This photo is on my parents’ honeymoon. This Sun Sing Theater incident happened just before.
I am one of those people who never forgets a detail.
Ironically, I never forget a detail, but I am very bad with names and faces, I need to talk, connect and really establish a feeling for you. Once I establish this feeling, I will never forget a detail. I don’t forget a single nuance. I remember the good you said to me. I remember the bad you said to me. I listen, trying to hear what it is your really intending to say and then I either reach that point where I trust you for life, or I ban you from my life. It’s very simple. I just let people flow because people always tell who they really are eventually, it’s human nature, it’s natural… We are meant to be individuals and make our own unique impact, but we all have different methods and tactics.
As a child I listened to the stories around me. I didn’t need bedtime books, I didn’t need adults to make up fantasies for me to swim around in. I didn’t need fiction, my reality and the real life of my family was always more interesting than anything made up. I remember as a child always asking if stories that were read to me in school were real, because they seemed silly in a way I could never connect with, because everything I had always been living is the reality I was always fascinated by. I think this is why fiction never fascinated me, I don’t need non-reality to expand my mind, I thirst for knowledge rooted in reality to stretch my mind. Perhaps this is also because of how I’ve heard my father talk through the years when he teaches Tai Chi Chuan.
“Forget what isn’t reality, don’t waste time with nonsense.” – WmCCChen
When my parents were engaged, my father was already Master Chen.
One evening they went to Chinatown’s famous Sun Sing Theater, under one of those bridges, which even to this day, I remember the sound of the train running across the tracks whenever I float back to memories of mom taking us to the movies, either reading subtitles which would either reinforce or make me question my understanding of the english language, or I would watch a movie, dubbed, where the mouth movement, never matched the lines read in english and I remember for the first time, as a small child noticing that the voices never seemed to match the actual look of the actors much.
Back to this evening, pre-family and before the wedding.
The theater was packed, there was a very famous martial arts star who had his movie debuting, everyone and anyone who did martial arts was in attendance. Which is why what happened this evening would be that much more spectacular.
The movie had started and everyone in NYC’s Martial Arts scene was at the theater. This would also be the day that #PeterUrban would change his negative opinion of Chinese Martial Arts.
Dad had brought mom and her two girlfriends to the movies this day. When mom and dad were dating he not only had my mother’s company, he usually had to take her brothers and sister and her friends with them.
A young guy stands up and starts cursing his mother out, blocking my mother’s view of the movie screen. My mother, who is never shy for words chooses to tell this guy
“Sonny, sit down”
Now, I feel it’s important to point this out, because from the first time I started hearing stories about my parents and the many, many fights my mother had gotten them into, my father always said to me, your mother chose the words to hurt the guy without having to throw a punch. She used the the words to hurt him, she could have said in a different way or she could have just minded her own business, to which mom would respond “He was blocking my view of the screen, it was my business, he let the words hurt him”. Both my parents are right, in a way, but dad taught me a very valuable lesson whenever this story would be regurgitated, he would always say, fighting doesn’t always begin with the physical, always be careful with how you choose to speak to others, because what does come out of your mouth is always your choice to say.
Well, mom hit this guy in the gut with her choice of words and he turned and started cursing her out which meant the dad had to stand up for his very petite finance with a sometimes larger than life mouth. This kid started cursing my father out and dad said let’s just step to the side and discuss this so we don’t disrupt the movie for everyone.
They step to the side and this kid gets into some kind of Kung Fu stance and says
“What style do you know?”
To speak to an elder in this fashion and especially with dad having been an accomplished teacher at this point and coming from a culture rooted in Traditional Chinese Integrity you can be tolerant, but never tolerate disrespect, so dad didn’t knock this guy out, he treated him the way a brat should be handled and just threw him on his ass. This is where it gets CRAZY.
This kid’s father, I say kid, but he was already a full grown young man, anyway, his father is also a Martial Arts Master from Hong Kong, but the family was also kicked out of Hong Kong because they were criminals, the mother and sister were thieves and pick pockets that had tested the lengths of the law for too long.
This guy’s father now runs over to defend his son who went crying to him about getting thrown on his ass and charges at dad. For those of you who train with us, you’ll notice that dad always teaches this one particular jab where your upper body slips to the side and the jab often times ends up landing with the impact of a power punch. You’ll feel it straight through your root as it connects on impact. This is the punch that dad landed on this guy and everyone thinks that this punch came out of this place of incredible bravery, dad says himself, I’m human, someone is charging at me so angry, it was the combined element of adrenaline and the natural feeling of being scared that helped get his hand out there. Now, dad getting his hand out there, ended up shattering this guy’s face and launching him into the air. This isn’t some kind of trick of “chi”, dad always says, it’s just physics.
You have the force of the angry father charging in against dad’s naturally rooted energy and the naturally fluid speed of dad’s liquid joints meeting on impact. Force, against force can make you fly. This guy was tough. He got up and charged again. Dad was in a full on brawl and then here comes his future wife, sometimes I do think it is my father’s foresight and solidarity in his own self that caused him to pick such an empowered woman who never shied away from her strengths or speaking how she feels, yes, mom can sometimes be overpowering, but I think she had to learn to be this way because of the times she grew up in where I remember her telling me about how it brought her to tears when she was a child and a sweet little black girl approached her in a chinatown park and asked
Sweet Girl: “Is it ok for me to walk through here?”
Mom: “What do you mean?”
Sweet Girl: “Because of my skin color”
Mom: “This is chinatown, things like that, we don’t care about” (she turned away with tears in her eyes)
There’s something about growing up in certain ways that bring your attention to the need to speak up to stand up for what’s right and I think growing up in a time like this can either make you strong, or make you bitter. Mom chose strength. Dad chose my mom. Mom chose my father back and now we return to the fight scene which now includes all 5 feet of my mother.
While dad is fighting, only to defend himself from this guy, this guy’s wife and daughter now try to attack my father from behind and there comes my tiny Mother Chen. If you guys just know my family from seeing me, you would think my mother might also have some size on her physical build, she doesn’t, but what she lacks in size she makes up for with fire. She runs over to grab the guys wife around the neck and has her in choke hold as the woman’s daughter and her friend now rush to attack my mother.
Listening to mom recap this part of the story has me in stitches. Now I know why I’m basically nuts, it’s genetic.
Mom is scrappy, she said she knew she had to maneuver to have her back against the wall so they couldn’t attack her from behind, but she also had to create enough of a distraction and threat to make sure they wouldn’t attack my father from behind while he was fighting. So she held this woman in a choke hold and was flinging her around by her neck threatening to break this woman’s neck if her daughter and her friend didn’t stay away from my father. Somewhere in there my mother threw a few punches and proved that true love is greater than diamonds, she lost the 4 carat diamond from her engagement ring and I always wondered if we would find it somewhere in the crevices of the theater when I was a little child.
You wanna know what was funny about the story too? Dad was mindful enough to take off his watch while he was fighting. I remember people telling me about watching him do this, so I asked him when I was little and he just said that he didn’t have enough time to take the watch off before the fight, because he had no idea mommy had started something that would escalate so fast, so he had no choice but to take off his watch while he was fighting to protect it from getting damaged. My dad has a thing for watches, he used to always bring me a watch back from wherever he did workshops at. He’s the sweetest man I’ve ever known.
The fight has now become the featured attraction and dad’s skills would completely cause Peter Urban to do a 180 when it came to his opinions of Chinese Martial Arts. There was so much written about this fight, I would hear about it as little kid. People would look at my dad, this gentle, slender, meek guy with such a soft spoken voice with eyes of wonder and how on earth he was actually a real life super hero.
The fight ends with dad actually holding his attacker up, who had the heart of a lion, but a body that was now broken. One of his many falls broke his leg along with his face that was shattered from the first punch. Mom even recaps the scene with a certain softness as she recalls how badly this guy was bleeding and dad was basically holding him to protect him from himself. Even dad said, the guy couldn’t fight anymore but he was still trying to charge at me, so I just held him to protect him from himself, he couldn’t take anymore more punishment and I didn’t want to hurt him anymore, I was safe, your mother was safe, he needed to go to the hospital.
The cops came and were gonna arrest the guy if dad wanted to press charges, dad didn’t.
This was the fight at Sun Sing Theater.
This is why I never needed fairytales or felt entertained by make believe.
Fiction has to make sense, I enjoy the Reality of life not always having to make sense, but being all the more real because you have to make sense of it all.