“I only went to Chinese school until Grade 6 at the Chinese United Church which was mainly in the summer. I went to an inner city school, and there were a lot of immigrant students from Hong Kong who became my friends. I understood the Chinese language through them. Then I started watching Chinese movies, kung fu movies, comedies, and picked up a lot of the slang. I used to go every Sunday to the Plaza Cinema where my sister worked behind the candy counter. They had Chinese movies every Sunday, like the comedies with Sam Hui, and all the kung fu movies too. So that’s how I learned a lot of my Chinese.
In Chinese school, we were allowed to go outside to play football, but we weren’t allowed to bring a football. How do you play without a football? So we found empty cigarette packages, wrapped them in elastics and used that as the football. I was the star quarterback.
I think sports can be used as a medium for cultural exchange. If you think back to around 1972, Team Canada played Russia in the Summit Series and Paul Henderson scored the winning goal. We were all watching the hockey game in the high school cafeteria at that time, and that was like an exchange of culture and to me, it was a great way to build friendships and relationships.
When you teach martial arts, people will ask if they’ll learn how to kill. I say to them, “What is more important is that I teach you how to live“. I teach leadership. I teach you how to be resilient and how to build character. I teach you virtues and I teach you how to be honest and how to handle adversity. To me, that is more important. Sure, there are a lot of techniques that I can show you, but I think the bottom line is that we all want to be better human beings. If you don’t learn the virtues, you really don’t learn martial arts.
I always say that the only place where success comes before work, is in the dictionary. As a Sifu*, there are so many moments that make you really happy, because I think your success is reflected from the success of your students. When I teach students, watching them develop is very rewarding. You watch these kids grow up from a very young age and see them progress into adults and do very well in life. That is more rewarding than any trophy or a color of belt I could get. As Bruce Lee always said, ‘Belts are only good for holding up your pants’.
要成功必须要靠努力。作为一位「师父」，有无数个瞬间令我感到很开心，目睹学生们的成功就是我的成就。在教学中感到最满足的是看见学生的成长，这份满足比得到任何奖项或腰带的颜色更具意义。就像李小龙先生（Bruce Lee）曾说过：「腰带只是用来勒紧裤子而已」。” —Bill
*Sifu: a term to refer to a Chinese Kung fu instructor
All photos provided by Bill.