Shock Treatments

by Carol Miller
Head Instructor and Simo of Twin Tigers Martial Arts Center
Bremerton, Washington USA

The first time I met Grandmaster was in Bremerton, Washington around 1980. I had just begun studying with Sifu Vernon Miller who had brought Grandmaster up for a very special seminar. His studio was housed in a 6-story brick building that was built by the Elks in the 1920's.

The seminar was held upstairs in the large carpeted auditorium lined with theater seats. On the way up we scattered through the building like monkeys to explore the secret doorways and carved spiral staircases.

Some of us who had only been there a month or so, lingered around in the back trying not to draw attention to ourselves but obviously nervous about meeting Grandmaster. He spotted us and more or less "encouraged" us to sit in the front row as he began his talk.

He spoke a bit about Tai Chi and then said, "Before we begin, let's have a demonstration. Please stand up if you would like to volunteer to do some form". Something got into our small shy group in the front and we immediately jumped up, our eyes wide open - I think I even let out a screech! Was it pure enthusiasm - the thought of volunteering for such an honorable task? No.

It seems that while we were busy exploring the hidden rooms and trap doors, Grandmaster and Sifu Miller had done some exploring of their own. They discovered a little hidden switch attached to bare copper wires running through the front row seats. When Grandmaster gave the signal, Sifu Miller flipped the switch that gave us a mild electric shock. The Elks, we were later told, used it for their initiation ceremonies.

The room roared with laughter and like magic, the nerves evaporated. Unfortunately, the real shock came for our "mischief loving" Grandmaster while he endured our "beginner style" Tai Chi performance!

Someday, I'll tell you how I volunteered to eat the fish eyes . . .

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