Submitted by: Leo T. Fong
TIMING: Someone once said, “Timing is everything!” As I look back and look ahead, I totally agree. Whether it be in business, martial arts, relationships and many other “life spaces”; timing plays an important role in the proficiency content of that particular “life space.” Down through the years, people unfamiliar with the essence of martial arts would ask me the question, “Which style or system is the best? Can a boxer beat a wrestler, kicker beat a puncher?” In my early years I had to ramble around for an answer. Only in recent years I have come to the conclusion that styles and systems are secondary. If a person has timing, whatever the style or system; it will work. It really has nothing to do with quantity of techniques as much as it has to do with quality of the technique.
Back in the late 50’s I was operating a martial arts school with Raymond Yee in Sacramento. He taught Jiu Jitsu, was also a classmate of Wally Jay when both lived in Hawaii. I taught Western boxing. One day someone informed me that Tracy’s Kenpo is opening a studio in town. I was curious as to what they taught. Martial arts schools were rare in those days. It didn’t take long for Al Tracy to fill his studio with students. I was really interested in what Kenpo was all about. Al explained to me his system has over 200 techniques; that each technique covers about every conceivable attack possible. When I left I was a little envious and confused. I was torn between joining his studio and abandoning my boxing skills for a radical overhaul of my martial arts focus. Months later someone told me that two Kenpo students went to Sam’s Hof-Brau on 18th and Jay Street in Sacramento, California. When they walked into the Hof-Brau, they immediately walked over to an old man bent over drinking a beer.
There were several empty beer bottles sitting in front of him. No doubt he had been on a drinking binge for a while. The two Kenpo kids walked up to the bar and started a conversation with the semi-inebriated guy. One word led to another and the old guy put his beer down and walks out the door with the two Kenpo kids behind him. When the three were outside, the two Kenpo kids got into a horse stance and try to attack the old drunk. Quick as lightning the old man side step, threw a left hook and down went Kenpo kid one. The second Kenpo kid charged in with a feeble kick, the old man again side step and let go a left hook and down went Kenpo kid two. The old man walks back into the Hof-Brau and finished his beer.
Days later some of the patrons at the Hof-Brau mentioned that the old man was a “washed up professional fighter” who use to fight on the under card in boxing matches in the late 40’s and early 50’s at the Sacramento Civic Auditorium across the street from Sam’s Hof-Brau. It is my own feeling that timing played an important role in teaching those two troublemakers a lesson. Timing is important in all areas of life. Life challenges us to find ways to develop a sense of timing in all we do. –Leo Fong
The recent passing of Martial Arts giant Sid Campbell was a sad moment for me. Sid was an inspiration to me as a martial artist with the true budo spirit. He was also a great innovator. His books reflected his deep knowledge of the spirit of martial arts. Everyday I am reminded of his genius as I worked with a little spring like striking tool called “The Brutus”.
I bought his little hand contraption from Sid back in the 70’s. I still use it in practicing my jabs, uppercuts, crosses and hooks. It teaches you to strike with a whip like action. As late as last year when he was still strong, I asked him about “The Brutus”. I wanted to buy a few more to give to friends. He said they were in storage; will try to get a couple of pairs to me.
Now that he has graduated from this time into eternity; the one Brutus I have will have a deep spiritual meaning. It will remind me of his rich legacy. Death is not the ending but a continuation in various and different forms. I know every time I pick up the Brutus, Sid Campbell’s spirit will be present.
I want to take time to pay tribute to John Durbin, a friend of 46 years that I met at Jimmy Yimm Lee’s house in the early 60’s via telephone. In the early 60’s I would commute to Jimmy’s house in Oakland from Stockton to train. I usually show up on Friday nights. It was on one of those Friday nights when I walked through the door Jimmy was on the telephone. He immediately handed me the telephone, I thought it was a call for me. It turned out to be John Durbin. We talked for several minutes and then Bruce Lee came into the room and I handed the telephone to Bruce and walked away giggling. What I learned about talking to John on the telephone it was more than “Hello, how are you?” end of conversation.
Telephone conversations with John could last from 15 minutes to an hour. However, it was not all-empty talk, but conversations with substance related to martial arts and the inner journey. I finally met John in the mid-70 at a Karate Tournament in Steubenville, Ohio. What I discovered was a man of integrity and compassion. A man who had passion for everything about and in the martial arts. He was an ex-Army man, much into skydiving and military related activities. Someone said, “You are known by the company you keep.”
My own slogan, “Your life is defined by how many people you have helped.” Many people benefited from John Durbin’s generosity; both in deeds, kindness, friendship and gifts. It is in this spirit that I pay tribute to John Durbin, a very special person.
80th BIRTHDAY SEMINAR:
I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to Dr. Thomas J. Nardi for setting up a unique birthday celebration for me on October 18th. Although my birthday is not until November 23, the Year of the Dragon. The October 18th date is to minimize the chance of raining or snowing on this “parade”. Since New York can be a weather disaster as we move into November, Dr. Nardi feels that October is still okay weather wise.
Should any readers interested in attending, you are welcome. The subject to be covered will be on managing tension and stress. Exercises that will help you to remain relaxed-focused, relaxed-aware in martial arts and in dealing with life challenges and adversities. The art of inner strength. The essence of being a WARRIOR HEALER.
The place: Long Island University, Rockland Graduate Campus, 70 Route 340, Orangeburg, NY.
For additional information for seminars, books and DVD’s contact Leo T. Fong at email@example.com.
About the writer Leo Fong Leo Fong was born in Canton, China. He migrated to the United States with his parents at the age of 5, and settled in Widener, Arkansas. He is a graduate of Forrest City, High School, Hendrix College - Conway, Arkansas, Southern Methodist University - Dallas Texas, and California State University - Sacramento, California. Among his teachers are: Angel Cabales, Bruce Lee, James Y. Lee, Chong Yuk Yong, Remy Presas, Low Bun, and T. Y. Wong. He has synthesized the various systems he learned into his own approach which he calls Wei Kuen Do - " The Way of the Integrated Fist ". He holds Black Belts in Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Arnis. In 1996 Dillman's Karate Institute International honored him with a 10th Degree Black Belt. Leo Fong is a World Black Belt Living Legend.