THE STORY OF MASTER CHAN
BOSTON COMMON 1983
It was 1983 I was living in Boston at the time. One summer day I met some folks who invited me over. It got late so I spent the night. I did not sleep that night for reasons left unexplained. Around sunrise 6:30 I decided to walk to downtown Boston.
I arrived at the Boston Commons around 8 o'clock.
Boston Commons is right next to Chinatown and The heart of Bostons business district. Since its so close to Chinatown many Chinese people come in the park early to do their exercises.
As I made my way into the park I was guided to go to the only hill in the park that has a memorial for World War I Navy veterans. There was only one person up there at the time a short Chinese man with slight balding hair and radiant eyes. My curiosity was quickly aroused as I saw him do the strangest moves that looked like kung fu but with no clear form. I had seen many kung fu movies to that point and knew what kung fu was supposed to look like. But he was doing these odd breath things standing on one leg and using, it appeared to be a crane hand. I realized very quickly I was in the presence of no ordinary man especially when he did his three kicks all with a loud HA that snapped when they hit the encasement walls of the Navy statue. He did a straight on kick where the flat of his foot sent a resounding illustration of power when it hit its mark. His other two kicks were a toe kick and last his heal kick. All three looked deadly to say the least. He then touched the surface of the statue in what I can only describe as a yin-yang motion.
After 30 minutes of this I was convinced this man had extraordinary skills. I was completely blown away.............................................. .......When to the right of me walking up the hill were two dudes, one a skinny blond country bumpkin sort of, the other I call Moe because he had a Moe of the 3 Stooges bowl haircut. He wore a black leather vest with no tee shirt underneath and was built like a brick shit house (American slang term that apply applies to Moe). They approached me and Moe asked me where the Greyhound Bus Station was and mentioning they were from South Dakota and just passing through. I quickly turned my attention back after telling them where the bus station was to the strange kung fu master I had encountered making it obvious I was not interested in conversing further.
Moe and his buddy went to the left of me and Master Chan, (whose name I learned of in another visit), and they sat down on the cement bench that was there.
I was back to my observations of Master Chan when i began to hear Moe speaking in a loud voice;
"Look at that stupid gook what does that GD chink thinks he's doing".
Remarks like this were being lodged. When I look over at Moe he saw me looking and I guess got jealous because I had snubbed him for a chink. He got up and started walking towards me as he approached saying;
"You know I don't think I like you. I think i am going to punch you in the mouth, I AM GOING TO PUNCH YOU IN THE MOUTH!"
I stood up and we were face to face no more than a foot apart. The next thing was, somebody was going to hit somebody. It seemed I was going to get pummeled. In that brief moment suddenly, I swear, a huge shiver went through Moe's body, he spit at me as he walked away still shaken. I saw it hit an inch away from my foot. Still discombobulated he walked away saying over and over;
" The next time I see you MF I'll kill you I'll kill you MF I'll kill you!
Stunned by this I looked to see where Master Chan had been during this situation, he was not by the statue, but then i look behind me to find the Master directly behind me. It did not take me long to put two and two together. He had obviously given one hell of a look at Moe saying if you touch him i will kick your ass. It certainly changed Moe's mind. We have all seen in the movies where the master helps someone and uses their body to fight the bad guy. Who knows how this would have finished itself if Moe had not walked away.
Seeing that Moe and his pal were still setting on the bench I thought I better leave just in case. So I proceeded to leave by the same way Moe and his companion arrived. As I was walking down the hill I turned around and saw Master Chan with his hands on his hips watching my exit. I stopped and put my hands in the prayer salute bowing my head with my eyes still on him I nodded a thank you. Master Chan graciously said your welcome by nodding his head too.
That was my introduction to Master Chan of Boston Chinatown.
Chen Man Ching has said when one goes beyond the form in Tai Chi Chuan one is into the profound.
Such is this Master Chan.
He did finally tell me he was a Tai Chi man.
His English is poor. He said he started his training at ten years of age. And for one year his master made him stand in the horse stance. He said to me, he still feels the anguish of that grueling work out to this day. And he said could you imagine how a ten year old would feel with such regimen. I can not even imagine.
Thus he became rooted to the earth. And his Tai Chi flourished.
Master Chan Part II
After the first meeting i know doubt was curious to see if I could find out more about the kung fu master who protected me on that fateful day.
(The person I sent this story too),,,, you mentioned that you thought we would have become friends. Not quite. Do to Master Chan's limited English and my straight out awe of the man we did not become friend's per say.
After our first meeting I made it a point to get up early go to the Boston Common and see if Master Chan would be out 'playing' his kung fu.
So I made many trips to see him but we rarely spoke I just wanted to observe and see if I could fathom where his kung fu was at.
I told you he told me he was a Tai Chi man but that was several years down the road before he declared that to me. But over the next few-years Master Chan graciously showed me his skills and enormous power in 3 situations that stand out in there uniqueness.
By the way, very few people ever realized they were in the presence of one of the greatest kung fu masters and Tai Chi masters who ever lived. I met maybe one or two regulars in the Boston Common who knew of his stature. So there have been others, but not too many, because Master Chan's moves are very difficult to gauge. I was one of the lucky ones to see him and his lofty kung fu and attempt to understand it.Plus he protected me in that dire situation with Moe.
Three story's of Master Chan's kung fu prowess.
The Oak Tree surprise.
There are at least 3 huge oak trees located around the Navy Memorial statue where I first saw Master Chan.
Several times he showed me his great power by this method.
Everyone knows that oak is one of the hardest woods on earth. The same, can know doubt be said, for the huge rivulets of bark that encase these massive trees.
Master Chan would stand next to one of these giant oak's and with a mighty HA! his hand moving so fast, then as if a lighting bolt had struck he ripped a solid handful of bark off that tree, then he would pause holding the chunk of bark he had rendered and gently toss it away with a look and confidence that very few mortals who ever lived could say they could do the same.
The trash can kick.
Surrounding our main location in these story's, the Navy statue, were cement cylinders used to encase and chain galvanized trash cans. Obviously to prevent people from dumping the trash cans out.
Galvanized trash cans are hip high, the cement holder would be obvious to imagine. A huge cement cylinder, no doubt weighting several hundred pounds or more.
One morning Master Chan was doing his routine, just me and him, no other observers around, when he approached the trash can cement holder.And with that front full foot kick I described before he stood there did his ONE body wind up in place one body unit motion, and with a mighty HA his foot hit the outer rim of our cylinder. To my astonishment I saw that cylinder raise 8 inches off the ground and come back down slamming to the earth. Master Chan then looked at me and said to me without words: " I could have tipped that cylinder over and very easily at that". I responded with a nod of awe and the good fortune that he allowed me to get a glimpse of his power. I left in wonder once again of this kung fu master.
Master Chan's healing touch.
On another early morning visit to the Boston Common I spied Master Chan. As I approached him i saw an old China man slowly walking to Master Chan.His feet were barely shuffling along but he was walking in this condition. He and Master Chan met and began talking. Then Master Chan began doing some hands on touching to this old man.He would blow his breath on the old mans arm. He also would pick new leaves off of the trees nearby and rub the leaves on the old man while blowing his breath on him in that way as well as intermittently talking to the old man. This went on for over 1/2 hour then Master Chan was done and walked away.
The old man also began walking away. I was surprised the see the old mans feet moving much much faster. Concluding Master Chan must have energized him in the methods described. My curiosity got the best of me and I approached the old man and asked what just happened.
To my amusement and wonder he said the following:
"Master Chan greatest kung fu master on face of earth, he can put his finger through park bench if he want, he touch me, he heal me, me barley walk, he touch me, he heal me. He not sleep with his wife for 16 years, he said with great bemusement"!
I walked away and thought to myself OMG that Master Chan is something else again.
On occasion after Master Chan was done with his Tai Chi he would stand, hands on his hips up on the Navy statue hill and begin with his mighty roar going: "HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA". We have seen similar laughter in the kung fu movies.
How strangely wonderful all this was for me.
P.S. Perhaps some on this forum may have lived in Boston at the time of this story. Perhaps some of you may have seen this great Tai Chi Master. I last saw him in the Boston Common in 2006.