Mr. doucet:Sometimes one focuses so much on one thing and misses everything else. I mean, while I was seeing everything in Pak Mei in you web site, I can not believe I missed the name Danny Pai. This name rings a bell. Then after a long “meditation”, I remember an event that occurred over 30 years ago. I think you will get a kick out of this:
It was sometime in the early 70’s. Aaron Bank was putting up a show in New York’s Madison Square Garden called “The Oriental World of Self-Defense” (or something close to that. After all, it was 30 years ago). That was one of the earliest “shows” Aaron Bank conducted. I was part of an Iaido group to do an exhibition there. My Iaido teacher (and most of the martial artists at that time) was not aware of how this show would turn out but happy to be part of it, as it showed the world what the Oriental Self-defenses are all about (or better yet, what they look like). So, before our turn, we got to watch the others perform.
Then, after I saw all these “masters” flying over 15 chairs to break one board with a flying side kick, etc., I began to felt really disappointed and just about to leave my spot and go back stage to see if I can find a place to lay down and take a nap. I heard the MC call out someone called Daniel Pai to perform. I turned around and saw this big Hawaiian/Philippino/Asian looking person get on the ring (yes, it was a boxing ring, that much I remembered). He wore a dark blue with white dots outfit not like any of the karate or gung fu uniforms.
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.
This is one of those good memories that one gets when seeing a great master perform, or a great movie, a master piece of work from an artist, that make you say: “Ah…that IS wonderful…” or…”That’s how it SHOULD be done”. If you are in that art, this memory would make you push yourself even harder when you are about to give up on you effort.
I will always remember Mr Pai’s breaking on that day.