Baai Si and Atlantic City Review
Grand Master Garrett Gee came to Dayton, OH on Thursday January 18th to preside over the Hung Fa Yi Baai Si ceremony of Sifu Richard Loewenhagen and Mike Mathews to Master Benny Meng. This ceremony would represent a major transition in Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun history and tradition. In its previous 330 year history, Hung Fa Yi was taught only secretly to Ming Dynasty revolutionaries and Red Flower Society members. Grand Master Gee formally opened the art to the public in April 2000 in what is today the Western Regional Hung Fa Yi Headquarters, Meng's Martial Arts of Arizona (Chandler, AZ). Since his public coming out, Master Gee has accepted only 4 disciples: Master Benny Meng, John Murphy, Mathew Kwan, and Allen Kong. These four constitute the 9th Generation of Hung Fa Yi leaders. Sifu Richard Loewenhagen and Michael Mathews would become the first Hung Fa Yi disciples and leaders of the 10th Generation. Grand Master Gee, his friend Martin Ng, and two students, Allen Kong and Jeff Chin arrived on Thursday January 18th. After settling in at Master Meng's house, the group reviewed the current HFY business plan and passed out membership cards.
After lunch, Grand Master Gee gave an impromptu workshop for VTM members covering the first section of the Hung Fa Yi Dummy. The workshop covered training, ranges, and combat applications, in addition to supporting footwork. Later on in the day, Grand Master Gee covered the first stages of Daan Chi Sau as taught in the Hung Fa Yi lineage. In Hung Fa Yi, every training exercise is related to combat. Daan Chi Sau is no exception. After learning the basic structure, the student is taught striking methods from the front hand.
The traditional Baai Si ceremony took place that evening at the Ving Tsun Museum on the main training floor. What follows is a brief description of the Baai Si ceremony. Disciple candidates Richard Loewenhagen and Mike Mathews went through the Hung Fa Yi Baai Si ceremony to show their commitment and loyalty to Master Meng, Grand Master Gee and the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun system. Rick Howard and James Mollette acted as the Seung Fa Hung Gwan (Double Flower Red Pole), guardians and warriors of Hung Fa Yi system. These warriors served to protect the entryway of the bridge from the world outside this Kung Fu system to the world inside this Kung Fu system. The Seung Fa Hung Gwan are referred to as "Left Green Dragon" and "Right White Tiger"; symbols that date back to the Southern Shaolin Temple. These terms were given to the warrior monks at the temple who were heroes. Martin Ng acted as the master of ceremonies. Jeff Chin served as assistant to the Master of Ceremonies. Each disciple candidate went through the ceremony one at a time, beginning with Richard. The ceremony involved each candidate asking for permission to join the Hung Fa Yi Kung Fu family. Each had to state their name, give a brief martial arts background and state why he wished to formally join the family. The Master of Ceremonies would ask if members of the audience had any objections. Each candidate then preformed the Baai Si and offered tea to Master Meng.
Sifu Richard Loewenhagen offering tea to Master Meng, presided over by Grand Master Gee and witnessed by Martin Eng.
Michael Mathews offering tea to Master Meng, presided over by Grand Master Gee and witnessed by Martin Eng.
By drinking their tea, Master Meng accepted them into the Hung Fa Yi Kung Fu family. He then offered each disciple a cup of tea. By drinking this tea the students demonstrated their loyalty and obedience to their Sifu. Master Meng then presented both disciples to Grand Master Gee. After accepting them into the Hung Fa Yi family, Grand Master Gee then brought the group to the Tong representing the ancestors. He is the only one able to cement the relationship between the current generation and the previous generations. After the ceremony, the audience was allowed to offer their respects to the ancestors as well.
The first two members of the Hung Fa Yi 10th generation.
Following the Baai Si ceremony, Grand Master Gee conducted another workshop. Among the topics discussed by Grand Master Gee were the Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun Pole and the Yih Jih Kim Yeuhng Mah stance. Master Meng covered the progression of Baai Jong exercises. Allen Kong demonstrated the Hung Fa Yi Pole and Dummy.
Witnesses to the Hung Fa Yi Baai Si Ceremony
After the workshop, Grand Master Gee shared his view on hei gung (qi gong) with a few students. In Grand Master Gee's experience it is safer to train hei with motions rather than yi (intent). When using just the yi, it is very easy to lead the hei into the wrong place or against the natural flow. Also it is difficult to "turn it off". By training the hei using motions, the hei is present when the motion is preformed but does not maintain itself otherwise. He shared two stories of martial artists who lost control of their hei - it lead to the death of one and almost killed the other.
Friday, Grand Master Gee and his students traveled to Atlantic City with Master Meng and his students. This trip was for the First Annual Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame Awards. Both Grand Master Gee and Master Meng had been nominated for awards and were requested to attend.
In Philidelpha Chinatown for dinner along the way.
Once arriving in Atlantic City, the group paid a visit to the Casinos to locate the workshop and have some fun gambling. Grand Master Gee's brother Lester, and his wife, were already at the Casino, having flown in earlier in the day. After checking out the action, the group returned to the hotels. Master Meng trained with Grand Master Gee until 5 am.
On Saturday morning after breakfast, the group went to the Tropicana Casino. This was the location of the Hall of Fame awards later that evening. During the day, martial arts workshops and seminars were being held. Many famous martial artists were in attendance signing autographs including a former classmate of Master Meng, Cynthia Rothrock.
Classmates together again
(l/r) Sunmi Meng, Cynthai Rothrock, Benny Meng
After lunch, the group worked out and trained on one of the dais that overlooked the casino floor. With the sound of slot machines and a live band in the distance, Grand Master Gee reviewed Daan Chi Sau for several hours.
Richard and Michael working hard on Daan Chi Sau as Grand Master Gee watches with a keen eye for distortions.
All dressed up with someplace to go!
(l/r) Sifu Richard Loewenhagen, Grand Master Garrett Gee, Sifu John Crescione, and Master Benny Meng
At the awards banquet, Grand Master Gee received a special award as Chinese Grandmaster of the Year award for his contributions to the Martial Arts with Hung Fa Yi. Master Meng received also received a special award as Promoter of the Year to acknowledge his leadership contributions to the Kung Fu community as the Curator of the Ving Tsun Museum. Among the entertainment for the dinner was a Martial Art Drill Team Demonstration. In attendance to participate in this first ever awards banquet were over 1,000 martial artists from all styles and disciplines.
Grand Master Gee with his award for Chinese Grand Master of the Year
Master Benny Meng with his award for Promoter of the Year
Three generations of Hung Fa Yi practitioners
(l/r) Jeremy Roadruck, Allen Kong, Master Benny Meng, Grand Master Garrett Gee, Sifu Richard Loewenhagen, and Michael Mathews
Master Meng with Master Allan Goldberg, host to the Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame Banquet
Three lineages of Wing Chun together
(l/r) Mike Mathews, Sifu Richard Loewenhagen, Master Benny Meng, Grand Master Jason Lau, Sifu Fred Glenn, and Mrs. Glenn
After the banquet, there was ample time for socializing and entertainment in the Casino. At 2 am, the group headed for the van for that long ride back to Dayton. The ride home had its share of adventures as the group drove several hundred miles through a blinding snowstorm. By rotating drivers and keeping the speeds to an average of 35 miles per hour, the group made it safely back to Dayton. Grand Master Gee and his students flew out of Dayton on Monday morning.
Lunch after a long night's drive.