Blog

Aug 30, 2018

SIFU BIG BROTHER


GEORGE BUTTON

Posted by: Dan

Cheng Tin-hung was not my first sifu in Hong Kong. From August 1975 - February 1976, I learned Aikido based Police Self Defence at the Royal Hong Kong Police Training School under CPTI [Chief Physical Training Instructor] George Button. George was not a cop; he was a civilian who taught self defence to cops and he and his staff of police NCOs trained us in gymnastics, athletics, ball games, life-saving and general fitness.

George's self defence was Aikido based, but especially designed for control and restraint on felons whom we may require to arrest when we recruit inspectors [RIs]became real police men and women on the streets of Hong Kong.

The problem was 6 months wasn't enough time for George to impart those skills to the average recruit inspector. In my RI 103 squad of 10 recruits, I was the only one with a significant martial arts background [karate black belt with 4 years training under top European and Japanese masters] and even I sometimes found certain of George's to be somewhat on the tricky side. 

I guess George had heard about the crazy kid who trained karate on his own most evenings when classes were over for the day. One day he came in and started to talk to me about martial arts in general and when I told him I wanted to learn Tai Chi, he told me of a Sifu [Teaching Father] named Cheng Tin-hung, who could teach how to use Tai Chi to fight. 

Some days later; I went with Paul To, my squadmate, to the bustling Mongkok district on the Kowloon Peninsula to visit the address which George had given me. We took the lift up to the 11th floor of a grimy apartment block and entered a room with a sign hanging outside, which read, 'Cheng Tin-hung Tai Chi Institute'. Paul introduced us to a broad-shouldered, pot-bellied Chinese male who looked to be in his mid 40s. He was unshaven, smoking a cigarette. He wore a string vest, shorts and flip flops. 

Paul introduced us to the fat man who seemed to be delighted to have a visit from someone who had been recommended to him by his old student 'George Pak' as he called George Button. He then escorted Paul and me up to the rooftop where about 40 people [mainly young guys] were practising. He called a couple of them over and showed us swift and skilful applications of the mysterious slow soft movements which I had never understood. He then asked me to punch his torso; he absorbed my hardest punches with ease. 

I knew right then that Sifu Cheng was the man. We stayed until the class ended and I arranged to come back the next evening. I did so and Cheng told me that George had come to try him out some some years previously and only trained in Tai Chi self defence for about 6 months and had no trouble in mastering the techniques. He obviously thought highly of George. He said he would hide nothing from me, because as a non-Chinese, no-one would want to learn from me, so I was no threat to him.

When next I met George, I told him everything and thanked him profusely. He was delighted and told me a few stories about Cheng applying techniques on various people. From time George would ask me how things were going  

The last time I saw George was just a few days before the passing out. I heard George was proud of me when he heard that I won the South East Asian Chinese full contact Championship in 1980. I was interviewed on Chinese language TV and was in all the papers. The Commandant of  the Police Training School phoned my boss to see if I was interested in teaching self defence there, but I was happy where I was. 

You can't always make it on your own, sometimes it's good to have a mentor. I had one of the best in george.

Blog articles

LOST IN TRANSLATION

In the TCC world both in its literature and teachings egregious errors due to inaccurate...

Read more...

9 DRAGON INTERNATIONAL SQUAD BY DAN DOCHERTY

As we all know, the Chinese triad societies, [sometimes referred to as 'Black Societies' in both...

Read more...

426 BY DAN DOCHERTY

The Chinese term 'Sanhehui' [literally 3 Harmonies Association] was the name of one specific...

Read more...

FALLS & MORE

hI y'all,  I am getting involved in running falls prevention courses locally and...

Read more...

Spear & Sabre Form Booklets - Digital Download

So the web team have been at work all night to beat the Christmas rush. Many thanks to Dr. Luce...

Read more...

The Guardians of the Chinese Hells

Another side of things.  Judge not that ye be judged.

Read more...

SHEN MING & OSMOSIS

Shen is the Chinese character for spirit and there are 2 part to this character. On the left...

Read more...

WHITE HORSES

The Australian journalist, Richard Hughes, wrote a book about Hong Kong entitled 'Borrowed Place...

Read more...

PTCCI SUBSCRIPTION & WEBSITE ACCESS

PRACTICAL TAI CHI CHUAN INTERNATIONAL LIFETIME SUBSCRIPTIONS & ACCESS TO VINTAGE DAN DOCHERTY WRITINGS  REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS

Read more...

OVERNIGHT SUCCESS

'Lost' interview from 1988   http://www.taichichuan.co.uk/magazines.html...

Read more...

FOR REAL

ust thinkin OK corral time . I be Doc H with the Earp Bros. I like the Earps but like Doc...

Read more...

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

I've met quite a few impressive women in my time, but inspirational? Miss Chen [Jingzu] was not...

Read more...

Unpleasantness

management of aggression, self defence with a bit of body language and transactional analysis...

Read more...

Featured Instructor

Apologies to all, especially to Catherine Birkinhead, for neglecting to draw your attention to...

Read more...

TERRY O'NEILL

It is almost 30 years to the day since the editor of Fighting Arts Magazine and top...

Read more...

Taijiquan & Qigong Federation for Europe

Annual Competition

Read more...