I don't know exactly. It had to have been in the mid-sixties. I would say as early as 1966 and possibly as late as early 1968. I don't know. When he split he brought a couple of Hong Yi Xiang's other black belts with him, Chin Ming Shan and Li Ching Xiang (also known as "Black Snake" to the Americans). There may have been a couple other guys too.
After he left Hong, he was on the shitlist of a lot of people, but the old guys around Taiwan who really had a lot of good kung fu would still teach him. I remember being in class and he would have to leave to meet some old guy in the park who was going to show him something. He did that to keep learning from these old guys before they died. He learned a lot of his medicine this way. Once he learned it, he felt like he had the obligation to pass it on. He thought of himself as just a conduit. He said he had to keep learning so he could teach us more.
He used to tell us that you could be a fighter and a champion and reach the top, but once you get there, there is no where else to go but down. But if you are a teacher, you are forced to learn, to pay attention, to think, to research. As you do that, you get better and you grow. He said that when you are a true teacher, you are always seeking the knowledge and pursuing the way.
Xu Hong Ji was unique in that he wanted to train all of his students to be better than he was. Where other people were trying to tear individuals down to keep them under their thumb and below them, Xu tried to build people up. He said that if his students teach and go out and look good, then they look good and he looked better, because he was their teacher. From common knowledge of oriental culture, you would recognize that this guy was different.
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