Friday, January 27, 2006

U need this lesson

This blog is a personal memory repository mostly. There are not any secrets of Ba Gua or super fighting secrets in it. Nor will their be. The blog should stay the way it is. Recounting my experiences in the class.

That is not to say there is nothing to be gained by reading this blog. When you have been in martial arts for awhile, you will learn that the actual fighting is a small part of kung fu. Martial arts is only for making your body strong. Once that takes place, the real kung fu begins. You take what you have learned and apply it to the mental arena of life.

All kung fu moves have their equivalents in the verbal, mental and body language arena. A verbal discussion is just as intense as any real kung fu battle.

This is where this blog might be of use. A clever person will read the accounts of the characterizations of the men involved and their actions. They will use those accounts as insight into the people in their own life around them. They will learn some of what power games and manipulating other people are all about.

For the people who are not clever, I am getting soft in my old age. It is my opinion that people are being purposefully turned into unthinking and lazy animals. The people of today are not like the people I met when I was young. People today have no curiosity, no patience, no belief, no respect.

This is not just the judgement of a crotchety old guy. This has a real impact on my life. In the old days, the ways of teaching were developed with a certain type of student in mind. A student who was respectful, would listen, was inquisitive, bright, clever, patient, willing to study, able to make logical or reasoning jumps, insightful, tolerant etc.

Those methods do not work today. Trying to teach an impatient rude person with a method designed for a quiet attentive person is folly. It only leads to frustration and ill health.

Because I am getting soft in my old age, sometimes I will just plain spell things out for the people who are too lazy to, or unable to read between the lines. This is one of those things.

A favored tactic of elevated people to get rid of someone they do not like is to manipulate them until they become angry and leave of their own accord.

It is the nature of elevated people that they do not wish to be outright rude to people. They would avoid at all costs saying to someone "Go away, I don't like you". There are many reasons for this. One of which is that it hurts the elevated person to be negative in that way.

What the elevated person will do instead, is find something that angers the person they want to be rid of. They will then purposefully make comments designed to elicit the person's anger. When the person get's angry, they can easily be pushed into leaving.

For instance. Let's say a person liked bannanas. Let's say an elevated person is teaching a group of men and women. The man who likes bannana is interested in one of the women. That is bad for him because the elevated person has an interest in the woman too. The elevated man can not drive off his rival. He will not say "Go away and leave the group. You are unwelcome here". It goes against his nature to say that.

So what the elevated person will do is say something like "People who like bannanas are losers". The man who likes bannanas is likely to take umbrage at this. Once he becomes angry or unhappy, it is much easier to manipulate him into saying "You are a jerk, I am leaving the group".

Exactly what the elevated person wanted all along.

If you have experience with evil people or women, this probably does not seem like much of a lesson. It must seem obvious.

If you are an innocent, naive or trusting person, this lesson should open your eyes wide. Why?

Being a kung fu man means being alert all the time. Every minute of every day. Every single word uttered by every single person you encounter must be analyzed for hidden meaning like the hidden meaning behind saying "bannana likers are losers".

You must analyze every single event in your life. Nothing happens according to chance. Every action of every moment of your day happens for a reason. To teach you something or to show you something.

You have a choice. You can be a blind person. Only listening to exactly what people say, or knowing exactly the meanings of the words spoken to you. Or you can be a kung fu man who looks behind the words to what the person is really trying to say.

Words are lies. Unintentional or otherwise. When you reach some point in martial arts, you never even listen to people anymore. All you do is watch their body and feel their emotions and energy. You don't need anything else to know the people completely. What they will do, what they think, and how they will react in any given situation are clearly revealed by their body language, their emotions and their energy.

Words are a diversion to make you look the other way so they can stab you in the back or punch you in the face.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


This is a continuation of the previous post.

Here I am with a bad attitude. Ashamed, loss of respect, embarrassed, not happy at all about the way the push hands turned out. Not happy that Peter saw what happened and included himself in with the other skilled people, even though he could not do kung fu at all.

After the push hands, we were going to do some sensitivity trainging. This was almost exactly like Chi Sao from Wing Chun. Two people placing their hands on each other, then putting pressure and trying to handle the reactions.

As I said, I was encouraged by my previous instructor to put a lot of pressure on my opponent. I had also been taught to make my hands springy so that whatever happened, if there was an opening, I hit the guy in the face.

It had to be Karma. There can be no other reason. Or maybe because Mike felt we both equally sucked. I was paired up with Peter to do the drills. I felt like now was my chance to earn respect. I could show Peter I did know what I was doing. The push hands drill was an anomaly.

We placed our arms on each other and started the drill. I don't recall if we rolled arms or not. I was placing my usual pressure on my opponent with my arms. I could tell I could plough right thru Peter without trouble. Because I had some pride, I pressed on his arms very strongly to prove to both of us that I was better than he was.

Peter's arm slipped out of position from the pressure. Just like I was trained to do, I hit him in the face. ;)

Not really though. Not hard like a fist or something. It was an open handed hit. His arms faltered under my pressure. Without thinking about it, my arm jumped out and smacked him in the face. I think I hit him on the upper lip. It might have been hard enough to draw blood.

We were not supposed to be hitting each other.

It was an accident from my perspective. I take responsibility for pushing on him hard and hitting him. I overestimated his ability to defend himself. I fully expected him to stop my hand before I hit him in the face.

I was shocked when I hit him because I knew I had done something wrong. Literally shocked. I stepped back about a foot and my jaw dropped. I did not know these people that well. There had never been any real violence in class. I also stepped back because I did not know if Peter would lose his cool and attack me.

He stood there and played with his lip. I think it was bleeding. Everyone else turned around to see what had happened. It is hard to understand. It felt like this big eye turned and looked at me. The big eye was all the eyes of the other people. It felt like one big aggregate eye looking at me. And there was no doubt of the censure in the look. They felt I was wrong for hitting Peter.

This frightened me. I was in the class becuase these people were my superiors. I held no illusions that I could out fight any of them. When they put that attitude of censure on me, I turned and headed straight for the gate in the tennis court. I went all the way to the gate, then stopped and turned around to watch them.

I seriously thought that they might run after me to start a fight. I was seriously ready to run like hell if that happened. I had never seen anyone be really violent so I had no idea how the would react.

They all hovered around Peter and looked at him. When it became apparent no one was going to be violent, I slowly walked back onto the court. I went over to the fence and sat down on the ground. Sitting on the ground and making myself small as a way of looking non threatening.

I had a look on my face though. I still did not trust a one of them. I was still ready to start running the second anyone made a hard move at me.

They all milled around for a bit in the center of the court. Then Mike turns and looks at me and says "ARE YOU ALL RIGHT". It felt just like a shout. It was probably a slam now that I think about it. I was so emotional with ready flight response and everything else I did not even recognized the slam.

I said I was fine and stood up. I took his question to mean that everything was all right and no one was angry. Then the bullshit started.

I say bullshit because I hate deception. It makes me sick. I would rather people just be honest and get things over with.

Suddenly it is my turn to be paired with Jeff. The entire point was to put me in my place. That was unnecessary. I did not need to be shown they could beat me. I knew it. Hitting Peter was an accident. Not an act of aggression I needed to be warned would be punished if it happened again.

I went limp. We were supposed to do drills and I refused to do them. I knew Jeff was supposed to teach me a lesson. Why should I play along? I felt it was demeaning. Why not just look me in the face and say "don't do that again"? I think they must have believed I was going to be aggressive with Jeff. Then he could legitimately punch me and put me in my place.

When it was obvious I would not play with Jeff, then it was Lonnie's turn. I knew he was going to try to do something to me so I played limp again. We started to do the drills and Lonnie clamped both of my wrists. It was not part of the drill. I did not know what to do so I stood there.

What was happening was Lonnie was challenging me. Because they all thought I was being aggressive and needed a lesson, Lonnie was presenting a challenge he thought I would get agressive about and resist. He was wrong in his assumptions about my motivations. I just stood there and looked at him.

I seriously think he expected me to begin to struggle like a fish with a hook caught in it's mouth. From my point of view, he had both my hands, sure. So what? What could he do now? He can't hit me because both of his hands are holding mine. He couldn't kick me either.

Part of the Tai Chi training is the ability to "Lock yourself to the ground". Lonnie was very proud of his ability to do this. When he grabbed my wrists, he locked himself to the ground. He was preparing to hold on to me because he thought I was going to flail and struggle. Because his feet were locked to the ground, I knew he could not use them to kick me.

We basically just stood there looking at each other. After a few minutes with me just standing there, we stopped. I suppose they decided the lesson had been taught to me.

Falling into the whirlpool

At some point along the way, it was mentioned that there was a school playground near Mike's house in the rich town. For some reason or the other, there would occasionally be something going on there. Since many of the class lived in the rich town, it was more convenient for them.

One day we went to the school playground. I am not certain why. It may have been because the women had their own thing going on that day. I do know that the men were there by themselves. We might have decided to meet there as a convenience for Mike.

There was a playground with basketball courts. A small enclosed area for tennis. The school was a chids school. For the up to 8th grade level or so. It was a nice school because it was in the rich town.

We went over to the area that was enclosed for tennis. Some people were playing basketball and using the rest of the playground. We did our warmups and forms. The usual stuff.

Since the women were not around, Mike wanted to do something different. He wanted to do some Tai Chi drills. I have said that we practiced Tai Chi and Ba Gua both. We hardly ever did anything Tai Chi oriented. Just the long form as part of the open class and that was it. Looking back, I think Mike was hiding the Tai Chi. He felt it was special so he was keeping it to himself.

That is a striking comment because he spent all his time talking about how Ba Gua was the greatest. If it was better than Tai Chi, why was he hiding the Tai Chi? From hindsight, it was about money. His Tai Chi style is widely known. People teach it everywhere. How could he charge top dollar for lessons?

The Yin Fu Ba Gua though was exceedingly rare. Ba Gua period is a rare style to find properly taught. By focusing on Ba Gua, he knew he would always have students. That is my take on things now.

Mike wanted to do some push hands drills. I found this exciting because to me,this was real martial arts. The forms were necessary of course. I understood that. The applications of the art and the actual training were the meat and potatos.

He practiced with Lonnie or Jeff first. Jeff of course knew the Tai Chi and could do it no problem. Lonnie really wanted the Tai Chi. I think that Jeff worked with him alone on it. I wonder now if Lonnie wanted the Tai Chi because he saw like I did that underneath, where Mike was honest, Mike thought the Tai Chi was better. Lonnie is the kind of guy who would want the best. If he could sense Mike thought Tai Chi was better, Lonnie would want the Tai Chi.

Then came my turn. It was a farce. Really embarrassing. I knew push hands drills. I had done something similar in Wing Chun with Chi Sao drills. I was the finally going to get my chance to gain respect. Except for one small problem. My health.

I was still filled with anxiety. The idea of actually touching hands with Mike and doing the drills made me nervous. That plus everyone hanging around made me kind of lightheaded.

We began to do the push hand drills and right away I felt a dizzy kind of sensation. Part of the wrong training I had recieved that made me sick was to encourage me to push on people. This is exactly what you DO NOT want to do in Chi Sao or push hands. You want a very light touch just so you can contact people.

My health problems always showed themselves during something like Chi Sao or push hands. I didn't know it but the guy that made me sick set it up like that. If you put your energy on someone who knows kung fu, they will suck that energy right out of you. The can literally suck the energy out of you so much you can die. This will make no sense to an untrained person. They cannot envision how this can happen. It can and it does. It is part of kung fu.

I tried to push on Mike like I did in my Chi Sao. Because mike was an expert, he just sucked the power out of me. I got light headed and kind of dizzy. I had real trouble holding my balance because I was also unbalanced as part of being sick. I felt like I was being sucked down into a whirlpool. The circular motions of the pushhands were pulling me in.

The push hands lasted about 2 minutes. I was literally going to pitch forward onto my face because the circular motion was pulling me in so hard. Or I was pushing myself into so hard. Depends on your perspective.

I was really unhappy. There was my chance to prove I was good at kung fu, and I almost fall down on my face. The push hands has to be stopped because I cannot handle the energy.

To top it off, Peter was there and this was one of the first few classes he attended. I felt about 3 inches tall. I was really embarrassed by the whole situation. I resented Peter because he had witnessed the debacle. He shared the knowing looks with the other guys that I could not take it.

It did not matter that Peter could not do the push hands. He was not expected to. He had no kung fu training. But he still shared the knowing looks with the other guys that I could not handle the exercise.

New Blood - Prologue

I knew I was going to forget something. All the talk of new blood and the buildup to it was as I wrote before. With one slight difference.

I forgot Peter!

After all the talk of new blood, Peter joined the group first. Before Brad did. The reason I remembered this is that in the previous post I talked about how I resented being left out of the interview for Brad, even though I understood the rationale.

It wasn't so much Mike saying I would not participate or being left out of the interview I resented. I resented that Peter was going to the interview. He had been a member of a month or two only. For me not to go to the interview while he went knocked my status way down in everyone's eyes.

Peter was a lawyer. I can't really say how he joined. I think he might have been a walkup. We practiced on an open piece of concrete in the park. People walked by for the entire 2 or 3 hours we were there. I think I do recall Peter stopping to watch, then speaking to Mike.

That is interesting when I think about it. All the big deals about interviews etc. Then to think about Mike talking to some passers by and that person eventually joining the group. Now, I think it was probably because Peter was a lawyer. Mike wanted people who were professionals or rich to be part of his clique. Mike had a real power trip going on. A set plan he was following unrelentingly.

I talked about all the money he made from the group and his psychology practice. He lived in an area where all the rich people live. If you have been around, you know that if you want money, you need to be around money. After awhile the rich people will accept you and you gain contact to the world of the rich. That is what Mike's plan was.

As I said, there were a few doctors in the class. I cannot say what the women were. Their isolation from the men was previously discussed. I can say that many of the students were all from the same rich area that Mike lived in. When I think about stuff like this, it is amusing. I really was the poor body, other side of the tracks student. I had enough money to pay Mike every month and that was about it. I was not a doctor, did not come from a rich family and I was not a college graduate. ;)

Anyways. I think Peter went in for a talk with Mike. Mike decided he liked him and suggested him as a group member. Of course that meant he was joining. The interview process was nothing but a formality.

I didn't really like Peter that much. He was a nice guy. He was friendly. I didn't like him because I did not respect him. He had no martial arts training at all and very little physical training of any kind. For Mike to have given me trouble about how I was not ready for his class, then accept Steve who had no martial arts training, then accept Peter, who had no martial arts training, really gave me a sour attitude towards Mike.

After being so ignorant of their first two attempts to get rid of me, by the time of Peter's joining the class, I was beginning to feel ignored or unwanted. Even being as dumb as I was. ;)

That gave me a bad attitude which was not the thing to do. It made me more quiet and more determined to not provide any excuse for them to say things to me. I also secretly resolved that nothing they would do would drive me away. I didn't care how rude it was. The only way I would ever leave was if they stood right in my face and asked me to go.

Peter was short with curly hair. He looked like a kid. Thinking about him right now I feel arrogant towards him. The arrogance is misplaced. I doubt if he was as bad as I thought and I doubt if I am as good as I think. Still, at the time, I felt like I could stomp on him.

He was another person like Steve who played the crowd or manipulated people. Same as Mike and Jeff really. Probably because he was a lawyer, he could read people. Within a class or two, Peter had picked up on the vibe in the group about me. I was a person with health problems. I had anxiety which made it difficult for me to be around with people. I was a person who did not really deserve respect.

Peter picked up on this and began taking the same attitude with me. I did not mind it from the others. I had resigned myself to accepting this when I joined the class. I judged the people in the class and decided I could live with them not respecting me.

For Peter, a guy who looked like a kid, with no martial arts experience at all, to come in as a new person and after 2 or 3 classes start treating me like that, it was too much. I didn't like Peter and I never really did like Peter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Blood Part 2

After the initial discussion of Brad being a possible candidate for the class, the idea began to solidify. In spite of the doubts, there was a consensus that the group needed a new member. Brad was the only person available to fit the bill. There were doubts and reservations about his suitability. In the end, that made no difference. It was decided that they would go ahead and ask Brad to join.

Jeff was going to extend the invitation. As usual, there would be the interview meeting to ask the questions and play the games. At this point of the discussion, the details of the interview were brought up.

As I have said, I was full of anxiety, nervousness and impacience because of my health. Everyone knew this by my actions. If that wasn't enough, I made certain I verbally told people when I was uncomfortable. I knew what effect I had on people. I tried to avoid situations where my behavior would ruin a situation for others. Even if they wanted to be polite to me and invite me to be nice, I would refuse because I knew my health problems would cause discomfort to everyone around me.

When the discussion of the actual interview came up, I must have looked panicky and ready to speak. Before I could, Mike said, "I think it would be better if I did not go". I immediately nodded my head like one of those ornamental toy animals in the back of a car window. I absolutely agreed it would not be in the best interests of the group for me to be in a pressure situation with my anxiety.

I did feel left out. I did regret that Mike jumped in and said I should not go, instead of letting me suggest it. It made me feel like I was an outsider. I had to accept things though. I knew it was the truth even if I did not like that my anxiety was a problem in social situations.

Jeff approached Brad and asked him about joining. Brad replied positively. The interview meeting was set up and took place. The weekend after, everyone was happy as far as I can remember. They all seemed to feel it had gone quite well. In spite of the doubts about the character of Brad, they were ready to ask him to join the group. It was up to Mike for approval now.

I continued to have misgivings. Misgivings because of their description of Brad's character and also because by then, I had begun to regret not going to the interview. The more I thought about it, the more I wished I could have seen first hand what Brad was like, instead of accepting their secondhand opinions.

I felt like I was a lesser person because I was not included. Even though it was for the health reasons stated, it still felt like I had lost some indefinable something by not participating. Some kind of status or power had slipped away from me unknowingly.

This feeling was completely justified when Brad actually came to class. He was like Jeff, Chris, Mike and Lonnie. He was training to be a doctor. He came from a wealthy family and had anything he wanted. He had trained in martial arts for some years with good instructors he had the money to pay for.

Brad walked into the group and I felt like a doormat. It was not anything he did. It was more the reactions of the others. They were friendlier and treated this stranger better than they did me. A 6 or more month member. I felt betrayed after all that talk of family style and loyalty etc.

I have considered it was the usual way human beings act. Say the older child being jealous when a new baby is born into a family. There might have been some of that in my feelings. There was much more to it than that.

The reason I feel that way is because I think Brad picked up on the power dynamics of the group immediately. I was the lesser person with anxiety, so I was kind of soft and protected. I did not have strength and status. Brad saw this and immediately adopted the attitude of the others. One of superiority and condecension.

I did not mind the others condescending to me. I went to them hat in hand looking for relief for my health problems. I had to bend the knee, be subservient to them, in order to get their help. I owed nothing to Brad. I had just met him. Yet he acted as if I should also be subservient to him, because he saw the others act that way with me.

I took an immediate dislike to Brad. For me, that first day confirmed completely that he was the deceitful and untrustworthy person they thought he was.

It is intriguing how small the differences are between what I call good and evil are. Brad acted almost exactly like Steve. Talking to people, being their buddy, sucking up. Steve had a good spirit and a good heart. It was obvious. It was just as obvious that Brad was a manipulator. His every action and word felt dishonest.

Sitting here writing this, I can almost see lightness or light surrounding Steve, and darkness or heaviness surrounding Brad.

The Quest for New Blood

Around now, Arol and Tim have departed, fooled into thinking I had quit, so they quit too. Probably unknowingly controlled into the decision by Mike.

Time is passing and I feel good. As I said before, at the time I had no idea they wanted to be rid of me. I was happy as a clam. Part of the group, learning Ba Gua, working towards improving my health situation. I was waiting.

During this time, Mike's constant refraid during the weekly talks was patience, loyalty and doing what you were told. I would ask questions from time to time about breathing exercises or some more concrete help with my health problems. Something more than just the generalized training everyone else would receive.

I would be talked to like a child and told I needed to be patient. I need to trust them. That I would get healthy and everything would be OK. From hindsight, I can now see what I was getting was a patented speech by a medical professinal. Go to any medical professional, nurse, doctor, paramedic. Act panicky. They will all give you the same "calm down, be patient, everything will be OK" speech.

I did what I was told just as I was asked. I was an adult who trusted these people. If they said to me I needed to be patient and trust them, they were intelligent people who were more skilled and more knowledgable than I. Of course I would act as the suggested.

A few months might have gone by in this manner. During this time a man by the name of Brad was mentioned. Brad was also a medical professional in training. He was taking western medicine classes. He was also a martial artist. He apparently also trained in Ba Gua. He trained in a different style. I believe his instructor was a man named Adam Hsu. Brad was a friend of Jeff's or Mike's or perhaps both of them. I think he might have been a fellow student of Jeff's at Berkely. Or I could be wrong. I can't really remember.

The discussion of Brad was not complimentary. He was described as a deceptive person who could not be trusted. I have a memory of generally feeling like he was a bad person. He would come up in conversation so they wanted to talk about him. But they had negative feelings about him. I think it revolved around the issue of Brad learning Mike's style of Ba Gua and stealing it.

That sounds right. There was something about Brad that made the people think he was a thief kind of person. Being nice to people and sucking up so he could take their stuff, then walking away with it. That was it exactly.

These conversations would pop up out of nowhere for no reason. Just something to talk about while taking a break.

The men's group was now down to Jeff, Lonnie, George, Me, Chris, James and Steve. 7 people. The loss of Arol and Tim must have had more impact than I thought. I thought that everyone was glad they were gone. After all, they had engineered their leaving.

As is usual with most things in life, you don't realize what you have until it is gone. Even though Arol and Tim were kind of goofy and not dedicated to martial arts, they were fun, enjoyable, likable people to have around. They broke the monotony with their lightheartedness.

In the current group, I was abosultely silent. I was still hiding so as not to give anyone a reason to notice me. Jeff was basically a silent hermit kind of guy. Lonnie and George would not breath unless Mike gave them permission. Lonnie and George were both friendly and likable people. The minute Mike came around though, their personalities changed instantly into servile puppies. James was a loner kind of guy. He was a friendly and talkative person. For as long as he was there, James never really fit in. Steve was an outspoken and joking kind of guy like Arol and Tim.

That means that overall, the Ba Gua men were a silent and lifeless kind of group. The spark or life had left with Arol and Tim. Steve was only one man in the group of 7. He could not lift everyone up. This is why I think that people began to either regret Arol and Tim leaving, or miss the lightness they brought to the class.

That information was necessary to understand why there suddenly began to be talk of new blood in the group. Someone, must have been Mike, was talking about how we needed some new people. I mentioned the interviews that people had to go through to be accepted. As the discussion went on, everyone volunteered that, no, they did not know anyone they felt was dedicated enough to join the group. We all felt we were the only people we knew that could handle the demands of the class.

I was literally stunned when it was suggested that Brad be asked to join the group. I thought to myself "they can't mean the deceitful possible bad character thief Brad they were telling me about. Can they?".

That is exactly who they were talking about.

I was totally confused. I had accepted these men were intelligent, skillful, my betters. That is why I was with them. So I could learn and hopefully be healed. To see them discussing taking in a person they themselves described as a bad apple made me doubt them. In my opinion, only a person with some kind of mental problem would openly go looking for a possible thief to come and join their family.

Then they sat their and openly discussed that, yes, they all thought it likely Brad was a thief. But they still thought they wanted to ask him to join. Because they could not think of anyone else they could get to join.

To me, the warning alarms should have been going off full blast. When I, Steve, and Jeff's friend had joined, we were all put through the wringer. Made to feel we were lucky to know these people and if we measured up, they might just possibly let us join. This attitude made me feel I was lucky to be there. I do not know how Steve felt. He still knows Mike to this day so I imagine he too felt he was lucky to be in the group.

To my way of thinking, going out to a person and asking them to join is making them look like they were powerful. They had something that the people in the group wanted. It was a settting for disaster. If the group was right about the man being deceitful and untrustworthy, making him believe they wanted him for some reason was only going to encourage his ego. Which I would think would make him even more likely to be deceitful or unstrustworthy. He would not respect the group because they needed him.

I did not participate in the discussion. My attitude was the one above. If I had voiced it, I would have received unvoiced rebuke and censure for being negative. All I could do was sit there thinking "how can these people make such a big mistake? And I can't even tell them because then they will have bad feelings towards me".

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lull Period

After the unsuccessful attempt to get rid of me after I went on vacation, and the realization that I really wanted Ba Gua, I guess they decided they were stuck with me. Remember I am writing this years later and attributing what I think must have been their motives. After the vacation incident, I don't remember anything of note for a long time.

At this time there was Steve, George, Jeff, Chris, Me, James, Lonnie. Seems odd. So few people now that I am ennumerating their names. I said there were 35 people in the group. That means about 25 were women and 10 or so were men. It is odd to me because as I have stated before, most women I have seen in kung fu were a joke. It was a social thing, not a kung fu thing.

Steve ingratiated himself with everyone within weeks. He was Mike's best buddy. Following him around, talking, laughing, bullshitting. Steve was a good man and a likable guy. I resented his easy attitude with Mike because I had no relationship with Mike. I resented Steve because he had no martial arts training at all, yet Mike paid more attention to him than he did to me or the other people with martial arts training.

Somewhere in this time period, the following event took place.

For some reason or the other, people got to talking about kung fu brothers. The system of kung fu where there are elder brothers teaching and younger brothers learning. To be honest, in thinking about this event, it may have taken place while Arol and Tim were still there. The event feels like something that would relate to them.

The idea was tossed about and talked about. For some reason or the other, everyone decided that Jeff was going to be the elder brother. Writing this down, I feel like I am talking about kids playing house. ;) That was the feel of the situation. "Ya, Ya! We want Jeff to be our older brother!! Yaaaayy!!!!"

I should point out something here. Jeff, as an Asian man and the most skilled kung fu man was the natural leader or second in command to Mike. Lonnie didn't like this that much. Lonnie had as much experience as Jeff I think. He did not have Jeff's instructors, and Lonnie was white, not Asian. That makes a big difference in learning kung fu.

Whenever people started talking about Jeff as the leader, Lonnie of course smiled and went along. He didn't really like it though. I could see that he thought of himself as a leader. No one else really did though. Of course we all respected him and listened to him. In my mind, I don't recall anyone deferring to him as if he was the leader.

Chris also had this same attitude of thinking he was Jeff's equal, or not going along with the deference to Jeff. I think Chris was arrogant. I did not get to know him much. He kept to himself and never spoke much. I was not inclined to reach out to him because of the slamming incident. I didn't trust him. Especially since he was a 20 year old or so kid. I knew he was of that age where he reacted without thinking.

That is why I think this incident must have happened when Arol and Tim where still around. They would have loved the idea of Jeff as a big brother. This might even have happened before the fateful meeting at Jeff's house.

Whatever was going on, in whatever time sequence, Jeff was decided to be the de facto big brother. I have no idea what this meant. ;) I think what it meant was that Arol and Tim were always going to Jeff for questions or instruction. George too was a go along with it kind of guy in the same vein as Arol and Tim. He probably acted the same way Arol and Tim did. Steve would have been in that group too.

Lonnie and Chris would have avoided Jeff for the reasons noted above. Viewing him as an equal. James would not have even thought about deferring to Jeff. James was his own independent man who happened to be part of the Ba Gua class. He was his own special case.

This big brother stuff went on for a few weeks. I didn't pay it much mind. I was with Lonnie and Chris in thinking that there was no reason to be going to Jeff. It wasn't like he could really do anything. We were shown our forms, then we practiced.

One of my gripes about Ba Gua was that, when asking a question, the answer was invariably, "I don't know" or "Play with it". "I don't know" was an obvious lie. They were the experts in the forms. Of course they knew the reasons why things were done they way they were. The lies were, in my opinion, to enforce the other common answer. "Look into it yourself".

I got so frustrated with this attitude that after a month or so of responses like this, I never bothered asking questions again. Maybe once every 6 months I would forget that I was on my own. I would go ask a question and receive the stock "I don't know", "Figure it out yourself" answer. Then I would go off for another 6 months.

Then one day Jeff came to class and I could tell something was wrong. I didn't know what because I was not close to him. I said hello and maybe some small talk like "how was your week" but that was it. Even knowing Jeff that little, I could tell something was wrong.

Mike gave his weekly talk. During the talk, I had this feeling like there was a hole in the circle where Jeff was. We always sat in a circle every week. I could feel the circle and then when I looked at Jeff's area, the circle got......darkish or it was as if it wasn't really there. Nothing hoodoo or anything like that. Just an odd feeling that there was something wrong with that part of the circle.

After the group meeting, the women had their own meeting and the men had there own meeting. Then I was certain there was something wrong. I could look at Jeff and see something was going on. His face looked kind of hard and pockmarked. His posture was hunched over. It was totally unlike the Jeff that I knew.

We sat down and Jeff said he did not want to be the big brother anymore. He said it was making him sick. People, I am thinking Arol, Tim, George and Steve, told him good things. They needed him, he was good, what was wrong, etc etc. We all good naturedly wanted to know what was going on with a member of the group.

Jeff repeated that being big brother was making him sick and that he wanted it to stop. Jeff was a man of few words. He did not tell a big story or anything. He said what he felt and left it at that. In the face of his statements, everybody agreed that he could have what he wanted. No one would treat him like the big brother anymore.

Writing this all down, I wonder what kind of pressure the other guys put on him? Did they call him at home and bug him? Were they talking to him all the time so he could not do his own work? Whatever it was, the effects were astounding. I considered Jeff a very healthy man due to his skill in kung fu, his working to be a doctor of chinese medicine and going to regular college. There was no mistaking he was sick. It wasn't just the look. I could feel how tense and tight and wrapped up he was the day he told us he didn't want to be big brother anymore.

This led to the really interesting part of this story. The above was just an incident that happened like a story about what happened at the bus stop.

After everyone agreed to stop treating Jeff as the big brother, Jeff turned invisible. Really. Or he may as well have really turned invisible.

If you read kung fu literature, you will find stories about people hiding their energy. The idea is that kung fu teaches you to sense another person's energy. Once you attain this skill, you don't need to see your opponent. You can tell where they are and what they are doing.

An even higher level kung fu skill is to mask your energy so that others cannot sense it. This is what Jeff did. I was amazed because I had never seen it in person before. Also because, as I said, Jeff was only 20 something. For him to have that skill was shocking to me. I was envious if not jealous.

I cannot really describe it to you. Jeff was in the class. I could visually see him. He was right over there practicing. But if you were not looking right at him, you would forget he was there. He did this for about a month. Maybe a little longer. Long enough to break the energy connection that had formed between him and the others when he was playing big brother.

I am still impressed right this minute describing what he did. It was truly amazing. Once I caught on to what he was doing, I played with it. I would look at him for a few minutes so I knew I was looking at Jeff and I knew he was there in class with us. Then I went about my training. Sure enough, an hour or so later, I would realize class was over and for the entire one hour, I never thought about Jeff. Even though he was within 30 or so feet of me the entire time.

A few times, when I tried to look at him, I didn't see him. That is how I figured out how it works. Somehow, the skill tricks the brain or eye. I could tell my eye was visually registering the image of Jeff's body. But for some reason, I didn't think he was there. That tells me it must have been tricking my brain somehow. When those instances happened, I would usually catch a glimpse of his body out of the corner of my eye. But if I looked straight on, for some reason my gaze slid right past him. This was all based on a glancing looking around kind of action.

If I stood still and focused completely on looking at Jeff, then I could look right at him and see him. The effect seemed to occur if I was looking around in a general kind of way. Not focusing on him, just looking to see what I could see.

That skill works. I tried to teach myself. I can do it a little tiny bit. Enough to know that it really is a learned skill and that it really does work. And to think that kid Jeff could do it effectively when he was 20 something.

Oh the unfairness of it all. ;)

EDIT: I get lots of skepticism and unfortunately I have taken to responding to some of it lately. ;)

Yes I am certain about the above story. I have verified the skill thru observation of other people who possess it.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Followup of previous post

I was so shocked by that last post I have not been back since. ;)

I haven't been able to stop wondering why it came up either. Besides the posture of Yin Fu Ba Gua itself having the appearance of a person preparing themselves for sex, there was another reason I wondered if Yin Fu Ba Gua was designed for feminine type men.

In old China, it was traditional for the men in the royal palace to all turned into Eunuchs. That means the cut off their genitals. This was done to prevent the man from having affairs with the royal women.

It seems reasonable to think that a kung fu man or martial artist would be a virile man. Someone that a female who wanted sex would find irrestistible.

The story about Yin Fu Ba Gua is that Yin Fu himself or someone else, I forget, was employed in the palace as a royal guard. How did the royal family deal with this? They must have guards for the royal family. They also want to protect the royal women. How do they deal with the potential combination of a horny royal female and a virile martial artist?

By finding martial artists that are homosexuals. If the martial artists are homosexuals, there is no danger to the royal women.

A thorough person might think, "Why not cut off the genitals of the martial artists, just like the eunuchs? Why take chances?". The cutting off of the genitals would affect the entire body. In my opinion, the men would be less effective fighters. The men would become soft in the way that a castrated dog becomes passive and controllable.

It was the combination of the above reasoning, with the oddity of the frankly embarrassing and sexual kind of posture that is contained in Yin Fu Ba Gua.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Things settle down

After the previous attempt to get rid of me, that I only now, years later, realized was what was going on, things settled down. They must have decided they were not going to get rid of me. Or maybe they read my determination not to leave in the face of the entire group that day.

The next months were mostly uneventful as far as I can recall. Nothing notable other than the usual weekend classes and talks. I remained distant as before. Maybe a little more distant because of the vacation incident. I really didn't understand these men. To my way of thinking, the less I spoke and the less noticeable I was, the less problems there would be.

In the physical training. I think I mentioned that we did the long Tai Chi form, a set of Ba Gua stretches, then 8 beginning Ba Gua forms. When I started, I of course knew none of the Ba Gua forms. I would have to stand aside so the others could practice.

I think this quiet period was when I was instructed in the remainder of the forms. I knew all 8 so I could participate in the group practice.

I found the Yin Fu Style of Ba Gua exhilirating. I have never encountered another style like it. The Yin Fu styld of Ba Gua utilizes a unique low crouching stance and method of walking that is completely different from normal Ba Gua. I personally did not like the way normal Ba Gua was performed when I saw it.

Normal Ba Gua seemed to be performed in a more erect, standing up straigh posture. The low crouching posture of Yin Fu Ba Gua seemed more stable and powerful. It seemed more graceful, more acrobatic, more gymnastic. I felt is was the most wonderful system I had every encountered.

Part of the instruction of Yin Fu Ba Gua was associating the mental concept of pride with practicing the forms and movements. This was not the pride of braggodocio. It was a quiet pride of strength and dignity. In addition to the very low crouching stance, the chest is thrust forwards in a way completely unlike Tai Chi or normal Ba Gua.

Yin Fu Ba Gua truly is a uniqe system of Chinese martial arts. I have ideas on why I think this is true. I wonder if the Yin Fu system is so unique because it might be related to homosexuality.

That is a very shocking and startling thing to say. Some people would react very badly to a statement like that. I make the statement knowing how serious some people could take it. I stand by my ideas.

When the chest is thrust forwards in Yin Fu Ba Gua, the behind is thrust rearwards. The way it looks and feels is sexually suggestive. The idea that a man would perform this sexually suggestive motion of thrusting the behind to the rear, like a woman thrusting her behind to the rear in preparation for sex, is the basis of my opinion.

Kung fu changes the body on a very basic level. Most people have no concept of exactly how deep into the body the changes can go. A homosexual person and a heterosexual person are different on a physical level. This is common sense if a person considers it.

A heterosexual man thrust the penis forward for the act of sex with the woman. Every time he has sex, for all of his life, his body is focused on thrusting the penis forward. This is an important act that needs to take place for the man to develop properly.

A homosexual man is different in that he thrusts his behind to the rear for sex. See how common sense this is? The heterosexual man spends his entire life thrusting the penis forward. His whole body wants to go forward. The homosexual man is thrusting his behind to the rear his entire life. His body always wants to go to the rear.

It is this reasoning that leads me to belive that Yin Fu Ba Gua could be influenced by homosexuality. The rearward thrusting buttock motion of the postures resembles very much the rearward thrusting motion of a man or woman preparing to be a recipient of sexual entry by the penis.

I wonder if the movements and postures of Yin Fu Ba Gua are more suited to a homosexual person. If the deep body changing mentioned above changed the body of a homosexual man so that the postures and movements of this style of Ba Gua felt better and worked better for a man who had deep homosexual changes to the body.

There is also the idea that the higher martial arts speak of gaining "women's power". Woman's power refers to Yin power. The name of the system is Yin Fu Ba Gua. A woman accepts the penis, as described above in the rearward buttock thrusting motion. It is natural to think of a man accepting the penis with the rearward thrusting buttock motion. Perhaps what I have described as being homosexual, because of the preoccupation of the American culture I live in with homosexuality, is really the way a man who is practing the woman's style, or yin style, would look.

I am saying that perhaps practicing yin style or woman style has nothing to do with sex or sexual desire. In modern thinking, that is not possible. Modern culture and thinking say that if a man acts like a woman, he is homosexual, or a repressed homosexual that will not admit he is homosexual.

Maybe it is completely possible and normal for a man to behave like a woman, without any thought of homosexuality at all.

Don't ask me where that came from. I sat down to write about Mike slamming me, and it just popped out.

I almost forgot - addendum to previous post

I was thinking about Mike and the group walking up to me and trying to chase me away with aggressive behavior as described in the previous post.

I started laughing again.

Not only did they try to intimidate me with aggressive body language. Not only did they aggressively tell me they thought I had quit. Mike actually slammed me in order to drive me away.

That is funny to me because I did not witness Mike slam too many people. It did happen as discipline occasionally. I don't think I ever witnessed him to it as a method to get his way before.

I can actually see and feel myself flinching as he slammed me. But by then I was feeling so stubborn, and I was so frustrated that they forgot I went on vacation, I didn't realize what Mike had just done.

I keep thinking about it, because, if you knew Mike, you would know how out of character the behavior was. The persona he showed the class anyways. The wonderful man doing good for the world. A selfish slamming of someone to drive them away is about 178 degrees away from the mental image I had of him.

That is probably why I did not recognize the slam two. I just could not believe he would do something like that. Not the man I had been listening to for the past few months.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Good thing I am stupid

Last post I left on vacation. I went driving around the country, sightseeing and doing this and that at various interesting places along the way. It was fun and relaxing. The states I traveld thru were beautiful at that time of year. I like the warmth and I like the wide out of doors. I went to Arizona which has some fantastic desert landscape. Most people feel it is inhospitable. I like the desert. There is something about the sparseness of vegetation. Looking at those vast open expanses with a few cactus here and there provides a sense of nature that I have never found anywhere else.

I went to New Mexico. New Mexico has gorgeous mountains. I remember the color purple the most. New Mexico is desert sort of like Arizona. There are many more rocks and hills in New Mexico than Arizona. Arizona is a flat kind of desert. New Mexico is the rocky and hilly kind of desert. I went thru Texas and Oklahoma. Texas doesn't do much for me. It is open grassland. Flat for miles and miles. Oklahoma always seems dirty. I can't really explain why. I never remember anything of Oklahoma except a sense of dirt and poorness. Weird huh?

Eventually I ran out of time and had to turn back home. I was obviously driving all this time. I was exhausted by the time I returned. I missed a second weekend meeting just as I thought I would. I didn't do much of anything that following week. Whatever I needed to do.

The next weekend roles around and I am ready to head back to Ba Gua and my friends. It has been two long weeks and I miss them. I am a driven kind of person that likes to work on things that need working on. Now that I was convinced that Ba Gua was going to cure me, I was ready to practice all the time. Ready to do whatever I needed to do to progress. I wanted to be healthy and the faster that happened the better.

Sunday arrives and I get ready to go to class. Suddenly I find myself thinking, "you know what. That vacation felt really good. I could skip class this weekend and continue my vacation. Relaxing is great, the weather is fine. I think I will just go ahead and stay home this weekend".

That was weird, but I didn't think too much about it.

I went ahead and enjoyed my life during the next week. I love nature so I could talk about how nice the weather was and what it was like outside forever. The sun nice and shiny, the breeze fresh and brisk. The flowers and trees healthy and bursting with energy. The area I live is the greatest.

The next Sunday arrives and I get ready to leave. I have my clothes on and my bag ready to take with me. I find myself thinking "I should stay on vacation another week". I hesitate and go back and forth. Literally. I am pacing back and forth between the door to leave, and back into the house to stay. I finally decide, "what the heck. I think I will take one more week's vacation".

The next week goes by as expected. The next Sunday is here and I am ready to go to Ba Gua. By now it has been 3 weeks or a months since I left for vacation. I am chomping at the bit. Vacation is nice. I love it. But I need to be at Ba Gua. If I want my health back, which is the only thing in the world I want, I need to get back to Ba Gua. I need to learn. I need to do what they tell me so I get better.

I get dressed and grab my bag and head for the door. Once again I think to myself "You know? I should just goof off for another week. This vacation stuff is great. I am having the time of my life". Then I said "NO! I want to go to Ba Gua. Vacation is fun sure. I have had enough. It is time to get back to Ba Gua and to rectifying the problems in my life". I was actually angry at the thought of more vacation.

I head out the door and I make it this time. I walked to the Ba Gua class. It was at one end of a long, maybe 1 or 2 miles long park. I live at the other end of the park. Every weekend, I would leave my house and walk the one or two miles thru the park to the class. That was one of the things I looked forward to every week. Being able to walk thru the park, alone for the most part because it was early on a Sunday morning, and enjoy the plant life. The park is bursting with energy from all the plants and trees and grass. I feel like I am in a wonderland every weekend when I walk thru all of it.

I make it to the far end of the park where the class is. As I approach I see the men there and I smile, thinking, "I have returned! I can't wait to say hello and to see what I have missed. The men as a group stop what they are doing and approach me. I am thinking they are all glad to see me and coming to greet me. I have a big smile on my face.

Mike says "what are you doing here?".

My jaw dropped. I thought, "What the heck?". Mike says "You haven't been here for weeks, what are you doing here?".

I said "I went on vacation". Mike says "you should have told us". I said "I did tell you. I plainly said I was going on vacation and I would be back".

During all of this, the other men are standing by Mike in a group. As if they are a gang of thugs. I am feeling truly mystified. I don't know if these people are stupid or forgetful. I told them to their face I was going on vacation. I said goodbye, told them I would be back later. Now they are saying they didn't know I was on vacation. Even more strange, instead of saying "Oh we are glad you are back", they are standing together like a gang and questioning me in a harsh and unfriendly way.

Are these people insane or what?

I am looking at them like they are crazy or stupid. I can feel that on my face right now just thinking about it. Mike might have said something like "you should have told us you are going on vacation". Then he turned around and walked away.

When Mike turned around and walked away, the entire group of men, as a unit, turned around and walked away with him. It was like this group of men was one person and they all turned their backs on me and walked away.

I am standing there thinking "I don't know what these people are so angry about. I plainly told them I was going on vacation. Instead of welcoming me back, they are treating my like an alien and now they have turned their backs on me and are walking away".

Then I thought "Oh well. Everyone has a bad day", and I followed them over to the practice area. We get to the practice area and I cannot really say what things were like. I only remember talking to the men and asking what I had missed etc. Arol and Tim were not there. I asked about them.

Arol and Tim had quit.

I said "WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I felt I knew Arol and Tim by then. The idea that they quit was impossible to believe. The idea that anyone would willingly walk away from the chance to learn from Mike was the stupidest thing I could think of. I was in shock.

Then they tell me, "You weren't here for 3 weeks or a month and everyone thought you quit. When they thought you quit, they quit too". Then I said all over again how I told people I was on vacation and I had no idea where they were getting all this stuff about how they thought I left or quit. Get this. I told them it would be the stupidest thing imaginable to voluntarily quit Mike's class. Mike was about the best kung fu teacher I had ever met.

That paragraph above is very very very very important in the scheme of things. You will learn why it is important eventually.

The class went normally for the rest of the day as far as I can recall. I went home happy I had finally returned to where I belonged. With my friends. We were all going to save the world.


Good thing I am stupid.

Have you guessed what happened yet? They tried to get rid of me. Again! The first time, in case you did not read that post, Jeff brought a friend of his to class. The friend stayed for 1 month, then voluntarily left because the class was not right for him. The entire thing was a setup to make me think it was OK to voluntarily leave the class. It didn't work because leaving the class was not a thought that was anywhere in my head.

When I came back from vacation and suddenly decided to stay home an extra week instead of going to class. It was Mike. Mike had manipulated me mentally to encourage me to stay home. I knew him and trusted him so I was open to his mental manipulation. I did not resist as I might have with a stranger trying to control me.

The second week, the same thing happened. Mike controlled me to stay home instead of going to Ba Gua class. It was him telling me I should stay home one more week.

Then the third time, it didn't work. It didn't work because of my thoughts and feelings. I wanted Ba Gua more than anything. By the third week of vacation, I knew I had been gone to long. I needed to get back to where I belonged. Nothing was going to stop me. That strong desire prevented Mike from mentally manipulating me into staying home another week.

When I showed up at class anyways, since mental manipulation had not worked, they went with the physical manipulation. The entire group walked up to me. This large group of men looking at one man. The leader of the group questioned why I was there in an aggressive, angry, mean and dismissive way. The group of men surrounding him emanated the same feelings in order to support him.

The entire purpose of the act was to drive me away. A large menacing group of men speaking harshly to one man in order to drive him off.

Good thing I am stupid. I am looking at them like they are my friends. They are my Ba Gua buddies. I really truly believe they are stupid and forgot I told them I was going on vacation. I really truly believed that Mike was going to help me with my health as he said. I really truly believed he cared about me, and that I was part of his Ba Gua family style.

When the came at me with that group and that pushing away attitude, I acted like they were my friends that had a wild hair up their butt. I never for an instant considered that they did not want me around anymore. That they were trying to drive me away with their aggressive behavior.

Looking back on it, I laugh uproariously every time I think about it. Here are these men being mean and aggressive, trying to drive me away. And I am looking at them like, "You guys are my friends. We are all Ba Gua family. I don't know why you are angry, but I forgive you".

If you understand real kung fu, you will know that there was nothing they could do. My simple and honest believe that they were my friends stole their power. They could not be mean and aggressive to a person who was smiling at them, laughing with them, and telling them how much he missed them, and was glad to be back.

And I did it by accident. Many people do those kinds of things on purpose. That is how they manipulate others. I was just being my honest self, and I was employing a powerful kung fu concept no one had ever explained to me.

To complete the story, Mike had also driven off Arol and Tim. Remember the men's meeting I told you about? The one at Jeff's house where the room separated into Chris, Jeff and Steve on one side, with me, Arol and Tim on the other side? And I said I just happened to be on Arol and Tim's side because I refused to let people force me to move?

I believe that night was the pivotal night. I believe Jeff and Chris reported back to Mike. I believe they all decided that Arol, Tim and I did not fit in the group. All because Arol decided he would be a man and stand up for what he believed in, instead of backing down and doing what Jeff and Chris told him.

When I went on vacation, I provided the opportunity for them to get rid of us. While I was on vacation, Mike mentally manipulated Arol and Tim into believeing that I had quit. Since I had quit, they should quit too. Being the sheep they were, it was easy to mentally control them. Arol and Tim quit.

Then I came back and Mike was set to finish the job. He mentally manipulated me 2 weeks in a row to stay home instead of go to class. There was a problem though. I really was a kung fu man. I really wanted kung fu. Arol and Tim were taking it as a lark. They didn't care so it was easy to mentally snuff out their interest. Because I was a driven kung fu man, my interest was not so easy to snuff out. I beat Mike's mental manipulation to stay home that 3rd week.

Then I beat their physical manipulation because I believed in their lies. That they were good men who told the truth. That they had devoted their lives to helping others. That they liked me and wanted to include me in their group. That I was a "generator" as Mike had so proudly pointed out a few weeks earlier.

If I wasn't so stupid, believing their lies, I would have seen the group of thugs that approached me with an angry attitude that day. I would have seen Mike telling me "Go away. We don't want you here".

I am laughing right now thinking how I, a physically and mentally sick person, beat a 20 year Tai Chi, 10 year Ba Gua, trained psychologist and chinese medicine doctor, and his group of thugs, with nothing more than my simple and honest belief that they were good men and they were my friends.

Vacation Time!

Here it is, summer as I described in the previous post. Beautiful, traditional time for most people to go on vacation. I am feeling good about things. I have been in Ba Gua for 4 or 5 months now. I have been listening to Mike talk in the weekly talks and I love what I hear. This family syle, honor, loyalty, dignity stuff is what I always dreamed martial arts was about.

All the martial arts I had taken up to that point in time were basically a joke. White boys who thought they knew kung fu teaching people. Looking back, half of those people should never have been allowed to be instructors. It is truly mind boggling the number of people that are martial artists, but have no idea what real kung fu is.

Or the school was set up so the special people were trained and the not special were ignored. This could have been favoritism at any school, or the special people were asians and everyone else was the not special. That was my experience with martial arts up until I met Mike. No one talked about dignity and doing good with anything like true belief.

I wonder now if I was bamboozled. I know Mike is a con artist who can convince anyone of anything. I wonder if he really believed what he said on the weekends, or if it was part of his plan to become rich. I would be really disappointed if that was the case. As this narrative progresses, you will come to understand my confusion.

I am feeling like a million bucks. I am part of a group of people. Their stated purpose is to help and teach people in general. Mike said to help the world. Literally. The purpose of the group was to help the world. I liked that. I do not approve of special treatment for different groups.

I felt that, even though it was slow going, I was feeling a little better. Even though Mike never really took time to work with me, I felt like I was learning. The opportunity to meet the people every weekend or during the week made me feel good. I liked all of them and respected them for the most part.

Everything was wonderful! Everything was fantastic! Life couldn't be better than this.

I decided to go on vacation. I was going to be gone for a week I think it was. Driving around the country doing this and that. I talked to the group about the vacation. Letting them know I was going to leave. Was that OK? Would it be any kind of a problem? I was going to be gone for a week. I would probably miss weekend classes and the men's meetings. One week while I was on vacation and the next week because I would not return in time.

Everything was fine. I don't remember anyone making any comments one way or the other to be honest. I was going on vacation. So what? People had been going on vacation all summer. People came and went to class all the time for business trips or emergencies or whatever.

I said goodbye to everyone that weekend and left for vacation.