Portsmouth Square 1965 - 1985
A site honoring the teachings of

Kuo Lien Ying

and the magical time that we were able to learn from Si Fu

"Release the chi,
and let it penetrate like a sword
into the bones."








             Master Kuo Lien Ying /”the Golden Years”

       [The Glory days of Master Kuo’s Chinatown studio in S.F. ]     


..by  Robert Bergman,

 the “ Spirit Boxer ”{ Bai Syau Hou }


History is a strange thing. Other than the confirmation of facts by the people who were the subject of the documentation, the only way to ascertain what actually took place is by second-hand verification of the events by people who were there at the time and who are still alive today. I’m writing this article in response to requests from several of my Gung Fu brothers and sisters who asked me to tell what it was really like to train under the late great Master Kuo Lien Ying during the “Glory Days” in San Francisco. They were all very interested in hearing the stories about the inspirational atmosphere around the Chinatown studio, when Sifu Kuos’ school was flourishing with all the top practitioners and local Sifus who came to study with Master Kuo, drawn to the indomitable will and spirit of this amazing and charismatic man. I know, because I was there!


My name is Robert Bergman, and back then I was known as “Indian.” I was born in New York City and in the late 1960s several of my friends were among the first to study Chinese Gung Fu, and they found that there wasn’t a lot of “real” Gung Fu being taught to the general public at that time and I know this from personal experience because I used to visit a friend of mine, Donald Rubbo, who lived on Canal street, a couple of blocks away from the heart of Chinatown and on the way home I would always notice an intense group of people[ mostly Chinese] who were dressed in traditional black Gung Fu uniforms that practiced publicly, outside in the “Manhattan Bridge Triangle” on the east side of Chinatown. It turns out that this was the “Fu Jow Pai”[Black Tiger] school of famed master Wai Hung and was one of the first schools to teach real Chinese Gung Fu openly to the public. Well, at that time I didn’t have that much money and my parents weren’t about to shell out their hard earned cash to have their son study how to eat Chinese food.

{..a joke, but close to true because they like everyone else at that time they thought Gung Fu was a restaurant in Chinatown). So I took the only reasonable opportunity available to me and I started working out with a couple of those friends and we would also go to the old Sun Sing movie theater under the old Manhattan bridge in New York Chinatown to see all the old Shaw Brothers Shao-Lin movies. Well, that was all it took for me and I was hooked on Gung Fu but I noticed that all my friends [except one, whom I’ll talk about later] had the wrong attitude and lacked the “spiritual” motivation that had inspired me to begin with. They just wanted to fight, and I wanted to find out more about the philosophy behind the forms.

So when I arrived in San Francisco in the early 1970’s, I was looking for the complete package: authentic lineage and origin, functional application and theory and internal development from a tradition of spiritual philosophy that emphasized the “path of enlightenment.” Little did I know how soon my prayers would be answered! One day, I was walking through the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park and I noticed a man training by himself. His form was graceful and fluid and his flexibility was amazing, but what impressed me the most was the powerful, yet peaceful energy that emanated from him. He had a calm,