Chen Tai Chi

This page will be dedicated to what I consider to be our mother system, the one that defines the internal quality of movement. It flat out teaches you how to move and  this can be applied to all movement regardless of style.

Out of all the styles in our great system that we are afforded the privilege of practicing through the tireless sacrifices made by Lao Tzu McNeil, it is Chen Tai Chi that really informs the execution of all the other styles. The student should strive to embody the way to move that is learned in Tai Chi into all the other styles that are practiced. Most of us know or practice more than one style of Master McNeil’s system and Chen style Tai Chi will improve your execution of any of them.

Our Chen Tai Chi, not to be confused with new Chen or what I call Wu Shu Chen, is the old style, the source of all Tai Chi styles, kept preserved in its original form for over 700 years, its true origin lost in time. My brother and I, after senior brother Al Lam, were probably the first students to begin learning Chen from Lao Tzu. I teach and practice both the Original Form and Pao Twi (Cannon Fist). Up until that time it was Hsing-I and Splashing Hands and it had taken a long time to alter my “fighting style” from the Jeet Kune Do/Tae Kwon Do method my brother and I had learned to the simpler more powerful Hsing-I combined with the explosive machine gun qualities of properly executed Splashing Hands; a winning combination for sure which I proved to myself in several different real situations which I relate on the Splashing Hands and Hsing-I pages of this website.

Chen Tai Chi added a level of refinement and kinesthetic awareness that greatly enhanced the power I felt in all my forms and movements; Tai Chi was literally teaching me how to move and it contained many effective techniques hidden within the form for those who know how to develop technique from form, which is an art in itself and really takes a qualified instructor to impart the method. Not just every move in a form but every arc of every move is a possible technique and when this theory is applied to a form like the Chen Old Style Original form truly incredible close-fighting power and sensitivity can be developed and the expression of that is in Push Hands.

This is the original form of Tai Chi, true origins unknown; Old Style Chen may very well have been divinely inspired, as may have all Internal methods, who are we to alter the work of the higher powers? The origins of the Taoist systems are largely unknown because many records have been destroyed during China’s turbulent past. The bottom line, regardless of spiritual belief, is that to alter the moves in the forms, where the magic is contained, changes the flow of Chi. This is not something that has to be believed in faith, it can be felt through practice; it being the difference in how your body feels and the difference in the accumulation of Chi with proper form and without.

I had the great fortune to meet Master Pan and be invited into his home to meet his wife while we were in Taiwan. Sorry for the poor scan quality, I assure you it is the Master himself. He also honored the school in Orange, California during one of his visits to train Master McNeil. It was quite an eye-opening demonstration of the effectiveness of a life time of dedication to Tai Chi from the great Master Pan himself as he entertained questions from the students in attendance. We had all heard the stories from Lao Tzu about Master Pan and his pushing ability and prowess at push hands so my brother stood up and asked to feel the push of Master Pan; beating me to it, the little bastard. Being mild mannered and unassuming and in order to impart a more valuable lesson, in my opinion, the Master declined but instead invited Gary to push him. Yes, for a brief few moments Gary got to push hands with the direct lineage holder of Chen Tai Chi and I hope the honor was not lost on him.

My brother and I were pretty decent at push hands, at least for a couple of intermediate players, advanced intermediate at best. Gary stepped up and they started in with the elbow rotation and it wasn’t long before Gary made a try, very unsuccessfully, I might add. Everything he tried was just dissolved with seemingly no effort from Master Pan and was turned into Gary stumbling around looking like a newbie. He said later that it was like trying to push and grab onto spring steel rods surrounded by marshmallow. He would try to push and his hands would sink in and be absorbed and then the spring steel would straighten and his body would be moved with no ability to prevent it and he would be tilted off balance and stumble; more of a controlled manipulation than what I have seen on video of Master Pan throwing Lao Tzu, Carl and Paul. It was even more impressive in a way.

We used to practice the Tai Chi pushing all the time as a drill, back and forth across the school; it was a great workout and really helps to perfect rooting and exploding outward at the same time. It apparently became a little too ingrained of a habit and with my naturally passive nature, combined to compromise me a couple times in fights that I got into at two different punk rock shows back in the 80’s; one at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, the home of boxing, ironically enough, and another at a private warehouse concert where I came very close to being killed.

Punk rock and the life style that came with it was yet another thing that I jumped into with wild abandon. I was a long haired rock and roll kid as evidenced by the picture of me and Lao Tzu on the instructor page and I thought punk music sucked until I heard “Machine Gun Etiquette” by The Damned and was talked into attending my first punk rock show. There was something about the energy of the music and how it drove “the pit”, the swirling violent maelstrom of humanity that punks called “dancing” and the anti-authority attitude that grabbed me. There were continuing problems at home and it wasn’t long before I was on the streets, truly living the lifestyle with Mohawk spiked and proud.

Yes, that is me on the left with the infamous Tpic ( the partner in crime) right next to me. God, I was a dork, the shit I would wear…so ridiculous.

I had one main partner in crime, Tpic, my “road dog” and our lives centered around going to shows and getting wasted and although I was still training at the school with Master McNeil I was being torn in this new direction and I also wanted to test what I was learning in a real conflict environment; punk rock provided that in spades. Like anything where drugs and alcohol are involved there were gangs and we had friends that were full members and others that were associates with several different punk gangs and skinhead groups. While it was not my true philosophy to discriminate I moved somewhat neutrally in that environment mostly because I had a reputation for being able to take care of myself. The main group we were friends with were combined Mexicans and whites and they were pretty low level in the grand scheme of street gangs but there were some fairly crazy guys among them. One of them once told me they wanted to “jump me in” but they decided it would be too big of a chance of them getting hurt trying.

Well some guys didn’t get the memo about me or maybe they did and wanted to try me but one night at a show at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, with two bands called Broken Bones and DOA, ironically enough, I got into it in the middle of the pit with the leader of a local gang.We were uneasy acquaintances from around the Orange County area and he was a little drug dealer that thought he was really bad ass but had some real bad-asses for back up. I was standing at the far outskirts of the pit waiting for the next band, Broken Bones, to start and I was chatting it up with a girl that hung out with the punk crowd occasionally; attending Punk Rock Baseball, parties and shows but she always seemed out of place because she was a “normal “chick, not all punked out and was beautiful like a model. She latched on to me that night for some reason and I got past my usual shyness around girls and it seemed like I was really making some headway with her. Then the band started playing and I uttered those words that I will never forget, “I love this song, wait here and I’ll be right back”.

I don’t recall specifically how it happened, probably a shove that he took exception to is how these things usually start. He came at me with his hands up and I knew he was not much of a fighter but I underestimated the severity of the situation with me and him squared off in the middle of the pit with all his friends circled around and none of mine in sight; what was to become a recurring theme to my exploits.

He moved in on me and threw a punch which I easily swatted away and simultaneously pulled him into a double Tiger grab from Hsing-I; one hand gripped his throat and the other his groin through his Levi’s. I gave one good squeeze so that he would “know” and then converted it to a Tai Chi push and literally lifted him off the ground like a child and tossed him ten feet away across the pit where he rag-dolled in a heap.

Well, he took exception and obviously didn’t “get it” and he leaped up spitting mad like a wet cat and rushed me. Mentally, I was rubbing my hands together and licking my chops in anticipation and as he drew near I fired off a viscous jab and punch that would have cleaned him up, no doubt, but at the perfectly inopportune time I was clothes-lined from behind.

My momentum bursting forward into the jab and punch combined with the abrupt stop from the beefy arm around my neck and my feet flew out from under me and I landed on my ass. I will never forget that sight as my feet flapped in front of me in mid-air like a cartoon character, seeming to levitate for a moment before crashing down to the ground which I managed to turn into a decent break-fall and came right to my feet.

I leaped up pissed off and spun around to look behind for whoever had done it and I saw for the first time my true situation as I was ringed around by a sea of menacing faces gleaming at me in the lights from the show still raging around us. I quickly turned back because the original guy was still right on top of me and as I did I was grabbed from behind in a text book rear naked choke. My senses were affected by the extreme audio and visual input because normally I would have heard and felt both rear attacks coming. This was way before the popular fad of jujitsu, showing that choking people is really nothing new despite what people may think.

The guy was fucking big and strong and turned out was one of the bouncers for the show promoter, not even house security; but all those huge guys were also ringed around to support him. Must be nice. I tried to get my limbs to work but the oxygen was cut off enough, I guess, to keep that from happening but I was not unconscious and he started dragging my skinny ass up the aisle toward the front of the building.

It took several long minutes to get dragged from the floor, up the aisle and to the main entrance leading to the street and the guy I was originally fighting with kept coming in and punching me in the face the whole way and I ended up with a hole in my bottom lip I could put my finger in. The bouncer had me in a side head lock and he hip tossed me onto the sidewalk in front of the Olympic. I tried with all I had to land trickly on my feet but my legs just didn’t work and I fell like a sack of rocks on the pavement.

The impact brought air into my lungs and I had use of my legs almost instantly so I jumped up and started in with every name I could think of; calling the house security guards that were ringed all around pussies and trying to goad them into fighting. There were multiple big ass fuckers so I am lucky they didn’t take my offer and to their credit acted very professionally. The original guy I was fighting and all his minions plus the guy that dragged me out in the choke hold were standing just inside the venue taunting me from behind the ring of mastodons. I wasn’t done but they wouldn’t come out so I went across the street to a bus bench and I sat there waiting for the show to end when they would have to come out.

I was so mad…very few times in my life have I been that way. If I had a machine gun I would have used it, I am almost positive. I didn’t care about my life or anybody else, I would have taken all of them on and I had a folding Buck knife, planning full well to use it, if they had come out right then. But they didn’t and I sat stewing on the bench and I could see them still inside the venue doors watching me sit there. I would give them the finger, wave them over, all that stuff trying to goad them but the truth was my resolve was fading. I still had no idea where my “friends” were who I had driven with to the gig, that was in Los Angeles from Orange County, so I had no quick escape. The situation suddenly turned more ominous as my brain started to think logically and I realized how much shit I was in.

We are not talking about the Sharks and the Jets here. Knives, sticks, chains, leather studded and spiked belts and beer bottles would be the best I could hope face. I was still stubbornly hanging on to my outrage at not being able to just drop the guy and go back to watching the show. I was really regretting leaving the girl’s side in the first place, what an idiot! She would have been the absolutely most gorgeous girl silly and generous enough to like me to this day. I sat on that bus bench in the middle of one of the meanest cities on the planet, utterly alone, glowering, holding my knife and in limbo on how to proceed. This was before I had any meaningful tactical training, of course, or I wouldn’t have been in the situation to begin with.

About thirty minutes into the standoff a guy came out the double doors of the Olympic from where my adversaries were lurking. It was just one guy so I didn’t even get up as he trotted across the street and slowly approached the bench where I sat, lasering him with a hooded gaze. He held up his hands in a pacifying gesture, “Hey, Holmes, take it easy, I just want to talk”. He didn’t wait for a reply and started right in, “We all know you can kick blank’s ass, (name omitted because it doesn’t really further the story and I don’t know if the guy is still involved with dope or not, I am no snitch) but you gotta realize it ain’t gonna be just him”. He was so matter-of-fact and reasonable that it took away what breeze was still left in my sails and made them slack, doldrums on my ocean of fight.

I took the knife that was still in my hand like an extension of my fingers, folded it up and slipped it into my pocket and told the emissary of the petty warlord, “You’re right, I’m done” and I started walking off down the street away from the venue toward where we had parked our car. I waited there for awhile as the aches started setting in, my lip hurt like hell; but other than that I was unscathed and as I put everything into perspective and considered the odds that I had faced I felt lucky to be alive. People were killed at punk shows quite often.

Even my fight performance wasn’t really embarrassing because I had manhandled their supposed toughest guy like an infant and they all respected the shit out of me. The law of the street said that they would have had to fuck me up no matter what if I didn’t back down. I learned that toying with people you are in conflict with is dangerous and if you are going to fight go all out and finish it NOW! and move! Especially in possible multiple opponent situations.

Tpic and the rest of our crew, probably five or six total, finally showed up wondering what happened. I was pissed but I couldn’t prove that they knew what was happening to me and stood by doing nothing; the Olympic was a pretty big place in the dark. I wasn’t able to verify until the next incident that I alluded to earlier; where pushing someone, this time just as a matter of circumstance, got me very close to not being here writing this today.

I dubbed him Tpic (the partner in crime) on the Hsing-I page so I will use that acronym here as well and like the military with their infatuation, I love a good acronym. Tpic and I were pretty much inseparable, we partied together, went to shows and share a love for martial arts. He had been pretty successful in point karate tournaments as a kid and we both had a  wild, rocky childhood. He was my brother’s age, a year and a half or so younger and the three of us hung out a lot. But my brother was always more sensible and didn’t get into trouble like I did unless led into it by me. Here is a recent picture of Tpic, still punk as hell doing gigs.

I tried to protect Gary from exposure to the worst things that we got into and was fairly successful but we did have a couple of adventures together that I will get into later. Gary never embraced the lifestyle of punk rock like I did, never lived on the streets or went to jail for more than an hour or two and always had a job. He never had the addiction problems I did although he experimented with his share of drugs.

By this time Gary was living with a girl friend and not really going to shows with us so he wasn’t part of the crew on the fateful night. The protective part of me is glad although I wonder if it may have been a different story with him there. The situation became so compromised that I tend to doubt it regardless of what skill he may have had. He really didn’t have much, if any, experience with people trying to kill him. Stand by for more.

The exact timeline eludes me, probably before I went to Taiwan to fight which happened after a long period of training to prepare for it after a long lay-off when I was out being crazy; probably the mid eighties with about five years of training with Lao Tzu under my belt, a drop in the bucket. I had my basic black belt but well before my first degree. It was my first time away from practicing with Lao Tzu since joining in 1980 and I was consumed with the excitement and allure of the dangerous life of gangs, drugs and punk rock. Getting hammered and going to the next show became the life and along with it came a lot of trouble from cops and criminals alike. See the Instructor page for more stories in this vein.

I finally got busted for using a fake name multiple times to get out of traffic stops when I had warrants for my arrest for failing to pay traffic fines and I was on a vicious cycle. The first time I lied and used my brother’s information as my own because I knew his social security number and I knew he had no record. I was pulled over in possession of a felony amount of cocaine and had arrest warrants in my real name so I used Gary’s in desperation.

I finally got caught when Gary fled from the cops on his motorcycle, for no  real reason other than he thought he could, which is another story, but he ended up with his personal information in the system and the cops finally figured out that our descriptions didn’t match, not even close. I ended up doing 40 days total, my longest ever straight stretch in jail. I hadn’t been out of jail for long and it wasn’t the first time I was in; a few days here, a few weeks there. All told maybe a year or so throughout my life and always for traffic warrants from not paying tickets. If I had been convicted of everything we got away with back in those days, well it would have been a lot more than traffic ticket time.

As it was I managed to get enough stretches in the Orange County Main  Jail to really get to know the place; along with it’s sister jail Theo Lacy. Back in those days before there were cameras everywhere, O.C.J. as it was called, had a reputation for being a “Gladiator School” for guys headed to penitentiaries after getting sentenced for their crimes in Orange County.

It was all run racially by gangs and the cops were just another gang that had the keys. I saw some pretty rough shit but for the most part I got along without incident, usually by immediately working out and doing some things that made guys go “Whoa!” and being willing to get along and go along. I saw a guy get stabbed to death, a cop get beat down in the middle of the dormitory, many fights, other man on man action, escapes and on and on. Maybe stories for another page.

Tpic and I lived in a punk rock house which was basically the dwelling of one guy that let numerous other miscreants stay there like a flop house. He really wasn’t a “real punk” in our opinion and everyone thought he was a dork but he actually had a job and was an alcoholic that would fund the party so he was okay in my book.We really lived a semi-nomadic existence and bopped in and out of one bad situation after another. There were stretches of time that the memory of fades in accuracy where I didn’t talk to Lao Tzu; embarrassed before his all seeing eyes. I was using drugs and of course the gateway of it all, drinking everything I could wrap my hands around. I truly believe alcohol was the key to my downfall, having started very young; a family tradition. There was almost nothing I wouldn’t do if I was drunk enough. I cover this in more depth on the Hsing-I page.

It was the usual evening’s plan; some kind of show to get fucked up before going to and figuring out how to get there. This night it was a private warehouse party with some small time no name Orange County bands and the local bands that we hung out with called Heavy Dirt and Doggy Style, that contained members of other fairly famous punk bands, including Social Distortion, D.I. and the Adolescents. It was guys in this circle of punks that stood by on several occasions and left me to the wolves. The story I am about to recount is the worst of the bunch.

Tpic and I had no ride to the gig and the guy that was the “landlord” refused to let us take his truck while he was riding with another group. People were learning that Tpic and I were bad news together so my behavior is a big part of bringing on all the things that happened to me over the years; that fact is not lost on me, believe me. We simply waited until everyone left and then hot-wired his truck and took it anyway.

I mentioned previously that I was just out of jail and was about as big as I have ever been at around 200 pounds. I lucked into a situation in jail where I worked in the kitchen and got extra food and also washing Sheriff cars where the inmates had an improvised bench press set up. All I had to do other than the jobs was work out and eat and I gained weight fast; I was sucked up from drug use and living on the street to about 155 pounds and by the time I got out 40 days later I had gained almost 50 pounds, a crazy amount of weight in only a little over a month but I was 20 pounds under my already light for my frame 175 pounds when I went in, so there was a lot of room for growth given enough food. I was lucky because most of the time getting enough food is a critical issue in jail, they give you the bare minimum and if you have no money of your own to buy extra you are screwed.

I was sporting a shaved head and was in the habit of not wearing glasses because I didn’t have any; no money to spare that wasn’t procuring drugs and alcohol. Yes, I had picked right up where I left off before going to jail. It took a few times for it to finally sink into my thick head. As a consequence I didn’t look nearly as nerdy as usual and with some size on me I probably looked a little intimidating which can cut both ways as you will see.

Tpic and I rolled to the show pretty far from the home-base, probably a 30 minute drive away. I owned a little .22 revolver and a wicked little sawed off double barrel shotgun with side by side triggers that we sold, stole and resold multiple times but were not carrying either that evening. Hard to say even to this day if that was for the better, probably was because I am still alive and not in prison but man it would have felt so sweet that dark revenge!

The warehouse that the party was held in was fairly close to the freeway in an industrial business park; it was commonplace in those days to get away with wild parties in these areas. I don’t remember if both Heavy Dirt and Doggy-Style were playing but there were plenty of guys from our group in attendance. The other bands were from another local area, Garden Grove, which was anything but, (we called it Garbage Gulch) and there may have been a “clique” from there as well. The space was longer than it was wide with a stage set up that was about four feet off the ground toward what would be the rear of the building. Band gear was piled high at the rear stage area against the wall and there was no rear exit evident.

This would become a major tactical blunder on my part as things unfolded but at that time I had very little real tactical training other than the private sessions in the field with my SEAL buddy. It wasn’t until several years later when I began training with TFTT/DAG that I really began seriously learning Urban tactics in self-defense other than one on one fighting. I go into more detail on this on the Instructor page of this website. Unlike the movies, dealing with multiple opponents in real self-defense life and death situations is much easier said than done as I was about to find out the hard way.

The show started and it was really cool at first with a small area in front of the stage quickly turning into a nice little pit where I stood watching the band, off to the side of the main pit action. Then I got slammed into, as is to be expected when you are standing anywhere near a slam pit or “mosh” pit I guess the kids still say these days? I shrugged it off and a minute or two later it happened again and this time I turned toward the pit to check it out in time to see a guy with a bandanna on leering at me as he danced away. I didn’t know him and thought nothing of it but kept an eye on him as he came around toward me again.

The whole scene repeated again and I was getting annoyed; for some reason this asshole had singled me out to fuck with; possibly the my aforementioned appearance. People are either quelled or incensed by an intimidating appearance; with this guy it seemed to be the latter and as he came around for the fourth time I got ready without looking ready. I timed it perfect and Tiger pushed the shit out of him, launching him through the air across the pit to land in a heap spinning like a break-dancer. Just like my pal at the Olympic, this guy was pissed and I had learned from that incident not to get surrounded in a pit.

Unfortunately I didn’t learn the lesson fully about toying with people; I don’t know what it was, probably I didn’t really want to fight or hurt anyone and was trying to bluff my way out, after all I didn’t start either altercation. It was a little different at the Olympic incident, I was more than willing to kick that guy’s ass even though I knew he was a gang member; he was one that I knew would probably not try to kill me afterwards and would take a beating like a man. This fucker was also more than likely a gang member but I didn’t know him at all; who knows of what he would be capable.

Time began to slow in that familiar way as the sympathetic nervous system response kicked in and I watched him get up, a furious visage twisted in anger and instantly I noticed all the other hostile faces starting to surround me. I jumped up on the stage where the band was still playing, my first and correct instinct telling me to seek the back way out before this escalated out of control. The band gear stacked high behind the stage blocked the view of any exit but logic should have told me there was one (there was) but the puppy brain was starting to peek out and this fact was lost on me. First big mistake.

By this time the band had stopped and I turned back to the crowd and my new Nemesis stood in the pit at the edge of the stage glaring up at me. My first move, the second mistake given my next decision, was to pull out my trusty folding Buck knife from my front pocket. A ripple of anger went through the crowd and I heard,”Hey, he’s got a knife!” The thought went through my mind at that instant, am I willing to kill people to get out of here? Again betrayed by my genetics, I decided no and put the knife back in my pocket. Third mistake. Given the same circumstances today I would draw the knife surreptitiously so they didn’t know until the last second, then leap into the crowd slashing and stabbing for all I was worth, like a pirate cutting a swath across a pitching galley deck; if I lived I would take the consequences, fuck those asshole pussies. Better tried by twelve than carried by six.

Just as I was returning the folder to my pocket, I saw it coming out of the corner of my eye; too late to avoid it but soon enough to catch it as the metal folding chair bounced off my head and into my left hand. I couldn’t believe it and I think my enemies were taken aback as well for a moment. On the Little Nine Heaven page I go into detail about some of the things that happened to me where I believe Shih Shui and Iron Body training saved my ass; this time is one of them. It was like it had no effect other than a small knot on my forehead above the temple. Luck and adrenaline were helping and hindering as always.

Like an idiot and lending proof that the so-called “puppy brain” of my sympathetic nervous system had burst through the screen door of my mind and was barking in the yard, I threw the chair back into the crowd, I guess so they could use it again? Major mistake that I was lucky not to regret. What is that four now? Again, very lucky to be alive and this is probably the second most serious situation in which I have been in my entire chaotic life…top five anyway. By now I knew I was in the shit and of course no “friends” were to be seen.

Desperation mounted as I hit upon an idea to get me the one hundred feet or so to what I thought was the only way out, the way from which I had come. My antagonist and his pals were gathered in front of the stage at my feet killing me with their eyes yet none of them were moving to jump up after me. I moved forward toward the guy I had the original beef with and reached out my hand with a palm open “I am sorry” gesture, knowing what he would do and I was ready to capitalize.

The guy grabbed my hand and tried to pull me off the stage into the pit as I predicted he would and I used the momentum he helped me generate and did my best Carl Lewis, leaping over their heads and landing past the area of the pit. It had to have been twenty feet or more and was probably pretty crazy looking if I had a video of it but of course this was way before a camera phone in every hand like today.  Freedom from complete entrapment was still at least fifty feet away and by the time I got to the warehouse man-door, not the roll up door which was closed for the concert, I was was carrying a half a dozen guys on my back. Several of those were  peeled off by the laws of physics as I barreled through the door with all the strength I had left and finally collapsed under the sheer weight of bodies on the asphalt parking lot outside.

I was wearing long shorts but they rode up over my knees when I hit the ground and my kneecaps turned into hamburger as I balled up face down, knees grinding with my arms over my head trying to become a pill bug. I still have faint reminders below my knee caps to this day. The entire time this pack of rats was punching, kicking and striking my back and arms with beer bottles trying to hit me in the head and I waited for the feel of a knife. I almost went to what is known as “condition black” in tactical circles, when the puppy just gives up and curls in the corner hoping it will all go away. But a little voice, THAT voice, said, “If you don’t get up right now, these guys are going to kill you.”

I wrote previous that my “friends” were nowhere to be seen but this wasn’t entirely accurate. Tpic had witnessed the whole thing start to finish from the initial pushing in the pit to me leaping off the stage, all the while trying to figure out how to best help me. It was obvious given the odds that him jumping in to physically fight them with me was not the answer. Maybe if he and I and my brother, Gary and for sure with someone like senior brother Joji Hollands; the four of us could have fucked up all of those assholes. There was a time when Joji would go to parties in bad areas with one or two other friends, perhaps his brother who I have heard is a very accomplished fighter in his own right, challenging whole crews to fight and winning.

Back to my reality because as far as I knew I was as alone as it gets, a stone plunging to the bottom of a deep dark well, as close to giving up the fight as I have ever been. When Tpic saw me make my leap for life off the stage, I learned later, that instead of exposing himself as an ally and becoming embroiled as well, he slipped out the door ahead of me to get the truck we drove to the party in order to make our escape. He was trusting me to get outside and get away from them so he could swoop me up and make our getaway. Although I was angry with him and questioned his motives at first, thank God he acted as he did. Thanks, Brother!

The location of the party was typical of this type of industrial business complex; a rectangular layout with a perimeter access road and easements off of this road into the individual parking areas for the shops and businesses. There were no real storefronts as the area shops weren’t retail establishments. The access road was bordered by a thick hedgerow shrubbery then an open field for about two hundred yards and then the freeway. By the time Tpic ran to the truck and pulled it up into a strategic position to make the pick up, between the hedgerow and the easement into the parking area where I was on the ground, I was at the point of do or die with my internal dialogue. He was witness to what happened next.

Just before THAT voice was a huge fear induced adrenaline dump and as I summoned all my power to drive myself off the ground and onto my feet my bowels emptied, spilling out of my underwear and onto my legs. It may have given me the seconds I needed to break contact as my attackers recoiled in surprise, disgust, who knows. I was embarrassed and ashamed for years after until I began really learning about the sympathetic nervous system responses during “fight or flight” and just how common that shitting your pants in a fight for your life really was. If you have something in your stomach when that adrenaline hits it is coming out and there is a very interesting scientific reason why that I won’t get into here. Check out the work of Army Ranger Lt. Col. Dave Grossman on the topic of combat and killing for a full in-depth treatment of the subject.

Tpic told me later that when I came off the ground, the guys on top of me, probably a dozen by then, flew off like they had been detonated and there I stood like some kind of magic trick; but only for a second and then I began bolting in his direction. He watched me run towards him and then run right by and into the hedgerow next to the access road. I was in full animal brain and I didn’t even see the truck parked there, a sympathetic nervous system response called visual exclusion or “tunnel vision”, an instinctive physical reaction that occurs because we are biped predators with our eyes in front of our heads and during the fight or flight response the body’s resources are marshaled into full frontal vision to better ensure an escape or successful attack.

Our instincts aren’t always our friend. Visual exclusion can be combated by first being aware that it will happen and then consciously and deliberately expanding the vision and forcing yourself to take in the whole scene by moving the head around; and of course through frequent realistic training. Unfortunately I became educated in the subject after this incident so the knowledge was not there; I ran right by my getaway car and tried to burrow deep within the thick shrubbery. Then I heard the voice of salvation.

“Yimmy! Yimmy! Over here, come on!” Yimmy hardcore” was my nickname, its’ origin lost in a silly drug and alcohol induced haze. Basically it was ironic because I had gone from Punk Rock hater to fully immersed in the blink of an eye. Hearing my name expanded my awareness and I saw the taillights of the truck shining red through the hedge. I heard Tpic’s voice but it was hard to force myself to run back into the open. Even though I hid for only a matter of seconds my hesitation almost cost us everything. What takes some time to read happened in the space of about 30 seconds, if that; from me throwing the dogs off my back, sprinting fifty yards, to the hedgerow, to coming out of the bushes to jump in the truck bed but it was enough time for the pursuers to stab two of our tires as we peeled out of there down the access road.

By the time we got onto the freeway both tires were flat so we pulled over to the shoulder after driving on the rims for half a mile, still fearing pursuit. Sure enough a cargo van drove up from the same direction we had come from and began to pull onto the shoulder behind us. Tpic and I stood on the shoulder as the van pulled up, dismayed that the shit might not be over. Relief then anger swept over me when I saw it was the rest of our crew in the van they had driven to the party. We jumped in the open side door and were out of there in a cloud of dust.

I was pissed but I didn’t waste my breath on the motherfuckers, the writing on the wall was clear now, even to my dense ass. If it weren’t for Tpic I would have been truly and well fucked; my only option would have been to conceal myself from view in the hedgerow, move through the brush to a different position and then break cover to cross the field to the freeway and try to hitchhike out of there. Perhaps a complex bit of execution for a tactically untrained knucklehead teetering on the brink of condition black.

I did get some revenge on my piece of shit “friends” although the same group of guys did the same thing to me during another escapade when I got my front tooth knocked out but that is another story that happened with Gary that I will detail elsewhere. This time my revenge came in the form of stinking everyone out with the shit that still covered my underwear and legs although I had dumped my shorts and wiped down as best I could. There were at least six of us crammed into that van and it was a long ride back to our home turf. My only motivation was to return back to base, arm up with the weapons that I had and go back for revenge.

Again, there is no doubt in my mind that had I a weapon at the moment I would have gone back and shot the place up for sure, consequences be damned. I am not really quick to anger although stress and circumstances where I am put on the spot can bring it out in me but it is something I have worked on over the years. When I do lose it my moral sense does tend to go out the window, the same when I am really drunk. I admit it fully, I am not writing this for self-aggrandizing reasons but to reveal the nature that has retarded my potential spiritual growth my whole life even with the opportunity afforded me by Lao Tzu McNeil.

The long drive back home, although uncomfortable with the betrayal I felt from the assholes I was riding with, allowed the adrenaline dump to dissipate and my injuries to become apparent. I was much more beat up than after the Olympic incident. I had no cut like that time but my whole body was covered in contusions with a pretty good egg on my forehead from the metal chair. Again Iron Body saved me by enabling me to take multiple head strikes without losing consciousness which would have been my demise. In fact I have only been knocked out once, just for a few seconds, which will be detailed on the Little Nine Heaven page although I came close when fighting in Taiwan as recounted on the Splashing Hands page.

By the time we got back I could barely keep my eyes open, a known reaction to adrenaline, and I only wanted to sleep. I was thankful to be alive and decided to make the best of a bad situation and leave well enough alone. I also determined to never push someone again without immediately following up and finishing them. We live in a different time with little to no honor left among most people; it is as rare as common sense.