Silk Uniform -By Chen Zhonghua

One of the maxims that Hong Junsheng lived by was never to bend to authority. This soft spoken old man was said to have a character of steel.

In 1981, the sports commission of the Shandong Province organized a large martial marts demonstration in celebration of the Chinese culture. The gala affair was to be held in the renowned Hall of One-Hundred Springs, with the governor and other leaders of the province as honored guests. Hong Junsheng was invited as one of the leading martial artists to demonstrate A demonstration of this sort was not taken lightly. There were rehearsals and pre-event screening to ensure that the governor would be pleased.

hongportraitregular.jpgEveryone was encouraged to shine, and naturally, to wear their best uniforms. At the rehearsal, the director of the sports commission noticed something very peculiar: Hong Junsheng wasn’t wearing a silk uniform. Although this would normally be something for a staff member to attend to, the director took it upon himself to take up the matter with Hong:

“Master Hong, it’s perfectly alright for you not to wear the uniform today. But when the governor comes to see the real demonstration, make sure that you have your best silk on!”

“I don’t have a silk uniform and I don’t wear one!” Hong replied.

“Don’t mind the money, go get a one quickly, and I will reimburse you whatever the price is.” The director wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.

“You see,” Hong continued, “I have never worn a uniform. Why would I buy one just for this one occasion?”

Becoming increasingly perturbed, the director now attempted in earnest to assert his position, “Master Hong, with all due respect, there will be consequences if you don’t wear a proper uniform in front of the governor. It’s an honor people like you would die for, to have a chance to perform for the governor. You should be so rash about it.”

By this time, Hong had a big smile on his face. “Talking about consequences, well, what consequence to an old man? I am not a party member so I cannot be excommunicated. I don’t have a job so I cannot be fired. I don’t even have an identification card.” Hong made light of the fact that he didn’t have anything.

He had a very rough life. He was not allowed to work after 1949. He narrowly escaped all the political turmoil with careful and clever navigation through such turbulent waters during the years of 1949 to 1985. The underground training of Taiji toughened him, made him strong both physically and mentally. He was indeed a man without any fear.

In the end, he became the only master in Shandong who demonstrated his martial art to the governor in his usual street clothes. Hong kept his word: never stoop down to authority when it is used unnecessarily. He upheld his integrity and gained admiration of his peers.

In his entire life, he never wore a uniform. His “uniform” was always whatever he was wearing that day. With this normal poor man’s clothing, he defeated so many famous martial artists and survived 66 years of martial challenges!

My intent in relating the story of this incident involving a silk uniform is to illustrate Hong Junsheng’s character. It is not a slight on people who wear uniforms, for there is another side to this story. In 1998, I became a disciple of Feng Zhiqiang. In one of the lessons, he talked about how to treat other people. “We must always hold the highest respect for others.” he told me. As an example, he said that everytime there is a chance to demonstrate for people, either in front of a large audience or just for a few people, “You must put on your best uniform and your best performance!” This shows respect to the people watching you.

For some, this might be viewed as contrary to the actions of Hong. In my view, there is something very congruent and identical in Hong and Feng’s character. They both use their actions to respect others around them. They don’t just pretend to!

So silk or no silk, it is rather a matter of heart, not the uniform!

Explore posts in the same categories: Hong Junsheng, Life Experiences, Taiji Story Link

One Comment on “Silk Uniform -By Chen Zhonghua”

  1. This is really beautiful, Master Chen. Silk or no silk! There are always two sides of a coin and you have put them across so full of integrity from both Grandmasters’ point of view! Thank you for sharing. And the funny thing is I concur with both Grandmasters!

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