Miller Time

Tonight, I must confess, I am suffused with a mellow glow of self-satisfaction. Let me explain:

I have described, in an earlier post, my interest in southern Chinese kung fu. I began in 1976, at the age of 19, to study the Lam Sai Wing Hung Gar system under the tutelage of the formidable William Chung, and was awarded a black belt in 1982 or so. But due to various circumstances, which are beyond the scope of this post, I was forced to withdraw from my study with him a few years later, and spent the next nine years practicing on my own, teaching a bit, and attending to life’s other clamant demands, which included establishing both a career and a family. By 1993, however, I was yearning to refocus my martial-arts studies under the guidance of a qualified master, and was lucky enough to meet, in my own neighborhood of Park Slope, Brooklyn, one Peter Berman, a Hung-style expert who had learned the Tang Fung Hung Ga system under the renowned master Frank Yee, and I began to reapply myself to the demands of this fierce fighting style. Although the two systems are very similar – Lam Sai Wing and Tang Fung were “training brothers” under the legendary Wong Fei Hung, a century or so ago – they have diverged a bit, and I began with Sifu Berman “from scratch”. My progress was slowed by the many demands placed on my time by work and family, as well as by several nasty orthopedic injuries, and by the difficulty of the style itself. But my previous training was a great help, and I made my way slowly through the system’s lengthy and complex empty-hand and weapons forms.

Today, at age 49, after more than twelve years with Sifu Berman, and with knees creaking, I completed my final test – the Ng Lung Ba Gwa Cheung Spear Form – and attained the rank of Jo Gow, my second black belt, twenty-five years after the first.

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2 Comments

  1. Kevin Kim says

    Congratulations!

    Have you ever read Lee Modjeska’s book on taekwondo, Keeper of the Night ?

    I’m not asking because I’m interested in TKD/hung gar similarities, but because Modjeska got his TKD black belt at about age 60, and was battling cancer. Like you, he went through a lot.

    Here’s a URL that talks about the book. It’s kind of hard to find these days. A friend of mine in grad school lent me her copy; I read it and gave it back. Sort of regret not having stolen the book now.

    Kevin

    Posted January 8, 2006 at 1:07 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Kevin!

    No, I hadn’t heard of the book, but it looks like a good one, in a simultaneously uplifting and depressing sort of way. You did the right thing not to steal it from your friend, by my lights.

    I wouldn’t compare anything I’ve been through to battling terminal cancer! Still plenty of time, though.

    Posted January 8, 2006 at 1:34 pm | Permalink