training for Life
Column by Grandmaster Doc-Fai Wong
November 2009 Issue

My First Day Chi-Kung Experience with Professor Yu

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I don't remember in which month I began my chi-kung training but I believe it might have been in the summer of 1981 that I first heard that P. S. Yu from Shanghai had come to San Francisco to teach chi-kung. I had no idea who P. S. Yu was. I thought he was someone from China who wanted to make some quick money and then go back to China.

I saw a flier which said proffessor Yu was going to give a lecture and chi-kung demonstration in the Fort Mason Center of San Francisco. But to me it was no big deal. I was not interested in going to the Fort Mason Center to check it out. After the lecture was over, the following Wednesday, I ran into Sam Louie in Chinatown. Sam Louie and I had studied choy li fut from Lau Bun in the Hung Sing Kung Fu Studio before. He asked “have you heard of Prof. Peng Si Yu was giving a lecture on chi-kung in the Fort Mason Center last Saturday?” I was surprised, because I heard of the name Peng Si Yu from my kung fu teacher Hu Yuen-Chou in Hong Kong a long time ago. I thought Professor Yu was dead.

Prof. Peng Si Yu was famous in the Shanghai martial arts world. He studied Shaolin kung-fu from a famous local master named Mi Jian Hua in Shanghai. In 1928, he was introduced to the study of "I-chuan" (yi quan) or mind and intention boxing from the famous great grandmaster, Wang Xiang Zhai. Yu turned out to be master Wang's closest disciple and most steadfast supporter. Yu also provided for his teacher's personal and financial needs. Peng Si Yu asked master Wang to teach him only the true heart of internal martial arts practice and to refrain from teaching him anything that was not practical in the art of I-chuan. Yu eventually added Tibetan Buddhist chi-kung practices to Wang's I-chuan system. The 3,OOO-year-old exercises of chi-kung are designed to promote internal energy (chi) through breathing, meditation, moving exercises, and standing postures. After Same Louie told me about Prof. Peng Si Yu, I realized that Yu was the same person as P. S. Yu in the advertising flier.

The following Saturday, I told some of my students that I was going to the Fort Mason Center to join the chi-kung class with Prof. Yu. Few students went with me and Jane Hallander was one of them. When I walked into the class, I saw there were over 40 people in the class. Most of the students were renown kung fu teachers from the San Francisco Bay Area. There were Hung Gar, Praying Mantis, Choy Li Fut, White Crane, Mok Gar, Northern Shaolin, Xing Yi, Ba Gua and Tai Chi masters and few Karate and Kempo black belt instructors in the class. Prof. Yu put Jane Hallander and I in the front row of the class. The other students of mine just came to spectate only.

I have been practiced chi-kung standing meditation (zhan-zhuang) for over 20 years, but I only could only stand for between 15 to 20 minutes at the longest. After the class began standing, around 20 minutes later, my mind could not concentrate anymore. I was thinking of stopping, but all other martial art teachers were standing at the back row. I didn't want to quit and make myself look bad, therefore I kept standing with the class. Finally I heard the hand claps from Prof. Yu, that was the signal to stop standing. Immediately, I looked at my watch, we stood for 45 minutes already. I couldn't believe that I had stood for that long. That really gave me the confidence that I could stand for that long every time. I was so happy that I could do it. I asked my spectator students about the other martial art teachers how long did they standing for? My students told me that the longest person was only stood for around 15 minutes and most of them quit after about 10 minutes.

I was so proud of myself and I was also glad that Prof. Yu put me to the front row. From that day on, I practiced my chi-kung standing from 45 minutes to one hour per day. Eventually, I did my chi-kung standing for up to two hours. Prof. Yu passed away in July 1983. I continued my practice with his wife Madam Min Ou-Yang for seven more years.

Doc-Fai Wong writes a bi-monthly column for Inside Kung-Fu.

November 2009 Inside Kung-Fu