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focused look in his eyes and I was mesmerized watching him! A good amount of time must have passed before I realized it, and he finished his set of exercises with a traditional salutation and started walking towards me. Previously, I might have been a little apprehensive in the same situation but I felt no negative energy or aggressiveness from him, and as he got within a few feet from me (what I thought of as “striking distance”), a big warm smile came across his face. Still not wanting to disrespect him, I said, “That was really incredible,” and asked him what it was that he was practicing. He told me his name was Bing Gong, he was practicing the system of Northern Shao-Lin and he was a student of Master Kuo Lien Ying in Chinatown. He also said that he taught Shao-Lin & Tai Chi classes in the morning at the Panhandle. Well, I knew right then and there that I had found the Gung Fu family I was looking for and that I had to contact my closest and lifelong friend, Donald Rubbo who was the only one of my original “New York Gung Fu buddies” who[coincidentally had recently moved to San Francisco from New York] felt the same way I did way back then and was also committed in his quest to follow the “Path of Spiritual Boxing”. I knew then that he would be as excited as I was with the auspicious and lucky meeting of Sifu Bing and the introduction to Master Kuo’s Gung Fu family and now it seems like it was “ Heaven’s Will” because he has become one of the most dedicated teachers and talented exponents of Master Kuo’s teachings and I am honored to say that he is my Gung Fu brother and truly a man of virtue, loyal to the preservation and promotion of the “Guang Ping Tai Chi” & “Shao-Lin” traditions teaching the forms as they were taught to us, exact and unchanged, humbly honoring the wishes of our master Kuo Lien Ying.
Anyway, after training with Sifu Gong everyday for three years, learning the first two sets of Shao-Lin, Tan Tui and Cha Chuan, Sifu Gong felt that it was the right time for me to meet and pay my respects to his master, Sifu Kuo Lien Ying, who was the lineage holder of the Gung Fu tradition I was training in. I found it curious that Sifu Gong suggested I sleep over at his house the night before I was to meet Sifu Kuo. At four in the morning, I discovered why. We had to leave early in order to be at the Chinatown studio at Portsmouth Square park at 5 am (sharp!) because that was the time when the Sifu Kuo practiced, and if I wanted to see him and all his senior students train, it was 5 am. or nothing! That’s when the dedication and seriousness that was required to be a student of Master Kuo Lien Ying hit me …..… and that was just the beginning ! !
After the 5 am arrival everything got easier .. or so I thought. I was told to show the Master what I had learned from my teacher (his student) Bing. After performing Cha Chuan, Sifu Kuo looked at me with a stern face, looked at my teacher, looked back at me and shouted “Hau Gung Fu!” and, with a little grin on his face, walked off chuckling to himself. Once again, I was awestruck. It was truly amazing that all it took was a few words and a hard look from this man and I was ready to follow him to the ends of the earth. Sifu Kuo just exuded vitality and spirit. He had the posture and agility of a young man although he was in his 80’s at the time. His heart was warm and kind, like a Buddhist priest, but what was most in inspiring was his energy: his spirit felt like bolts of “Heavenly Lightning”. To this day I thank the heavens for my teacher, Sifu Bing Gong, and his generous and unselfish attitude in introducing me to his master, the man who changed my life forever, Master Kuo Lien Ying.