Sunday, August 13, 2006

It's time to move!

Guess what? Another entry about what now looks, years later, to be another plot.

All of this time, the first year or year and a half, we have been practicing in the park. The park was sort of central to the majority of students. Many students lived in the city. The ones that did not were spread around outside of the city in a vaguely circular way. They all had around the same distance to travel. Except for poor George and Patty. They had to drive 2 hours to get to class. I don't know how they did it.

I have detailed that I felt that I was being pushed out. I have described the large size of the class at around the year or year an a half mark. At least 35 and maybe more people. What I have not spoken of is the general class demeanor.

I described James as the troublemaker of the group. He would often challenge Mike on something or the other. The conversation would continue until James was basically told to shut up.

James and Peter had developed something of a friendship after Peter joined. They were both single men. I learned later that they went out looking for women together. I also wonder if they were the same religion. Peter was jewish. I wonder if James was also Jewish because there were some similarities in their appearances.

What I am leading up to of course is that Peter and James spent time talking to each other. And James was described as the class you can see where this is leading? I think James's attitude rubbed off on Peter. I say this because at some point in time, Peter began to question Mike.

Mike always encouraged questions. It was funny though. Everytime someone had a question, the session usually ended with the person being told to shut up, and the group breaking up immediately for physical practice. It looked like Mike asked for challenges, then broke up the group because someone really did challenge him.

I don't know if it was James and Peter, or maybe there were similar people among the women. I do know that the women also had begun to speak up and ask questions. If you have ever paid attention to group dynamics, the group had turned from a group with a focus and a purpose to a group with doubts and uncertainty. Nothing big like a crisis, just some low level bubbling kind of discontent.

At around this time it was suggested or stated that the Sunday morning practices were going to be moved. They would be at a location that was 25 to 30 miles away from the current location. That does not sound like much. Unless of course you do not own a car. Like me. That is the first thing I thought. The classes are moving and I will not be able to attend.

I know that some of the women were in the same position I was in. No car. I think all of the other men had a car. They were all upper class.

Besides the question of transportion was the distance involved. It was not just 20 or 25 miles to the new location. That translated to another 30 minutes of driving. The route to the new location was on a main highway that was frequently crowded with traffic.

Nothing about the move made sense. The majority of the people would have to travel an additonal 25 miles to the class. They would have to pay money for the gas. They would have to budget extra time for commuting. For the majority of the class, the move was an inconvenience.

I think that was the point.

I think this was the first step in Mike's plan to get rid of the dead wood. He was going to make the class more difficult to attend so that only the people that truly wanted to attend would spend the extra money and exert the extra effort to make it out to the new location.

The plan worked to some extent. I did notice a reduction in the class size after the move to the new location. I also noticed that the amount of absenteeism increased. People waking up on Sunday morning would realize they just could not make the class with the travel time required.

The gay guy

What a title for a blog entry huh? I am embarrassed to say that I cannot remember his name right his minute.

I described previously how Mike explictly stated he wanted to be rich. He wanted to be millionaire. He talked about his plans on how he was going to be rich. When someone like me mentioned that did not seem like a proper goal for a person who wanted to save the world and teach spirituality, he told me it was not about the money, it was the challenge of it.


The park where we practised was an open park that was very busy. All kinds of people were always walking by. Thinking about it now, it is kind of amazing that we had the freedom and privacy to practice the way we did. No one ever bothered us.
I belive I mentioned that Peter had joined the group because he was walking in the park and saw us practicing. He stopped to talk to Mike about what was going on. Thinking the way I do now, when Mike heard that Peter was a lawyer, Mike must have though "money and status" and invited him to join.

That seems harsh except for one slight fact. I saw Mike do that with other people.

One day some old guy is walking by. I mean old. Like slouching over with gray hair old. He watches us for awhile and somebody speaks to him. Eventually Mike goes over to converse with him.

The next thing I know, we have a new student. This boggles my mind because I don't think we did an interview for him. Everyone else had been interviewed before being allowed to join. Then Mike says "This man is a member of the group". It was odd because it had never happened before.

Then we find out that this man is gay. That was very odd. No one else in the group was gay. Not among the men anyways. I think there were a few of the women who were gay. I understand that in today's world people are supposed to be understanding etc.
That makes no difference. If you are in close contact with a gay person and you are not gay, it can be an uncomfortable situation.

Here we are, a group of 6 or 7 straight guys and Mike brings in this gay guy. Of course no one said anything. What could we say? It was Mike's class. He could do what he wanted.

Hmmmm. I am wondering. The group might have interviewed him. I remember now. His name was Tom. We might have interviewed Tom. If we did, it happened over at Jeff's apartment. I think I can remember him walking in the door. He was very tall so he looked like he had to bend over to get through the door. I think I remember thinking "that old guy is really hunched over".

I won't swear to that though. I would have to check on it.

Anyways, I was talking about Mike's desire for money, and my suspicion that he allowed Peter to join because Peter was a lawyer. Peter had no martial arts training at all. With all the plots to try to get rid of me, and I had 10 years of martial arts experience, I could think of no other reason Mike would want Peter to join except for money. Maybe a social networking kind of thing if Mike ever needed a lawyer. Something you want to remember for later in this blog.

So we interviewed Tom and he passed of course. Mike was going to let him join anyways. Then at some point in time, you will never guess what we learned.

Tom was a millionaire. A real live honest to god millionaire.

I think Mike allowed the gay guy to join our heterosexual group because he was a millionaire. More opportunity for Mike. If Mike needed capital, his millionaire student Tom was right there.

Maybe I am wrong. I am wrong about lots of things. I am also right about a lot of things. Tom of course had no previous martial arts practice. I mentioned he was hunched over. His state of health was so poor that he needed to be in physical therapy, not a strenuous martial art.

I guess I was there for health problems to be cured. Maybe Mike felt he could cure Tom so Tom could stand up straight. I do not believe that because I do not beleive Tom felt he had a health problem. I doubt he was even consciously aware that he walked hunched over all the time.

The yearly dinner. On the outside again

At some point in time it was announced it was time for the yearly dinner. Apparently the entire class, both men and women, would get together somewhere for lunch. A big family kind of thing.

This was when the class was very large. At least 35 people. Because the majority of the people were upper class, many of them had a spotty attendance. They might be out on business trips or could not get away from work or some other reason. The dinner was a chance to get all the people together at one time so everyone could visit and mingle.

The idea of a dinner petrified me. Literally. The thought of sitting at a table with all those people was hell. Going to Ba Gua was not a big deal. We listened to Mike speak, we did our exercises, we broke up into groups for our separate practice.

The idea of going to a dinner meant I would be forced to sit in one place for hours with no opportunity for escape. I could not stand the close presence of people at that time because of my health problems. There was also mental pressure involved.

I have related how Mike made a huge deal about separating the men and the women. He did this so much that I honestly got to the point where I felt like looking at the women was a bad thing to do. How silly and outrageous is that? If we all went to dinner, then I would of course be near the women, I would be looking at the women, I would be talking to the women.

It sounds totally stupid now, but I honestly became conflicted and tense at the thought of "breakin the rules". Looking at, being near to, or talking to the women. That gives you an idea of the kind of atmosphere Mike generated.

I didn't want anything to do with the dinner. It cost money also. At the time I was barely able to pay Mike. Going to a fancy dinner that might cost $60 or more dollars would literally put me in a bind with my bills. I knew I was not going to attend.

When it came time for people to say who would attend and who would not, I said I would not be attending. I didn't have the money, and honestly, I would feel uncomfortable. My reply was accepted without much of a response.

I did not think anything of it because there were other people who would not attend. People as I said who had to work or were out of town or whatever. I was avoiding an unpleasant for me social situation. I would not be inflicting my anxiety on people who gathered together for a good time.

Now, looking back, I can see it was one more thing that set me apart from the group. I never cared about that because as far as I was concerned, I was there to learn Ba Gua, cure my health problems and that was about it. I was not there to become part of a group of friends.

I failed to understand how people are. That I needed to be included in that group of friends for them to teach me properly or to honestly view me as one of them. I thought they could do what they said. Teach me how to repair my health, then we would part ways or stay together. Whatever it was that happened.

I found out that you had to part of the "in" group I suppose is a trite way to label it. You had to be amongst the group of professional bullshitters. I say that with some bitterness because all of the talking and friendliness they showed to each other and the world? I think it was baloney.

Many of the people in the class were health workers of some kind or another. Or they were involved in a people kind of field. It was the job of these people to be able to bullshit anyone and make them feel comfortable. That is an admirable skill to have and the intentions of employing that skill are good and honorable.

For me? I could only look at it one way. They were liars. They would tell people all kinds of good time stuff to make them relax and feel good. But they did not mean a word of it. It was all an act to accomplish some goal.

The thought of sitting at a dinner with all of these professional liars telling lies to each other and to me drove me nuts. I cannot stand lies and liars. I have this tendency to look people right in the face and say "you are a liar".

That is not usually a well received statement. People tend to get upset when you call them a liar, even if you caught them red handed in a lie.

It was best for me not to attend the dinner. Not to be put in that pressure situation that could only turn out badly for everyone. Even though in the long run, I would pay for not attending by becoming even more of an outsider than I already was.

Am I stubborn?

So about now it looks like every action the Ba Gua group took was to get rid of me, doesn't it? Feels that way with all the posts I have made lately. Funny how you can be blind to something because you trust people. I just could not believe the family style, loyal, integrity Ba Gua people would underhandedly, sneakily and treacherously try to get rid of one of their own members. They could and did do everything to try to get rid of me. I couldn't see it because I did not beleive they were bad people.

That was not the only reason of course. Yumiko, the woman who first introduced me to Mike, swore he was like a god on earth. She did not say that of course. That is the impression I received. I respected Yumiko so much that any odd things happening in Ba Gua? It had to be me. If I thought people wanted to get rid of me, it had to be in my head. Yumiko said Mike was the greatest person she ever knew. A person like that could not behave the way I suspected.

There was also another office visit that encouraged me to believe things were fine. I will say that I do believe that Mike honestly tried to work with me at the office. Maybe I am a fool, but it felt like he wanted to do good for me.

We were speaking about something or the other. Somehow the subject of relationships with the other members came up. I think I might have mentioned I did not feel close to the other members. They were fellow students, but not my personal friends. The subject might have been why I did not engage in small talk with people.

I say this because since the other members were much closer to Mike than I was, they must have either known, or been told, or guessed that Mike wanted to get rid of me. I have to wonder if they all wanted to get rid of me.

Previously I detailed how there had been plots to get rid of me. This implies that of course the other members knew that Mike wanted to get rid of me. To my way of thinking at the time, they were all robots doing what Mike wanted. Either willingly or because Mike was marionetting them. They had no personal antipathy towards me.

Now I wonder if the other students took Mike's attitude personal. I wonder if any of them personally wanted to get rid of me. The reason for that suspicion will come much later in this narrative.

The reason that I bring it up now is because it is related to what happened in the office that day. After I said I wasn't comfortable with the other people, or whatever it was the conversation was about, Mike very clearly said

"You don't have to be friends with the other students. You have a relationship with me. I am the teacher. I am the only one you need to have a good relationship with"

Mike very plainly told me that my relationships with the other students did not matter. As clear as it is possible to say it. I do not understand how Mike or the other students could hold it against me that I was silent and reserved. Mike said it didn't matter how I acted. The only thing that mattered was my personal relationship with him.

Now that I think about it, the conversation may have been "why was I uneasy in class". I told Mike I was standoffish and aloof because I was uneasy. It sounds right that he would then ask me why I was uneasy, then I would say because I did not have friendships with the other students.

Writing that makes me think of something else. Here I was in Mike's office and he was asking me why I was uneasy and standoffish. That makes no sense. When I originally joined, I clearly told Mike that I was sick from performing kung fu incorrectly. I also felt I was sick from performing breathing exercises incorrectly. My health problems and my behavior difficulties were both due to incorrect practice of kung fu.

Yet here we are, I have been in Ba Gua for a year or so, and Mike is asking my why I am uneasy. To my way of thinking, he should be telling me why I was uneasy. He should have been saying "the incorrect practice of kung fu affected your body in this and that way, causing you to feel stress in the presence of others".

At some point along the way, I don't know when, Mike seemed to have forgotten that I was a student in his class because I had health problems I was seeking relief from. Somewhere along the way, Mike decided or became convinced or assumed I was there to learn his style of Ba Gua. Period. Nothing more.

I know I did nothing to give him this idea. After 1 year at Ba Gua I still had the health problems from practicing Kung Fu incorrectly that I had when I started.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

You have to be straight before you can be circular

In the 3 years I spent with Mike, I probably learned 10 things that were worthwhile. Mike never taught me any of these things. They were all things that he taught to the group at large. He focused on the people he wanted to teach while I and the other people stood on the outside and watched.

I think Mike's arrogance caused him to make a mistake. From his point of view. I have related how I kept a very small profile in the group to avoid giving Mike a reason to actively confront me. The act worked. Mike accepted that I was worthless and hopeless. This caused his urge for secrecy to slip one or two or three times so I was able to actually learn something.

Mike was very secretive about stuff. He basically taught Jeff and Lonnie, then whichever of the women was his current favorite. The rest of us were there, but he never paid any real attention to us. We were hopeless in his eyes. And there was a group of 30 women 100 feet away that would fawn all over him. What choice would you make?

I have described how the Sunday classes started out withe the Ba Dua Jin exercises for warm ups. Then the entire class performed Tai Chi. Then we separated into groups for Ba Gua practice.

Mike NEVER taught the Tai Chi in class. In 3 years, only towards the very end did he even make an attempt to talk to us individually about Tai Chi. His attitude was that anyone joining the class could follow along.

Now that I think about it, that was a load of bullshit.

Mike met the women every week at some private meeting. During these meetings with the women, he taught them the Tai Chi. He worked with them on it so they could learn it.

Lonnie already knew Tai Chi. Jeff was of course a quick study and picked it up right away. George, James, Steve, and Peter were friends on a personal basis. They would see each other outside of class so they could work with each other.

Jeff and Lonnie of course mimiced Mike. They would not teach or talk about the Tai Chi to the rest of us. They would be polite and smile and make comments. But they never really helped or taught.

What does all that mean? It means that basically I was the only one not recieveing helpful instruction in Tai Chi. I think about that now and shake my head at the rudeness of it. I knew it back then. It was one of the things I ignored like the traps set up to get me to leave. It was just another rude act that was supposed to irk me so I would leave.

I would never leave. I knew Mike was good and he knew stuff. They would have to pick me up and toss me out to make me leave. At the time I really was that kung fu student that would endure any treatment in order to learn kung fu. Just like in the movies.

Luckily, as I described previously, I was taking Tai Chi somewhere else. People that truly wanted to teach and help others taught free classes. These people were not super Tai Chi people, but than neither was the Ba Gua group. Only Mike was the real Tai Chi guy. The master of these free lessons was just as good as Mike. For some reason, he taught free and truly helped people while Mike hid stuff, refused to teach, ignored the students he wanted to ignore.

It was quite a lot to accept from Mike after all of his talk about integrity, loyalty and family style.

I probably had more practice and learning from those free lessons than any of the Ba Gua people did in paid for Ba Gua classes. We had lessons on weekends and during the week. The free guy had about5 or 6 senior students as helpers. These people would walk around and actually try to help. They would talk to you. They would correct you. They would demonstrate for you. A really really nice group of people.

I learned the Yang form from these people. The man's name was Bill Chen. He deserves to be named for being an example of what Mike only talked about.

Bill Chen's style of Tai Chi was a soft style. Or at least that is what he taught for free. I never personally had anything to do with him so I cannot say if he was hiding stuff. At the time, I could not justify to myself being a Ba Gua student loyal to Mike, and also devoting the time to Mr Chen for his style. I had the opportunity to join private classes with Mr Chen's private group. At the time it seemed disloyal to the Ba Gua class.

Soft styles of Tai Chi are often derided. They are said to be for exercise. That they do not truly teach Tai Chi for fighting.

You know what? It hardly matters. The number of people I have seen over the years in kung fu classes that actually got into a fight is less than 5% of the total. Most people will get all the benefit they want out of an "exercise" style of Tai Chi.

What has happened is that there are many people lying about martial arts in the modern day. They are doing this because they want people to believe that kung fu is fake. That it was all movies. That is a political and sociological discussion that doesn't really belong here.

Soft style Tai Chi can be used to develop incredible strength. It can be used for fighting. The practitioner has to understand what is happening though.

Traditionally, a kung fu man would probably perform external martial arts for the first part of their career. Later on they would then change to internal martial arts such as Tai Chi. External martial arts are associated with hardness. Internal martial arts are associated with softness.

If you truly ponder this for a minute and think of the implications, you will see something very important. The top kung fu men only became soft AFTER they had spent years being hard. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized.

The process is like gardening. If you have ever worked in a garden, you know that growing plants grow everywhere. They go where they want to. A gardener will put a wooden trellis or support in the garden to train the plants. The soft plants will grow over the hard wooden trellis and stay in the desired shape.

This is what is happening in kung fu. The kung fu man makes himself a hard wooden trellis in the first part of his life. Then he changes to the soft growing plant in the later part of his life. Underneath, deep down inside of his body though, the hard wooden trellis part is still there. The developing soft part of his body grows over the hardness his body already possesses.

What has happened in the modern day is that people no longer do the hard work. A person will go to a soft Tai Chi style and they never become good fighters becuase they do not possess the underlying hard strength. People are no longer farmers or hard laborers. Most modern people are desk job workers. When these people take a soft style of Tai Chi, it does work, but not in the way it was intended to.

Which leads us to one of the things I learned from Mike. One day in class Mike says, "You have to be straight before you can be circular". It was one of the godly pronouncements that Mike liked to make. He didn't say anything else. Didn't explain any further. That one sentence and that was it.

Good thing I am smart. I figured out what he meant. In spite of the fact that he thought I was a loser he wanted to get rid of.

Class in general turned out funny that way. All the people Mike kept close to himself? I don't know if any of them really learned anything.

Me? The guy he wanted to get rid of? I actually figured out some of the reality about kung fu. And I did it based on about 10, sentence long comments like the one above.

Sounds like bragging doesn't it? In a way it is. And in a way it is defiance and pride. Mike made it clear he did not respect me. I probabaly paid him 4000 or 5000 dollars over those 3 years so I could tag along with the others and be ignored and looked down on.

In spite of that morally wrong treatment, I have taken what I figured out on my own and written some inexpensive books that attempt to teach people. Instead of paying 4000 or 5000 over 3 years for 10 sentences, a person can pay $20 for one of my 90 page books and learn more about kung fu than I ever did from Mike.

I will state up front that my books are difficult to understand. Not much more difficult than understanding a man from a foreign culture who provides information in crptic single sentences.

One of these days, if someone asks me, maybe I will write down exactly what it is that Mike meant by "You have to be straight before you can be circular"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Where did the poles go?

One day Mike brought some poles to class. He was going to teach some kind of pole drills. The poles were beautiful. About 6 feet long and 2 or 3 inches around. The wood was heavy and dark. They fit perfectly in the hands. The poles would be great for working out because they were so heavy.

Mike showed us some drills. Nothing fancy. Basically some strengthening drills. Holding the pole down low in front of us, then bringing it up to chest level while holding it level. It was a difficult exercise because of the weight and length of the poles. They wanted to dip at the far end.

Then he showed us some drills about punching or striking with the poles. The idea was to poke the pole straight forward into some small area. We did it in the air for practice. You could do it with a ball tied on a rope or maybe a poke the pole through a hoop that was mounted on something.

I liked the drill and I thought the poles were the greatest. I had watched various movies with guys using poles. They always looked exciting. I would be happy to learn how to use a pole like that.

Mike brought the poles to class a couple of times. Different people would borrow them to practice at home. Because I always kept quiet, everyone else was taking the poles home to practice with. After awhile everyone had taken the poles home at least once. I figured it was about time I had a turn. I asked to take one home and it was no problem.

That was a day that I walked to the class. That meant I had to walk back to the house with the pole. I didn't think anything of it. I was a kung fu guy with the pole I was taking home to practice with. I was dressed in black pants and a white shirt that sort of looked like a kung fu outfit.

By the time I began to walk home, it was late in the afternoon. It was hot and the park was full of people. I am obliviously walking down the sidewalk with this big six foot pole. I thought nothing of it. In the city I live in, you see everything. I mean everything. I didn't stand out at all in my own mind.

I think I must have been on the receiving end of a few looks. I never saw a one because in my head what I was doing was completely normal behavior. I had a pole. I had to walk home. I was walking home with the pole.

I approach a bench with a bunch of guys sitting on it. What happens next is not what you think is going to happen. They did not jump up and challenge me to a fight. They did not say "tough guy" or any other aggressive fighting situation where I got to heroically defend myself with the pole.

You want to know what happened? One of the guys says "I want you to hit me with your pole". He was serious. He was a gay guy and all the guys on the bench were gay.

I just kept walking. I was naive then. To hear an adult man say out loud that he wanted an S & M beating from a stranger walking down the street with a stick was shocking. Mentally shocking. I think if they had tried to beat me up, I would not have reacted much at all. I would have expected or been used to that. But that crazy comment? Wow. I was mentally messed up all the way home.

I practice with the pole for the next week or two. Then I take the pole back to class. When I got there I sat it down on the ground with some other stuff. Anyone who wanted to use it was free to pick it up. I had borrowed it and returned it as far as I was conconcerned. We finished practice that day and went home.

The next week people are asking "Where is the pole". No one can find the pole. People are talking amongst each other about who borrowed it when etc. I said I had borrowed it but I returned it the previous week. Everyone is looking at me. It really felt like persecution. I don't know if they thought I was lying so I could keep the pole or what.

I started to get resentful. I repeated that I know for a fact that I returned the pole and I layed it down on the ground. I never looked at it again.

At this point it is becoming obvious the pole is gone. That is something. The pole belongs to Mike. He brought it from Hong Kong. He allowed us to use it to practice with and now it is gone? Because no one in this group of adults was responsible enough to keep track of it.

They all begin to look at me. As if it is my fault the pole is gone. What can I say? I borrowed it and I returned it to the class in the community property area. I expected one of the other students to take it to borrow it, or to return it to Mike, or for Mike himself to take it.

By this time, after a year or more in class, it was accepted that I was the low man on the totem pole. I was the guy who did not talk much with the health problems. The guy who was not really friendly. It was easy to pick me out especially since I had the pole the previous week.

I still don't know what to say about the situation. Should I have followed Mike or someone else to make sure they picked up the pole? From my perspective, I was low man on the totem pole. If even I could take the pole and return it to the community property area, demonstrating my responsibility, surely the guys who were so much better than me could demonstrate superior responsibility and keep track of the pole.

It was a real shame. That pole was nice. I know that some people in the group were wondering if someone took the pole home and kept it. That was something I should have paid more attention to at the time. If everyone was so wonderful and the group was so great, why would some members suspect other members of stealing a pole?

I think people were careless. I think at the end of class everyone picked up their stuff and expected someone else to get the pole. Then a homeless person or someone came along and picked it up.

But instead of thinking that, some people in class thought another member might have stolen it. I hate to say it but I think James was the prime suspect. After me maybe. James was troublesome. To think he would steal something like that pole? I would never think that in a million years.

Maybe I was naive.

The center

During the Sunday talks, Mike's chatting began to take on more and more grandiose tones. "The Ba Gua group needed to work on saving the world", he said. That was a laudable goal that everyone agreed with.

Mike began to talk of opening up a center. He wanted a Ba Gua school or center or something similar. As described long ago, Mike met with the women every week. He was doing this and that with them. While talking about the school, he made it sound like he and the women had talked all about it and had real goals.

Of course we men had no clue what was going on. Mike went to the women's meetings. They did who knows what. Once in awhile Mike would say something about it. For a family style that was supposed to be open, there was a lot of secrecy.

At this time the group was large. I want to say at least 40 people. I have talked about how I thought Mike was trying to push me out. I wonder if he was also trying to push others out. I wonder if 40 people was too many. His greed got the better of him when signing them up. When it came to the demands all those people placed on him, it was too much.

Mike could keep a small group complacent. He could control them. 40 must have been the limit of his ability to control. It was time for trimming.

All of that is hindsight.

During the talk of the center, Peter jumps up and volunteers. Peter is a lawyer so the idea of dealing with the paperwork for a center is his area of interest. One of the women whose name I cannot remember offered to look for a place. She might have been a real estate agent or in the field. There was some reason she stepped forward.

After some more talking it was agreed that the woman and Peter would work together in looking for the center. Mike was standing back and letting them do what they were going to do. Peter and the women were excited that they were in charge of an important project for the group. They were excited they were doing something personally for Mike.

Little did they know that it was all a trap. Or so it seemed later on.

Why do you see me?

This is when I finally got a clue that something might be going on. I had thought that previous events seemed weird. I never thought that Mike might be trying to push me out because his entire Ba Gua style was about loyalty, integrity, family style, dignity and the proper way to behave. There was no way a man like that would push away a person he had accepted as a student. A person who was obviously in a poor state of health.

This was another of the office visits. Remember when I described how Mike had manipulated my jealousy of Brad so that I started the office visits? Now I wonder if the reason he wanted me to visit his office was so he could put more pressure on me. We did not speak in the Sunday classes much. He could set up traps or other situations. He could not get in my face and push.

As far as I recall, I was happy and ready for the meeting. I felt uncomfortable as I described previously because I did not like the idea of a psychology kind of appointment. In spite of that, after going for a month or so, I began to feel closer to Mike and the group as a whole. After a year or so in class and never speaking to Mike except to say hello or respond to a question or small talk, sitting in the office over an hour for a month or so made the relationship seem closer.

One thing I have learned from life. When you feel like that? Feel good about things? The hammer is coming. You are being set up.

I am sitting there blithely thinking good thoughts and Mike says "Why do you come to me?". My heart sank and my blood ran cold. That was a pretty direct challenge. To me, the reason was obvious. I came for the same reason I joined in the first place. I was sick from doing Wing Chun and Chi Gung improperly. I felt I needed a skilled and/or talented person to explain to me what had happened and how to correct it.

If the answer was so obvious, why was Mike asking me? That is what made my blood run cold. The only thing I could think of was that he was going to tell me I did not need to be there. I did what I always did when a verbal trap was being set. I shut up. If you do not say anything, there is no handle for the other person to grab you with.

Mike says "Chris is not with me anymore." I sat there and looked at him. Mike says "He felt he did not need me and left. I do not have any contact with him at all". I sat there and looked at him.

Obviously Mike was telling me that after Chris learned what Mike had, he walked away and that was that. Mike was implying I could do the same thing.

I did not say "Lonnie, George, Jeff, Steve, Peter and James are all still students. They all learned what Chris learned. Why are you not focusing on the students that learned what you had to teach, then remained loyal and continued to stay with you?".

After that there was no way around it. I thought that Mike wanted to get rid of me. That really hurt. I was not a problem. I was quiet and did what I was told. I may not have been social or friendly but I was not a problem. Of the other men in the group, George, Peter and Steve had never studied kung fu before they met Mike. I had been practicing kung fu for 10 years when I joined Ba Gua. In my mind, there was no way that Mike could say I was not prepared for the class if those other three men who had no previous training at all were prepared.

To me it stunk of favoritism. Lonnie and Jeff were both good at kung fu. There was no doubt they would remain students. George and Steve were both brown nosers. They would crawl up Mike's behind and camp out if that is what Mike wanted. Peter was also a brown noser, but not to the same extent.

I did not think about it at the time. I wonder if Peter was allowed to join because he was a lawyer. A lawyer meant money to Mike. You sill see a pattern if you hang around to read the blog. Even though Peter was not a brown noser to the extent Steve and George were, his money or status was enough for Mike to accept him.

I was resentful. Mike was obviously picking me out to push away. That was not fair for the reason I stated above. I fully believed Mike about family style, dignity, loyalty and integrity. Even if he was just saying words to extract money from people, I wanted to believe in that kind of live and those kinds of people. There was no way I would voluntarily leave people who claimed to be dignified, had integrity, were loyal and believed in the family.

Instead of pushing me away with his talk about Chris, Mike turned my resolve to stay at Ba Gua into concrete and steel. I would never leave Ba Gua if I could help it. I would do any training that was recommended. I would do what was required of me. I would prove that I did belong in the group. Especially if people like Peter, George and Steve were welcomed with opened arms.

Time is changing the narrative

I was thinking the other day that there has been a lot of focus on the various attempts to encourage me to move on. When all of these incidents happened years ago, I had no clue. I thought someone odd was happening. I never believed then that Mike might have wished I was somewhere else.

Now, in the course of writing down what happened and seeing all the events together, it has been hard to see anything other than attempts to encourage me to move on. That has been so shocking to me that I think I am changing what happened and coloring what happened then with my attitudes from now.

I found myself thinking that from the last few entries it looks like everything was about trying to get rid of me. That is how I am thinking now, looking back. I didn't really have a clue. Yet.