Embracing China’s Four Seasons
by Carlito “tito” Bayne
It was 8:00am when my alarm rang, today is the day I leave for China. I turn the TV channel to
the cartoon network before I awake my three-year-old daughter, Carlina. Since I was not going to
see her for the next two weeks, I wanted to spend my last night with her. She is my little
champion or “Champ” as I call her. She was the only thing keeping me from going to China. I
already began to miss my little Champ. I had to do some last minute errands, so I took her to her
grandmother’s house. We hugged tightly and I kissed her goodbye.
The flight was scheduled to leave at 4:00pm from John F. Kennedy International airport. It is an
airport that is actually five minutes from my mother’s house. As I got ready to depart for the
airport, my mother handed me a pre-birthday gift. It was a portable DVD player. Ensuring I did
not forget anything, I performed a last minute check. My mother then offered me a ride to the
airport. At the airport, I said my goodbyes to my mother and looked around to see who amongst
the group was there. Surprisingly everyone from the school was already at the airport. They
were waiting for me. Walking through the airport, our energy and excitement of going to meet
Zhang Laoshi’s Gung Fu family was felt even throughout JFK’s passage terminals.
I watched as his feet moved graceful and smooth. He was indeed light on his feet but strikingly swift. His
technique was clean, sharp and could change instantly. He moved like a snake with grave intentions. I was
reminded of the spring season. Since Spring brings forth new life, change, growth, and the start of warm days;
but manages to remind us of the cold we just left. Spring is the beginning of beautiful weather, but is also filled
with rainy days and nights. In my eyes, those rainy days and nights that illuminate the sky with bolts of lightning
and roaring thundering was Lu Shibo’s other side one would not want to be on the recipient side of. That was
the side that revealed his ability to bring torrential down pours of rain that can flood your streets with no mercy
like a hurricane. That is what comes to mind when I reminisce upon the brief time shared with Lu Shibo. I wanted
to train with him longer. After the workout Lu Shibo and his wife treated us to dinner.
Next we met Gu Shishu. He was one of the major reasons I embarked on this journey. Gu Shishu is the Yin
Cheng Gong Fa’s Tongbei Master. Before I elaborate on my encounter with him, I must make note that one of
the unexpected lessons learned while in China was the fact that the Chinese can eat! Boy-o-boy can they chow
down. Every meal was like Thanksgiving. I was inundated with food. Plate after plate it was so much food! I
thought I was going to come home not only with a more in depth understanding of Gong Fu and its principles but
also a bit obese. At any given meal we had an assortment of fifteen to twenty dishes at our disposal.
Like clock work, Jay and I awoke at or around 3:30am again. We started to prepare
for the 4am workout. Today we were to do the Brick Workout. This workout was
designed to strengthen us internally and externally. It targets every muscle group and
builds endurance and character. We did two rounds of 5 different stations. It was now
time to get ready for Gu Shishu’s Tongbei class. I was thrilled, raring to go, eager,
whatever you want to call it. We arrived at 7:50am, set up our cameras to record all the
Tongbei drills, exercises and movements. I didn’t want them to miss anything. The
more footage the better. I especially wanted a reference guide in our possession.
Zhang Laoshi informed us that Gu Shishu’s Tongbei was the purest out of the 4
brothers. Gu Shishu and Dong, his translator entered the room. Gear up kid, I said to
myself. You’ve been waiting for this day. Everyone was introduced and Clay told Gu
Shishu that I loved Tongbei. Clay further explained how he had taught me the Mother
and Son Take A Part Fist Form he himself learned during his last visit to China a year
Quite nervous, my heart sped up, stopped or maybe did both. Don’t mess this up Tito;
You’re in front of a guru; Don’t look like a fumbling fool, were all the thoughts racing in
my head. Gu Shishu was a traditional teacher. I was careful not to offend him. I was
humble; but at the same time I wanted to demonstrate just how hard I had been training
in America. It was sink or swim and sinking was not an option. I started the form. As I
finished, Gu Shishu seemed a bit surprised. He then made some corrections and
started the class. I did not sink, I said to myself. Just as relieved as I, Clay came over
and silently exchanged a, “you represented us well”, smile.
Today’s lesson was going to entail the 24 Posture Form. I felt as if I was a child just about to open their biggest, most
beautifully wrapped gift. I stood keenly observant, anxious and totally in awe during the days spent in Gu Shishu’s
presence. He was a giant Silverback Gorilla to me. Silverbacks are quiet; and he was quiet; they are also fierce and
quite dangerous; and his skills revealed such traits. He was a reserved individual, who didn’t waste words. He rarely
spoke unless spoken to. As he watched us do two man drills, he would give us a big smile and laugh after one of us
would demonstrate a skillful hit. I appreciated his laid back style and his killer smile. He was in great shape and
dressed sharp. He also moved fast and hit hard. He was definitely winter.
Winter is cold but also reminds me of coziness. Winter is being in front of a fireplace or wrapping oneself in a down
comforter while enjoying hot chocolate. It’s football and snow ball fights. Some of my most pleasant child memories
are of winter. Winter has the unique ability to change the surrounding of green, yellow, red, orange, and brown, into
all white. Winter months bring bitter cold. It brings blizzards and winds that take your breath away. Frigid
temperatures will cause the best of vehicles to stall or simply not start at all. Without heat you will find yourself in a
most desperate situation. Gu Shishu had this effect upon me.
It was apparent he studied his craft well and diligently worked at perfecting his skills. Like the first crystallized flakes
that fall upon the highest peaks of the tallest mountains, Gu Shishu effortlessly manages to keep the Shi style
Baiyuan Tongbei pure. Learning from him was truly an honor; and I am delighted and grateful to have met him and
trained with him. On our last training day I asked the translator to ask him where he got his shoes. He replied, “I will
give them to you.” I thought, I cannot take his shoes. I was not worthy to wear them. Greatly honored and humbled, I
accepted the gift. They fit perfectly. I told the translator to tell him I would hang them on my wall.
The Last Brother we met was the Mighty Zhao Shibo. He was not only fierce but he was the
fiercest of all the brothers. He taught us about Tongbei’s Eight Older Fists Form, Shuai Jiao –
Chinese Wrestling and street fighting techniques. He was incredible. He struck at the speed of
light. He flowed like water…smooth but intensely penetrable. With shear ease, he could steal
your shen – spirit and masterfully beat you with it. He was street, raw, “Gangsta”, as we say in
the “hood.” I related to him instantly. He had an enormous presence about him. It was not as
though he were tall, muscular and intimidating; but rather because he had that “thing”…that
natural insatiable desire for martial arts. His passion for martial arts and for life was contagious.
He was relentless energy. Like an addict I was hooked. I welcomed a hit of his energy into my
As he began showing us the Eight Old Fists, I recognized the difference between his Tongbei
and Zhang Laoshi’s and Gu Shishu’s. For starters, Baqua artfully ripped through his technique.
His footwork…in a word…beautiful. “When you fight, you want to be like a rabid dog,” he stated.
In other words, a dog gone wild. Thus, he was summer. Summer is hot weather, fun, cool water
quenching your thirst, fast motorcycles and hot chicks. It is good times, good music, friends,
parties, dice games, and hanging out on the neighborhood block. However, Summer’s heat can
be awfully dangerous. When it’s hot people tend to get agitated, and uptight quickly. It’s a time
where one can loose their life needlessly-just because it’s hot. Several of my friends were
murdered at young ages in the summer. At night the hardest thugs with screw faces come out.
Just like a dog gone crazy, people tend to act and react oddly wild on the hottest summer days.
Thus, summers in the hood are particularly dangerous. Zhao Shibo was dangerous. Though he
could make merry with the best of them; his fighting technique instantly displayed his ability to
switch into a mad dog with no mercy.
With so much intense training, I could feel the level of my Gung Fu skills heightening. We also
got the chance to train with other talents such as, the president of the Beijing Li Style Taiji Quan
Association, Master Ma Jinlong, the famous street fighter Master Wang Zuochan; and the vice
president of Beijing Sanhuang Paochui Association, Master Xu Hanyuan. We were blessed with
the opportunity to see the best of China at Wang Zuochan’s home in the mountains. On our
way to visit Xu Hanyuan’s home, we saw some of China’s hoods/ghettos. Beijing was like being
in the center of New York City’s popular Time’s Square. There were bikes, cars, people, and
advertisements of the latest everything. The cars didn’t respect the bikes, the bikes didn’t
respect the people and the people didn’t respect the cars nor the bikes. It was organized
With the president of Li Style Taiji Association, Master Ma Jinlong
I celebrated my thirty-second birthday in China. It also happened to be the
same day Master Wang passed on. We celebrated the day with Zhang Laoshi’s
Gung Fu family. He surprised me with a beautiful dragon cake. Prior to this trip, I
had seriously considered giving myself a birthday bash back at home. However, I
thought to myself, when will I get the chance to train and meet with the wonderful
people we were scheduled to encounter in China; not to mention view the beauty
of the country itself. I am grateful and glad I chose to go to China. How I spent my
thirty-second birthday will forever be edged in my memory.
Amongst the sites we visited was the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, temples, a
shopping center we nicknamed the “Dirt Mall, You can get any and everything for
dirt cheat if you barging right”, temples and my favorite place, Summer Palace.
Summer Palace was extraordinary; and the pleasant weather made it that much
more pleasant. Our tour guide’s name was Jenny and she loved Frank’s dreads.
In fact most of the young women loved his hair. Sometimes they even sneaked a
feel when he wasn’t looking. Men asked if their wives could take pictures with him.
It was crazy. The expressions on people faces when Frank walked by were
absolutely comical. I think Frank enjoyed the attention. Jenny was cool. She talk
a lot, but we wasn’t listening but nonetheless she was good spirited and a good
sport. It was a pleasure to have her as our guide.
My dragon cake
The Summar Palace
Master Wang Zuochen's
beautiful house in the
mountains near Beijing
Lastly, I cannot end this memoir without mentioning the one responsible for our trip. He sacrificed much for all of us to
come to China. I am thankful to him because I realize how much he and his brothers put into the planning of this trip.
Moreover, he went well out of his way to ensure we were treated as family. This of course was Zhang Laoshi.
To observe Zhang Laoshi whether it’s Taiji, Tongbei, Bagua, Xing Yi or Shuai Jiao, is to watch the ocean. His
movements are subtle, yet markedly clear. They are filled with variation and are awesomely filled with great skill. His
in depth understanding of Taiji allows him to move and flow effortlessly through the various other styles of Gong Fu.
His wisdom is open and runs deep; and his kindness and loyalty is unyielding.
I have designated the last season left, which is Fall, to Zhang Shiye. He is everything fall represents to me. Fall is a
time to reap the fruits of your labor. It is harvest time. A time to gather what has been sown by your hard work and
effort throughout the year. It is a time gather what has been properly embedded in the earth. Fall is a great teacher.
It teaches the universal principle - You will reap what you sow. Reaping requires that one be careful, relentlessly
disciplined and practices patience. Zhang Laoshi is a great teacher. He has sown good seeds; and is reaping the fruit
of his labor. He has patiently sown seeds of wisdom, patience, discipline, strength, endurance and all the principles of
Gung Fu within us-his disciples.
I believe our job is to humbly receive these principles and to work diligently at keeping the Yin Cheng Gong Fa’s name
and principles alive and thriving; and to spread the seeds Zhang Laoshi has planted in us to those who possess the
heart and will to follow, train and develop inwardly.
Thank you Zhang Laoshi for what is now cherished memories and for the experience of a lifetime.
|"I have learned through bitter experience the one supreme lesson:
To conserve my anger,
and as heat conserved is transmitted into energy,
even so our anger controlled can be transmitted into a power that
can move the world"
Yin Cheng Gong Fa Association North American Headquarters
Copyright © 2000 YCGF_NAH. All rights reserved.
Several people stopped me in the airport demanding that I tell them who we were. We were being treated as if we
were celebrities. One security officer wouldn’t give me back my passport. She thought I was deliberating making her
miss her chance to get a once in a lifetime autograph. They really thought we were stars. Ironically, that’s exactly how
I felt. I had wondered for weeks over what was to await me over in China. I was one of the privileged few to be on
their way to meet, dine and train with the best. I was a star that day.
The flight was smooth; and the food was okay. Thank God I was given a DVD player, because the airplane’s movie
equipment was not working. We landed in Beijing I realized that the world wasn’t small at all. Zhang Laoshi arranged
for Strider to pick us up from the airport to take us to the hotel which was forty five minutes away. Strider and our
brother’s, Josh, Chris, James and Terry, arrived in China two days before us. Strider, Lu Shibo’s wife and nephew
were waiting for us at the gate. Treated instantly as family, we were greeted with warm embraces by Lu Shibo’s wife.
She welcomed us so much so that she went on and on speaking to us, innocently forgetting about our inability to
understand Chinese. However, I trusted that much of what she said, according to her body language and warm spirit,
essentially meant, “welcome,” the language barrier. From that moment on, I knew we were in good hands.
Zhang Laoshi arranged for us to stay at the Beijing Music College. The rooms were a little small, but they served their
purpose, and thus they were good enough for me. I was just concerned whether it would have a modern bathroom
and it did. We all then pared up. The pairs ended up being Jason and I, Frank and Peter, and Clay and Strider. Now
settled, Jason and I laid down to get some sleep. However, wide-eyed and unable to sleep, he and I both awoke at
around 3:15am. We turned on the TV to view the news. On our TV screen we watched as four people got hit by a
car. I said to Jason they show stuff like that on TV. I called Frank and Peter’s room to wake them up sense we couldn’t
sleep. Frank picked up the phone on the first ring. He and Peter explained they couldn’t sleep either.
At 4:00am Strider and Clay knocked on the door, it was time to start the workout. In the dark of night we walked to the
park. People were sleeping on carts that I later learned they also use to sell things from on the street. Security
officers were at stations that looked like check points at each apartment complex. Taxis were parked with drivers who
slept at the wheel. At first glance it did not seem any different from home.
We began our training with the 37 Taiji form. As the sun arose, peaking through the sky, more and more people
started coming out. Some walked around the track; while others ran instead. The parks are not just a popular place
amongst children to play but I learned that day in Beijing, they are just as popular amongst the adults in the
community. The park was essentially the “in” place to be for keeping in shape. It was what New Yorkers would call
their New York Sports Club, Equinox, Bally’s, Crunch, or Lucille Roberts… you pick your choice. It had several pieces
of exercise equipment and from the oldest to the youngest was using it. I was amazed at the amount of people playing
basketball. Talk about role reversal. Here I was a young, African American male training in martial arts in a Beijing
park; and the people of Beijing were playing… basketball! I smiled. There were seniors walking around with Taiji Jian’
s. I was so impressed with the city. Everyone was up working, exercising or doing something all at 5:00am.
We trained until 7:00am and then went back to our rooms to wash up and eat breakfast. We were scheduled to meet
Lu Shibo at 3:00pm. He is known as Samurai, but I ended up giving him another name. He was the first of Zhang
Loashi’s Gung fu brothers we would meet. If I had to pick one character trait/quality to describe the essence of who
he is, it would be in a word… loyal. He was loyal and direct. There was no middle ground with him. He either liked
you or he didn’t. There was no gray with Lu Shibo. Only black or white. He was very compassionate and caring to
the people in his inner circle. He also knew how to have good time. He taught us The Four Throws. It was something
he researched developed. The philosophy and principle he taught us was basically… in a fight, when two opponents
square off, once they touch, one should fall. This was his gift to us. He also honored Zhang Laoshi by naming these
skills after him. He added if we are to learn under Zhang Laoshi, we must know these four throws. This was his
opening statement and I knew he meant business and all the stories shared with us by Strider were true.
2005 Beijing Trip - Training and Visiting
2005 Beijing Trip - Training and Visiting
Impression, Feeling, ...
Impression, Feeling, ...
In Grand Master Wang's ceremony
With Master Lu Shengli
Master Gu Yun taught me Tongbei fighting
Master Zhao Zeren taught us a Tongbei form
Master Zhao Zeren taught Shuai Jiao class
Fighting practice with Master Wang Zuochen
Panjia Yuan Shopping Center