Is heritage a matter of importance in today's society? Is it relevant for the people training martial arts today? Beyond the reality of the technical aspects of combat and competition training, health and fitness, knowledge of the past can help us understand the deeper value of things in our lives today. We may find those things in other facets that come along with the actual martial arts we practice. We may even discover whether or not those very things add value in the enrichment of our martial journeys.
The Hung Fa Yi Wing Chun Pai has a heritage rich with people of back bone, of strong moral fiber, integrity, and courage. Grandmaster Garrett Gee (朱競雄) upholds these virtues as a leader and teacher of responsibility and compassion. What is intriguing to note is he descends from a long line of men with such high moral qualities. Here we shall get to know a true story about his grandfather, Chu Jun-Bak (朱俊伯).
First, here is some background information about him before we get to the actual story. Chu Jun-Bak was a highly intelligent man. During the early 20th century, he studied political sciences at a Japanese University. Having a command of the Japanese language and writing system, and a cultural heritage including the historical art of Confucianism (which influenced societal structures and behaviors of many countries for many centuries), he cultivated his affinity for sophisticated arts.
Chu Jun-Bak became an accomplished military and political leader who served as a chief instructor at Wong Po Military Academy (黃埔軍校) also known as the Kuomintang Army Officer Academy. This military academy produced many prestigious high ranking officers who fought and served in many of China's 20th century conflicts. He actually shared leadership posts at the academy with Chiang Kai-Shek (蔣介石) in the early 1940's.
Later on, Chu Jun-Bak took residence and provided his service to the people of Fatshan as the local Police Commissioner. Through his tenure, he then became Deputy Mayor of the town. This is around the same time the late Grandmaster Ip Man served in the same police force!
In more recent years, an elderly gentleman shared a story with Grandmaster Garrett Gee. This man, who was age 87 when he revealed this story, was only a young boy when he first met Grandmaster Gee's grandfather. Here is a real life story about Chu Jun-Bak.
At the time of the mid 1900 Japanese invasion, towns all around were getting destroyed and people suffered from unspeakable atrocities. Under military order, the Japanese forces were to burn everything to the ground and literally thousands upon thousands were horrifyingly slaughtered. For many Chinese, nothing could be done.
When a Japanese battalion marched upon Chu Jun-Bak's town he walked determinedly in front of all of them before they could enter the town and said "Mate!" in Japanese. Mate, as in [Mah-Tae], is a more urgent form to say stop in Japanese. A little boy stood behind him watching. Accepting the fact he could have been killed on the spot, he nevertheless requested an audience with their commander and had a lengthy conversation with him, all in Japanese.
In order to garner the respect of the Japanese commanding officer, he drew from his professional education in Political Sciences at the Japanese University, his expertise honed at the Wong Po Military Academy, and observance of Confucian philosophy. So sophisticated and resonating was his delivery, that the Japanese commander recognized the caliber of this man's warrior quality and intellect. He was no ordinary man. The commander considered himself below the station of Chu Jun-Bak as a junior is to the senior. Then, something happened during their conversation. Chu Jun-Bak had successfully struck an accord with the officer.
In this determining moment of life or death, the Japanese commander realized that the person standing before him, Chu Jun-Bak, was a direct descendant of the Great Philosopher and Confucian scholar Chu Hsi (朱熹). Chu Hsi is recognized as being one the most powerful and influential persons of the last 1,000 years. So great were his instrumental works on Confucianism, that his commentaries on the four books (the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and the Mencius) served as the foundation of all civil service examinations through 1905. For Japan, Chu Hsi is revered as such that a school was named after him. The school is known as Shushigaku (朱子学, Chu Hsi School), and is the most significant Neo-Confucian school developed in Japan during the Tokugawa period (1603–1867). Life Magazine has recognized this scholar/philosopher as the 45th most important person of the last millennium.
With Chu Jun-Bak's stature revealed, the Japanese Commander decided to defy his military orders to kill and leave that particular village alone. His courageous actions drawn from his profound heritage, persuaded the force to move on, thus saving all the hundreds of lives of the men, women, and children of this town. The Japanese Commander dared not to attack a village where the Chu Hsi family resided within. Instead, to show respect to their shared ideals on philosophy, he withdrew his troops ordering them not to fire upon the town.
This should not necessarily be viewed as a one sided issue, as its merits speak to all sides in this real life account of human history. This is a true masterpiece and an example of human compassion, on how two different cultures can come together in such times of extreme turmoil and do super human things.
Another example of this is the story of Oskar Schindler. He was a German businessman who used his factory to (ultimately) save about 1100 Jews from execution. That real life event was made into a movie called "Schindler's List".
Now as we go back to the start of the story, Chu Jun-Bak stood in front of a little boy when he told the Japanese force to halt. The young boy, who was seven at the time, turned out to be the 87 year old man who expressed his unfathomable gratitude in front of Grandmaster Garrett Gee to his grandfather in his telling of this historical account. It can be truthfully stated that all the people of his village revere Chu Jun-Bak as a hero; as their hero.
I have come to learn that Grandmaster Garrett Gee's grandfather was a man not just of warrior spirit, but a law enforcer, a protector and servant of society. He is a real life hero for many people and is a shining example of the excellence the human spirit is capable of. Therefore let us honor this veteran for his contributions of loyalty and righteousness in the name of good karma.
Sometimes the ideals embedded in a person/group's heritage can come forth and shine in the light of day. If we allow ourselves to open our hearts to the lessons of the past, we may one day carry on the traditions of our ancestors for the benefit of our and future generations. We can learn from these acts of courage and self sacrifice. In a world of separation and differences, we can make this a better place to live.