Wednesday, May 10, 2006

In Memory of Grandmaster Brendan Lai

I first visited Brendan Lai's martial arts supply store in the early 90's. It was all that I would ever imagine a martial arts supply shop to be. It was not particularly clean or organized. If it had been, it would have lost something. It was just like it should be, rough, a bit cramped, with many nooks and corners ready to be explored. To a martial artist, specially a kung fu enthusiast, it was an almost magical place. Every time I visited, I would spend hours admiring and examining their many unique items, and each time I would find wonderful new things. I visited as often as I could and after a while, my face became familiar to Master Lai and his wife. These visits inspired the idea of Shen Martial Arts. One day, Master Lai asked me about my training and from then on he made me feel like I was part of his circle of friends. That first talk lasted hours and Master Lai even took me to the back area of the shop, the mysterious back room. There we practiced techniques and specially Chin Na which Master Lai was an expert in. He was loud and excitable, full of enthusiasm for kung fu. My wife was in the front and thought we were fighting, but after some time, we came out smiling, shaking hands and exchanging telephone numbers. I cannot say I was close to Grandmaster Brendan Lai, as I only new him for a short few years and saw him a few times a year. Yet he made me feel like I was part of his family, his kung fu family. His excitement and love of kung fu were contagious. I am a better person from the little time I spent with him. His memory and his energy live on.

Spirit, Posture, Body, and Mind
Spirit should be like an eagle swooping down to catch a rabbit,
Posture should resemble a cat ready to pounce on a mouse,
The waist should be as flexible as a dragon,
The arms should have the strength of a tiger,
Footwork of the monkey (quick and agile), Heart of the fox (cunning and strategic),
Hands of the praying mantis (lightning speed).
From: Praying Mantis Martial Arts Institute,
20th Anniversary, 1982-2002, Commemorative Issue,
New York, NY, USA, 2002.