The Septic Monkey wants to throw this out there - for what it's worth:
Over the many years of affiliating with Shaolin-Do, I have heard and read a variety of differing stories about when GM The’ began learning Kung Fu. It has always seemed suspicious that someone who claims to know approximately 900 forms cannot quite keep his dates consistent about when he began Kung Fu. This doesn’t prove with certainty that he is being dishonest, or that he is a fraud instructor, but it is very suspicious. The following quotes are mostly published, documented statements about GM The’s starting dates which differ from one and another. To me, the most significant discrepancy between dates occurs from the same author, James R. Halladay, in his Kung Fu manual and his co-authored book Shaolin-Do: Secrets from the Temple: the manual indicates that GMT was eight years old when he began. In the book Shaolin-Do (p. 12), GMT begins at six, yet on page 44, GMT begins at seven. From this, I draw several possible conclusions: one, Halladay is a sloppy, forgetful writer. Two, GMT is a bit forgetful and inconsistent when relaying this story, and Halladay isn’t catching the discrepancies. Three, GMT is lying and cannot keep his story straight when telling this story.
Another out-of-place story relating to when GMT began his study in Kung Fu is the one about how his father forbid GMT to do martial arts because, as the story goes, when GM The’s father was young, he injured himself from doing meditation improperly. Because of The’s father’s injury, he forbid GMT to learn Kung Fu from GM Ie, but oddly, his parents were comfortable with allowing their son to burn his hands in hot sand between the ages of four and seven (depending on what age account one wishes to begin at).
Quotes by Chronological Date
In May of 2011 at a seminar, Master The’ told a story about how he began in Shaolin. He said that he was five when he met Master Ie and began his training. In the past, I personally heard him say on other occasions that he was eight. This seems to be a story that he likes to tell our school often when he visits.
“Then one day, as a test of patience, Master Ie spilled some rice grains on the floor. He explained to a six year old Sin that....” (Halladay, Shaolin-Do: Secrets from the Temple, 12).
“I was born in Bandung, Indonesia. At the age of six, after an exhaustive six-month selective process which tested patience, endurance, dedication and temperament, Grandmaster E accepted me as a student.” http://www.shaolingrandmaster.com/biography.html
“Not long after, a friend of the family and a close friend of Grandmaster Ie took young Sin Thé to his school to watch a class and be introduced. He was amazed by what he saw. Grandmaster Ie's students were practicing empty hand forms, weapon forms, and sparring. It was a far cry from being a student whose sole training was burning their hands! The seven-year-old asked to join, but was dismissed with polite excuses. After some time, he was allowed to join the school, and then the real tests began.” http://www.shaolin-do.com/history.php
“At seven years old, Master The’ was one of two students studying the Sand-burn Training under his master….As a result, Master The’s teacher discontinued his classes. It was at this point that Master The’ switched over to Shaolin-do with its Iron Hand training method.” (Halladay, Shaolin-Do: Secrets from the Temple, 44). …Note: The’s “teacher” here is the sand-burn guy prior to Grandmaster Ie.
“After 6 months, the sand burn man stopped teaching. Sin Kwang heard about Grandmaster Ie’s school and went to watch. Grandmaster Ie had 80 students practicing empty hand forms, weapons forms and sparring. The 7 year old Sin Kwang asked to join the school, but he was put off with polite excuses.” (http://shaolinla.com/history/grandmasters/) .
“Five years later, at the age of thirteen, Sin Kwang The tested to Black Belt.” Here, “Five years later” means five years after he met Master Ie. (…Note: here in Halladay’s manual, there isn’t a said date as to when Master The’ began Kung Fu. The date can be deduced from a statement on page 18 within the same context which reveals GMT was 8 years old when he began.)
“Sin Kwang The' (Chinese: 鄭神光; pinyin: zhèng shēnguāng) Sin Kwang The' was born in Bandung, Indonesia. As a young child he became a student of the lesser known Sand Burn Training in which you burn your hands with hot sands and eventually strengthen your hands to the point of requiring a glove to safely touch one another. One day however, his master accidentally killed his son with his strong hands and the art was disintegrated. Sin eventually saw a show of the Shaolin-Do arts when he was a twelve year old, and from there on he wished to become a student of Ie Chang Ming. After a introductory challenge he was accepted as a direct student of Master Ie. At first, Sin was taught the basics of Shaolin for an unknown amount of time. This training included stances and mind training. He trained from when he woke up to when he went to bed, short of school.” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sin_Kwang_The . The author/editor is unknown, but it was last modified on November 18th, 20011.