How Kung Fu Changed My Life (part 1)

Freshman year at Stuyvesant H.S. was hard. Besides trying to keep up with my studies, I had to make it through daily bullying by my schoolmates and upperclassmen. I was picked on because I did not belong to their social group. Also, I was not strong so I did not fight back, which made me a target. The summer after my freshman year was when I would begin my life as a martial artist.

After leaving violin school and shattering my parent’s dreams of becoming a violinist, I joined Wu Tang, which was right around the corner. I practiced everyday in the summer. Sometimes, I was the only
student in school. It didn’t matter though. I wanted to know how to fight. I wanted power. I wanted to be strong.

I was instructed by Emanuel, James, Jackson and Alex, depending on which day I came in. One day, Sunday, Alex told me to try David’s class since I liked to spar so much.

I went to David’s class and told him about my problems, and he advised me. When I returned to high school after the summer, I confronted the person who picked on me the most- his name was Sam. I challenged him to fight me in Battery Park. I told him if he was so tough, he would fight me alone instead of attacking me from behind with all of his friends.

He accepted the challenge. Sam was significantly larger than me in both height and weight, and for this reason, he was confident in beating me to a pulp. We fought twice, once in the park and once in an alley. About 100 students witnessed the fight. Both fights weren’t very long, Couple of minutes each at most. I came out of both fights unscathed. Sam however had a swollen lip and a black eye.

The next day I walked into school, and in everyone’s eyes, I was a different person. I was no longer the geek people picked on. I was the little guy who beat up the big guy, according to the seniors. No one waited for me outside history class anymore to bully me anymore. Pictures of the fight were posted all over the school. People whispered in the hallway looking and pointing, “That’s Jin”. I transformed from a dork into a warrior overnight.

I returned to Wu Tang to tell David about my victory. He congratulated me and I was instilled with confidence. This was a milestone in my life. I had made the decision to practice kung fu, to work hard. And now I had power. I had begun to reap what I had sowed. I had begun to take control of my life. I had changed.

I began to crave more of what I had tasted. Power. Glory. Respect. Danger. Things I had never experienced. And so, I sought more of it. I began to go after all the people who had bullied me when I was weak. They never turned down my challenge, for they still believed I was still the weakling that they used to push around. Fight after fight I on. My opponents were all upperclassmen, all bigger, all stronger….to the naked eye. One of these bullies stole my MiniDisc player when I was a freshman. He offered to pay me $20 every week….until school was over, and the year had just begun. Another bully had stolen my friend’s money, I collected it from him….after we fought. Sam’s friends began to try to befriend me, the very people who dedicated their free time in school to making my life miserable. Perhaps they no longer wanted to be friends with someone who was weak, but someone who was strong. Or perhaps they were just scared that they could be next.

I fought everyone that I thought deserved a beating, people who wronged me, people who wronged my friends, people who wronged the weak. I wanted to see how strong I really was. I wanted to try my new moves. There were many reasons for me to fight. I was consumed by my newfound strength-and bloodlust.

It was inevitable that during one of these fights, things would not turn out in my favor. On November 2003, I was attacked by a mob of 30 kids and stabbed 15 times. I had puncture wounds in my back, chest, head, my left lung, my stomach and my heart. I received more than 100 staples and stitches.

Some people say I’m lucky to survive but I don’t think luck was all there was to it. During the entire assault, I was standing. Because of Ma Bu training, I had no problem keeping my feet on the ground. There was not a point during the entire fight where the thought of giving up crossed my mind. David had trained me to not give up. If anyone was going to give up, it would be them. And they did. Because I did not drop to the floor and get stomped on like a normal victim, they took much longer than they wanted to and eventually ran away. That and maybe also because I was also trying to stab them in the eye with my pen.

After the incident, I walked about a block before I realized I was wounded. My shirt was heavy as if I had just been dunked in tub of warm water. I wore a white shirt out, but when I looked, my shirt was all red. I then called the ambulance and told them I was stabbed. I told them in a very firm but calm tone so that they could understand me and send help right away. I then sat down on the curb and tried to calm my body. I didn’t want my heart to pump out any more blood than I had already lost. By the time I ended the 911 call, I had already leaked a small puddle of blood around me. Despite my injuries I felt no pain. I was more worried about what my mom was going to say about this.

I stayed in the hospital for 10 days, and several months later I began training at Wu Tang again. I began living my life more cautiously and avoiding trouble whenever I could. Dangerous situations became more apparent to me. My mentality had changed again. One day David told me, “You have nothing to prove to anyone anymore, everyone already knows you’re tough.” It was not until then, that I had realized it. I had achieved my goal.

From then ‘til now, I have engaged in scuffles every now and then. However, I always emerge unscathed. I believe this is so because I have chosen never to start or instigate a fight, but to always finish them. When one has total conviction in what he or she is doing, he/she can regretlessly and relentlessly attack- without holding back.

I hope everyone at Wu Tang can learn from my experiences and use it to improve their kung fu as well as their life.
Instructor Jin Ooi

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