to get me to leave because it was impossible for me to believe that Dr G and the rest of the Ba Gua group could be so devious. Devious is bad, it is evil. Dr G and the Ba Gua guys were good. Dr G was godlike. I had Faith, Trust, Hope and Patience in him.

If I had realized what was going on, I would have thought I was being tested. They wanted to test my faith to the group. Was I a loser like the new student? Someone who would cut and run if the going got tough? Or was I a man who could look the teacher and the students in the face, when they were saying mean things, and stand there straight and tall and say "I trust you. I believe in you. I will not leave because I know you are testing me as part of my Ba Gua training".

When I think about it now, I literally guffaw. My face and sides hurt from laughing so much. These men are sitting up a situation to try to rid themselves of someone they do not want. But that someone who is such a bad guy they have to get rid of him? He believes they are like angels sent down from heaven and living here on earth. Flowers sprout from the ground where they walk. He cannot conceive of these men having a negative thought.

They must have gone nuts! They could read my mind so they knew exactly what I was thinking. Ask yourself. If you are reading someone's mind, and they are thinking "You are a god. I am loyal to you. I will do whatever you say because I belive in you", could you start kicking them and punching them.

Could you look them in the face and say "I don't want you here. I want you to leave"?

Friday, November 25, 2005

The next new student

The next notable event I recall was the arrival of a new male student. His arrival was notable for the way it occurred.

As mentioned previously, the tradition was for people to be interviewed by the men's group. Then some discussion would take place. Ultimately the decision to accept or reject was always Dr G's as he was the actual instructor. The interviews were for training the class in how to deal seriously with others, and to see how the personalities meshed.

The new student just arrived one day. He showed up and Dr G said he was a new student. Because of the rigidity of the class mentioned in the previous post, this was quite a ground shaker. Naturally everyone was polite to the man. Introducing themselves and talking to him. It still seemed like a breach of protocol for him to simply walk in.

Apparently he was the husband of one of the female students. He and Dr G. already knew each other and had some kind of relationship. To this day I do not really understand why he was allowed to join with no interview. He was the only person to ever be allowed to do so during my time with the class.

S was a personable guy. He was slightly skittish when the introduction went around. Then his true personality emerged. S was a major bullshitter. He could talk to anyone about anything for hours. He had a nice and friendly attitude. S was an older man. 40's or mid 40's I would say. He looked nothing like a martial artist, and it came out that he had no martial arts training at all.

I distinctly remember resent this. After all I had heard about being superior and being the best and working towards the highest standards, to allow an "old" guy into the class, a person who had never been interested in martial arts in their lives, was an outrage. Especially in light of some of the comments Dr G. had made to me.

At a few different times, Dr G. had mentioned that he did not think I was trained enough to stay. This made me angry. A, T and G had no previous martial arts experience at all. In terms of experience, I was number 3 behind the top 2 students. I was the last in actual time in the Ba Gua class. That made no difference. There is no way a few months exposure to the Ba Gua class could equate to my years of familiarity with martial arts.

After developing a resentful attitude towards Dr G. for saying such obviously false things to me, to see this "old man" waltz into class with no experience and no interest in martial arts was a slap in the face. It made a lie out of all of Dr G's words about my not having enough experience, and the devotion of the class to only the highest standards.

As the class progressed, my opinion was only confirmed. The man was an absolute beginner when doing the Tai Chi, warm up and Ba Gua forms. Of course he was a beginner to the class and martial arts. It was even worse than that. Any person who is physical will show some kind of aptitude for any physical action. A knowledgeable person can see this in others.

S was not a physical person at all. His movements were wide and uncoordinated. He truly did belong in a beginners class somewhere else. That was not dislike or superiority. S had no real feeling for his body or how to move it properly. For him to be allowed to start martial arts in as high a level class as Dr G's Ba Gua class was, was a travesty in my opinion.

I think it happened on his first visit. I cannot remember for sure. S went thru all the forms and warm ups. Then he particpated in the men's class. We are all on our own areas doing our own thing when I look up and see S is sitting down on the ground. Apparently his back was giving him trouble.

From a sympathy perspective, of course you have to feel sympathy for an old guy who is not physical at all having to sit down with back problems during class. When you look at it from the perspective Dr G put on the class, superiority, only the best or highest, etc, to see this new student sitting on the ground after 45 minutes of exercise was unbelievable.

Not only that but S was truly in pain. He was not lazy and sitting down with back pain. His back really did force him to sit down after 45 minutes of work. Dr G had to do some doctor stuff to S to alleviate his pain. There is an acupuncture point above the upper lip in the center. It is senstive or something or the other. Dr G stuck his finger or knuckle on that spot and pressed as hard as he could for what I swear was minutes.

What eventually happened is that pressing that acupuncture point was painful. Dr G's goal was to make S's lip hurt so much, that he forgot about the pain in his back. It worked. After awhile I could see S struggling and trying to stop Dr G' from rubbing his knuckle on that spot on his upper lip. It is painful. Try it yourself. Put your knuckle in the middle of your upper lip, below the nose and rub real hard.

S got back to his feet and we all joked about how hard the class was and that it looked like his back really hurt.

The general class atmosphere - controlling, oppresive

I need to say that my chronology of events is slightly fuzzy. I have various notable events in mind. There exact order of appearance may or may not be accurately reproduced here. I wish blogs had a way to reorder posts. Then it would be no problem to rearrange things into the proper chronology if I realized something was out of place.

Right now, the thing uppermost in my mind is the next new student.

I don't know if I have mentioned the arrogance, superiority, rigidity, overbearing, controlling atmosphere that permeated the class. It was all kind of funny, because all of those qualities were ones that were specifically rejected in the talks that Dr G. gave before class every week. Now that I am older and wiser, I can look back and say it was a case of a person admonishing others for their own foibles.

Dr G. was extremely controlling. He was the boss and anything other than obedience and submission was frowned upon. I believe this was because of his young age and his goals. Dr G. was in his mid 30's or so. His goal was to become rich. There were many members of the class who were older than Dr G. Humans being who they are, it would be natural for the older people to challenge Dr G., or to treat him as an equal.

This was not tolerated.

J was an especially amusing example of this pattern. J was the sadist who I sparred with on my first day of class. This should indicate to you that J was a handful to deal with. He was his own man, while many of the other members of the group were subservient, or people looking for someone to tell them what to do. J stuck out like a sore thumb.

Dr G. would finish saying something and J would have a question. Dr G. had this incredibly annoying habit of asking for questions, then refusing to answer them. It felt like a "bait and switch" scam. He would say he was interested in questions and he wanted to hear what we had to say, but his replies always seemed to go somewhere else. Sometimes it felt like he completely ignored the questions.

The reaction of most people to this behavior was acceptance. What was their to do? Dr G. was the instructor. If he asked for questions and refused to answer them, what could you do? Complain? That was another area of the rigidity and tension that was a part of the class. There was a very clear, unspoken opinion in the class.

If you didn't like it, you could leave.

This seems like reasonable opinion to hold. Until you understand what "if you do not like it" included. The phrase included any kind of independence or disagreement at all. Of even the smallest thing, no disagreement was allowed. No one had to say anything verbally. If a person was complaining or unhappy about something, it was possible to literally feel a buildup of rejection and disapproval from the other members.

J did not always play the game of acceptance. On occasion his independent spirit would force itself to the front. Dr G. would ask for questions. J would ask his question, and Dr G. would do the usual talking about something else. J would not let Dr G. get away with this. J would bring the conversation right back to the question he asked. I felt it was reasonable behavior and I agreed with J. I did not think his attitude was the best. He had a slightly aggressive or challenging manner.

The few times that this occurred, Dr G. was not a happy man. J would repeatedly refuse to accept the meandering, wandering everywhere answers to his questions. He would force his question to the front and press for an answer. The result? Either other people in the class would politely tell J to shut up, or Dr G. himself would say, "That's enough".

If we were to talk to Dr G., or many of the other students about this, they would tell you that J was being argumentative. He was being argumentative. For Dr G. and the class, this was the most terrible thing on earth. The only part of the entire situation that had any importance at all.

From my perspective, J was being "argumentative" because he could not get an answer. I understand why Dr G talked the way he did. It was part of the kung fu and Ba Gua training. I think I mentioned that Dr G was a Tai Chi practioner also. The idea behind these martial arts is to avoid force. To never meet force with force unless necessary. J's pushing during these question and answer sessions was forceful. Dr G.'s training told him to avoid the force and talk about something else.

I can understand Dr G's motivations for avoiding the questions and answering as he did. I can also understand the frustration of J. When a person looks you in the face and says "ask me a question", then their reply seemingly has no reply to the question, it can be frustrating. I know I was frustrated. I was so frustrated with this behavior that I eventually never bothered to ask questions anymore. I knew for a fact I would not receive an answer, so what was the point?

The same refusal to answer questions applied to the actual kung fu training. I had a real problem with that. The usual answer to a question in class was "figure it out". Because of the high level of training that Dr G. himself had undergone, he felt that students should not be "coddled". Or, I don't know, maybe he was refusing to tell people things. He did not want to teach them the answer to something so he refused.

Regardless of Dr G's motivations, kung fu training basically consisted of being shown an exercise, being asked if you "got it", then being completely ignored. We would each go off and do our exercises. I think that Dr G was wrong in his approach to teaching. The class was not made of up highly trained martial artists. The majority, 75% at least, were regular people who had very little martial arts training. He knew the class was not like him, yet he pushed them to those high standards.

This was admirable from the viewpoint of pushing people to high standards. The problem was, it did not seem to be working in the physical area. Many people did seem to learn the mental and verbal kinds of lessons. In my opinion, maybe 5% of the class was learning the physical lessons properly. I think if Dr G would have been more open to questions, all of the students in the class would have progressed more rapidly. I know I would have.

What made it even more difficult was that the older students quite naturally emulated Dr G's attitude. If they were asked a question, they would frequently respond, "figure it out". If they did deign to speak to you about something, the explanation was limited. If they did not feel you understood immediately, the conversation was ended.

I have been exposed to other teaching styles in my life. One of the teaching styles that appealed the most to me was an easy and open kind of teaching. Everyone was friends and everyone talked and laughed and joked. The exact opposite of the stern, quite, oppressive atmosphere of Dr G's group. In that kind of open and fun atmostphere, people might stand there and talk for 15 minutes trying to explain things to each other.

Writing that all down I am laughing. Dr G. would dismiss that kind of teaching as "hand holding". Maybe it was hand holding. But it worked. People were happy, they enjoyed each others company and they seemed to learn. I cannot compare the Ba Gua class directly to this other teaching style. Ba Gua is a combat or philosophical kind of art to learn. This other class, while philosophical, had nothing at all to do with combat, and actively repudiated it.

Dr G or anyone else could make the argument that the oppresive and controlling and stressful atmostphere was necessary to turn out people who could perform in combat with other people. Fighting is serious business would be there attitude. I have a hard time with this because I can honestly see maybe 4 people out of the 35 in the group who might ever get into actual combat. To make the class stressful and oppressive for all 35 people, when only 4 of them would benefit from that type of attitude was the wrong decision in my opinion.

To provide more insight into Dr G's behavior, if you said the above to him, he would say "I did it on purpose. I wanted to get rid of 31 people and keep the 4". He was really funny when he responded like that. Saying anything to avoid the thrust of an accusation or description of his behavior.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The new student and the conspiracy

The new student is part of a conspiracy. One I am not privy to.

The next weekend the new student arrives. Dr G. has accepted him as a student. We all talk to him and congratulate him. The usual class takes place with Dr G. talking, then the actual physical practice. The new student was placed with T, A and myself for practice.

I cannot tell you much of what took place for reasons that will soon be obvious. He came to class, practiced with us and spoke to us. I can say that I did not respect him too much. He was a soft kind of person. I think he might have practiced along the insincere lines of T and A. I can say that I felt nothing special towards him. That he was a friend or someone I wanted to know better.

Then came the conspiracy. I was not to know it was a conspiracy until years later.

After a month, 4 weekends of classes, the new man says that he wants to speak to us. We all look at each other wondering what is up. It sounds serious. He wants to include Dr G. in his speech. This really makes us wonder. I think I was working out and was called over as one of the last people. I think the situation was, the man spoke to Dr G to make his request, Dr G. told the senior students, then they told us.

I walked over to the group last. T, A, J, and L were clumped together in a group. Dr G was off to one side by himself to retain dominance distance. G was off to the other side of the goup of T, A, J and L. J's friend was directly opposite the group. When I walked up, I walked up next to G. Dr. G. then directed the man to go ahead with his speech.

The man said he did not think Ba Gua was for him. Then he looked at everyone. I couldn't believe my ears. I was literally dumbfound, stunned. I thought the rest of the class was also because no one said anything. Everyone was standing there silently. I was not paying much attention because I was so stunned.

Eventually what the man was saying sunk in. I could not believe what I was hearing. The man had passed the interview process and been accepted to the group. Dr G. was nothing short of a miraculous kung fu instructor. It was terribly hard to find a qualified Ba Gua instructor. To take an opportunity like that and voluntarily give it up was absolute lunacy in my opinon. I felt forced to say something. It wasn't until years later that I began to suspect my feeling of "being forced to say something".

I stepped forward and very plainly blurted out "You are saying you want to quit?".

He looked over at me and said "yes". Then G. says "Ya, I wasn't sure I heard what you said". Again, in my state of disbelief, I didn't pick up on the clues. G's statement was very heavy handed and......false sounding.

We all looked at each other in amazement. The man went on to detail that he did not think Ba Gua was for him. He felt he was better suited to the study of Tai Chi. He had a particular instructor all picked out. We asked him if he was certain. Oh yes, he was certain. There was no doubt. He had come by to notify us of his decision and that was it. We spoke a little more, then he turned his back and walked away.

I was in a state of shock. I had never seen anything so stupid and so foolish in my life. I thought the man was a fool. To not recognize the kind of man Dr G. was. To not recognize the opportunity. To be too weak to be able to deal with the class for whatever reason. Part of my rejection of him was that he offered no good reason for leaving. He just didn't think it was for him. I took it personal. As if he was implying there was something wrong with the class or Ba Gua.

After the man walked away, Dr G. called me over. This was a rare occurrence that filled me with trepidation. I went over and Dr G. asked me, "Why do you think it was that he quit?". I told him the only thing I could think of was that it was too hard. Nothing else made any sense. Dr G. pressed me for details. I said I thought it must be the strictness or the rigidity of the class that drove the man away.

By then I had been in class long enough to see that no one every challenged Dr G. He would not allow it. Any kind of challenge was immediatly derailed or misdirected. There was always a certain way to do things and a way not to do things. There was a way to measure up and a way not to measure up. For a class devoted to health and full of health professionals, it was set up to make people sick. All of the demands and expectations made the class very stressful to simple be in. Not even counting doing the physical exercises.

You must be asking yourself, where is the conspiracy? The man said he did not belong, we all acted surprised, the man walked away, never to be seen again. The conspiracy took me about 6 years to finally figure out.

It was all a setup. Everything from J bringing up that a friend of his wanted to join, thru the interview process, and thru the month's worth of classes he attended. It was all a setup to get rid of me.

Amazing huh? And me, being the kind of person I was, was too stupid to see what was going on. That is what saved me. I could not conceive that they would want to get rid of me, so I was blind to the conspiracy and all the clues.

The entire point of the exercise was the man's speech before he left. The man said Ba Gua was not for him, and that he was going to a different teacher more suited to him. This was meant as a lesson for me. That I too could leave the class and go find another instructor.

Then, when Dr G. was asking me why I thought the man left, Dr G. did not want my opinon. What he wanted to know was what I personally felt was objectionable about the class. Once he knew what I found objectionable, he could purposefully emphasize that part of the class to drive me away.

Crazy huh? Still makes my stomach hurt to think about it. That after a couple of months time, Dr G. had decided that he did not want me, he did not want to cure me, and he was willing to set up an entire operation in order to trick me into leaving.

I imagine the question most people would ask is, "If Dr G. didn't want you, why didn't he just tell you to get lost?". The answer is deep kung fu philosophy. He could never ask a student or order a student to leave. It was impossible. If he could trick the student into leaving, that was acceptable according to the philosophy.

The trap was not left to chance. Recall when I said that I felt compelled to ask the man "Are you saying you want to quit the class?". That was not a haphazard choice of words. I was compelled. Literally. That was part of the charade. Dr G. forced me to ask the man that question. The next part of the conspiracy was to force me believe that I did not belong in the class and that I should find a different instructor.

That part of the plan did not work. The reason it did not work is the reason I stayed a student of Dr G's for years. A reason I doubt I will ever explain to you. Whatever the reason is, it enabled me to resist being controlled and forced into performing actions I did not want to perform.

After the man walked away, we all went back to class. When class was over, I blithely walked away, totally ignorant that I had just participated in the first attempt by Dr. G and the group to get rid of me.

I am walking home thinking of how good the mantra of the group is. "This style of Ba Gua is family style. We all look out for each other and we all help each other. The family sticks together thru thick and thin".

With that refrain running thru my head, is it any wonder that I could not conceive of them wanting to get rid of me? I was part of the family. The family always stuck together, thru any troubles any individual member might have. From my point of view, what family ever gets rid of a member? Families do not throw out their sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, etc. Families deal with drunk uncle charlie as well as angelic niece jane. I know I had health problems and did not talk much, but I was part of the family. I was safe. They would never get rid of me.


A new students interview

J came to class one day and said he had a friend that was interested in joining. Everyone thought this was a good idea. The men's group was small, only 7 or 8 people. Extra people would be a good thing.

As with my entry to the group, J's friend was going to go thru the interview process. It did not matter that he was a friend of J's. The meeting was set up to be at J's apartment. J, myself, G, L, T and A were all there. We stood around talking and discussing what people would say to the man when he arrived.

The room was set up so that all of us faced J's friend. There was a small table between us for tea. The tea was an icebreaker kind of thing. It was hot tea in a pot with the traditional small japanese cups. Very sophisticated and Asian. ;)

J's friend arrived. I cannot recall his name. He was tallish and thin. I do not want to be rude but geekish might be appropriate. He wore thick black rimmed classes and had his hair cut short in an unfashionable way.

We introduced ourselves and then we all sat down. The purpose of the meeting was to sound the man out for suitabilty to join the group. J and/or L might have made a small speech about what our goals for the meeting were. J's friend was then invited to speak about himself so as to give us an idea of what kind of person he was.

This was the first one of these interviews I had been to. I did not like the adversarial nature nor the testing nature of the interviews. I listened to what the man had to say. I did not think much of it one way or the other. I felt that if he was J's friend, and J was willing to introduce him to us, that the man was a suitable candidate. There was no cause for the interview. The man would have to have been screaming epithets or something equally outrageous for me to reject him.

When he was done, the various men from the group then began to question him. I cannot tell you what any of the questions were. I think most of the other men felt as I did. That the interview process was a formality. That there was no reason to think the man would not be admitted to the group.

The questions ended shortly and the interview adjourned. We all said goodbye to him. Afterwards people remarked that he had not drank any of the tea. This was humorous because I was told that in all the interviews to date, not one of the interviewees had drank the tea. They asked my why I did not drink it. I was too nervous. I was concentrating on the interview. Who wanted a drink?

It was generally agreed that the man was acceptable to us. It was not our decisions really. Dr G. was the instructor who would be training the man. Dr G. was the one who made the decision whether or not the man would be joining or not. The interview process was to verify that the new students could get along with the long time students well enough so that the class could take place harmoniously.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Trouble Brewing

I want to emphasize that after a month or so, I had been slammed at a men's meeting, and I had been disappointed in Dr G. for forcing me to spar on my first day. Dr G. had noted that I was stiff, I apparently needed to be reminded repeatedly, I had a penchant for making faces and I was writing away while he spoke to us, apparently making him uncomfortable.

I did not recognize this, but the tide was turning. I had come into the class as an ill person who needed help. An acquaintance of a friend of Dr G's. My own attitude was one of desperation, hope and trust. After the incidents described above, I became reserved and untrusting. I can only guess that Dr G. felt I was not up to his standards as a student.

I know that at some point in time he mentioned to me that I might not be prepared for his class. I rejected this statement for a few reasons. I could not entertain any statment that might imply I would not have my health problems treated. Secondly, even if I was not very good at kung fu, I did have years of experience. As I said before, A, G, and T had absolutely no kung fu experience at all. There was no way I was going to feel guilty for not measuring up to some standard when 3 other students had no previous kung fu experience at all.

I began to notice that T's normal behavior was that of a cutup. It was obvious to me from the moment I met him that he did not really care for the kung fu. T was infatuated with Dr G. He came to the class mostly to be in Dr G's presence and to talk to him. T would not put any effort into his practice. We would have the group meeting with Dr G. speaking to us, then a seperate short meeting with the men only, then the kung fu. T was animated and interested in the talking. When it came time to practice, I would look over and see him standing there doing nothing, staring off into space.

A also did not seem dedicated or interested in the kung fu. A was not a cut up or a goof off. He did pay attention and he did practice. He did not stare off into space or look obviously bored or uninterested. A did not show any drive. A person that wants to learn kung fu always shows an honest drive to try and improve what they learn.

It was a problem in class that T, A and I were the new students. We would be put together to learn or practice something. T wanted to goof off. He wanted to joke and talk and laugh. A. was a sociable man and would also talk and make light. I was new and I wanted to fit in. I would do some share of talking and joking. I was a serious an driven person so eventually I would do my practice. I would walk away and leave T and A standing there talking.

This behavior was remarked upon by Dr G. and the other students. This bothered me because I did not want to be classed in with people who were not measuring up. When the other students were discussing the situation, there was no doubting the disapproval in their voices.

I should also mention that I did not talk directly to Dr G. very much. I had this notion in my head that the relationship between student and teacher was one where the student kept his mouth shut and did what the teacher said. I had learned at my previous kung fu school that speaking to the instructor for some reason always lead to trouble for me. If people do not talk, there is no reason for friction. The more people talk, the more chance there is for something to develop. Finally I was standing back from him because he put me up to spar that first day to test me.

This was a small thing in my opinion. There must have been 35 people in the group. I had been in many kung fu classes. Rarely did I ever speak directly to the instructor. It was always the higher students who did the interacting with the new students. From what was said later, I got the feeling Dr G. might have felt I was being standoffish or rude.


That is a rather dramatic post title isn't it? It is not true in the dictionary sense of the word. It describes my mental outlook after this event.

During one of the first few weekend meetings, I was being shown one of the forms. I had gone off on my own section of the practice space to practice. Dr G. came over to see how I was doing. He was exerting himself to be friendly and approachable to the new student.

I was in my pose, whatever it was. Dr G. told me that when performing this movement, I was supposed to pushing downwards. He then reached over and grabbed me and I suddenly felt a tremendous downward force coursing thru my body. It was so strong that I had to tense up and brace myself so that I did not collapse. The sensations was like nothing I had ever felt in my life. I was so shocked at what had happened I think I was probably a little fearful. Dr G. walked away while I tried to deal with the memory and implications of a 1 ton weight from seemingly nowhere pushing me into the ground.

From that point onwards, there was no doubt in my mind that Dr G. could cure me. I was enslaved to this man forever. I would not leave him for any reason because there was no doubt that he could correct whatever it was that was wrong with me.

Stiff as a board

One of the first things that Dr G. and the other students said to me at the weekend classes was that I was stiff. This did not surprise me as I had done part of it purposefully. The kung fu style I came from was a hard style that focused on making the limbs very hard. At the first few Ba Gua classes, they commented on how I moved stiffly. One of the students, L, even pointed out to me one of the areas that was stiff. He pinched the upper part of my arm between his fingers. I could feel how it was thick and fibrous feeling.

For Ba Gua, this was all wrong. Ba Gua was about flexibilty. I did not really believe in energy too much at this point in time. I believed in energy from the point of power. How much power could be developed for kung fu. Energy as something that flowed within the body the way water flows in a stream was not something I even thought about.

From the Ba Gua perspective, the body needed to be flexible and open. In this way, the natural energy from inside of the body could flow where it was needed. The Ba Gua forms were designed to channel this energy in one way or the other in order to achieve the desired goal. The reason they commented on my hardness was that energy could not flow thru me very well. The reason I reacted the way I did to energy was that instead of flowing thru me as it should, the energy would hit the hard areas of my body and get plugged up. The resulting pressure build up caused however I reacted physically. Making faces or whatever.

What I recall mostly from the day that L pinched my arm to demonstrate my hardness to me was a comment by Dr G. I must have been to a month or so of weekend meetings by this time. I was doing a form and was doing it my usual stiff way apparently. Dr G. said that I was too stiff and I needed to relax. Then he said "We are not going to nag you".

That bothered my alot. Mostly the tone of voice. As if it was an imposition to tell me I was too stiff. From my perspective, the instructors job was to correct the student. For the instructor to say "I am not going to nag you" sounded like he was saying he was not going to do his job.

Dr G. was an elitist. From his perspective, he was telling the student what to do. The student was then supposed to obey the instruction. Period. If the student did not understand the instruction, or did not act on the instruction, the student was worthless and the instruction would not be repeated. Dr G. never said anything about a student being worthless. That was not his style. I formed this impression because I could not think of another reason why he would walk away from a student who was their to learn.

I have described my hardness when first entering the Ba Gua class to introduce this next part.

I described in the previous post how I discovered that when people put energy on me, I would involuntarily make odd facial contortions. The extra energy would express itself in many ways. The usual nervousness that any person who has extra energy experiences. Tapping feet, shifting around, talking or laughing. Another way that I never realized for ages was writing.

I was told it was a good idea to bring along a notebook to the weekend meetings. Dr G would talk about various things that I might need to record. I was extremely serious and sincere in my desire to learn Ba Gua in order to ameleorate my health problems. Perhaps too serious.

I brought the notebook to the weekend classes as instructed and took notes. I found that I was stimulated to write down all kinds of things. Dr G. would talk for maybe an hour or maybe more sometimes. During that time I always found many things to record. I would scribble away furiously in the notebook. I frequently had 3 or 4 pages of notes. My hand would ache from writing so much.

I did not know it at the time, but part of the motivation for my furious scribbling was that I was receiving energy from being part of the group. The energy would get inside of me and get plugged up as described above. I had no outlet for it. I was sitting on the cold concrete listening to Dr G. I could not get up and move around or stretch more than moving a leg or arm. My reaction was to pick up the pencil and scribble furiosly in my notebook.

I did not find out till much later that this really bothered Dr G., and I think other members of the group. I was writing down the wisdom of a man who was going to fix my health. I am guessing when I say that Dr G. must have been nervous or leery of what I was writing down. I cannot guess why. I only know that later on in our relationship, he made pointed mention of my penchant for writing in the notebook. It was almost a rebuke.

Now I thank the stars that I wrote all of that stuff down. The material is still available to me after all these years. I wonder how many other group members who did nothing but sit there and daydream during Dr G's talks now wish they had listened, or had recourse to some written records of what was said.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Slammed Again!

The next memorable event was another contribution to my lack of trust after having to spar with JA and getting slammed the first time. The event happened at one of the next weekend classes.

Practice had gone on for however long. It was about time to leave. Dr G got us together to tell us something or other. Everyone gathered together in a group. Looking back, it was funny. The long time guys all in front, then the big guys, then the new guys in the back. The sense of a male pecking order played out so obviously droll? I think is the word. So obvious and predictable. As the last person to join class, I was in back of the group. I was kind of standing tall and craning forward so I could see over the other guys.

Dr G is telling us this and that, whatever it was for a few minutes. Then he says loudly and forcefully "Something something STOP MAKING FACES AT ME". Then one of those movie or commercial moments happens. Time seems to slow down and I can feel everyone's attention on me. No one looks, they are all in front of me. Dr G's attention was on me so obviously that everyone knew exactly who he was talking to.

As part of my health problems, and part of my kung fu training, I was hard as a rock and tense. When I was in normal everyday situation, this hardness would exhibit itself by a twitching kind of behavior. I could not be still and I was easy to move. Because I was so stressed, I needed to move all the time. Because I was alwasy on the verge of moving of my own accord, another person could move me with only a small push.

The hardness and tightness extended thruout my body. I was like a board from my feet to my head. We had just finished with our workout for the class so I was more tense and tight than usual.

When Dr G said "stop making faces at me", I had no idea what he was talking about. I thought he was acting erratically. When I felt the groups attention focus on me, I wondered what was wrong. When I realized that Dr G was staring at me, it dawned on me that he was telling me to stop making faces at him. I was embarrassed. I felt like he was attacking me for no reason. I didn't understand what was happening.

Everybody got silent for a second or so. Then Dr G continued on with what he was saying.

What I did not realize until much later were 2 things. Without realizing it, I did indeed make faces when I was tense or stressed out. My face and head were so tight that I would wrinkle my face to try to get relief from the stress. Other people did not know my motivations. They would see me wrinkle my face for apparently no reason at all. This must have seemed strange. It must have been so odd that Dr G was forced to remark on it. This surprised me. I thought of Dr G as a strong as rock kung fu man. To think that a sick guy making unintentional faces, me, could push him into a public rebuke was disappointing.

The second thing I did not realize was that Dr G was putting energy on us. The reason that I was making the faces was that Dr G's energy was hitting my body. I could not take it because I was so stressed and tight. My body reacted by making faces to get rid of the extra energy.

I did not understand this phenomenon until years later. It was going to be the source of a lot of embarrassment and difficulty for me in the class as time went on. It was also going to be the source of anger and disillusionment. When I finally figured out years later what was going on, my first thought was "Dr G is the kung fu instructor. If I just figured this out, he must have known all along what was going on. Why didn't he explain it to me? Why did the troublesome events in our relationship occur if he knew that I was involuntarily reacting to his energy? How could I be held accountable for the actions of my body that acted of it's own accord?"

The gang

When I joined up with the class, there were maybe 8 men in it. 5 of them had been there for some time. 2 of them were recent joiners and then there was me. The kung fu skill level ran the entire spectrum from good to not very good at all.

I will give them intials as identification.

The most skilled student was a chinese man. J had much previous kung fu training of many types. J was quite skilled. J was also training to be a Dr of Chinese Medicine. J was a reticent person, stereotypically Asian. J was about 5' 7 or 8" tall, seeming very small compared to the other men. J even had the stereotypical large glasses associated with Asian people. J was a friendly and good person. J had a good heart though he had troubles with people because of his reticence.

The next most skilled man was a white person. L too had trained in many types of kung fu for years. I feel it is necessary to emphasize the difference in skill levels. In my experience with kung fu, there is no comparison at all between Asian people and white or black or any non Asian people. J was very very good. L was good for a white man. He was not even in the same class as the Chinese man. Both men were young, maybe mid 20's.

L was quite a character. L was prideful about his kung fu, strong willed to the point of obnoxiousness. The problem was that while L was better than everyone else, L was not nearly as good as he thought. Where J was fluid and graceful, L was stiff and jerky. L was a good man. L grew up poor in the country. He had that country folk kind of friendliness. L would help anyone, L was tolerant, good natured. His fault was probably his stubborness.

The next man was a younger white man in his early 20's. He too was studying to be a Dr of Chinese Medicine. He was more of a quiet type of person. He was independent and slightly standoffish. He had practiced kung fu for some years and had reached a reasonable level of skill. He was not the kind of person you would approach for help. I recall feeling that he had an attitude of "Why are you bothering me?".

G was an older man, probably mid 30's. G was a large man, over 6 feet tall and 220 or larger. He played Australian rules football I think it was. G was in good shape with a large chest you might see on a weightlifter. G was a very good natured man. I think it was because he had children. G was a frienly guy with a smile on his face all of the time. G was attractive because he had a hang dog kind of look on his face. The kind of dog that makes you want to pet it. It was humorous because G was also a slow person. G talked slow and thought slow, as I imagine a hounddog or a St Bernard acting in a kids cartoon. G had never taken any kind of kung fu until he had started with Dr G. It showed. G was stiff like a board. His movements were huge and windmilling because of his lack of flexibility.

Next was JA. JA was the sadist I mentioned having to spar with on my first day in class. He was a tall british man, complete with accent. JA was.....a handful. He was aggressive, sadistic, uncaring and different. I feel guilty using such harsh words for him. He was not a bad man at all. I think I characterize him this was because even his small bad habits seemed enormous when contrasted to the goodness of most of the other people. JA was an argumentative person who would question Dr G aggressively. That is the basis for my characterization. If there was ever any tension in the group, it would be between Dr G and JA.

JA was another man who thought he was quite good at kung fu. He was even more delude than L was. JA was strong enough that he could satisfy his sadistic streak. He had the wiry kind of strength like wires inside of the limbs. His posture was terrible when he fought. He was wide open to anything and everything. He would not listen either. I remember thinking I was not very good at kung fu and I could tell he was not very good at all. At the same time I think that, Dr G. tells him "You are wide open JA". JA kept right on with what he was doing and did not adjust himself at all. Contrary that man was. ;)

That makes 4 of the long time students. I think that is right.

A was a younger man in his early 20's. He had the demeanor of an older man. I think it was because he grew up close to his father and still lived at home. He had an old mans way of speaking in a slow and measured, serious manner. He was reserved but good natured. He was not happy, but he was not sour. He was interesting in a strange kind of way. I can't really put my finger on why. He was sort of like a country person who does not talk much. It is hard to know who they really are. What you do know of them seems good so you tend to like them. A hand not had any kind of kung fu training before joining Dr G. I did not think he was serious. He would practice what he was supposed to. He had no heart, no zeal, no drive to learn. He treated the class like it might be tennis, an exercise class or hobby he wanted to attain skill in.

T was a young man in his late teens. He was a loud man who was probably 6 1 or 6 2. He had never had kung fu lessons either. He was irrepressible. The kind of person who is the cut up or "problem" in every group. He was like the young brother that everyone lets get away with murder. He was a talkative and likable kind of guy. He had initially come to the class because of his personality. Dr G was teaching at a school somewhere that T was a pupil at. They got to talking and T's personality gave Dr G enjoyment so Dr G told him about the class. I felt that T thought the class was kind of a game. He did not care that much for kung fu. He was more interested in Dr G and being part of the class than in actually practicing kung fu. He was a kid who was flighty and did not focus well I thought.

Then there was me. I was an older white guy who had been practicing kung fu for years. I was not any good. I had never had a real kung fu teacher. I did not know that of course. I thought my instructors were good and that I had some skill. The only skill I really had was that, by practing for so long, I was more in touch with my body than the other men. I could make it respond in the class better than the other lower students. I had quite an attitude when I joined. I felt that the men with no previous kung fu training were below me, worthless. I had no respect for them because I felt they were too lackadaisical in their devotion to kung fu.

I had poor physical health and I was extremely stiff. Stiff as a board, hard as a rock. To me, this was progress, something to be proud of. I had trained in an external kung fu style that empasized a hard kind of strength to the body. In the Ba Gua class, this was terrible. I had done everything wrong. Of course I could not watch myself do the forms. I imagine I must have looked as stiff and jerky as G, the Australian rules football player.

I had trouble being friendly. If I was ok health wise, then I would have no troubles with social interaction. If I was feeling bad, I would push anyone and everyone away.

I think that is everyone at the time I joined.

Friday, November 04, 2005


I previously related how at the first meeting where I meet everyone, I was told there were weekend kung fu meetings, plus a meeting of only the men during the weekend. The women also had their own weekly meeting. Before the first weekend kung fu practice, there was a meeting of the men that I attended.

This meeting was held at one of the men's homes. It was an apartment actually. The man in question was about 20 or so. There were about 4 or 5 other people. I would say their ages were all in the 20's except for one man who might have been in his 30's.

Another fact I may or may not have emphasized. I said that Yumiko, the women who had introduced me to Dr G., was an doctor herself. A few of the other people were doctors in trainging, including 3 of the men. The man whose apartment the meeting was at was one of these doctors in training.

I emphasize this because to me these were all upper level people. Upper class, some money, educated, and in my expectations, well behaved, classy, polite adults.

I arrived at the apartment and met everyone. It was a nice upscale kind of place. We sat around not doing much of anything waiting for other people to arrive. Eventually the other 4 men arrived. We probably sat around some doing some small talk. I do not recall. Then we went outside to practice.

At this point in my life, I had been taking kung fu classes for years. I was no hot shot. What had happened was that I was continually searching for teachers that were good, and would actually teach what they knew. Up until this time, I had never met any teachers whom I truly respected or learned from until I met the man who was responsible for my illness.

I was a driven person. I wanted to learn kung fu more than anything. I loved old time chinese movies with their choreographed fights. I did not want to learn to beat people up so much as I wanted to learn the timing and skill necessary to perform those choreographed fights. I wanted the body training that kung fu gave to good fighters. The almost gymnast type qualities that many of them displayed.

Over the years in these various schools, I had developed an arrogant attitude. Because of my drive, I would attend many classes and in my opinon, work harder than most people. I had been in enough schools that I had gained the experience to decide who was going to be a person truly interested in kung fu, and who was a person who was going to stay for a month and leave.

When I met people whom I did not believe were serious, I mostly ignored them. I am the kind of person who does not really care what others do. I feel they should have the same attitude with me. If I was exposed to people who I thought were not serious or goof offs, I would walk away, ignore them, and do my kung fu training.

We went outside and found some flat concrete to practice on. We did the 8 warm up exercises first. Then the Tai Chi 108 form. Then I think that the men might have done their Ba Gua forms while I watched. I think I had learned the first form at the weekend class. I might have followed that far, then stopped as they continued with the remaining forms.

After that, everyone gathered together to rest a bit. I did not like this. One of the aspects of the training that had made me sick was to always be pushing. It was the attitude of "if you want it, you will train as hard as you can". For me, to do the warm ups, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, then stand their talking was old folks training. I wasn't even tired or worked up yet.

This was a wrongheaded attitude. I did not understand that till much later.

The men all stood around making small talk. I am standing there, uncomfortable because these people are all strangers to me. Anxious because of my health problems. Unhappy because I feel like I am wasting time. I came to practice kung fu. Not talk like an old women.

At some point I could not take the stress anymore. I said I was going to practice and walked away. Looking back, I can see that caused some raised eyebrows. It was plainly obvious that I was rejecting them. At the time, I did not think in terms of group dynamics or interpersonal relationships. I was there to train kung fu and nothing else mattered. Standing around gossiping so people felt good around each other? What a waste of time! That was for pansies and women!

I stepped off by myself and practiced the basic warm ups and the one form by myself. I practiced so much and so determinedly that I think the other men eventually felt shamed by my drive and they began to practice some more. This meeting was on a weekend night. After work and school for everyone. I wonder now whether the meeting was set up as another way for me to become familiar with people instead of as a physical practice session. That would explain the "lackadaisical" attitude of the other men. Their purpose in coming was to sit around talking until we all felt comfortable. Not to practice like young kids who had done nothing all day long and were full of energy.

The meeting was short because of the weeknight. And probably because of my standoffishness. The men might have practiced a little bit more after I went off by myself. Then everyone called it a night.

I had taken the bus over to the meeting. I did not have a car. The man whose apartment the meeting was at offered to give me a ride home. I said no, absolutely not. I lived probably 10 or 15 miles away. There was no reason for this man to leave his home and drive me that far. We hardly knew each other. He needed to get to bed so he could get up for work and school tomorrow. Driving me all that way was too much effort on his part for a total stranger he did not know.

He insisted on driving me. I did not really see it, but this was part of the effort to make me feel comfortable and part of the group. To show me that they were real people and friends, not just fellow classmates and sometimes opponents. There was quite a battle as I insisted I did not need a ride and he insisted on driving me. Of course the other men are spectating all of this.

Besides the impostion on this man, I was just as concerned about being in a car with him for 15 miles of traffic. I barely knew him. I had the trouble with anxiety I mention. The man had a small mini type car. Sitting in that small car with a total stranger was an awful thing to contemplate. Nevertheless, with the other men looking on and the man in question pushing, I relented and accepted his offer.

As I said, this man was in his 20's. Very early 20's, possibly 21 or 22. He was training to become a doctor of acupuncture. He had been traing kung fu for some time. I found out later that he was fortunate enough to have learned from some good instructors, plus he had some natural talent.

Between his professional training and goals, and his kung fu training and goals, he was a self confident person. He knew who he was, what he wanted, and where he was going. In contrast, I did not know who I was. I was weak and sick, I wondered constantly if I was going to die at any minute. Those constant thoughts of death altered my world view so that I felt I had no real future. I worked for the future, but I had no faith I would ever see it.

Those two totally opposite attitudes surfaced during the drive home. He sat upright in his seat, straight and looking ahead as he drove. I was kind of sunken down in my seat, with bad posture. A person looking into the car would see a strong looking man driving and a weak looking man in the passenger seat. The difference between us was that obvious.

We made some small talk during the drive. He described some of his doctor training. We talked about medicine in general. I asked if he thought western medicine was any good or not. He said he did. After he gained his degree in Acupuncture, he planned to take some type of western medical training also. I talked about how I had lost faith in western medicine because they had been unable to help me. How that had driven me to Acupuncture and eventually to meeting Dr G. and this group.

We then began to talk some about kung fu. He talked about the classes he had taken, then I talked about my history. I might have talked about how I felt I had never had skilled teachers, or that I did not believe myself that I was truly skilled. This was a mistake on my part. This man was really a young kid, 21 or so. At that age, kids are about being tough and "kicking ass".

In previous conversation with Dr G., one of the strongest things he had mentioned to me was honesty. He had pressed me that if he was to help me, I had to be honest and truthful. I had to trust him and the other people. I let him know about my anxiety and suspicion issues. He said I had to overcome that. I had to be honest if I truly wanted to regain my health. The admonishments of Dr G. were what had caused me to say that I did not feel I was truly skilled.

At the age of 21 or so, most kids are about bragging. Who can beat up who? Who is toughest? What kinds of people could you beat up? What was the best kung fu? All of that competitive instinct that young men possess.

When I said that I did not feel that I was that skilled, I could feel the sneer of derision cross his face. I could practically hear him thinking "This guy is a worthless coward". This was very hard to take. I did not even want to be in the car with this total stranger. We are making small talk, and this man is sneering at me and thinking derogatory thoughts about me. What can I do? If I start a scene, what if it was so bad that they said I had to leave? I need Dr G. to cure my health problems. If I got in a fight with this guy and was kicked out, I would be out of luck. I sat there and held my tongue.

The man sits there emanating his attitude of disgust. Then he says to me, "Do you think you can protect yourself with your kung fu"? I could literally see Dr G. in my head telling me "You have to be honest or we cannot help you. We are your friends". So I swallowed and I said "No. I don't believe I can protect myself".

The man slammed me! I was beyond belief!

Slamming is when one person hits you with their energy. In this case, the man's energy was disrespect and disgust. He thought I was a "pussy", if you will pardon my language. He felt I was worthless because in his young kid eyes, no man would ever admit he could not protect himself.

I was being honest as I was asked to do. I knew that because of what had happened to me health wise, If I was under pressure to be in a fight, instead of the pressure making me stronger so I could fight, the pressure would go straight to my heart. If I was to get in a fight, there was more of a chance of me dropping dead from a self induced heart attack than of me doing some damage to my opponent.

I was sick. I had gone against every instinct inside of me warning me to shut up. I had throttled that little voice inside of me because Dr G had said I had to trust them if I wanted to be cured. I had acted according to Dr G.'s instruction, and here is this educated doctor type, who is supposed to have bedside manner, slamming me so hard that I literally felt like I was punched in the face.

If you do not know what slamming is, or have never been slammed, it might be hard to understand why I was so affected. If a person has strong energy, getting slammed can be just like taking a punch in the stomach. Literally. Between his strength as a self assured person, and my extreme sensitivity because of my illness, I felt like a 6 ft tall 250 lb man had just beaten me silly.

We were close to my house at this point. Maybe a few minutes. What could I say? I had been honest and trusted this man. He slammed me and made it evident he had no respect for me at all. I am in shock because it is a doctor putting that negative attitude on me.

I think he might have said some things about him being able to protect himself. The kinds of things that are said by young men as braggodocio. Mostly to convince themselves of their own bravado and toughness. We reached my house and he dropped me off.

Looking back, I wonder of the ferocity of his reaction was driven by his own self doubt. In his young man's world, doubt was never expressed. It was the world of "I can kick anybody's ass". When I said that I had doubts, I wonder if they might have undermined his confidence in himself. He reacted ferociously with me, but his target was his own self doubt in his ability.

This incident, where I trusted Dr G and was honest in spite of my every instinct, then was hurt, plus the incident at the first kung fu weekend meeting where I trusted Dr G., then he had me spar with the sadist to test me, changed my attitude completely.

When I first met Dr G., I was full of hope. I trusted Yumiko implicitly. With my life. She was that good. Yumiko in turn, was in awe of Dr G. To my way of thinking, that meant he was some type of God if Yumiko thought he was so good. I knew I was going to get my health back and Dr G. was going to be the man to do it.

After these two events, my trust was broken. It was such a fragile thing in the first place. It took every bit of will power I had to disregard my suspicious nature and trust these people. I would continue to meet with Dr G. and the class. I vowed to never ever open myself up to them or to unhesitatingly trusting them again. I had given them their chance and for my troubles, I received physical and mental abuse.

From that point onwards, basically 1 or 2 weeks into the relationship, I never fully trusted Dr G or any of the other men again. This was to be the seed of years of heartache.

Dr G and the others felt as if I was a distant and hiding person. I felt that if I was to open myself to them, they would only hurt. As they had demonstrated as soon as they could within my first 3 meetings with them.

A natural question is, if I felt so badly, why didn't I leave? I couldn't. I knew I was dying. Yumiko had been unable to help me after seeing her for 9 months or a year. She was certain that Dr G could help me. If I had decided to get an attitude and leave the class because they hurt me, to my way of thinking, I was committing suicide. I had looked for literally 2 years for someone to help me with my health problems. I felt on the verge of death. No way was I going to walk away from the person that could fix me, even if they were hurtful and untrustworthy.