More stories of Han Fengrui by Hanan Magidovich
This was originally posted to the YiZong Forum in June 2004. Edited for grammar and spelling.
Actually I was keeping these stories for myself and for my students for a long time. I never thought to share them online although I really wanted. The reason for that was the same reason Han refused to be interviewed by the reporter, maybe he has a wish to stay unknown and un-famous.
But the more I talked to teachers and students in Israel and in the western world I saw that many times there are misconceptions about martial arts and about martial artists. Some people think that if they learn Chinese martial arts they will be able to start kicking and doing flips 10 feet above the ground, and in many cases they think that the old Chinese masters look very old with long white hair and long white beard (like the "old wise Chinese kind of guy").
Two days ago I wrote another story about Han it was a long one but at that time I got disconnected from the net, luckly I saved it on my computer at the lab so I guess I'll post it tomorrow (I'm at my home now-sorry guys). (Editor's note: this story is now posted below...)
But not leaving you empty handed, I will share with you a short story about Han and his family. While practicing with Mr. Han I was using my old GI pants (from the days I was practicing Karate) the pants where used and torn, I didn't know where I can buy these pants in China or how to by the fabric for making some for myself. Not knowing Chinese very well made it hard for me to look for a pair of pants. Seeing this Han had a different idea (I guess he knew my difficulty in buying the pants). One summer day while I was practicing outside with Han a bus had stopped in front of the place where we were practicing and two ladies got off from the bus. The older was his wife (she's about 70 years old) and the younger one his daughter (45 years old). They approached us..... at that time I was doing my Ba Pan Zhang standing (Han was also teaching me the art of Ba Pan Zhang). Without any greetings they came to me and started measuring me. Han told me "don't move just keep standing and practicing." After they finished measuring me, they just got on the next bus (I have to say it was weird and I didn't understood what had happened).
With that family I spent 4 years in dinners, holydays etc. I was a part of their family and been treated as one. I felt great love, not the usual one but a love that came from within because they wanted me as part of their family and not because they didn't have a choice (like when you are born into a family). It was pure and it was mutual. I am proud to be a part of the Han family and honored to be treated as such.
Being a stupid foreigner, I was also very curious about Han Laoshi's practical experience. I remember myself being stupid and asking him if he ever used his knowledge or did he ever take place in some Lei Tai Sai (dual tournament) in China. Han always looked at me and told me that he never had a fight in is life, he told me that he always preferred to stay out of trouble.
One day while practicing the circle I couldn't not hear a story that Han was telling his friends in the park about a fight in the market. After 3 hours of practice, Han and I used to walk together to the bicycle parking area (yes they have those in China) and I told him that I heard him talking about a fight...
Han started to tell me that, the day before, he went to the market near his home to by some vegetables - he bought a few and went back home. At that point his wife looked at the bags and told him that he didn't buy the amount she told him (it looked less then what it should be). Han said that he bought exactly what she said. Then he realized that he'd been cheated by the merchant. He took the bags and went back and told to the merchant to add what's missing. Because it was a loss of face for the merchant to be caught cheating he started yelling at Han and grabbed his hand in order to hit him. As soon as he placed his hand on Han, Han reacted and pulled a hand lock on the guy, the guy screamed out in pain. Seeing her husband suffering, the merchant's wife went to grab Han on the other side, Han said that he used Pengjing to push her off. Seeing how strong he is the merchant apologized and offered to give him the rest of the missing vegetables, Han refused and asked for his money back. He left the vegetables there and went to buy them some where else.
Han used to tell me that Liu Fengcai was really proud to say that he never had a fight. He said that many of his students went the same way, except for the fight in the market, Han never took part in a fight.
He used to tell me that Liu Fengcai was a small guy and very powerful. He told me that when Liu held his hand there was no way you could escape his grab. Han said it was like magic - it was like his hand would stick to yours, but not like the Taiji kind, it felt very loose but very powerful too.
After practicing for a year with Mr. Han one early morning in the park a strange guy came to see me practice. It looked like Han and the guy knew each other. After I finished practicing the guy told me that he heard that I'm doing fine and learning fast. He asked if he can play with me for a while. I looked at Han Laoshi waiting for him to confirm the situation. Han said yes, you two can cross hands for a while.
The guy was 50 years old and had practiced Shaolin fist as a child and was teaching it, he also learned Gao style with Liu Fengcai. While crossing hands with him I felt that the guy was very strong (we crossed hands like sticky hands but with hitting and pushing with stepping) - suddenly and I really don't know how I did it, I moved to the right side and swept his leg, while at the same time he tried to push me. I don't know if it was good timing or pure luck but it worked - the guy fell on the ground and rolled on the dirt twice (he also made a BUMP sound when he fell). All the guys there went to help him he was covered with sand and acted like nothing happened. I was very embarrassed to make him lose face like that. He had 35 years of experience and lost to one year and a foreigner!!!! It was really embarrassing.
He said never mind....never mind.....and wanted to continue I saw he was furious and I decided to be passive I just avoided his punches which at that time I saw them coming. He was so furious that he projected every punch. Seeing this Han jumped in and said it's enough, time for a rest, we shook hands and left.
A week later the guy came a gain while I was practicing, I looked at Han worried but Han looked back and smiled (the guy had a plan in his mind). Immediately after I finished practice Han told me loudly "It's hot today and your tired, let go home and drink tea".... I understood the hint and agreed.
On the way home I told to Han that I was very embarrassed for doing what I did to an older Gong Fu practitioner. Han told me that he asked me to cross hands therefore he took the risk. Han also told me that it was about time that the guy will learn his lesson. "He never walked and practiced the way Liu laoshi taught us - therefore he's lacking any Baguazhang skill of changing and evading the opponent". It was a good lesson to him to see that even if you practice one year the correct way it's much better then 30 years of practice the wrong way.