I can’t even remember when I first met Danny Pai, it was so long ago . I do remember, however, that he had a dream. We met at a tournament in Ontario. I had heard about him, but had not met him. Over the years, I had met a lot of so-called masters, so they claimed. They were not all that impressive. I did meet with others such as Master Shintani, the head of Wado Ryu.
Dan and I talked for awhile, he asked me to watch and see. After his demonstration, we met privately and “played”. I was impressed. Then we discussed his ideas about a brotherhood of martial artists. This was to spread his ideas about professionalism and quality and to share knowledge. We talked about people working together and the improvement of what we were doing and teaching. The Pai Lum was taking shape on a larger level. We had access to many different types of arts in the early years, some of which were to enter some of the schools’ curriculum. One of the ideas that we agreed upon was ranking. If one cannot back up with performance what he or she claims, what use is it. The words martial art mean war art, not self-grandizement. Daniel and I talked at great length on this subject and did agree, as he sometimes said, you have to be able to use what you learn. But, when you teach, you have to be careful what and whom you teach. I was fortunate to have Daniel show me, in private, what his personal art was and to be able to free play with him. This didn’t help the structure of the hotel rooms we used.
It was at this time, years ago, my best friend, my father, passed away. Daniel asked me to join him as a member of his family. At a demonstration in Glastonbarry, Daniel announced his new family member to the crowd and explained tradition as done in China, thus the terms sifu, si-di, si-so, etc. are in use.
My own style is White Eyebrow. I was accepted as a disciple in writing by the President of the Pak Mei Boxing Association, N.K. Ng. This letter is still on my wall. Over the years, I did learn other arts. White Eyebrow is what I practice today. I teach in the same way I was taught, as my sifu in Canada, Cheung Siu-Man, was taught.
This style is taught to only a few, and to even less, the inside of my style. One of the inside tode is Michael Doucet of London, Ontario. We have a saying in my style: “We only teach teachers, not students.” I have decided due to social changes to allow some of my inner knowledge to be taught to selected people. These must be people who are trustworthy, hard workers, who have achieved a level worthy of this. Someone who meets the requirements that Pai Lum was first based on, like John Weninger and Michael Doucet.
Politics do not belong in the martial arts, gradings should be on merit only. Quality should be the first priority in a school, not politics, super egos, or flash and dash. Talk is cheap and in my decades in the arts, the most proficient didn’t have the biggest mouth. In Vancouver, I have friends who have learned from legends like Lam Yu Quai and others. They do not brag or play politics.
A teacher’s way to brag is through the quality of their students, not the size of their mouth. Everyone has made mistakes: the smart ones learn from them, the dumb drown in them. The interest in the arts has increased again. Everyone has the opportunity to grow, however an art is only good if it can exist after its founder. If egos can be put aside, the arts can grow without the ups and downs that some of us can remember in the past.
In regards to the teaching of White Eyebrow, I have decided along with Mr. Doucet that it will be available to those that qualify. I have only taught a few (10), less than half ever qualified as my standards are high. In my disciple’s pledge, I made promises I intend to keep. In the teaching of my style there will be rules and at sometime in the future this knowledge, such as the upcoming event in Ontario, will be forthcoming.
Lee Chun Pai, April 1998
“I told myself: Oh no, here is another freak! But he changed my view after I saw his performance. He showed no Kata, form or whatever. He was alone on stage. He brought a few boards to break. I was about to turn away thinking this is another of those board breaking shows. Then, he held 3 board with his left hand using only his fingers (much like a waiter would hold the tray for your drinks). then he broke the boards with his right wrist without even lifting his right arm. I was stunned. Then he did a few more breaks using his finger tips, wrist, etc. All in close distance, without Kia, raising of the arms, or anything dramatic. In fact, he was explaining how he will break the boards and breaking them at the same time. I was so impressed that I don’t remember the details of the rest of the breaks. Then, Mr. Pai bowed and stepped out of the ring and disappeared back stage.
The next thing I remember was our group was on stage (in the ring) going through our performance, but all that time I was still thinking about the way Mr. Pai broke those boards. He broke those boards like I break toothpicks. He did it with such ease and grace that made the other “black-belt Masters” looks like they are trying too hard. Afterwards, our Iaido group went out to eat and all we talked about was Mr. Pai’s breaking. Nobody remembered any person in that exhibition coming close to Mr. Pai.“ – David Wong (Chan Dor’s nephew) [Full Message]
Translation From Certificate Presented to Mike Doucet by Daniel K. Pai.
Translation provided by John Lin – Director Chinese Cultural Center – London, Ontario.