Recently, I became aware that a local kung fu instructor, we’ll call him “Ralph” (NOT his real name), was speaking ill of me. I’ve never met Ralph, in fact I haven’t really been involved in the kung fu community since around 1995 and Ralph actually started training AFTER that date. Considering this, you might find it at the very least a little strange that Ralph has gone out of his way to speak ill of me, unless you know how the kung fu world works.
I do happen to know Ralph’s teacher. We’ll call him “Famous Master X” (NOT his real name). Here’s where it really gets funny, yes, FUNNY. I am not taking any of this at all seriously, and you’ll quickly see why. I have a friend who is a classmate under my teacher Chan Tai San. About five years ago (YES, FIVE YEARS AGO!) my friend was in Asia and happened to be in the same city as “Famous Master X”. They had lunch.
According to my friend, he paid for lunch. According to “Famous Master X” my friend did not, and that was a breach of kung fu protocol. Yes, we’re talking about a lunch bill, that happened 5 years ago. You might also notice I wasn’t there for that lunch. I wasn’t in the country. I wasn’t even on the same side of the planet at the time. NONE OF THAT MATTERS in the kung fu world! My friend, who is associated with Chan Tai San, insulted “Famous Master X” and so now Ralph feels he has to bad mouth everyone associated with Chan Tai San.
Please repeat after me: “What the F–K”?
No, actually, pretty standard stuff in the kung fu world. I know a teacher who bad mouthed an entire system because his once buddy borrowed the equivalent of $10 from him (in renminbi mind you) and never paid it back. I know another argument that occurred because someone got up to go to the bathroom at the wrong time during a banquet. Ask anyone who has spent time in the “Wu Lin” and I pretty much guarantee they have similar stories.
(Sort of makes me want to add a category to this blog called “bullcrap”)
I suppose when you elevate a bunch of semi-literates to the level of unquestionable master, wrap them in the flag of an elaborate, often irrational social system like Confucianism and then sprinkle in some good old kung fu theatre you are bound to develop a dysfunctional mini-world like the Wu Lin has become. Fortunately for me, I chose a long time ago to vacate the premises. And people wonder why?