Training In The Living Room
“Push the hips!”
My Gong Gong (grandpa) would comment to the 7 or 8 year old me as my brother, Chih and I carry out one of our favorite childhood games.
My Gong Gong, Grandmaster Chin, Lik Keong, was not formally educated but he was a genius. He’s a well-respected Grandmaster, the founder of a martial art that’s being practiced by students globally. As mentioned in part 1, he had the ability to memorize martial art forms even after seeing them once, and he’d be able to distill the essence of the moves. Just like those fictional characters that you see in kung fu films, except Gong Gong was real.
Of course, I had no idea then.
Growing up, I saw many people, mostly men, come and get beaten by my Gong Gong. Then they would show up every week after that and get all sweaty in our living room, pushing and pulling with other students who also were beaten up by my Gong Gong. All these people crammed in a hot and humid living room. As the night would go on, I sometimes wish they would just stop and go home. Why? Because they’ve made the living room smell so bad!
Students training in the living room at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For many years, I thought this was common in every family.
One good thing about their weekly training, though, was that I did enjoy seeing my Gong Gong teach all the “tips and tricks” so I could try to apply them when it’s the turn for Chih and I to regain access to our playground – our playground. We would take turns pushing each other across the living room. Gong Gong would often join in giving instructions. I remember I’d get jealous sometimes because he’d give more tips to my brother, teaching him how to beat me in the game.
“Push the hips!” “Stronger” “Lift off the ground!” etc…
You could see the passion in Gong Gong, for he loved sharing what he knew. Even with kids like myself and my brother who’s probably still attending Kindergarten then.
For decades, before the crack of dawn, both my Gong Gong and Ma Ma, a.k.a. Grandma would drive to the nearby national stadium, the locals call it the “Mushroom Park” because there is a huge mushroom overhead. They go there to exercise, do qigong, and train martial arts. While Ma Ma dances with the bunch of other grandmas, Gong Gong would volunteer his time to teach whoever was interested.
Sometimes Chih and I would go along with them and play around the park. I’d follow along with other martial arts masters doing the fan dance, or participate with the group of grandmas along with my Ma Ma to a voice blasting through the stereo counting from 1 to 10, or simply go and pick flowers while Chih hung out with our gong gong. Several hours later, we’d drive to a crowded Passar (morning market) to “Yam Cha” which means “drink tea” – a.k.a. to get food. This routine went on until the day before my Gong Gong passed away at the age of 80.
Growth Through Sharing
Everywhere Gong Gong went, people addressed him as “Sifu.”
He was well respected, people that would come and pay visits to him from all over and he would share passionately. During holidays, especially Chinese New Year, our house would be filled with visitors and gifts. He just loved teaching, a characteristic apparently common with my father as well. It’s their passion. They want everyone to have the same treasure that they recognized. It makes them happy to see other people benefit from the art.
This very reason drove my father to continue teaching even when he was battling cancer and being treated in the hospital. When students visited him, you could see the drive in him ignite. It gave him energy and he would then share his most recent recognition from the time that he spent recovering at the hospital – his explorations and deeper understanding of the mind in connection to the body. It was then that he structured “The Path of I Liq Chuan”, from his hospital bed.
The culture of our organization, led by example from both my Gong Gong and father, is based on sharing.
Despite the hardships, this gave me the fire to continue coordinating our daily public martial art sessions during the peak of the pandemic. I’m grateful to our instructors who volunteered their time for these sessions. Our intention is to bring people together during the quarantine. Perhaps we could provide a bit of normalcy and change the day for the better for some people.
As children, Chih and I fought to win our childhood games. As adults, we coordinated together in reaching out to our frontline heroes. We volunteered with Words by Amrita, a non-profit organization initiative that specializes in positive words and artwork for the healthcare professionals. Together, we delivered cards and organized Zen Day for Westside Regional Medical Center in Florida that’s part of HCA, one of the largest hospital network in America.
I was especially touched to see not only busy doctors and nurses benefit from the meditation sessions, but COVID patients as well!
Coordinating with Kilin Tang, instructor Wai Tang’s son, we are also reaching out to senior homes through COVID-19 Greater Charlotte Area Mutual Aid. This is a student run organization focusing on connecting support to the community of North Carolina. Local high schoolers jumped aboard and volunteered to personalize hundreds of cards before delivering them to the senior centers.
We hope to continue reaching out to more healthcare facilities, clinics and senior centers. If you know of any facilities that would benefit from this initiative, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appreciating The Roots
Even with my father’s most recent knee replacement surgery, he’s been reflecting on the best ways to spread the art. He is continually seeking, searching for best ways to guide others to continue their own self-cultivation.
When I see my dad’s constant dedication to spreading the Martial Art of Awareness, even when he himself is in the middle of healing, I appreciate the roots of my own passion for sharing positivity.
-Yen L. Chin