A site honoring the teachings of Kuo Lien Ying and the magical time that we were able to learn from Si Fu

Portsmouth Square 1965-1985

Bing Gong's Biography
This is me in Shanghai in 2006. I later went to Hong Kong to protest at the WTO Ministerial in December 2006.
Born in 1938 in Santa Cruz, to immigrant parents from the Pearl River Delta near Guangzhou, China, escaping the Japanese invasion in the 1930's.  My mother died when I was two, and I was raised by my father who was in the grocery business.   I have an older brother who was born in China.  Baba (Dad) remarried when I was nine years old.  We, with step-mom, step-sister and step-brother, lived in the back of the store in the Hayward suburbs, away from the Chinese community, so I was pretty Americanized, for better or for worse - playing football in high school and elected student body president in my senior year.  Baba was very stoic and taciturn, not giving me any religious upbringing but was more Confucian.  However, the trajectory of my life led me back to my cultural roots - taking a course in Asian philosophy at San Jose State in the late 1950's, being exposed to the perennial philosophies of Asia - Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoist thought - Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu and Bodhidharma, then to the newly-founded Esalen Institute to take a meditation workshop with Gary Synder, and where I first saw Gia Fu Feng performing T'ai Chi Ch'uan, which was later to be an important piece in my life.  

I worked my way through college by working as a grocery and produce clerk for a supermarket chain, and managed to graduate college with a BS in accounting.  Later I was offered a produce manager position at a new store opening in Las Vegas and took the job, but hated Las Vegas and came back after a year to the Bay Area.  Trying to figure out what to do with my life, I thought I might like to be a forest ranger and went back to UC Berkeley to study forestry.  And that was during the tumultuous years of the Free Speech Movement, the People Park and the Vietnam War.  However, my political consciousness was barely awake at the time, and I was only at the margins of all the political turmoil of the times.  I did march in a few protests and go to some teach-ins.  Just at the time I was to go to summer camp for new forestry students, I backed out and went back to work for the supermarket chain and wandered about aimlessly for a period.

I married Yvonne Lee in 1966, whose father came from the same village in China as Baba did, and in 1967 my dear daughter, Nicole, was born (who is now forty-one and I have a grandson, Emmett is now thirteen).  The marriage didn't last long and we divorced after two years. 

One evening in San Francisco Chinatown, Yvonne and I stumbled across the studio of Kuo Lien Ying, a widely regarded master of the Chinese internal martial arts - T'ai Chi Ch'uan, Pa Qua and Hsing-yi and Nei Gung.  I then began a long apprenticeship with Kuo Sifu (Sifu is an honorific title for "teacher-father" or master).  The Chinese martial arts became the major focus of my life.  Sifu expected us dedicated students to come to Portsmouth Square at 5 am every morning and encouraged us to shave our heads like Shao Lin monks, and I devoted my life to the practice, and practiced at the studio in the morning and evenings, a total of five or six hours everyday.  The practice brought me discipline and a focus to my life, and a sense of family with other students.  Marilyn Cooper, who practiced in the early days, and I were a couple for a couple of years devoting our lives to the practice.

After studying for ten years, Sifu gave me permission to teach, and I began teaching an everyday class in the Panhandle in the Haight-Ashbury.  In the meantime, I met and married Paula Merrill, who was the bookkeeper at a head shop on Haight Street, and had two young sons, David and Evan (now in their 40's with whom I still have close relationship.)  The class and the marriage went on for ten years, a very rich period in my life, but I eventually burnt out on both and felt I had to move on and develop other parts of myself.  

In the 1980's I became involved in the men's movement that was a reaction to the women's movement, going to retreats with Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade.  It was a very empowering, initiatory, and formative experience, being exposed to Jungian psychology, stories, poetry and literature, opening up new perspectives.  In 1992, I helped organize a men's conference at Slide Ranch "The Eagle Sees Afar: 500 years before and after"  with 60 men, bringing together tracker John Stokes and several Native American teachers., and we planted a Tree of Peace at Green Gulch.   During this time, I supported myself as an accountant working for a small law firm specializing in tax preparation, with which I am still employed part-time after over twenty years, but gradually cutting back and semi-retiring.  It has been a very symbiotic relationship because the firm allowed me to work flexible hours as long as the work got done.  This has allowed me a lot of free time to go to conferences, lots of psychotherapy, protests and retreats for personal growth that I have been drawn to over the years.

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