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Sep 24, 2018

426 BY DAN DOCHERTY


Posted by: Dan

The Chinese term 'Sanhehui' [literally 3 Harmonies Association] was the name of one specific triad society of which Nationalist Party leader, Doctor Sun Yat-sen was a member.  The name is a direct reference to the Taoist philosopher, Lao Zi's concept of Heaven Earth and Humanity harmonising as One. Now the term is often applied to Chinese criminal gangs in general. 

Each of the key triad office bearers was referred to by both the name of his office,, his code number and had his unique regalia and Mudra. One of the key office bearers is the 'Hung Guan' / Red Pole also known as 426 [each office -bearer has a specific code number based on the numerology of the Book of Changes] who is in charge of discipline and  enforcement. collecting protection money and membership fees. When I served in the Royal Hong Kong Police, it was a criminal offence to:

Claim to be a member of a triad society;

To possess triad writings and regalia.

I started doing karate in 1971 and after a bit more than a year, when my sensei, Al Doran, saw there was someone sparring in a way that was dangerous to himself or others, he'd ask them to spar with me and tell me. 'Gyakutsuke Danny' [my karate Colleagues used to call me that] and I'd give them a reverse punch to the body; more often than not I'd drop them. I never hit to the face in those days; I didn't really want to mark anyone.

After a while I started helping Al by teaching the beginners. I'm sorry to say that I used brutality to teach them because I had seen some Japanese do the same. Anyone who made a mistake, I'd hit them or sweep them to the floor. It was also the culture I was used to at school and at home. The belt and the fist for every mistake. Glasgow Confucianism; kill the chicken to warn the monkey. I became the Red Pole at home for my siblings and at the club.

In 1973 we couldn't get any of the big Japanese Shotokan masters to come to Glasgow to give us a course and grading. Instead, this Japanese dude turns up at the sports centre with Al. He's young looking, wears spectacles, got a permanent half smile, john Lennon haircut, baggy white karate pants that are way too long for him, his black belt looks brand new.

This is Yoshinao Nanbu from Japan via Paris.

He gives us weird stretching and tai sabaki footwork [What the hell is this stuff?] Within an hour, he's got us sidestepping and spinning.

He spars with Danny Bryceland, former British kumite team member in the World Championships. Makes Danny look like a beginner. 

He doesn't speak much English; just keeps us doing sidesteps and spins and telling us, 'Escape'.

That first time and every other time I saw him, he never hurt or abused anyone.

The following Sunday, when Al asked me to take the beginners, I started working on the sidestep with them [spins came the following week]. From that day until this except for the occasional psycho [sometimes they only understand pain], I tried not to hurt anyone [well,  most of the time]. 

The last time my Sifu asked me to act as a 426 was when he was angry with my old friend and TAi Chi younger [24 years older than I] brother, Cheng Kam, at the International Pushing Hands Championships held in Hong Kong in 1991. Cheng was not that good at Tai Chi, but he liked to do demonstrations. When it was announced that he was going to a demonstration of Nei Kung, Sifu Cheng asked me to go up during the demo and hit Cheng Kam. I told him that I had eaten too many meals at Cheng's Kowloon cooked food stall. I knew that if I hit full power he couldn't take it. I knew that if I didn't hit full power I would look bad. I know now how illness and medication can fuck with your mind so I don't wish to blame sifu Cheng.

That decision made me realize my days of being a 426 were finally over. Maybe we don't need no more Tai Chi 426 anyway, anymore or anyhow. 

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