My Bai Shi (Initiation) Experience – Sifu Jason

Partying with Mei Ian Gong Di and Wu
Partying with Mei Ian Gong Di and Wu

Back in 1990, I was studying my BSc. at Griffith University and living on Nathan campus. Included in my 8 bedroom flat were 3 mainland Chinese guys we called Gong, Wu and Di. After some time living together, I was introduced to a Taiwanese friend of theirs Lee Yi-Yen, who was studying English at the Mt Gravatt Campus.

My martial arts background at that stage consisted of primarily 3 years of Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu under Sensei John Nalder. Unfortunately due to the classes ending and my moving to Brisbane for uni, I was unable to continue with this inspiring teacher. In addition to the Ninjutsu training, I had a few months experience each of Judo, Karate, Jujitsu and Tai Ji.

My Chinese flatmates invited me to playfully spar with their friend Yi-Yen who proceeded in a matter of seconds had me wrapped up like a pretzel with my neck ready to be snapped! Being a ‘playful’ session negated a lot of my techniques as they weren’t applicable to a sparring environment. I was nonetheless very impressed and surprised to discover what he had used was Tai Ji. My exposure to Tai Ji at that point had been purely artistic and health oriented as is much the case with most Tai Ji available in the West. Anyhow, the encounter sparked my interest enough to begin attending Ian’s classes which had just started up on the campus grounds.

Early days training - Charlie, Ian, Richard, Master Ian, Mei, Jason, Kevin and Hong
Early days training – Charlie, Ian, Richard, Master Ian, Mei, Jason, Kevin and Hong

Master Ian Lee had taken over the Tai Ji training for David Yuen at his Hung Gar classes and was teaching alongside Chief Instructor Peter Schofield. I took my friend Kevin along and we met a couple of other guys who had recently transferred to learning under Master Ian. These two guys, Richard and another Ian, joined Kevin and I in becoming the core of his classes and along with Mark a year or so later were the only ones to reach Sifu Level in those early years.

Within a short time, Master Lee was teaching Shaolin as well. Around this point, I was invited by him to become a disciple of his which would involve training with him on a daily basis. He suggested that I choose someone else to join as well and I chose my uni mate Kevin. Kevin went on to focus more on the internal styles whereas I figured I should do the external styles while I was still young enough to endure the training.

Master Lee in front of altar
Master Lee in front of altar

Thus started a year of 6.30am training sessions which inevitably started with a 2 km run to Salisbury carrying “Yellow Pages” in our finger tips. These also doubled as a striking surface for Iron palm training. The basics (Ba Da and Ba Twe {Kicks and punches}) were absolutely drilled, serving not only as a warm up but concreting the foundation movements. That year was a tremendous boost to our training giving us what would probably have taken 5-10 years to learn otherwise. Although Master Lee’s English was not yet fluent, Kevin was often able to translate using Mandarin or the Hakanese dialect. We relied heavily on physical mimicry with Master Lee requiring critical details to be perfected. 12 months saw our fitness, flexibility and conditioning pushed to the limits. As well as the daily training, we were continuing the twice weekly classes as well in both Shaolin and Tai Ji taking on the role of assistants to the newer students.

To formalise the disciple arrangement, a Bai Shi ceremony was held at Master Lee’s house. A small number of his friends attended as well as Gong Wu and Di and after the ceremony we enjoyed a Chinese feast and a party.

Gong translating for Master Ian
Gong translating for Master Ian

The ceremony itself was mostly done in Chinese so I had to resort to doing and following whatever Kevin did. It involved incense, kowtowing, reciting and was all quite solemn and serious. I considered myself to be following in the steps of Daniel San from “Karate Kid”!

22 years on and I am now far more aware of what the ceremony entailed and

Kevin and Jason about to kowtow with Master Ian
Kevin and Jason about to kowtow with Master Ian

represented. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the experiences I had. Kevin and I also travelled to Taiwan with Master Lee for his wedding, and spent 2 months there holidaying, working, and training. We even got to meet some of Master Lee’s own Masters! The responsibility associated with being the next generation of the style took some time

Kevin and Jason following Master Ian and Mei's lead
Kevin and Jason following Master Ian and Mei’s lead

to accept as in those early years I was insecure about my young age and lack of experience. But in time I grew to take it on board and am proud to have maintained and grown the school to what it is today.

I have now reached a stage where I would like to offer a similar opportunity to one or more of my students. This would involve the detailed one-on-one tuition and full disclosure of the system over a period of time. In return, the student would provide some menial tasks, advanced exploration of training material and general assistance with school matters. The training involve with be intensely detailed, focussing on helping the student reach their maximum potential in all areas. Ideally this student (or students) will be the next generation able to continue the legacy in the case of my being unable to continue. (I will be avoiding getting hit by a bus though!).

At this point I would like to invite interested participants to submit an application for consideration by Sifu Jason. The submission should include their understanding of what is entailed by being a disciple, why they want to do it, and why they think they should be considered. Applications should be received by Feb 10 (Chinese New Year).

Successful applicants will receive more details from Sifu Jason explaining further what is involved in the ceremony and when it will take place. Also a detailed open discussion will be held about the training and responsibilities.



  1. Hi Sifu,

    Thankyou for your recent blog. I have heard you talk about how the Brisbane school came to be in the past, but it was nice to read about it in more detail. I am also very interested in the fact that you would like to hand down some of the more intense knowledge of the art.
    What kind of pre-requisites are you looking for in applicants?

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