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

1979 International Martial Arts Exhibition, Oakland, California
It was February, 1979 when I heard that there was going to be a big international martial arts exhibition at Oakland California. I had never been to one, so I called up my kung fu brother, Don Boone and asked him if he wanted to go. I was hoping to see big stars like Super Foot Wallace, and other international famous movie stars. We really didn't know what to expect.

When we arrived, there were three main arenas with students from all sorts of schools competing in sparring. Looking around, I recognized some of the local Si Fu's of various local academies, but no big stars like I was hoping to see. I was actually a little dissapointed.

After a while they started going through some forms competition. First the white belts, and then the next ranking belts. I wasn't very impressed with what I saw. Many has nice fluid movements, but nothing strong like I was used to seeing at Kuo's classes. I turned to Boone and said, "I think I could do better than that!"

Boone looked at me and said something like "I think you should try." I hadn't gone prepared to compete. In fact I am pretty sure I had already worked out that morning. It was my usual schedule at that time to drive down at 3:30 on Saturday with my family and work out until 8 AM and then go work at my parents house building a deck for them. It was a pretty grueling schedule for the family, because we would then get up at 4:30 the next morning, go to the square again and then drive back up to Sonoma county.

That day, I had left the family at my mom's house and gone to the exhibition with Don. I was dress in slacks and a white shirt and my usual ready for gung fu flat tennis shoes. I hadn't worn any uniforms since my kenpo days. I had been to a few tournament in those early kenpo days, but nothing this big.

So with Don's encouragement, I went up to the judges and asked if I could enter the competition. I recognized one of the judges as Brendan Lai, as he knew Si Fu and had the largest martial arts store in the City on Mission Street. I had bought a sword from him for Bing back in 1976 and he knew that I studied with Si Fu Kuo. The other judge was a large caucasion man named Al White. They asked me what school I represented and I proudly said Kuo Lien Ying"s school. Then they asked me what class, and as we didn't have a belt system, I said black belt. Then they asked me if I had a uniform, and I said no, I'll demonstrate in my street clothes. They looked at each other for a minute and then said, well, Okay, go line up over there. There was no time for any stretchng, practice or warm up because it was the last second. At that time, it was not uncommone that Si Fu would make me do a sword set right as I got out of my car without any warmups. He always tried to catch me off guard. One time I asked why I couldn't warm up, and he said I had to be ready at any moment. So here was a perfect example.

I did a set of Cha Chuan and I remember that it was Okay, but not my best set. I was kinda nervous in that big competition. After everyone was finished, I was just happy that it was all over. Then they announced that I had won first place. I couldn't believe it! Someone came over and handed me a huge trophy about 3 feet tall. Later Brendan Lai came up to me and told me that my set needed some work because Kuo's style was not flashy enough. He told me that if the other judges had been judging, I would not have won. But because he was knowledgeable enough to see solid basic foundation, that was the reason I won. I was never ashamed of Kuo's "plane jane down to the basics sets again after that!

On the way back to the car, I was carrying this huge trophy and I can still remember everyone pointing at me and it. Ha, the guy in street clothes that won the trophy!

When I got back to my mom's house, I rang the doorbell and when they opened the door I held the trophy in front of me. This is a photo of my son and the trophy from that day. The trophy finally disappeared somehow into oblivion, so all that I have to prove this story happened, is this photo, the original program from that day, and Don Boone, and of course the stories people heard after that. The news spead through Kuo's classes, but I doubt anyone remembers this story.

My son Yuan holding the big trophy in front of the new pond
Here's the program from that day
Additional notes to this story:

Heh, he. I just looked in the program to see who really had been there that day, and it's full of Big names after all! Guess that I was so focuses on seeing Super Foot Wallace, I missed all the good stuff!

Here's some big time names from the program that weekend.:

Sifu Y.C. Wong, Sifu Hak-fu Chan, Sifu William Siu, Sifu Doc-Fai Wong, Ralph Castro, Sifu Bill Owens, Sifu Yun-chung Chiang, Sensei Dan Furuya, Sa0bum-Nim Hee Cho, Sensei Fumio Demura, Sifu Jim Lau, Lady Sifu Bow-Sim Mark, Sifu Willy Lin, Sifu Hsu Chi, Sifu Alex Kwok, Sifu Brendan Lai to name a few. But no super foot wallace!!