I will be posting some stories about my teacher, Sifu Chan Tai-San in the near future. I see both David Ross and Chris Jurak have posted here several times as well. They are both knowledgable and extremely competant. We've spent years together and I've shared some of the best and worst martial experiences with them.
I will relate one story for those of you who seem to enjoy these posts;
Back in either 1989 or 1990, my teacher and I, along with David Ross and another classmate, were invited to attend a demonstration in Boston, MASS. We packed up my car and drove to Boston. For those of you who knew Sifu Chan Tai-San, any road trip, let alone a 4 hour one, was an experience. You never knew what he was going to want to do, where he would direct you to drive, or when you would get yelled at. I say when, because it wasn't a matter of if, it was just a matter of 'when' would you make some sort of non-Chinese blunder that would get his blood boiling.
Anyway, after driving to several rest stations to find his favorite food, Kentucky fried Chicken (He would designate which chicken establishment we were to drive to by gestureing as if he has a long beard (Col. Sanders) or Roy Rogers (By making a triangle on his head to simulate a hat)) we finally got to our destination. He has chicken and he was happy. After a brief visit with the Col., we got on the road again.
Chinatown was quiet at 2:30 in the afternoon, and Sifu had directed to a Chinese resturant which was closed. We tried to tell him it was closed and he just waved us off and knocked on the door.
As the door opened, we were greeted by a dozen workers and people who were obviously waiting for us to arrive. They brought out tons of food for everyone to eat and the owner proceeded to tell us this story;
Fortunatly, he spoke English pretty well (I speak cantonese like a 5 year old kid) and he talked about a fight with Sifu Chan and a White Crane master. It seems that the White Crane guys (who was in his 40's) had mentioned to someone that he thought Chan tai-san was old and useless (Sifu Chan was in his 60's). To make a long story short, a fight was aranged between the two men.
The cool thing about the guy telling the story is, that he was a kung-fu guy and told us what techniques were actually used. Since both mem did similiar styles, it was exciting to hear the play-by-play. The guy was in his 40's and he said he had seen this happen as a teen-ager or maybe when he was 20.
He said that the WC guy threw Kahp Choih and Gok Choih (Stamping and Hooking/Horn Fists) at Sifu Chan, attacking violiently. Sifu Chan used the Lama principle "Siim" to evade, and countered each technique with it's mirror image. Sifu Chan shaved the angle (as he was much more experienced) and struck the WC guy with every countered strike.
Finally, after the WC attacked again with a Hook Punch, Sifu Chan ducked under, lifted him up with "Jyu Geng Pao Choih" (Mirror Hand Uppercut) to the solar plexis and then "Biin" (Whipping first) to the face with a cross step sweep. The WC guy fell on the floor, made a strange sound and never got up.
The guy telling the story also added that before the fight, the two men signed an agreement (which it turns out was not at all uncommon) that if "either of them die, it's ok and there will be no restitution against the other person's family."
Just like I always say, "You gotta get it in writing!"
Cool story I thought, when we left and were like; "Wow, our Sifu is the Sh*t!" We knew it before then, but it was always fun to hear great stories about people who had seen him do crazy stuff.
Anyway, learning from Sifu Chan was an amazing experience, one that has shaped and changed my life forever. Not many students knew him well, but for a few years after I opened my school in 1991, the "Chan Tai-San Kung-Fu Center" Sifu would stayed at my house for two nights each week and had his own room. My classmate David always said: "you learn all the cool stuff from hanging out with your Sifu when your are not learning." Very true David, very true.
Wishing you all the best in your training, I look forward to reading more posts from you all.
Sifu Michael Parrella
Master Parrrella's Kung-Fu Center