[Edit: After publishing this post in late 2014, I started receiving death threats. I turned it off for a long time to let things settle down.]
This morning, I did one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life: I officially resigned as the chief instructor of the U.S. branch of Sifu Wong’s international organization, the Shaolin Wahnam Institute.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been Sifu Wong’s loyal and dedicated disciple since 1997. I have organized seminars for him, hosted him at my house, traveled internationally with him, helped to edit his books, taught in his name, and been a vocal support of his teachings for years.
In spite of my resignation, I have an endless well of gratitude in my heart for everything that he taught me.
I’m also heartbroken.
For two years, I’ve been working behind the scenes on a serious issue. A scandal has been brewing within the Shaolin Wahnam international organization. This scandal gets to the heart of my core values.
After two years of investigating, arguing, suffering, meditating, and digesting, I finally decided that, in order to be true to my own core values, I had no choice but to resign.
At present, I am the 8th of Sifu Wong’s certified instructors to resign over this issue. Of those, 3 of them were the chief instructors of their respective countries.
In the name of transparency, I would like to publicly discuss the details of the issue that led to my resignation, and explain how I came to this important, life-changing decision.
The Issue in a Nutshell
Why did I resign?
In a nutshell, I resigned because of Sifu Wong’s unethical and unacceptable response to a sexual abuse scandal within his school, perpetrated by one of his certified instructors.
I have seen with my own eyes how the victims were blamed, how the perpetrator was protected, how evidence was ignored and buried, and how critics (like me and the other instructors who resigned) were silenced.
Furthermore, I believe that Sifu Wong’s actions have cleared the path for the continuation of sexual abuse down the road.
It has become painfully and heartbreakingly clear to me that Sifu Wong and I differ – significantly – in some of our core values.
Thus, I cannot stand with Sifu Wong, and have resigned as his chief instructor in the United States.
My Open Apology
This post will be long because I want to give you all of the details that I have. This way, you can form your own opinions on the matter.
Before I go into the details, I would like to make an apology.
I see now that I should have gone public sooner. I should have created transparency a long time ago.
Having helped friends, family, and students through issues of sexual abuse, I should have known better. I should have trusted my gut.
I’m truly sorry. I’m sorry for not acting sooner. I’m sorry for keeping quiet. I’m sorry for taking so long to summon up the courage to act.
- I want to apologize to all of the victims of sexual abuse out there, not just the ones in this case – but to the many silent voices that are out there.
- I want you to know that not all people in authority positions embrace the standard narrative of sexual abuse.
- I want you to know that there are people who are on your side, people who take this kind of transgression very seriously.
- I want you to know that there are a lot of us – more than you might think – and that our numbers are constantly growing.
- I want you to know that we are willing to stand strong with you, to summon up the courage necessary to face the criticism and misunderstanding.
- I want you to know that, even in silence, you have a voice that is heard.
To the victims of this terrible scandal, I want you to know that I’m here to help, should you ever decide that you need me. I have already helped several of the victims to start the healing process, and I would be honored to help you as well. Please know that I will keep all communication in the strictest confidence. You can even contact me anonymously if you prefer.
Regaining Your Trust
There is a lot of trust involved in the teacher-student relationship. If my students trust me (and I hope that they do), then it’s because I’ve earned it.
That trust gets projected, by proxy, onto Sifu Wong. If you trust me, then by extension it’s natural to trust him, especially if you’ve met him.
Similarly, that trust then gets projected, again by proxy, onto Sifu Wong’s disciples and certified instructors.
I want to apologize for the trust that has been broken through my association with Sifu Wong.
I sincerely hope that I can earn it back some day. I will work hard to do so – starting with this post.
In honor of rebuilding trust, I’ve written this post to shed light on the issue that led to my resignation – including my own mistakes in the matter.
The 1st Resignation
Note: All of the names have been changed in order to protect the identities of the victims. I have also chosen to leave out the specific dates lest they might endanger the victims in some way.
The scandal began roughly 2 years ago when a junior Shaolin Wahnam instructor, we’ll call him Fred, made serious allegations against his own sifu, a senior instructor who we’ll call Gary.
Evidence that several Shaolin Wahnam students had been sexually abused by Gary was presented to Sifu Wong. Fred presented all of his evidence to Sifu Wong — except for one thing. Fred refused to provide the names of the victims.
Sifu Wong repeatedly asked for the names of the victims. He said that he could not act without more substantial evidence.
Note: Please allow me to interject something into the narrative. In cases of alleged sexual abuse, evidence is notoriously difficult to acquire. Even when it is gathered, it is often rejected. In many cases, no amount of evidence, not even video footage, is deemed to be “enough”. This is the inherent conundrum with sexual abuse in our culture, and a common theme. Victims rarely speak up, because when they do, they aren’t heard, or worse, they are blamed.
Fred called Sifu Wong on the phone to plead with him about the importance of taking action. Much later, Fred told me something shocking about that phone conversation. Apparently, Sifu Wong told Fred that that this kind of behavior (referring to Gary’s behavior) was acceptable in the West.
Fred, a Westerner, argued with Sifu Wong, saying that it was absolutely not acceptable. After weeks of going back and forth, Fred finally resigned when he realized that no action would be taken by Sifu Wong.
Fred felt that he had presented considerable evidence, even without the names of the victims. He simply could not, in good conscience, accept Sifu Wong’s lack of response.
At the very least, Fred expected an investigation to be launched. When he saw that there would be nothing of the sort, he resigned.
The “Just For Fun” Post, Part 1
A few months after Fred’s resignation, Sifu Wong posed a strange hypothetical question to his certified instructors (not to the public).
Sifu Wong wrote:
Suppose you heard that your sifu, or your student, had sex with some women (or men), including some married ones, what would you do? Chose your answer from one of the following.
- Denounce your sifu, or student, and declare that you are not going to have anything to do with him (or her).
- Tell more people about this allegations so that other people can take precaution against your sifu, or student.
- Ignore the allegations, thinking that your sifu, or student, would never do this.
- Protect your sifu, or student, irrespective of whether the allegations were true or not, though you would not condone his (or her) actions if they were true.
- Punch the one who told you the allegations on his (or her) face.
Later I shall describe what I would like our Shaolin Wahnam members should do, in line with values cherished in kungfu tradition.
I was relatively uninvolved up until this point. I had seen Fred’s resignation, but wasn’t yet sure what to make of it.
Then I saw this “Just For Fun” post from Sifu Wong, and I was thoroughly confused. What happened next was like a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Down the Rabbit Hole
Quite unexpectedly, one of the victims, we’ll call her Trish, approached me. She told me that the idea to come talk to me had happened during a deep state of meditative prayer. She asked me for a private meeting, which I of course granted.
During that meeting, she confided in me, breaking down in tears as she told me the details about how she was verbally, emotionally, and sexually abused by her sifu.
Her sifu, of course, was Gary, the same person Fred had made allegations against.
After this meeting, I went directly to Sifu Wong. I knew that he wanted more evidence, and now I had it.
Sifu Wong asked me if this woman would be willing to speak with him directly. He told me, like he had told Fred, that he wanted more evidence before acting.
At the time, I trusted Sifu Wong to protect Trish. So I went back to her and asked if she would been willing to speak with him.
The “Just For Fun” Post, Part 2
Trish was terrified at this suggestion. If you’ve ever met Sifu Wong, you know that he has a big personality, and that he can be very intimidating. On top of this, the “Just For Fun” post had just recently been made public. Trish had seen it.
“I’m supposed to protect my sifu, even if he abused me, right?” she asked me in tears.
It was all I could do to not break down in tears myself.
“If he abused you, then he doesn’t deserve the title of Sifu,” I replied. “You don’t need to protect him, not now, and not ever.”
Trish summoned up her courage and agreed to meet with Sifu Wong face to face. I was, and still am, proud of her courage.
Protecting the Granddaughters?
I arranged the meeting. Before doing so, I specifically asked Sifu Wong to create a safe space for her to speak.
“We must protect the granddaughters,” I said to him just before leaving. I was referring to the female students of his students. I was attempting to communicate to him using the concept of the family that pervades traditional Kung Fu culture.
“Yes, we must protect the granddaughters,” Sifu Wong replied.
I returned to Trish, confident that I could provide a safe and empathetic space for her to talk about her abuse.
When the time was right, we made the trip to see Sifu Wong, together.
A Victim Speaks to Sifu Wong
I was present for the entire conversation between Trish, one of the victims, and Sifu Wong. I heard, with my own ears, everything that was said:
- I heard her tell Sifu Wong that she was sexually abused by her sifu, Gary.
- I heard her tell him how Gary had touched her, under the guise of clearing Qi blockages, and how he then took advantage of her when she was vulnerable and alone.
- I heard her say that she didn’t want it to happen.
- I heard her tell Sifu Wong that there was never any kissing or intimacy – none whatsoever (a sign of abuse).
- I heard her explain how confused she had been afterward, as if in a daze (a common experience with abuse victims).
- I heard her say that it was like she was watching the experience from outside of her body. (This is a common experience among trauma survivors and a telltale sign of abuse.)
- I heard her talk about how Gary had done the same thing with several other women.
- I heard hear talk about how she had been traumatized by the event, how she still had nightmares, how she felt ashamed and confused.
- I heard her talk about how other victims felt the same way – too ashamed to talk about it publicly.
- I heard her tell Sifu Wong that she never wanted to see Gary again.
Until this point, Sifu Wong seemed to be listening intently. I was feeling optimistic.
Suddenly, after Trish mentioned that she never wanted to see Gary again, Sifu Wong cut in to suggest that she could simply stand on the other side of the room if she and Gary happened to be attending the same course.
Sifu Wong smiled, as if this were an excellent solution to the problem. I literally choked on the tea that I was drinking. Sifu Wong’s comment was so detached, so disconnected from the conversation that I was in shock.
Before I could interject, Trish started crying.
Sensing that his solution was not good enough, Sifu Wong then suggested that Trish could attend completely different courses from Gary.
I remember Trish looking at me, tears in her eyes, in utter disbelief.
In short, the conversation was a complete disaster.
A Not-So-Safe Space
Immediately after the meeting, I apologized profusely to Trish. She was still in tears. I felt terrible because I had promised her a safe space, but I had failed.
Later that day, I went back to meet privately with Sifu Wong. I wanted to talk to him about what had happened.
Sifu Wong thanked me for arranging the meeting with Trish, and told me that he thought it went well.
I was absolutely stunned.
I quickly learned that his experience of the conversation was completely different than my own.
Overcome with frustration, I told him in no uncertain terms that the meeting had been a disaster, that Trish was in tears, and that he had not fulfilled his promise to create a safe space.
He dismissed my concerns, saying again that the meeting had been a success. He then told me that Trish was simply crying tears of relief, and that she was now on the path to healing.
The 2nd and 3rd Resignations
Not long after this, two more Shaolin Wahnam instructors resigned. Let’s call them Pete and Dan.
Pete, a senior Shaolin Wahnam instructor, had been gathering his own evidence. This evidence corroborated what Fred had already presented.
This evidence was absolutely mind-blowing, alleging that Gary had abused as many as a dozen women.
I was present when Pete presented some of his evidence to Sifu Wong. To be clear, this happened AFTER the meeting with Trish.
I watched in dismay as Sifu Wong argued with Pete, saying that Gary had contributed so much to Shaolin Wahnam over the years.
[Edit: Someone asked me to mention that Gary organized a lot of big seminars for Sifu Wong, with a lot of attendees. Financially, these seminars were hugely successful for both Gary and Sifu Wong. I know this to be true because Sifu Wong often said so (privately, to his certified instructors), holding Gary up as an example for the other instructors to aspire to.]
“There have never been any other complaints about Gary all these years!” Sifu Wong said to both of us.
Pete and I were speechless for a good minute. This statement boggled the mind.
The truth is that there had been complaints about Gary for nearly 10 years. Until Fred presented his original evidence, these complaints were not about sexual abuse, but rather pointed to serious issues in Gary’s character.
In short, the complaints pointed to Gary being a man of low moral fiber who was unfit to be a Shaolin Wahnam instructor.
Sifu Wong had been ignoring these complaints for years, not just from Pete, but from others as well. That’s why Pete and I were so shocked at Sifu Wong’s comment.
Seeing that Sifu Wong was not going to take appropriate action, even after Trish’s testimony, Pete and Dan quietly resigned.
Sifu Wong’s Public Statement
[Edit: This section was added after this post was originally published because it was brought to my attention. I didn’t know this information when I made my original post.]
A few weeks after hearing testimony from Trish, Sifu Wong made a public statement on sexual abuse. In it, he said the following (emphasis is mine):
It is unfortunate that some masters of kungfu and other martial arts abuse their power and influence to have sex with their students. It has become so common that some people, especially in Western societies, even think this is normal.
We in Shaolin Wahnam are fortunate that this is not an issue in our school.
Not an issue? Why would he post this statement shortly after receiving testimony directly from Trish?
I don’t know.
A Crime Worse Than Sexual Abuse
As I mentioned, Pete was a senior disciple, like myself. At the time, he had been with Sifu Wong for roughly 14 years. (In contrast, Dan was a more junior disciple.)
Sifu Wong chose to view Pete’s resignation as a deep and bitter betrayal.
Here is an excerpt of what Sifu Wong said privately to his certified instructors:
“The main issue here is betrayal. In kungfu culture, betrayal is the worst crime, worse than killing, and far worse than sexual abuse. Different people may have different concepts of betrayal.”
In other words, Sifu Wong made it perfectly clear that Pete’s resignation was, to him, worse than sexual abuse.
Remember: the comment above, written by Sifu Wong, came AFTER he had already heard face-to-face testimony from Trish, months after he had originally received evidence from Fred, and nearly ten years into various complaints about Gary’s character.
I should have resigned on the spot.
This idea — that a disciple “betraying” his teacher by taking a stand against sexual abuse is somehow worse than sexual abuse — was and still is anathema to me.
I remember thinking that it didn’t even make any sense. After all, what is sexual abuse if not the ultimate betrayal?!?
It was wrong, and I knew it, but I didn’t resign. And I’m sorry.
Let me back up a bit. Gary actually resigned from the organization shortly before the 2nd and 3rd resignations (i.e. Pete, the senior disciple, and Dan, the more junior disciple).
I should have been happy with Gary’s resignation, right? And Pete should have been happy too, right? Not exactly.
First of all, Gary wasn’t fired; he resigned. It was at Sifu Wong’s request that he resigned.
After Gary resigned, Sifu Wong made several private posts to his certified instructors. In a post entitled “Thanks and Best Wishes to Gary,” he wrote:
“Gary has contributed greatly to build our school…I am glad his students remain with us. I hope that in future situations will change, and we can welcome Gary back to our school.”
Here’s an excerpt from an email exchange between me and Sifu Wong that sums up why Gary’s resignation was not enough:
Gary resigning is a start, but it is not nearly enough, especially since you sent him away with a “Thank You” and a pat on the back. At first, I trusted that this was some sort of a strategy on your part. But after your last message, I can see that it is not.
Once again, you have tacitly condoned Gary’s abusive behavior. Even now that you have conclusive evidence, even now that you know that he did indeed abuse and rape his students, you send Gary away with a “Thanks and Best Wishes”.
This sends the wrong message to the instructors, as well as the public should they ever hear of your stance (which I think they will).
I don’t know what more I can do to help you to see clearly. I have tried everything I know. I literally begged you — with tears in my eyes — to listen. But you did not listen. It appears that you no longer listen to anyone — not even me.
Sifu, you are not acting the way you have taught us to act. This is not righteous action. Sifu, you are making a mockery of the 10 Shaolin Laws, and it is breaking my heart.
It’s not too late. Please listen. I’m begging you.
Your devoted student,
Sifu’s Wong’s response to me included the following:
“What do you or anybody want me to do with Gary? Do you want me to make a public announcement to denounce him? I never forsake a disciple even when others forsake him in droves. It is worse when these others are his brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, or children who have earlier benefited much from him.”
No public announcement was made. All of this happened quietly behind the scenes.
After Gary’s Exit
After Gary resigned, he asked Sifu Wong if he could continue with courses that he had already planned to teach.
Sifu Wong told him that, “for goodwill, it was fine” (Sifu Wong’s words).
I later learned that most of Gary’s students didn’t even know that he had resigned, or that he was somehow disassociated with the school. They assumed that Gary was a still certified instructor sanctioned by Sifu Wong.
Many of them still do, to this day.
The “Just For Fun” Post, Part 3
Not long after Gary’s resignation, Sifu Wong posted the following to his instructors (but not to the public):
What do we mean when we say that a person has principles? As in many other things, it is straight-forward, though some people may not realize its meaning.
It means the person follows a set of ethical fundamentals irrespective of who are involved and what the situations may be.
Let us take the choice of actions listed in the post, “Just for Fun”, as an example.
Reproduced below is a list of possible actions.
A. Denounce your sifu, or student, and declare that you are not going to have anything to do with him (or her).
B. Tell more people about these allegations so that other people can take precaution against your sifu, or student.
C. Ignore the allegations, thinking that your sifu, or student, would never do this.
D. Protect your sifu, or student, irrespective of whether the allegations were true or not, though you would not condone his (or her) actions if they were true.
E. Punch the one who told you the allegations on his (or her) face.
It is important to note that the above are possible actions in response to allegations that have not been proven. This does not mean that the allegations may not be true.
It does not matter whom the accused person or what the allegation is. In other words it does not matter whether it is Gary, Tom, Dick, Harry or anyone who is accused as long as he (or she) is your sifu or student, and it does not matter whether the accusation is having sex, cheating money, stealing fruit or any thing considered improper. If you are a person of principles you will choose the action that is ethical and noble.
Even giving some allowance for individual preference, we can safely conclude as follows:
Action A is unethical and ignoble. It goes against divine laws. It is often based on self-interest.
Action B is also unethical and ignoble, though it may be based on others’ interest.
Action C is honorable but may not be wise.
Action D is ethical and noble. It is the best of the five choices in line with our Shaolin Wahnam philosophy.
Action E is rash though honorable.
Punch Yourself in the Face
To summarize Sifu Wong’s post above:
- Denouncing one’s sifu = unethical and ignoble.
- Telling more people about the allegations so that other people could take precautions = unethical and ignoble.
- Ignoring the allegations, thinking one’s Sifu would never do this = honorable but might not be wise.
- Protecting one’s Sifu, irrespective of whether the allegations were true or not = ethical and noble. (This would be the best choice, according to Sifu Wong.)
- Punching the one who made the allegations in the face = rash but honorable.
Let’s not forget that, by the time Sifu Wong posted this, he had already heard directly from Trish (one of the victims). And let’s not forget that her complaint was about her own Sifu.
Looking at Sifu Wong’s post above, one has to wonder:
Should Trish punch herself in the face? Would that be rash, but honorable, since she made accusations against her own Sifu?
When I saw the above post by Sifu Wong, I was once again stunned. I remember trying to explain the situation to my wife, but being unable to find the words.
Once again, I should have resigned after seeing Sifu Wong’s post. I should have seen then that there was no way to reconcile the huge differences in our core values.
My Own Investigation
By this point, it had become clear to me that Sifu Wong would not launch his own internal investigation. Even if he did, how would he ever get victims to confide in him after the public stance he had already taken with the “Just For Fun” posts?
If anything, Sifu Wong seemed more concerned with the so-called “betrayal” by Pete (the senior disciple) than the sexual abuse scandal.
So I launched my own investigation. Since I have a lot of contacts in the larger Shaolin Wahnam organization, I started talking with people. I even traveled internationally in order to speak with some of them. During my travels, I also made a point to help some of the victims, as well as some possible victims (who have not spoken up) to heal.
Once I started investigating, I was shocked at how easily information came to me.
Here’s what I found.
What I Found
Over the course of several months, I did a ton of investigation on my own time (and my own dime, I might add). I found an overwhelming amount of evidence corroborating what Fred, Trish, and Pete had presented to Sifu Wong.
Around this time, Sifu Wong openly stated that he wanted to bring Gary back into the organization.
Sifu Wong wrote:
“To me the allegations against Gary, which may or may not be true, are unproven and invalid. The allegations are that Gary raped women, or at lease used his psychic power to have sex with them against their will, and that Gary manipulated people.
Only one woman came to me to say that Gary had sex with her. (This does not mean that there aren’t other women who also had sex with Gary, but that is their and Gary’s business, not mine and also not yours.) This woman admitted that it was not forced on her, though she later regretted it. (I was wise enough not to ask whether she enjoyed the sex at the moment despite her later regret.)”
As I’ll explain later, this post by Sifu Wong was a distortion of the facts that were presented. Furthermore, it shows that Sifu Wong was unconcerned about all of the other potential victims in the organization.
At the time, however, I was focused on blocking Gary’s return, so I pleaded with Sifu Wong, telling him about my investigations. I presented him with all the evidence that I had gathered, including the following:
- Gary allegedly sexually assaulted 3-12 of his female students.
- Gary allegedly verbally abused students during classes.
- Gary allegedly flirted inappropriately with female students during classes.
- Gary allegedly touched women inappropriately (breasts, buttocks, groin) during classes.
- Gary allegedly led female students into having orgasms during classes.
- Gary allegedly encouraged students (married or not) to cheat and experiment sexually with other partners.
- Gary allegedly showed up for classes drunk.
- Gary allegedly repeatedly lied to students and business partners.
- Gary allegedly encouraged students to take hallucinogenic drugs as part of their training.
Offering me a rare glimpse of hope, Sifu Wong responded by thanking me for doing such a thorough investigation. He even went so far as to refer to me as a “gallant soul” to the other instructors.
I was thrilled with his response. It was the most positive reaction any of us had received until that point.
Shortly after I presented this evidence, Sifu Wong officially “shelved” his plans to bring Gary back to the organization.
He posted this to his instructors:
This is the first time I have received evidence of Gary’s doings. Earlier I just had accusations but those who accused him were not ready to substantiate with evidence.
These doings are certainly not in line with our Shaolin Wahnam teaching. Hence, I have sent him an e-mail asking him not to attend the coming XXXX course in XXXX in XXXX. My original plan of having him return to Shaolin Wahnam is also shelved.”
I was happy. And yet, I couldn’t help but find Sifu Wong’s reaction confusing.
My evidence, although shocking, was very similar to what had already been presented to him by Fred, Pete, and Trish. It certainly wasn’t “the first time” Sifu Wong had received evidence of Gary’s wrongdoings.
To this day, I still don’t know why Sifu Wong suddenly shelved his plans to bring Gary back.
That was roughly one year ago.
A few months ago, Gary suddenly appeared in an international Shaolin Wahnam course led by Sifu Wong.
No warning was given to any of the instructors, the students, nor to me.
I immediately wrote to Sifu Wong, saying that I thought I deserved an explanation. To be fair, I was a bit curt with Sifu Wong. Here’s what I wrote:
I and several of my students saw a public picture on Facebook from your courses in XXXX. Gary was in the picture, sitting as if he were an instructor.
I think that I deserve an explanation.
This was Sifu Wong’s response:
“I think that I deserve an explanation” sounds like a teacher reprimanding his student, not a student humbly asking his teacher for some information.
I don’t have to give you an explanation.
I’m actually grateful that Sifu Wong responded the way he did. It’s what finally woke me up, as if a spell had suddenly been broken.
Although I was a bit disrespectful to him, it was clear to me that his response was not even remotely satisfactory considering the circumstances.
The 4th and 5th Resignations
Around the same time, several other Shaolin Wahnam instructors wrote to Sifu Wong, also asking for explanations about Gary’s picture on Facebook.
Sifu Wong’s responses to these instructors were downright illogical. For example:
“What you heard about Gary may or may not be true. It is worthwhile to note that many of his students are important and publicly well-known people who also know about the accusations, like company presidents and a Nobel Prize winner, and they would not associate with him if they believe the accusations are true.”
For those of you familiar with logical fallacies, the above is a prime example. This is called an appeal to authority, and it is an attempt to prove Gary’s innocence based on his association with authority figures.
When the instructor pointed this out to Sifu Wong, showing the flaw in his logic, Sifu Wong responded by calling the instructor rude.
Around this time, Sifu Wong posted the following:
“I am really fed up with people asking me about Gary as if I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t have to give any explanation to my students or their students on what I do. It is sufficient that I feel what I do is right and honorable.”
As a result of these interactions, two more Shaolin Wahnam instructors quietly resigned, including one chief instructor.
I should mention that, at this point, I finally made my own decision to resign. Better late than never.
I chose to wait until today to send my resignation out of respect for Sifu Wong’s courses in Malaysia. I had students in attendance, and I didn’t want to make it awkward for them.They had already booked their flights and hotels, and I didn’t want to ruin their trip.
Out of respect to them, and to Sifu Wong for all that he has done for me, I decided to wait.
The course ended last night, and I resigned this morning
Wisdom and Compassion?
After the 4th and 5th resignations, Sifu Wong posted the following:
“I wish to thank the many instructors who wrote to me to declare their support of my action in Gary’s case, highlighting that no one in our school should question my right in doing what I feel is correct and honorable, as well as highlighting the values of wisdom and compassion that we cherish.
He then went on to talk about how we should forgive Gary.
Let me remind you that this happened AFTER Sifu Wong had made his appeal to authority, saying that “important” people wouldn’t associate with Gary if they thought he was guilty.
Which is it? Is Gary innocent or guilty? If he’s innocent, then why do we need to forgive him?
Later, Sifu Wong posted the following, contradicting his earlier implication that Gary might be innocent:
[“Why do you still hold such a deep grudge against Gary? Ask yourself, and you may discover an answer to your deep-rooted problem. Even if you leave aside compassion and altruism, and consider only self-interest, Gary is not a threat to you. He won’t take away your students, or your business. Why are you angry at his ability to influence people, or at his ability to have sex with women?”
To imply that those instructors resigned because they were angry at Gary’s “ability to have sex with women” is ludicrous and insulting.
It’s also another logical fallacy, called a strawman argument.
The Ten Shaolin Laws
I’d like to mention that I originally chose Sifu Wong as my primary teacher precisely because I respected with his strong moral code.
Before my first trip to Malaysia, I wrote to him asking if I should practice the Horse Stance daily.
He replied, saying that it would be fine to practice the Horse Stance, but that it would be better to practice the Ten Shaolin Laws. For me at the time, that was exactly the kind of answer I was looking for.
The Ten Shaolin Laws, for those who don’t know, are a simple moral code from the Shaolin tradition. You can read more about them here:
Today, 17 years later, it’s painfully clear to me that my interpretation of the 10 Shaolin Laws is quite different than Sifu Wong’s.
For Sifu Wong, it seems to me that there is only one Shaolin Law that really matters, i.e. “respect the master”.
Sex with Students?
Recently, Sifu Wong openly admitted that he believes that Gary probably had sex with several of his female students:
“I believe that when Gary had sex with other women, and I have no doubt that he did, he believed he was doing ‘good.’
I should mention that this statement, in itself, proves that Gary is a liar. Back when Fred made the first allegations, Sifu Wong confronted Gary about the allegations.
Gary vehemently denied the allegations, right to Sifu Wong’s face.
Sifu Wong continued:
“It is important to note that forgiving Gary does not mean that we condone what he did, even if it were true. It is equally important to note that different people have different perspective of what is “good” and “evil”. To some people…having sex with married women is “evil”. In the same way, though to a lesser degree, ditching one’s girlfriend to marry another girl is “evil”. But to other people, having sex with a married woman when both agree, is “good”, or at least not “evil” even if it is not “good”.”
Note the words “when both agree” in the above statement, which was made just a few weeks ago.
In other words, Sifu Wong is once again arguing that the sex was consensual, despite all evidence to the contrary.
As for whether or not Sifu Wong condones what Gary may or may not have done — then why not clearly state that it is wrong? And why not do so publicly?
Rape Culture and Victim Blaming
Rape culture is a modern concept that examines the habit of normalizing rape due to societal attitudes.
The standard narrative in cases of sexual abuse is to blame the victim. And that’s exactly what Sifu Wong did, although I don’t even think that he realizes it.
For example, at one point Sifu Wong told Fred (the first resignee) that it was common for women to try to take down great men by defaming them.
That’s an example of victim blaming.
When Sifu Wong wrote the words “when both agree” in the above post, that’s an example of normalizing rape (i.e. ignoring the direct evidence to the contrary that Trish presented to him).
Later, when referring to Trish, Sifu Wong said the he was “was wise enough not to ask whether she enjoyed the sex at the moment despite her later regret.”
That’s another example of normalizing rape.
Here’s an excerpt from an email that I wrote to Sifu Wong in direct response to the comment above about him being “wise” enough not to ask whether she enjoyed being abused.
“Sifu, you did not need to ask! And that’s because she specifically told you that she did NOT enjoy it, and that she did not want it to happen! Your distortion of the evidence that was presented to you is shocking. As I said many months ago in an email, you are sweeping this important issue under the carpet. A public statement should have been made months ago, and yet there has been nothing. Most students don’t even know whether Gary is in or out of Shaolin Wahnam. Many of the Shaolin Wahnam healers and instructors don’t even know! In fact, Gary’s picture is still right on your home page, as both an instructor and a healer, adding to the confusion!”
Begging, Pleading, Crying
I want all of you to know this process has been absolutely heart-wrenching for me. That’s not an excuse for my mistakes. It’s more of a confession.
Those who are close to me know that I have been weaker and sadder these past two years. As a direct result of this awful situation, my energy has suffered, my finances have suffered, my marriage has been strained, and at times, my health even suffered. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, as I type this, I’m fighting off a cold.
It’s a testimony to the art of Qigong (which is absolutely amazing, no matter what Sifu Wong may have done) that I have been able to endure the incredible amounts of stress of that this situation has caused.
Although I should have resigned sooner, I felt that it was important to do my best to get through to Sifu Wong. I’ve known the man for 17 years, and the arts that he taught me have improved my life in countless ways.
So I begged. I pleaded. I tried to reason. I wrote emails. I wrote posts on Sifu Wong’s instructor’s forum. I spoke to Sifu Wong in person.
My efforts failed, obviously. Although part of me regrets not resigning sooner, part of me has zero regrets about trying to get through to Sifu Wong. In that regard, I know that I did my absolute best.
My Advice to You
As of a few weeks ago, there have been rumblings about Gary being accepted back into the organization.
Personally, I doubt it will be long before he is officially recognized as a certified instructor.
If you are a student of a Shaolin Wahnam instructor, then I recommend that you show him/her this post. Please don’t assume that your instructor already knows all these facts. Many of them know very little.
If you are a student of Sifu Wong, or somehow involved in the larger Shaolin Wahnam organization (not just Flowing Zen), then my advice to you is simple:
Question whatever you are told (or not told) about this issue.
Don’t take anything on faith. Not a damn thing. It’s too dangerous.
Most importantly, question Sifu Wong. Write to him and tell him what you think. Or post on his public forum.
See for yourself what responses you get. And then question those responses deeply.
Some of the responses will be predictable. Here are some tips for dealing with those responses:
- If people attempt to say that the evidence is inconclusive, then ask: “How much evidence do you think is sufficient in cases of sexual abuse?”
- If people attempt to question the character of the disciples who have resigned, then ask: “Why were these disciples so highly regarded up until the moment they resigned?”
- If people attempt to shift blame on to the victims, then ask: “Are you aware of the concept of victim-blaming.”
- If people start talking about forgiveness, then ask: “Should we forgive an innocent man? After all, Sifu Wong hasn’t clarified whether or not Gary is guilty of some wrongdoing.”
- If people attempt to attack me for posting all of this information publicly, then ask: “If Sifu Wong truly believes that he has done what is right and honorable, then why would he fear public scrutiny?”
- If people start branding me as a traitor, then ask: “Do you honestly think that Anthony should have kept quiet?”
By questioning everything, you will be better positioned to protect yourself, and those you love.
The Bitter Pill
Some of you are probably thinking, “It can’t possibly be as bad as Anthony says.”
Honestly, it would be totally hypocritical for me to blame you for thinking that.
It took me a long time to overcome that kind of thinking.
I know that this information is a bitter pill to swallow.
For some of you, it will probably take you time to process what I’ve posted here.
A few years ago, I would have probably punched you in the face for saying something bad about my beloved sifu. I absolutely thought that Sifu Wong’s moral code was unshakeable, and that he was incapable of behavior like this.
But now, it’s me speaking up — one of his most loyal and senior disciples.
And I’m not alone. As I’ve said, I’m the 6th instructor to have resigned over this issue.
I’m sure that more will resign soon. If not — then perhaps you might ask them about their stance on the issue (and of course question their responses).
You may see comments from some of the former instructors below. I encourage you to scroll down and read them.
And I encourage you to post your own comments as well.
You have a voice here.
Arun Blatchley says
Sifu, I can only begin to imagine how difficult this must be for you. You’re a great teacher, and although this makes me very sad, I know you made the right decision.
I’m more proud of you than words can express. Thank you for your courage, and for fighting relentlessly for the victims these past two years. I’ve had a front row seat to your struggles, and how heartbreaking this has been for you on so many levels. To do this in spite of what could happen, not knowing ow this will affect your livelihood, knowing your reputation will be attacked, knowing there will be attacks on your character – to still do right in the face of what could go wrong, that is true courage.
I stand with you.
Charles Chalmers says
We never had a chance to meet, and it appears that we will not, in this lifetime, so I will say hi and bye.
Despite my perspective that your husband has committed a terrible betrayal against our sifu, we cannot hold a grudge against him, or you, or your students and patients.
Best of luck with your new life.
Andrew Gradel says
As a student, shen sheng of pi lum kung fu for many years. I find both heartbreak and healing in this story. I could never imagine this pain. I trust you will find peace and enlightenment in your decision.
Jim Carpenter says
The abuser will accuse you of betrayal.
The abuser will tell you that you have no right to question him.
The abuser will not hear what you are saying.
The abuser will make you feel guilty, sad, and heartbroken.
The abuse goes beyond what Gary did – it touches everyone.
sonia green says
This drama of power and abuse has played out over the millennia. (Remember the Greek tragedies, your own heritage) The student is becoming the Master, big time.
I have seen and experienced it myself. Learn well, Anthony. You’re not sadder and weaker, your ego is, don’t identify with that..
Who you really are is wiser and stronger. Feel that..!
Charles Nowell says
Thank you for doing this work, Sifu; I feel much better being a student when I know that I have a teacher who not only understands these issues but is willing to make hard personal sacrifices in taking action regarding them. I’m sorry that it came to this.
Simon Parsons says
Sifu, what you are doing, have done, is good. I hope this transparency is received as well as can be. Even though I know you don’t need thanks, thank you for speaking up.
Ultimately, what I have learned from you as my Sifu, and by association the teachings of Grandmaster Wong, is a powerful and overwhelming obligation to my own being and health, and the eventual mastery of my own energy. That perspective has made me feel incredibly empowered over my own life in a way I never thought possible. I have you, your wife, and Chinese Medicine to thank for this.
That same empowerment translates into the very strong belief that I am my own master. I feel it daily in practice and in your classes. In other words, I have learned from you to put myself and my health first. I have learned the same from Grandmaster Wong. I have learned it so well, I think, that I would understand the necessity of this decision, despite it being such a difficult one.
I am proud of your decision, and because of it I hope we as your students continue to follow suit and not sacrifice our moral standards and our health under any circumstances.
Thank you, Sifu. I am sure I cannot express how I feel – but I wish for your energy and healing and love to be returned to you a million times over in this time of need. Akemi, too. WIth tears, your student Robin.
Heather Ray says
Dear Sifu, you are an incredibly brave man. I cannot begin to imagine how painful and heartbreaking these past few years have been for you. With all my heart I thank you for being who you are: someone not willing to be silent when they see injustice, being brave enough to stand up for what you think is right while knowing the negative impact it may have on yourself, and someone who tries to help others follow a path out of a dark place – for both the victims and Sifu Wong. I am deeply honored to have someone like you in my life. Thank you.
Mary Mac Zeigler says
Thank you for braving this terribly lonely journey you’ve made to stand up for all the quiet ones and place yourselves in their shoes at a huge risk of loss for yourself. Your stance is heroic to me and I’m grateful that you are my teacher.
Charles Chalmers says
Actually, there is a risk, but great reward is also possible as Anthony positions himself as the moral superior of one of the top kungfu masters in the world. By denouncing his Sifu publicly, Anthony is saying in effect “I know better, am more upright and wise (than this celebrated kungfu great-grandmaster)”
Because Anthony’s perspective is rooted in popular, current notions, rather than foreign and esoteric kungfu values, he is likely to receive understanding and support.
I remain true to my sifu whom I understand, trust, and respect highly.
Sherrie Cronin says
Sifu Anthony is receiving understanding and support from me because my open heart and questioning mind both realize that a group of victimized people deserve validation and support. Telling them to stand on the other side of the room from their attacker and get over it violates a basic moral code that transcends time and cultures.
My objection to your sifu’s stand on this has nothing to do with with it being foreign and esoteric. The deepest fiber of my being objects to expecting others to turn a blind eye to harm done in order to enable one to protect ones own. I was so sorry to learn that was what your organization expected.
These beliefs have nothing to do with what is trendy these days. They have nothing to do with liking my sifu, or disrespecting yours.
This is all about, and only about, being humane, compassionate and spreading love.
Dear sifu Anthony, I just read this page start to finish and i wanted to offer my sympathies to the very difficult position you found yourself in. (If somewhat belatedly)
I respect your herculean efforts to make sense of the degeneration towards what i would call ‘base animal tendencies’ of a branch of the school to which you have devoted so much.
I think you were very wise! You took the high ground and drew a line in the sand that sadly the grandmaster was unwilling to step across.
I hope that my post is not misinterpreted, it is meant to help heal what i imagine is a deep wound in your soul that probably still seems fresh even after years have passed
Events like this are inevitable however, momentum comes to a head like waves arriving at the shore and where in more primitive times or places often it was a deathmatch that culminated
power struggles concerning morality are increasingly becoming the climax of our lives
My honest interpretation (assuming the veracity of your evidence) is that sifu “gary” taught a different way. Letting it all hang out might sum it up, substance abuse, overt sexuality, and unrestricted verbal communication…
He just ran his class a bit differently and… Well… Stuff happened. Thats about all i know for sure post read.
You seem duty-bound to reject this teaching style outright, but this must be a mixture of sincerity along with self interest…
This is where these ever recurring issues always get muddled, because we are all in buisiness in one way or another (and legally accountable) and have not the luxury of acting based purely on honor or logic alone.
The last two paragraphs may seem harsh, or perhaps cynical, but this is where the injury occurs every time, when our responsibility to the truth interferes with our responsibility or obligation to others
I have always tried to uphold the truth and my own interpretation of honor, but invariably I end up leaving myself a way out of harms way if possible as well. thus is my soul tainted bit by bit
Its the old “i need to retain my authority to keep doing good” logical paradox (that pretty much everyone bows to these days)
You need to remember that what you and also what the grandmaster did were both correct.
You sensed a dire threat to the honor of the school and went to great lengths to defend the students from what you interpreted as reprehensible abusive behavior. Furthermore you wanted to stand up as an advocate for the individual students involved, several being married, there was a lot on the line.
Grandmaster knew that it had all been done under the sun a million times before, and that this was the natural evolution of a thriving school, which, not unlike a tree will make branches that reach to the sky, as well as those that bend low and touch the dirt.
Pruning the tree so that only the higher branches remain will result in a sometimes even-fatal top heaviness.
It is best to let nature run its course, strong living branches up top will snap in high wind, while lower down they fall due to gravity, usually several years after death by lack of sunlight. The result is the same you see
Your branch had to break off.
Martial arts instruction is a buisiness with a noble purpose, here we are back at the “need to maintain authority to continue doing good” paradox
Grandmasters first duty was the health of the tree. Without such a burden you were free to take sides and do as you thought best
My hope of hopes is that you can be at peace and know that this was all meant to be.
keep following your heart and if your fallen branch takes root and eventually branches out.
Remember the many lessons you learned along the way and be gentle when…
Well… The exact same thing happens again but this time you are the one in charge.
P.s. Feel free to edit, delete, reply to, or forward my comment to whom it may concern, I hope you do read it!
P.p.s. I based my response entirely on personal experience (which can be unreliable at times but is always stronger than second hand information)
P.p.p.s. Right and Wrong are always arguing about who is… Well… Right or wrong…
Err who will prevail…
Each needs the other to test themselves against and thus will not allow the other to be destroyed… Rendering any ultimate judgement impossible
inevitably they learn just how much they need each other and are thus tamed into sameness…
Either that or they just keep getting further apart, stop communicating, and eventually forget one another.
(Don’t know where this last bit came from but it seems relevant! (We are taught to bring the opposites together, the old tao “yinyang” symbol represents opposites that have reached a state of dynamic harmony and are well on their way toward becoming identical)
The alternative breakaway is bleak and cold, we are taught to avoid this route
Best wishes all and goodnight!
Sorry to write a novel and for my detached approach to morality… Just my style
Shannon G says
As a survivor, this topic touches a particular ‘nerve.’
The courage to confront the elephant in the room is a trait of the road less traveled, it would seem.
I greatly appreciate your willingness to reconcile with Sifu Wong yet on terms of accountability. Admiration for authority does not mean allowance for above reproach.
To confront, with love, with spirit of support, with intent to balance the imbalance — one of the main goals of martial arts I see you promoting.
Oh Sifu . . . my heart breaks for you. I am crying as I write this. Anytime we are betrayed by someone we look up to and respect it is heart-breaking. And yet, it seems this situation comes up over and over again – in churches, in Boy Scouts, in martial arts studios. And the authority figure hides behind “don’t disrespect your teacher.” I have a swear word for that, but I won’t type it here. My brother just left a Zen Buddhist monastery after five years as a resident, for similar reasons. I stand with you. Sexual abuse is NEVER OK and it is high time we stopped blaming victims. I am honored to be associated with someone who has the courage to speak up, no matter what the cost. Sending you love and light. Dawn
Charles Chalmers says
I couldn’t agree with you more when you say “Sexual abuse is NEVER OK.”
I am very glad that our sifu in his writing, teaching and actions has made that very clear. It was, in fact, one of the first things that I read by our sifu. See this link http://www.shaolin.org/answers/ans00b/jul00-3.html to see our Sifu’s attitude towards teacher-student relations, among them: “Any teacher, often under the pretext of injecting power, enticing sexual favours from his female students is as disgusting as a brute forcing himself sexually on his daughters, even adapted daughters.”
Jeffrey Segal says
I’m glad that you uncovered that old Q&A, Charles. It shows that the handling of Gary’s case has clearly deviated from the words expressed therein.
As you quoted, in the Q&A it is stated:
“In the Eastern tradition, it is most unbecoming for a master to have any sexual dealings with his students, male and female. He is a father to his students — not a friend, not a lover and certainly not a sex partner.
Any teacher, often under the pretext of injecting power, enticing sexual favours from his female students is as disgusting as a brute forcing himself sexually on his daughters, even adapted daughters.”
And yet, in a post to his instructors, Sifu wrote:
“I believe that when Gary had sex with other women, and I have no doubt that he did, he believed he was doing ‘good.’”
I see a huge contradiction here between the talk and the walk.
Sifu knew that Gary was sleeping with his students. He knew it was not an isolated instance. I tried to explain to Sifu in writing and in person that I have a big problem representing a school, which by not condemning, tacitly endorses teachers sleeping with their students.
As far as I am concerned, if a teacher is using his classes as a supply of sex partners, he has no business teaching those classes. It’s a massive breach of trust and predatory behaviour.
It wasn’t just seeing Gary’s photo in the front row of a course with Sifu that prompted my resignation. It was the knowledge that Gary was on his way back to the school, having been invited to organise courses for Sifu next year and Sifu having made it very clear that he wanted to bring Gary back.
I’m not going to chase you all over the comments, but I do want to point out that while you may find Anthony’s original blog post a “carefully crafted, selective, biased account”, to me it provides an accurate representation of the way this sorry story has unfolded.
I understand the pressure that you and the other Shaolin Wahnam instructors who have posted here must be under. I can imagine that there is a thread on the private Wahnam forum calling you all to arms and instructing how you should proceed. I can even detect Sifu’s words in some of the comments that have been made. Let’s not, however, lose sight of the basic fact that Gary was sleeping with his students (apart from all the other horrible abuse he is accused of). This, in itself should have been reason enough for action to be taken. And, by taking action, I don’t mean thanking Gary for all he has done and hoping conditions will change so that Gary can be welcomed back into the school.
David Burch says
Thank you for writing this. I completely agree Jeffrey.
Charles Chalmers says
I don’t think anyone is going to argue this point:
“As far as I am concerned, if a teacher is using his classes as a supply of sex partners, he has no business teaching those classes. It’s a massive breach of trust and predatory behaviour.”
That being said, it is clear that, like Anthony, you believe you know better than Sifu how he should handle this case. This is purely arrogant.
Sifu has never said that what “Gary” did was acceptable. Indeed he made a public statement that sexual abuse was not tolerated in our school.
You wish Sifu to condemn and ostracize “Gary” based on allegations. I personally am happy to see the loyalty that Sifu is showing, in spite of a lack of understanding from some quarters.
I am under no pressure to post here or anywhere else; I have a rich family and social life that I enjoy very much. I do it out of gratitude and loyalty to my sifu. Also from a strong dislike of injustice.
If you hear some echoes of what our sifu has said that is good, you must have been doing a little listening while you were scoffing at the back of the class, feeling superior.
I’m addition to the stated, you clearly have other reasons for leaving the school.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Charles, are you referring to this public statement about the Shaolin Wahnam Teaching on Sexual Abuse where Sifu Wong wrote:
“We in Shaolin Wahnam are fortunate that this is not an issue in our school.”
Looking at the date of Sifu Wong’s statement, I can see that it was AFTER Sifu Wong heard directly from Trish.
Why would Sifu Wong post that publicly even after hearing directly from a victim of sexual abuse within the Shaolin Wahnam school?
And what about all of the other victims, who Sifu Wong has never spoken to, but I and other instructors have?
I echo David’s feelings of gratitude for you speaking up. And I agree with you as well!
Sherrie Cronin says
I’m proud to be your student, Sifu, and grateful for the stance you have taken. I come from a strong Catholic background and the issues of sexual abuse that the church faced, and its response, comes from a similar playbook: protect the power structure and blame the victim or belittle the crime. There is no excuse for betraying trust, or damaging another human being for your own pleasure.
One can feel the pain in your words, but also see that you fought this battle as best you knew how. I hope you will continue to teach your wonderful arts to countless more for many decades. I will continue to bring my friends and family to you, all the more so knowing that you are truly an honorable man.
Mary Bast says
I also stand by you and appreciate how heartbreaking this whole process must have been. This has happened in many other traditions and I’ve known the cost to followers who challenge. He’s also sadly unaware of the psychology of abuse from a respected teacher — when the charisma of a teacher (male or female) is so great, one doesn’t want to believe their actions are seductive and is gradually led into entering a sexual relationship. This is what many victims of incest report. This is not a free choice and causes much psychological damage. We can appreciate Sigong Wong’s teachings and have some compassion for him as a prisoner of distorted thinking, — imprisoned by cultural values that support abuse at all costs.
Stacey Breheny says
This is very well expressed, you put my thoughts into words.
Charles Chalmers says
“Cultural values that support abuse at all costs”?
“Support abuse at all costs”?
Anthony? Is that the kind of thing you want your supporters to be writing?
Is that really what you mean to imply?
Charles Nowell says
Have the cultural values in play, in question in this case, not, through all effective measures, protected an abuser from all harm? Does that not constitute a costly endeavor?
Sue Littell says
Well said, Mary. The unequal power between teacher and student is not unlike incest. A teacher has the onus of responsibility to respect this power and to protect the student.
Sifu Anthony, you are strong and brave and I appreciate your heartbreaking journey to do what is right.
David Boucher says
People here are really getting caught up in the emotional aspects of this situation. Might I suggest toning down the rhetoric, especially anything that suggests cultural superiority of any kind. Also bear in mind that sifu Wong is much wiser than any of us here…
Simon Parsons says
This implicit appeal to “logic” is a common tactic used to downplay the seriousness and emotional consequences of unethical actions. We are human, and thus our feelings play into most everything we do. To try to separate the inseparable like this, we would be doing the people severely hurt a great disservice, and not extending compassion to their pain. This partially includes the folks coming here from Shaolin Wahnam, who are very obviously hurt and up-in-arms. We feel for you, really. We still aren’t going to agree with you, and think that all of this is okay. It’s not.
None of us with Sifu Anthony have said anything about superiority, despite multiple people trying to accuse us of it. Do you not see the contradiction in trying to denounce ‘superiority’, and then saying that Sifu Wong is “wiser than any of us here”?
Wow, wow, wow. Shocking news. Not even sure how to process all of this.
THANK YOU so much, Sifu for doing the right thing, and standing for justice, fairness, and right moral behavior. What a brave thing to do, when there is no way to predict the outcome of your choice to do the right thing. Scary if you ask me, but you do have those who will stand with you! (me, for one!)
One of my thoughts while processing this post, is how grateful I am that you have always taught your students to question everything, and in the words of Andy, above commenter: “not sacrifice our moral standards and our health under any circumstances”. I couldn’t have worded it better. It’s heartbreaking when someone we admire, respect and trust completely lets us down. But hopefully, helping you go through this will teach all of us how to stand up for what is right, and to care with love and compassion for our brothers and sisters who were wronged and hurting, and help each other heal, forgive, and find peace and joy once again.
To those who were abused by this man, if you are reading this: I cannot begin to express how deeply grateful I am for how brave you were in bringing all of this to light, and starting this chain of events so that what is right, true and good could once again be what is most important. Hopefully your action will prevent others from being treated the same way. I know your journey for healing has just begun, and please know that you have others out there (me, for one!) who will not stop praying for you in the coming weeks, months that you will have every ounce of strength needed to keep standing up for yourself, you will find loving support every time you need it, and that your worst days are behind you now.
And Sifu, I will be praying for you too. 🙂
Liz Horne says
It takes a huge amount of courage to speak truth to power, and the longer you continue to do it, the more courage it takes. It sounds like you did absolutely everything you could from the inside of the organization before you chose to leave it. I would guess you feel betrayed, even orphaned. It is hard to lose the adults more senior to you, whether they are parents or teachers.
I know I am extremely fortunate to be your student, and that I and many others have changed our lives through your instruction. From my point of view, your individual reputation has been enhanced by your thoughtful action, and I have faith that your teaching career will thrive in the long run.
Deb Manley says
As a victim of rape I appreciate your courage to speak up and support the abused. One never quite heals from abuse, but it does help when I see you take the stance you have – and I know it was at great cost to you. You have just opened yourself to receiving a multitude of blessings, Sifu. I hope you can quickly put the negativity behind you and move on to brighter horizons. You did the right thing. Big hugs and best wishes to you and yours. “Keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
My thoughts are with you during a painfully trying time. Thank you for the level of conviction and commitment to transparency you have shown us. You truly live up to the title of Sifu, as even the struggle you vulnerably narrate here serves the purpose of teaching.
The patriarchy that pervades our culture could have, for some, made this issue too easy to ignore or deem insignificant. But, like so many forms of injustice, it is not insignificant and should not be ignored.
Each of us, as beings in this space, are entangled in the hegemonic belief systems we were born into. They are apart of us, and they are not beautiful. They do violence against our spirits, hearts, souls, whatever. But what purpose does our practice, the thing that every reader of your blog shares, serve except to help us disentangle ourselves, freeing us to move with greater ease towards the realization of justice in the universe? If we miss that part, I think we miss the greatest benefit of qigong.
I find myself hoping that the victims and victimizers alike get free. Transparency about your struggle helps make that hope possible. Thank you.
Dudley Jackson says
I support you and appreciate you 110% Sifu Anthony. Thank you.
Wendy Elicati says
Wow. I can’t imagine the stress this would have caused. I agree with your stance and the thorough way you investigated this situation.
If nothing is said or done then things get worse bc everyone thinks it must be acceptable. I’ve known Anthony since he was 19 years old. He would never act for his own self interest in a situation such as this. His teacher made a big mistake and, as a result, he lost an excellent student in Anthony. He lost others as well & will continue to lose as this incident will be a growing cancer in his organisation.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Thank you Sensei! It’s good to hear from you. You honor me with your comment. Thank you for teaching me to take the good and discard the bad.
Character: You either have it, or you don’t. You do. He doesn’t. You told us in class that Sifu is a name of respect. He doesn’t deserve the name. You do. It is clear that you have struggled to bring him to truth, but he refuses to see, for whatever reason. You are courageous to take the path you have and are taking. We can only answer for our own deeds or lack thereof. His is on his own path, seeming lost from the true path. I applaud you and your truth. It is an honor to know such an honorable man.
The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.
I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Ximena Bernal says
Dear Anthony, I admire your courage and transparency in opening the subject and sharing your inner human struggle around what happened. It is never too late to listen to ones own heart and act appropriately with ethic and compassion. Many blessings to you.
I don’t have the words to express how sorry I am that this has occurred, and how proud and grateful I am to be your student. Thank you for your courage in taking the most difficult, but exceedingly correct action.
I hope you take some comfort in all the words and thoughts expressed here. You are supported and loved.
You’ve done a brave and wonderful thing by speaking out; giving the victims of all abuse a voice, and standing up for what you know in your heart is right.
Your courage will shine light in their lives and yours.
Ray Morneau says
Thank you, Sifu Anthony, for doing the right thing – maintaining your integrity – showing us a graceful way to pick up one of the oldest gauntlets ever thrust before us … if graceful may describe such a difficult task. May you and your work continue to be blessed!
For someone who plans to go to a Intensive Shaolin Kungfu course this is a shock for me. I am not sure what I will do considering this information but I hope that sexual abuse does not happen again. If it does, actions should be taken to deter them from doing it again.
Culture clash, first class. Sad story, Sifu, but you did what you believed was right and that’s important. Must have been difficult and painful, this journey. Many will understand and support you, some may not. But you are your own Master. You have the right to go your own way.
With respect and appreciation,
Jeffrey Segal says
I am one of the instructors Anthony mentions in his post. I recently resigned as Chief Instructor of Shaolin Wahnam Australia over this issue. I had been an instructor since 2002. As far as I know, Anthony’s portrayal of events is factual and his post has my complete support.
Thank you, Anthony for your courage in writing and publishing this post.
Thanks for posting. Your corroboration is really valuable for taking this forward.
Thank you for verifying, Jeffrey. Your collaboration is important, and I’m glad Sifu Anthony has your support.
I also thank you for speaking up! I am grateful for your response, it is so important.
I didn’t read all of the post, but did anyone ever question Gary?
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Maybe you should read the post?
Thank you for sharing these details, giving each of us the opportunity to respond from a place of knowledge and personal values rather than blind loyalty or sound bites. For me, protecting the master over the well being of students is difficult to fathom.
Thank you resigning. Thank you for doing your part in standing up for victims. Thank you for maintaining our ability to trust you.
Janet Zeigler says
I am so proud of you. By doing this you have helped so many victims. inspired so many people to be honest and come forth both the teachers and students. People all over the world are suffering because individuals don’t do anything about things like this. This took tremendous strength and courage. Good for you.
Even if the first of the the Ten Shaolin Laws is:
Respect the master, honor the moral way, and love fellow students as you would your brothers and sisters.
There are 4 laws that state:
Never rape, molest, steal, rob, abduct, cheat, or lie.
Never associate yourself with evil people; never do any sort of evil yourself.
Never abuse power, be it official or physical; never oppress or bully people.
Be humane and compassionate; strive to spread peace and happiness.
I cannot respect people who only adhere to the laws that suite them and ignore the rest.
I’m sorry you had to make the decision you did but thank you for doing it.
John Barnett says
Thank you for bringing this out into the light. I think that your actions show exceptional moral character and resolve. I know that all of your students support you.
Jennifer Canada says
As someone who has worked with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, you have my full support Sifu. These acts thrive in darkness and silence, ignorance, and misconception. What you have done is highly commendable. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate seeing your account and analysis of the events. You have shined the light upon something that many would have turned away from, knowing what the pursuit would have ultimately meant personally. I can’t even begin to express to you how proud I am to be your student. I also appreciate how much you invested personally of your time and energy to get to the bottom of what was going on, how much you valued the stories and experiences of those who suffered at the hands of this instructor. And, how much you loved and valued your teacher enough to try and give him the opportunity to change his heart. You are an amazing individual. It is a sad thing to me that many still equate rape with sex. Rape is not about sex. It is about power and control and the arguments based on the enjoyment of or the actual sexual act or prowess are erroneous. Again, thank you so very much for your honor and integrity. In a world where there seems to be so few people in positions of power that exhibit these qualities, it is nice to know that you are embodied.
Marianne DeWier says
My heart is heavy for you.
My heart is filled with joy for you
that you found the courage to do the right thing.
As a student of yours I am proud to call you Sifu.
May you find peace…
Some guy from Portugal says
About two years ago, I felt I needed to make changes in my life, regain health, clarity, inner peace. I felt I needed to return to martial arts, after many years, but not like before. Without knowing how, I found (or was guided by some invisible force) master Kourahis site. I read the free book that he sent me, I started to practice qigong and to be assiduous frequenter of this site. I wrote him to thank and he was kind enough to exchange a few emails with me.
And so began a great time in my life, with the precious help of this man who inspired me confidence from the start. I was not wrong.It takes character to leave our comfort zone and follow the voice of conscience. In my opinion, humility is an essential characteristic of a good leader. And here you have.
You took the best possible decision, and you have our support.
I haven’t been active at Flowing Zen for awhile but I support your decision without qualification and thank you for making the stand! It was difficult and courageous certainly but more importantly it was necessary. Again thanks!
ANNE YOUNG says
My heart also goes out to you. When I read the subject line, before reading the details, I thought about how hard it would be for ME to resign from YOU, no matter what. My 5 years with you have been life changing and I’m so grateful to you and the arts you teach.
I’m still trying to absorb the depth of the anguish you have experienced for so long! I’m honored to be one of so many who are expressing their support, gratitude, and compassion for you. I also stand with you as we hold the
Janan Balaban says
Dear Sifu Anthony,
Sorry to hear that you experinced this with someone you have respected all these years. It is not easy. I am glad you shared this. I am sure this will help protect the new students in that environment. Thank you for being you. With my best wishes,
I am so proud of you, and very grateful to have you as my sifu. This is a heart-rending situation, and difficult on so many levels. But your actions are more than honorable. They are virtuous, courageous, and noble.
This is more than a clash of cultural values, Eastern views vs Western views. Cultures can differ on issues like the amount of respect due to elders or the value of non-traditional medical approaches. But some issues transcend culture: that many cultures have condoned slavery will never overcome the absolute and unchanging wrongness of slavery. Likewise, sexual abuse is not an issue that admits of cultural relativity – it is heinous, everywhere and every time. This should be especially appreciated in the martial arts. Without developing higher morals, we are only training to be better-equipped thugs. Rather, let us live so as to be the protectors of others.
You have worked hard at training us to act virtuously, treating both ourselves and others in a more worthy fashion. Your action today is one more lesson in how to live properly.
I believe it is exactly as bad as you say.
I can’t not believe it, as women still do not have full and supreme sovereignty over our own bodies. The natural functionality of a woman’s body is legislated and controlled at the highest level of government. It is in the hands of those physically stronger whether or not we are safe to leave our homes, live our lives.
I am saddened to hear of this tragedy, but unfortunately I am not surprised. Questioning everything is about survival for many women worldwide.
This might seem like splitting hairs, but I don’t think Sifu Wong is saying that he believes the sexual contact was consensual. He’s simply saying he’d rather not know or care either way, and it’s much easier and less messy to assume Gary is not lying to save his skin.
Turning a blind eye because sexual degradation and assault of someone weaker or less powerful is so common perpetuates more of it.
I appreciate you, Sifu Anthony, for not turning a blind eye. I can only hope the victims receive the support they need to heal and that there is a legal standing to remove this man from society.
Support you wholeheartedly, may you find comfort and strength from all of us that stand behind you decision.
This kind of topic is always a delicate matter to discuss. even more to share . But I believe you did the right thing Sifu . Nobody should be above principles .
With Empathy, Compassion, and Gratitude.
Thank you, Anthony
I may be thousands of miles away but I can still feel the pain you must have gone through.
Thank you for sharing, my thoughts are with you.
Andrew Hix says
This stance is a true warrior’s posture.
Frans Annegarn says
I have read your story and since I am not part of your tradition nor into this Sifu deciple stuff. I thought I’d give a reaction. When you have been betrayed the way you and your colleges are. How can you still love your Sifu and not your college Gary; the abuser. Because to my opion they’re one of a kind. Namely both are corrupted by power. By still giving respect to your Sifu Wong despite your resignation, you’re doing exactly the same thing what you’re accusing him of doing. Maybe there has been something lost down the way in the tradition you cherish.
As others have said, I feel so sad for all that you have gone through and are suffering now. I support you completely. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You do not need to apologize. You have done more toward good in this than anyone save the poor victim who came forward with you. As a survivor myself, I, too, feel this deeply. My first thought was to wonder if perhaps your Sifu has begun to succumb to the depredations of age and has become paranoid? If he made mistakes in judgment due to approaching senility, might he then have also tried to cover up the issue with ego and hubris? It is so painful to see how many cultures think nothing of those in power treating people as cattle, women particularly. You are completely right in all that you have said and done. I sorrow at the feeling of betrayal and disillusionment you must feel about your adored sifu. Your courage is heroic and admirable. Please, take heart and strength from all of us who support you. Sending good thoughts your way.
Angelia J says
My heart breaks for the suffering this has caused you, the abuse victims, and others in the Shaolin Wahnam organization. I support you and stand with you. I am proud of you and honored to be your student “daughter.”
Monica Nolan says
Sifu, thank you so much on behalf of all rape victims. It is brave men like you who are needed in society to remind those who have let their arrogance and base nature influence their beliefs and actions (or lack thereof). You are a true warrior and an honorable man.
Dear Sifu Anthony, this time again you proved that you are a great person and showed the example. What you did wasn’t easy, I can’t even imagine myself in that situation…From what I could read you absolutely did the right thing. Please don’t blame yourself for not telling this before or for resigning. You chose the right path I believe. Thank you and please continue to inspire us 🙂
Faith Clark says
It takes extreme courage to “be transparent”. While speaking out, you also shared your vulnerability, your personal pain and betrayal. In this way, you are an ultimate teacher who can/does empower his students through the knowledge (and actions) that silence only allows abuse to flourish. We can all take similar steps, and stumble, maybe more than once, and rise with both humility and gratitude and know that we have helped to make the world a sweeter place, to make at least one star in the sky glow brighter — as you have done. Guts are great!
Sifu, you are a hero. You are wise, compassionate, brave, and principled. The universe rewards such people. A wise man once said – Where much is given, much is required. You have proven once again that you deserve the title of Sifu and I am proud that you are my Sifu.
In loving support,
Judy G says
So many great leaders begin as shining stars only to become slowly devoured by their egos, almost inperceptibly. It happens over and over. I’ve told you how I’ve encountered such people and seen others as well as myself suffer at their hands.
I also told you last year that I “actually trust you,” which is saying a lot for me. I was even watching to see if you would go down the same path, because I recognized in you a great ability for leadership and was anticipating corruption of some sort.
You have well deserved my trust and the trust of others. There is nothing to forgive you for! Please stay strong, faithful and exceptional always.
Many people, in many ways, are offered the challenge to face up to evil, to confront that which is wrong, to stand up for what is right and proper. You are one of those people and this was your way. You made the right decision. You stood up for what is right. In spite of the fact that the wrong-doer was an authority figure for you.
That happens sometimes. People that we considered of character turn out to be NOT so of character. Their motivations are varied. Ego, perceived prestige, unwillingness to admit to mistakes, greed… and the list goes on. Absent very specific mind-reading capabilities, we can never know what motivated the “wrong turn” in these people’s decisions. But we don’t have to know. What we have to know are the universal principles that we should live by, and the natural rights that accrue to each individual. Then we can react when we see a clear violation of those rights.
“Loyalty” is often cited as a “value”… but loyalty is amoral… unless it is loyalty to the universal principles and to the respect of the natural rights of others. Terrorists demand “loyalty”, and get it. Criminal gangs demand “loyalty”, and get it. Cults demand loyalty, and get it. And – yes – different schools of martial arts demand loyalty, and get it. But it is not the demand for loyalty that gives it any value. In fact, if that “loyalty” implies condoning abuse, or criminal activity, or wanton violence of any type (to include sexual abuse), or acceptance of illegal or amoral behavior, then that “loyalty” HAS NO VALUE IN AND OF ITSELF… because “loyalty” is valueless. It is only when loyalty is to the principles and rights, that “loyalty” gains any value – and it comes from the respect of the underlying principles and rights, not from the concept of “loyalty” itself.
Anyone can bray “betrayal”. A gang leader. A terrorist leader. A cult leader. A school leader. But if that alleged “betrayal” is NOT to the principles and rights which give loyalty value, then betrayal DOES NOT EXIST. Then the braying of “betrayal” becomes only a complaint… a complaint that some “dictator or totalitarian wannabe” is not receiving the blind obedience he or she wanted when he set up whatever organization was set up as a tool to channel those desires. Sometimes things don’t start out that way. Sometimes things change along the way… fed by the greed, ego, etc. mentioned above… over time. And if they do, then the braying of “betrayal” and the insistence on “loyalty” hold no real meaning – philosophically or practically.
So rest easy. Relax. Do not fret.
You upheld the universal principles. You stood for the natural rights of fellow human beings. So you betrayed NOTHING. And you were loyal to what you HAD to be loyal.
Move on… with your head held high… with pride… and with full honor. And know that those who really understand the issues will honor you fully and respect you as a man of character. You have nothing to regret or feel sorry about. You misplaced your trust at one point – but many others of us have done that too… and we learn from the experience and move on. Those others who resigned are also men of honor and character. You have been loyal to what matters. That’s all anyone can ask for.
Ignore the braying of those whose arrogance and lack of character leads them to shouting incoherent and inconsistent concepts and ideas.
You (all of you who resigned) were loyal to what we all have to be loyal. THAT is the important thing.
I also left an organization after 17 years because of similar issues. The man in charge refused to listen, and those wreaking havoc continued to do damage and poison the well. I believed in and trusted the perpetrators… even defended them.
But then I woke up. I ended up leading an unintentional second exodus from their ranks because I wanted to be a part of an organization and culture that my own family could associate with. The split nearly ruined me in many ways, but I am MUCH better off for all of it.
You, and all of the victims, have my goodwill.
Katie Darling says
I only know you because I somehow got on your mailing list. I’m sending you love and support, and also deep recognition of the almost intolerable conflict that these cult issues can bring forth.
I went through the same thing 30 years ago with my then-Guru who is the “Former Lord of The Universe.” After leaving the cult (and we are talking cults here––if you look up the definition, it’s all happening in your situation!), I became a counselor to people dealing with similar issues, as they exited or tried to exit both my own former group and pretty much every other spiritual group on earth. I’ve worked with people from gurus, sifus, yoga teachers, therapists, priests, and various other kinds of leaders, such as seminar leaders. Oh, and of course, parents.
The hardest issue people have is to not throw away the baby with the bathwater. Many people who left my guru formed websites to clear their anger and confusion about the abuse, but also decided that all spiritual experience is imaginary. There is such a close bond––a biochemical enmeshment in our actual brains and nervous systems––between the feelings of attachment joy that come from idealizing a teacher (the good parent one didn’t quite have, for example) and the actual results of the meditation, or the qi gong, or whatever.
Peeling these aspects apart is truly excruciating. Even decades later I can still feel the pain––I still have dreams about my formerly beloved teacher. This is about as deep a spiritual wound as one can experience. Of course, in the divine intelligence of the Tao, or God, it is all a part of our evolution into love and Oneness. But on the way to integrating these conflictual experiences, it’s easy to get stuck in duality. What was good is now bad. And that is an essential stage. Ethics and morals have to be upheld.
And then eventually as the reactive chemicals subside, one comes to see how one created and attracted the experience from one’s own deep and individual pattern of separation from source. Not that one is individually to blame, but that all experiences are somehow drawn to us as evolutionary doorways.
I once sat with a friend who has been a big spiritual tourist, and we tried to find any schools or gurus or teachers who haven’t had some version of this authoritarian abuse, mostly involving sexual abuse of women by male teachers. Although it’s mostly patriarchal and a mirror of thousands of years of male dominance, a similar pattern also happens with female teachers, many of whom are actually “Patriarchs In Drag”––that is, they have taken authoritarianism and put a skirt on it.
As an example of this, I was asked to counsel someone who had been sexually abused by the husband of a well-known female teacher. He was a sort of “co-teacher,” but only on her coat-tails. She knew all about it, but chose to blame and alienate the student, rather than protecting her. She said she had realized she was in love with her husband. And she is still teaching. The woman involved went through hell and was never really validated.
Much love to you and all involved. As I said, I have decades of experience counseling people through these issues, and would be happy to talk to anyone who wants my help. 415-389-1054 email@example.com
Vedanta Sarswati says
Thank you for sharing this situation. What a nightmare. Repect is well due. One needs to be able to sleep in their bed straight at night.
Wow… thank you for this public declaration and explanation of what I can only imagine has been devastating for you and so many others.
Having been involved with many Eastern religions/traditions/philosophies myself including Sufism, Hare Krishna/ISKCON and Tibetan Buddhism, there is an underlying “don’t tell on your brother/ don’t disrespect your master” that I believe has a purpose, but as you point out, can be abused. Context is so important, as is tradition, but if the tradition isn’t protecting integrity and freedom from harm than it is more important to break that tradition than to keep it.
I have known for a long time, not very well, but right now I am so proud of you and so supporting of your decision. I am glad to read Akemi’s post above and know you have the support you need from her which is great.
I wrote a book a few years ago about my own journey from healing from rape with lots of tools and exercises that I think are helpful for others. I would be more than happy to send a copy (its an ebook) to you to send to any of the women you think it may support that have been impacted by this. I hope from all the comments here that you feel the support and love and respect of your students and your community. This type of scandal rocks almost every community but very very few are as brave as you are demonstrating yourself to be.
Robin Gamble says
I am also one of the instructors who resigned over this issue.
I deeply respect Anthony’s efforts in trying to get to the bottom
Of this issue and feel that it has been mishandled almost every step
Of the way.
Anthony’s advice to question thoroughly all aspects of this
Case is sound advice.
Only when I saw the comment about you leaving Shaolin Wahnam (after I read the entirety of the article above) did I break down and cry.
You are one of the instructors I look up to the most (even though we’ve only met once) and seeing you leave brought it all home all over again.
Thank you for showing up and making yourself known.
Thank you for verifying the severity of this issue. You, too, have my support.
I also thank you for speaking up here. I value your voice!
David Burch says
Thank you for speaking out with your words and your actions.
the Sanctity of Teaching as a Sufi was unconscionably Broken.They code of Moral Ethics is Universal and Spiritual. We are the One and United in duplicity.
Thank You so much for taking a stand! Religions,Sports, Higher education; people in Power, taking advantage of their influence on other people to remain silent. The Silent Majority is All of Us!!! Bless You For Standing Like a Willow.
Brandt Stickley says
I admire and applaud your courage and uprightness.
I admire your bravery and understand your pain.
I feel like there was a death in the family.
Blessings to you and your loved ones.
Blessings to Sifu, so he can understand the gravity of the situation and all the pain and suffering it has caused and continues to cause.
You have done the right thing all along. Having been in similar situations of profound betrayal, I recognize that you were suffering from spiritual trauma and shock. Please give yourself some slack in the guilt department and be sure you take steps to heal yourself as well. Betrayal by someone so deeply loved is a serious wound. You have our deep respect and love for your courage and dedication to the spiritual philosophy you embraced as your path. May all beings be released from suffering.
Suzanne Parnell says
I cry for you, I hurt for all of us. I too love Sifu and will always be grateful for all that he taught me, for all the good that his teachings brought into my life. So I am deeply saddened that it came to this, but I see there was nothing else you could do. The First Shaolin Law is to “respect the Master and honor the Moral Way,” but the Sixth says we are “Forbidden to rape, molest, do evil, steal, rob, abduct or cheat.” How can we continue to respect the Master who does not respect and uphold the Laws he taught us? It reminds me of a line in one of Faulkner’s novels, which in paraphrase says, “words go up in a long thin line; deeds go down along the ground.” The Shaolin Laws mean nothing if they remain only words. Today you stand as a model for Sifu, even if he cannot see it, for everyone else in the lineage, and for your students. You not only know the words of the laws you honor them.
It is painful to lose your “tribe,” but stand tall because you have walked the talk, and in the end others will recognize it, honor you for it–and there will be a new tribe.
I respect your decision and actions and realize what a difficult decision it must have been for you. I am especially impressed by the respect which you continue to show Grandmaster Wong despite your serious differences. In my own life I have found this to be very challenging when someone has greatly disappointed or hurt me. I am also impressed by your humility and openness with us, your students. Perhaps you are redefining leadership for your organization. Thank you Sifu.
New to North Florida says
It makes me sad to read these words and while it will take a long time to process, I just wanted to share my support for the stance you took. We may never know all the details, but you made what I think is the right choice, given the information you had and shared here.
Dear Sifu Anthony,
I know you only through flowingzen.com and enjoy your posts.
I have been studying Martial arts for a long time and have had the opportunity to learn with older Masters and younger ones.
I have been teaching Karate for a long time and have been a student of Tai Chi for quite some time and realized, through the years, that when some Masters are “just” masters: their ego gets in their way and they tend to forget why they went on this path. We their ex-students, will keep all that has been taught, we will always be thankful for how these teachings have allowed us to grow. Having the humility to keep practicing as a “student” allows you always to keep a fresh frame of mind and it stops you to become “someone” but it helps you to become a true Master!
I understand your inner pain, your incredulity, but you took the right step and through this you are becoming your own Master, and by doing so you will grow even more and become the Master your master is unable to become!
I will be thinking of you and sending you strong Energy!
Congratulations, for having been able to step outside the Circle!
JoAnn Saunders says
SOUL RENDING………..Whatever world view accepts sexual abuse and exploitation is clearly WRONG in light of the havoc it creates in the lives of its victims. Unfortunate that there was no power outside of Sifu Wong to confront, pursue and prosecute. The depth of your loyalty and respect for your Sifu made this immeasurably horrific in light of the deep love residing in your soul for truth and righteousness. You stand tall and upright. I/WE STAND WITH YOU and each victim of sexual abuse……you used every measure of your Being to reach him……taking every bit of love, honor, and respect….a process of remarkable proportion…….no apology necessary in my eyes. I HONOR your decision, however rending it IS and can’t help but being.
Abundant Blessings ALWAYS and in ALL WAYS
Sifu means teacher-father. The honor bestowed to a father also assumes the protection of a father and cannot be bestowed without that protection.
I can’t wait to make some time to zip to Florida and learn from you.
Dear Sifu Anthony,
I have read your writings and teachings and I have even more respect and appreciation for you after this.
Everyone on this planet is affected by this type of victim/victimizer program and it takes a immense courage, wakefulness and genuine love to confront it as you have and communicate so honestly.
I am not your student, but if I were I would hope I could forgive you for the amount of time it took for you to resign. I am awed by the time and effort you invested in seeking the full truth and giving Wong (I won’t call him Sifu) opportunities to awaken to truth and love. If he has been a true teacher to you, he deserved that opportunity. It is sad for all of his students and fellow humans that he failed.
I know that you are in great pain, and I believe that you can gain enormous spiritual growth and embodiment from having seen this ordeal through.
I am personally moved to tears by all of your actions and sincerely wish for you to be able to receive all the love that so many of us feel for you.
I send you the love from my heart and bow to your true nobility.
Rachel .Oradd says
My heart aches for you, the other Sifus and the victims in this terrible situation. I am proud to call you Sifu and I also stand with you
The Sifu who ignored and by implication condoned this behaviour does not deserve respect. He should also be asked to resign. He has totally lost any moral compass and forfeited any rights as a moral or ethical leader.
It is a basic spiritual law, that each having free will, one’s freedom ends where another’s begins.
I am grateful that you learned what you did from this teacher. And that you are finding within yourself a truer foundation for these teachings.
Kathy Gardner says
Our two adult sons are living with us these days, and the older one is slogging it out in retail. Lately, we’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about accountability and the problems that result when people fail to take responsibility for their own behavior. I’m very sorry that someone else’s bad behavior has created a rift between you and a mentor who has been so important to you.
I’m here to say, from personal experience, that it is possible to love someone while also being profoundly disappointed in them for their transgressions. Regardless of what has already gone down and what may yet happen, you had many good years with your Sifu that can’t be taken away.
I will go out on a limb and suggest that his reaction to the disturbing news about his student was much more common than yours. Most people, when faced with an inconvenient truth, go into rationalization mode. You chose a harder path, confronting it head on. The hard part is behind you. Relax. Relax twice as much. Smile from the heart!
I hope you feel better this morning having come through all this and your resignation. I am experiencing something similar in the Satyananda yoga community. I quit a couple of weeks ago and felt so much stronger the next day.
Thank you for your apology. It is entirely appropriate. I was just saying to my 11 year old son the other day (after a minor misdemeanor at school) that an admission of guilt and an apology shows a great deal of integrity. That’s what I wish the leaders of Satyananda would do. Own up, apologise and make reparations.
However, I wonder why we do this to ourselves: a crime has been committed and instead of going to the police we go to a senior teacher/ Sifu/ Guru call it what you will. That’s still craziness to me. We need to start reporting sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities, not a teacher in a far off land.
Isn’t rape a criminal act? Why bother getting this scum kicked out of a job? Get your evidence and the victims to a police officer instead. This creep needs to be locked up.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Sam. Legal recourse has not been ruled out. But as Simon Parsons mentioned, going to the police can sometimes make the situation worse. I should also mention that this case is international in nature, so legal recourse is more complex.
Isn’t it a crime not to report it?
Jen Vann says
I greatly appreciate your transparency on this issue, your courage, and your unshakable ethics. I can honestly say that I respect you so much more deeply as an instructor and as a person for all of your care, diligence, investigating, suffering, and fighting to defend victims of abuse.
I feel that you left at exactly the right time. From my point of view, to have resigned earlier would have been equivalent to forfeiting your right to speak and take a stand on the issue from within the organization. Given the evidence presented, I sense that you have done everything in your power to try and protect current and future students from abuse. Now that you are completely clear that the leader of the organization has no desire to do the same, it seems there is nothing to do but move forward with this understanding, and perhaps for victims to take legal action.
I send you my profound gratitude
Robin M. says
You are a brave and honorable man and I thank you for posting the details and your emotional reactions in your struggle to seek truth and to prevent further abuses. This journey takes us through the curtain, freeing us from our origins as pack/herd animals blindly following our leaders, into the light — a struggle of thinking and reasoning individuals working toward their enlightenment.
How sad and shocking to find that your teacher has a closed mind to the pain experienced by those less powerful than himself and other instructors… I echo those earlier comments of admiration for you, and join in sending you gratitude on behalf of all survivors of abuse.
(I am not a student or instructor in your school, but have been following your online writings for some time).
Simon Parsons says
To all the people calling for police intervention: in many cases, police make things worse for rape survivors. The survivors often get blamed for what happened to them by the people supposed to ‘protect’ them. On top of that, physical evidence (apparently the only evidence most people in power or influence pay attention to) is short-lived or ignored. Most rape kits completed go untested for years. And to top it all off, women coming foward about their abusers can be dangerous for them, as they can then be subjected to harassment, isolation, threats of further abuse, etc. Not to mention the continual upheaval of the trauma by having to testify against someone who continually asserts they are a liar just trying to ruin someone’s life. This is all very wrong, but very real.
While we all want to see this person brought to justice, the choice ultimately is the survivor’s, and we should stand with whatever they choose. It is not anyone’s business to convince them that they should deal with their traumatic experiences in ways that may be very unhealthy for them unless they go into it willingly. It is not anyone’s business to convince survivors that the survivors should deal with their trauma in the same way the convincer might. Please be gentle with people.
I’m sorry but you make a hard case for any police officer or the law to ever be trusted. While the decision for these victims to come forward is ultimately their decision I haven’t seen anyone condemning then for not going to the police. It just seemss these people all felt like isolated cases before sifu Anthony started his investigation, perhaps now with his evidence and the solidarity of the victims and possiblty the shaolin group that opposes this creep canbe enough to set forth a solid case to get this guy behind bars. As a family member and friend to many officers I don’t think they are all as inept as you make them appear. Sure, they are only human and make mistakes but they aren’t all useless. I think if there can be a real support group benefiting these victims as Sifu Anthony has already initiated then the power to bring justice is assured.
Simon Parsons says
I speak only to the reality of many women (widely documented online, for curious Googlers), whether you happen to personally know individual cops or not.
Tony Rosenbaum says
“Ethics is obedience to the unenforceable.” You have been ethical in this most difficult and courageous manner not because you had to act but chose to act as you did. This is costly and admirable, the kind of example that certainly earns my respect and becomes a life lesson for your pupils. Your decision also entails what surely will be a personal and private pain which I hope will be at least partially offset with the knowledge that we respect you the more for your wise and voluntary decision. Tony Rosenbaum
Sharing your heartache, standing proudly beside you. Your courage in this matter has eternal value. Sending peace to you during this time of loss. I am grateful for you and for your devotion.
“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
Sorry if this sounds rude to Sifu or others but, I have two questions.
1. Why hasn’t Sifu seen the light? What happens if all Sifu’s resign, surely he will realise?
2. Why hasn’t this sexual predator simply come forward and been honest and dicussed with Sifu? He is lucky that he hasn’t been named, and you treated him with that courtesy in your post, yet from what i’ve heard he is still returning to Shaolin?
Sifu Wong, if you are reading this; of the 10 Shaolin Laws, please consinder that this redator has violated at least 5 that I can count. Why is he allowed to continue teaching?
Beth Elliott says
Thank you for doing what you know to be the right thing. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this experience and I can’t even begin imagine how hard it has been for you. I absolutely stand by you 100%.
Vincent Elarde says
I can’t imagine how painful this must be for you. I wish for the best for you.
Jac Watson says
Personal integrety is really all that matters in the world.
I believe in you. You acted with honor.
Major USMC Ret’d
David Burch says
I am very grateful that you are my Sifu. Thank you for fighting the good fight.
Stacey Breheny says
This is yet another example of the abuse of power and position that our news has been saturated with lately. Abuse spans the world in every single cultural, religious or political hierarchy I can think of. I feel for you, in that I understand what it’s like to love someone, and appreciate the good in them, and what they’ve done for us, and as the same time have to face the reality of corruption. I’ve been there.
It’s hard to know whether Sifu Wong’s bizarre responses are the result of garden variety denial, or some deep cultural difference where protecting the organizaiton really is seen as more important than respecting another person’s (the abuse victim’s) rights and personhood.
Either way, you have been navigating a treacherous path. I’m guessing your resignation will be hugely liberating and joyful for you soon. You will be in the position of having to sort out the truth in the tradition you have mastered from the distortions. In my brief times at the studio in Gainesville, your references to larger tradition and history of the Shaolin Arts and the Sify/disciple system were mysterious to me, I just decided I would respect what you said and learn what I could. I think all or most of your students will trust you to make the right decisions as we all go forward from here. Thanks for sharing this story.
and one more thing… Shouldn’t “Gary” be in jail?
Tamara Leisey says
Thank you so much for your transparency and integrity. As you know, I was one of your most enthusiastic students for many years and I continue to practice the arts that you shared so graciously with me. Undoubtedly, you’ve noticed that I have taken my space from your studio and from Shaolin Wahnam over the last few years. I never really discussed my reasons for distancing myself with you because I didn’t think you would understand at the time and I didn’t want to be insulting or disrespectful. But I realized that the values of Shaolin Wahnam, and the patriarchal, authoritative paradigm within which these arts were being passed down, totally went against my own core values and beliefs. I saw these dogmatic and dis-empowering codes of conduct reflected both in your studio and in the larger regional courses that I attended with Sigung Wong. It was after my last course with Sigung in Las Vegas two years ago that I realized Shaolin Wahnam didn’t really represent me and it wasn’t who I wanted to be. The arts, of course, are incredible and indisputable, which is why I continue to practice. But, goddamn, it’s time for a paradigm shift!!!
I knew nothing of this scandal and, as heartbreaking as it is, I guess I’m not really surprised. It’s a story that is repeated all too often in patriarchal institutions that command unquestioning reverence and loyalty to the master. There’s a quote I came across years ago that pretty much sums up the way I feel about Shaolin Wahnam –
“They must find it difficult… those who have taken authority as the truth, rather than truth as the authority.” – G. Massey
I’m so proud of you for coming forward and speaking out for the victims. Thank you for your voice, your honesty, and your conscience. I’m proud to call you my friend and my teacher.
Aifu Anthony, I am heartbroken at this news. Both you and Sifu Wong have been teachers of mine through books and blog posts, though we’ve never met in person. It’s clear you’ve made the right decision in breaking with Wahnam, and I know it must have been incredibly hard to do it. You have my support, for what it’s worth.
No victim should ever be blamed in this way, and no organization or individual should protect the aggressor. No one should be afraid to speak out against the abuse they have suffered.
You did the right thing, Anthony. Thank you.
Dear Sifu Anthony,
I know you only from the few Qi Gong videos you posted on the internet. They helped me greatly.
When the candle goes out, you can curse the darkness – or light a new candle. However unpleasant, bad situations can be a learning point to grow and move on. It has also given you an opportunity to give others new cause to believe that in spite of all the bad and ugly, there is also good in this world. Flow on, and thank you.
Evil only thrives when good people do nothing
Well done Sifu for standing up for the vulnerable
Tim Orr says
I started to read this very long post….and after a few, I skipped right down to the end, to where I could post my own comment.
What is human nature? Who is free of that?
Excellent answer: “No one”.
My first point is stated.
My second point is, What is compassion? What is forgiveness? What is LOVE?
Love knows all things. Love understands all things. Love forgives all things. Love knows human nature, and yet chooses to continue it’s compassionate nature. The nature of love is compassion!? Absolutely. It is its essence. Human nature needs that compassion. That’s what makes love, love!
All points said, thank you. Bless you.
Chris Aguilar says
Your display of moral courage is absolutely exemplary. I am deeply honored to be able to call you Siheng, and I admire the course of action you’ve taken on this matter.
I can’t imagine anyone being able to perform any better than you have. Coming from a background where subordinates and superiors are supposed to protect each other in a similar manner, even when unethical or criminal conduct is involved, I understand the thought process Sifu Wong has, even if I wholeheartedly believe it is detrimental to students, instructors, and the public image of the school. It is downright dishonorable.
Thank you for setting an outstanding example for us, and thank you for helping to make the world a better place.
Yvonne Hooper says
What an awful situation to have been in. Having had faith and trust in someone for years and then having to question that faith and trust to such a degree must have been heat breaking.
I have had similar experiences on two occasions
1) When I was embezzled of thousands by my best friend.
2) A similar situation to yours in a smaller way. And one which was dealt with correctly in my mind and instantly. The two young female students who were sexually abused by a trusted older teacher were believed and looked after correctly and the instructor was publicly exposed and all his association with the healing school involved cancelled and all members were made aware of the circumstances. The school even wanted to involve the police but the victims did not want that type of exposure and as they were the most important people to consider the police were not involved.
How can someone like Sifu Wong even consider putting his students at risk in this way.
I think you have been more than fair in the manner that you have dealt with all of this and respect your strength of character in being able to explain fully what you have done and why.
Regards & Loads of love
David Boucher says
As someone who was falsely accused by two women I would like us to consider the importance of remaining dispassionate in these situations. It is appropriate for our Grandmaster to support his Sifu’s until criminal acts have been proven or the weight of credible evidence has become overwhelming and the credibility or harmony of the organisation has been severely damaged.
Arun Blatchley says
“… or the weight of credible evidence has become overwhelming and the credibility or harmony of the organisation has been severely damaged.”
I think that pretty accurately describes what’s happening right now.
Tim Ridgley says
not a follower as such, but have read this with interest.
Am currently reading Gorgias, a play by Plato, on Socrates, who maintained it is ‘ better to suffer wrong, than do wrong, written about 405AD.
‘One should avoid wrong-doing with more care than being wronged, and the supreme object of a man’s efforts, in public and private life, must be the reality rather than the appearance of goodness.’
There is tremendous argument about use and abuse of power, but Plato provides overwhelming evidence to prove his point.
Any man who wants to be a respected and remembered leader needs to take heed. Inevitably he will suffer. He has lost the opportunity to redeem himself. He has failed to realise the perpetrator is winning, by bringing him down to his level. The perpetrator must have great satisfaction in his own powers, but the two of them will crash and burn.
Anthony Smith says
You did the right thing Sifu Anthony. You shouldn’t feel bad about it. Honor is black and white; You have it or you don’t. Gary, Wong and their supporters have none. I commend your ethics and I support your decision!
John Sinclair says
What a sad story. Everyone is a loser, even me, and I am not a disciple or even a student. I’m simply on your mailing list having viewed an article you wrote.
There are always two side to every story, the Ying and Yang perhaps?
In this world of litigation, I find it incomprehensible that Sifu Wong, and the organisations senior management/Direstors did not seek legal advice! I suspect your Sifus responses were tempered by legal advice and constraints, irrespective of what their true feelings were. As I say everyone is a loser.
This sort of dilemma – all forms of abuse, are something we all experience in our daily lives. More and more stories of abuse are making headlines, it’s astonishing how prevalent it is and has been, and on such a scale in some instances!
We see it in central governments, local governments, district and parish councils in the work place, in clubs, churches, at home…everywhere!
The overriding factor in most of these cases is that “people” knew it was going on, but did nothing! I often wonder – who is more at fault, the abuser, or the selfish “people” who allow the abuse to happen?
I say selfish, as in most cases the only reason people keep theirs heads down is they don’t want to jeopardise or damage their prospects, their career or social standing, or incur repercussions upon family and friends.
I have personally witnessed many people compromise their integrity in similar circumstances. From Church Bishops (two actually) to all the so called “social classes” “beneath” the Bishops!
This selfishness appears to be an inherent weakness in the majority of humans. I say weakness, perhaps it’s not a weakness, but simply an inbuilt instinct which forms part of our survival mechanism?
It is rare to witness someone who is prepared to raise their head above the parapet, with no concern to his or her own safety, career, income etc etc. And for this I salute you. However, we must always be conscience and respectful of the other side of the coin, the Ying and the Yang – the basic principles on which all nature is subject to and which governs the Universe!
I wish you all a peaceful resolution to this sad story
Sipak, You have been extremely brave to behave like you did. The sympathy you showed towards the victims reveals that you are an honorable and good man. You definitely deserve the name of Sifu.
Blessings to you
Ellen West says
You have fought a noble battle and won by being true to yourself (and your students). The pain of loosing respect for someone you lhave learned from, trusted, admired and followed has probably shaken your foundations and caused some self-doubt. This will result in personal growth knowing you!
All of this has come into your life for some reason, I am sure that you will come out stronger and even better for it.
You did the right thing regardless of how difficult it was.I am proud to have you as my sifu!
Smiling from my heart,
Mike Roth says
Sifu, I believe you absolutely took the honorable route through this horrible ordeal – trying to help perceived victims while fact searching and ultimately giving your Sifu of almost two decades every opportunity to see this through your eyes. The delay for which you seem so self-critical was merely you taking the time to right these wrongs before distancing yourself from it – also a honorable route choice. I am so sorry you had to endure this, and so sorry for all of the victims of this all too common intransigence.
Julie Lake says
Your courage, and your commitment to help the victims far exceed what a normal person would be expected to do; you are a true sifu and a person to be respected and admired for you persistence and tenacity in attempting to right a terrible injustice. Those who know you personally, know that your loyalty is strong and will understand how resigning from Shaolin Wahnam was so hard for you and why it took so long to do so. You have many followers who, now more than ever, will believe and trust in your commitment to your individual students over your love for the shoalin arts and their ancient traditions/rules, (as noble as most of them are). Thanks to you and the other sifus who have resigned, for standing up for what you believe is right, and for the dignity and respect that you so obviously have for your students and people in general. I am so grateful to have you as my sifu. May the perpetrators someday see the error of their ways. My prayers, blessings, and good wishes to you and the victims.
I am very sad to hear all of these things. I wish I had lots of nice words to say that would make a big difference but I don’t think I do. I will be thinking of and praying for you, Grandmaster Wong, and everyone involved. You are a really solid guy.
Charles Chalmers says
Some of you might like to know that Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit has offered a response at the top of his website, http://www.shaolin.org.
David Young says
I am personally at a loss of words. . As we understand it in the West, Sexual Abuse of either gender is NOT tolerated.
And now I myself have much to consider, both the Kung Fu and Chi Kung have become to what I believe as a real treasure so valuable and benefitcial to all who practice it. To me it became the “Real Deal” when it came to Shaolin Kung Fu. .Now what is to become of it? Now what do I do when I come to the funds needed to continue learning? again I have much to consider.
Sifu Anthony I do however respect your own decision and I understand why. And now such a sensitive issue becomes a “Monkey Wrench” in the works of something that could have had a long standing reputation, and respect. I am disgusted at the fact that someone abused their power and trust of their students. Certainly this is not the first instance and it will not be the last.
I can say that I am proud someone stood up to such arrogance.
This is a very bitter after taste of things to come. . .
Jeffrey Ludwig says
I am not one of your students, at least not formally. I wanted to add my admiration for your courageous stance, and for choosing to sit with the terrible injustices that others have faced. The stress you’ve been through is, in part, also the stress that the victims have felt, which you took on by accepting to champion their cause and be connected with them.
I, too, abhor the fallacious appeal to authority that silences truth-seeking (which, as a Christian, I have seen at work in my faith’s own institutions). It seems that, too often, people want to defend their affiliations or defend themselves rather than listen with equanimity, and I’m deeply respectful that you have heroically sacrificed your affiliations and reputation to defend the powerless and voiceless. You have acted with true authority, which is to respect the authority of all people, including Sifu Wong, yourself, your wife, your fellow instructors, and (certainly not least of all) the victims of these heinous actions.
My heart first goes out to the victims of sexual abuse here, then to you Anthony, and to all of Shaolin Wahnam. I hope that healing comes to all of you as you all can embrace the pain, and the healing that can come from your communities. Forgiveness NEVER glosses over wrongdoing… it acknowledges wrong as wrong, but it sets us free internally (from the past), and allows us to move forward (in other words… to inhabit the Now). Through forgiveness we will not be imprisoned by those who have wronged us, and then we can be free to deal with all others with justice and mercy as is appropriate.
Blessings to all of you, from my heart. I will continue to enjoy your teaching and your wisdom.
stuart henry says
I agree with all you stand for. I person or teacher bond with his students is his reputation and honesty. You may not be the best at your skills but honesty and interigty is also an important part of any training and should be given to all students . The students are the branches of the teacher and refelct his wissom so if the teacher is not honest or project integretiy then the students will go out into the world projecting the same and that is not good the physical aspect of training is important but like any martial art of any teaching for that matter the philospohy and intergretity taught by the teacher to his students is even more important.
I applauded you for stepping up and breaking the chain and keep the integreity and wisdom of this art alive. You have taught your students more by this act then your teacher has taught his students in his career.
you are a man of value and for that i cherish your wisdom even more
Andrew Barnett says
Having read through Anthony’s blog it struck me what a fantastic piece of marketing he has employed — knowingly or otherwise. He is being celebrated as an international hero based solely on his own words and those of others specifically chosen to support his own picture. Very clever, I must admit.
Thinking about it, I wonder what the real reason was for Anthony to go so public with his resignation and renunciation of the man he credits with having saved his life on more than one occasion. I have known Anthony for many years and was proud to call him my senior.
Anthony has always been very precise, calculating and direct in achieving his objectives. I am sure he was in his decision to make this public statement. Consider this: he won’t help those affected (directly or indirectly), he won’t change the events of the past (directly or indirectly), he will not heal any wounds (directly or indirecty), he will not achieve the reduction of abuse in any society (local or internationally).
So where is the benefit in this for anyone except for Anthony himself in the marketing result?
Sherrie Cronin says
As someone with a close contact who works in the world of helping survivors, I can tell you that having the wrongness of act stated publicly does help the healing process. One of the many difficult parts of moving on for a human who has had intimacy forced on them is having to pretend like nothing significant really happened, because everyone else behaves that way.
Sifu Anthony’s public denunciation of “Gary’s” behavior and his refusal to pretend like such acts “aren’t that big a deal” will help these women, will help others who have suffered something similar, and will help all of us stand up with compassion instead of looking the other way.
Courage is contagious. Every act matters.
Arun Blatchley says
Following Andrew Barnett’s comment, I think it’s important to point out another common manifestation of Rape Culture: attacking the character of the person making the allegations. In this case, the main target is my Sifu, since he’s the one who has made this story public and attached his name to it.
“…based solely on his own words and those of others specifically chosen to support his own picture.” By others, I think Mr. Barnett means the women who have been abused. So we have two character attacks: an obvious attempt to cast doubt on my Sifu’s intentions, and a more subtle attempt to call every victim in this story a liar. This kind of response happens in almost every public conversation of sexual assault.
I shouldn’t be surprised, since this kind of slander is so common, but it disappoints me to see someone as powerful in our arts as Andrew Barnett behave in such a willfully insensitive way.
Simon Parsons says
I am a current student of Sifu Anthony’s, and have personally seen him wrestle with this issue for months. Months, years before that, he was struggling behind the scenes. While I will not recite the one-on-one conversations we have had here, I can assure you this is no marketing ploy. He’s placed a lot at jeopardy here, including a number of important relationships. He was not expecting this level of support by any means, and just because he has gotten it does not suddenly turn him into a villain-esque schemer, benefiting off the pain of others.
Charles Chalmers says
Your point is well taken. And it does seem cynical to suggest a plot on Anthony’s part.
That being said, Anthony is now claiming publicly that he is a moral superior to one of the greatest spiritual masters in the world. That is quite a claim to make.
It is also quite a claim to make that his actions to assist others are greater than our teacher who has helped countless others–including your sifu–to overcome incurable illnesses.
If by Anthony’s admission, our sifu has helped so many people, what possible reason would he have for not wanting to help the alleged victims? The answer is: there is no reason not to help. Simply because our sifu did not follow Anthony’s instructions on how to deal with the situation does not mean that no action was taken. As has been stated before, the very woman who made the initial testimony has been helped directly, by our sifu. No others made themselves know to our sifu.
Simon Parsons says
I think we can all agree that people following what they believe to be ethically right is the good thing to do. People helping others is a wonderful thing to do. These are not in question. However, just because someone helps others does not mean all their actions are righteous or helpful; every person has their mistakes, their imperfections. Not a single human is above all of that. As far as my Sifu and the rest of us behind him are concerned, this is a mistake on Sifu Wong’s part, and an obviously major failing of Gary.
Charles Nowell says
Opinions aren’t necessarily wrong because they’re popular, ie your argument here is fallacious. Did you read the part where Sifu Anthony makes it clear how hard he’s worked to support the survivors? Or the part about how hard it was for him to conflict with his teacher?
There’s another fallacy here: that speaking up about rape will not make it less prevalent. In reality, working to raise awareness about an issue is what helps people to solve the problem, not the other way around.
If nothing is said or done then things get worse bc everyone thinks it must be acceptable. I’ve known Anthony since he was 19 years old. He would never act for his own self interest in a situation such as this. His teacher made a big mistake and, as a resulr, he lost a good student in Anthony. He lost others as well & will continue to lose as this incident will be a growing cancer in his organisation.
Kathy Sarra says
Dear Sifu, I understand the struggles and the stress involved for you to finally reach this decision. I understand that it may have been the most difficult of your career. I get how this has broken your heart. At the same time, I feel that you did your “due diligence” in order to come to this place. I am proud of you for taking the time, giving your beloved Sifu the opportunity to come to an ethical stance after hearing all the evidence, and for finally having the courage to resign from the organization. It is a sad day for many of us who have known and trusted both of you.
Thank you for teaching me these beloved arts; I believe they have saved my life many times. Thank you for reminding me to question everything. It’s a lesson I have learned and relearned many times over the course of my long life, and usually it is at times like these when I am reminded yet again to respect myself and the work and my heart and my gut, to that “inner knower” who will help us when we call.
Lourens Boot says
Thank you very much for your courage and integrity. You did the right thing. To me, your action is what the Shaolin Arts are all about. In that way you are an example to all of us.
Let us know whenever you want some support.
Take care my friend,
rick marcano says
Thank you for your heart-rending post. I too, have had experience with a similar issue at my workplace-involving a subordinate of mine who was being sexually abused by the Executive Director of our Division while I was the Assistant Director. I, at first hesitated in reporting this as soon as I found out. However, when I got home that evening and mentioned it to my wife, she advised me to report it at once…which I did first thing the next morning. I was subsequently threatened by the abuser…but that’s another story.
Bottom line: You did the right and honorable thing and are to be commended for it.
May God Bless you and grant you success in your career…helping others.
suzi jay says
We at the International Yoga Alliance for Ethics support your courage and admire your efforts to inform other students. We know that it requires heaps of resilience and determination to live through trauma. We offer support and help for all survivors of physical and emotional abuse which you can find on our website below:
and on facebook….
CJ Bain says
I have long believed that following one’s true path leads to the greatest good, but that an individual’s true path can only be discerned by that individual. We cannot ever know what another “should” do, but can only search deeply and openly for the “right” words and actions (i.e., seek our own true paths) in regard to others. Whether you call it following the tao or simply soul searching and acting with integrity, it is clear you are and have been striving to seek and follow your path with courage, and I honor you and support you.
I am grateful (but not surprised) that my own path led me to become your student. What I have learned from you and continue to learn is making all things possible. You have my gratitude, respect and love.
Laura Sanders says
My heart goes out to the victims, to you and to the other teachers and students affected by this. I have great respect for everyone who acted to try to end this abuse and I support you.
Shawn Chiusano says
Andrew Barnett, consider what your Sifu accomplished by sweeping everything under the rug or flat out ignoring it: he didn’t help those affected (directly or indirectly), he didn’t change the events of the past (directly or indirectly), he will not heal any wounds (directly or indirecty), he will not achieve the reduction of abuse in any society (local or internationally)…but will in fact promote the idea within the organization that one can get away with sexual abuse.
From the tone of your approach, it seems you have zero experience working with others who have been sexually abused or entirely lack basic human empathy. That’s an interesting approach for a “healer.”
This awareness my Sifu has made ensures my time, money, life, and energy won’t go continue in an organization that allows abuse to happen.
Your comments about Andrew’s character are inaccurate and offensive.
Charles Chalmers says
In fact, our sifu directly helped the woman involved and she is happy to be learning chi kung and kung fu. It is ironic that she can forgive and carry on, but your sifu, Anthony could not.
You are wrong in saying our sifu ignored the situation, in fact he addressed it openly on his homepage, condemning any kind of sexual abuse, and making it clear our school’s policy against student-teacher sexual relations.
You should take your sifu’s advice and question what you read.
Arun Blatchley says
I find Sifu Wong’s claim that the woman is happy with the help she received from him highly dubious. It’s kind of outlandish to see that my Sifu can put his reputation on the line and give an emotionally honest, detailed account of his experience, but you can dismiss it with a single, unsubstantiated statement from Sifu Wong. That’s cult behavior.
Charles Chalmers says
Arun, I am just sharing what I have personally seen. This woman is happy and a member of our school taking courses from our sifu. You may find this hard to believe, but it is true.
I appreciate that your sifu has tried to do his best to help out, but his claim that he is helping while our sifu is not–it’s just not true.
Next, I am not dismissing your sifu’s letter, I am adding useful information to give a fuller picture. I am saying things that even he may not know, things he may in fact find useful. My contribution is not outlandish.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Charles, first of all, please be careful not to give away any identities. Secondly, if you are indeed referring to “Trish”, then are you absolutely certain that she condones Sifu Wong’s actions in this matter? Or are you taking Sifu Wong’s word on the matter?
Charles, since clearly you know Trish, please be more specific about how she has been helped. For now, it seems that you may only be repeating what Sifu said on his website.
Matt Fenton says
Dear Arun, Barb, and anyone,
Charles is telling you that he personally has met/spent time with Trish, and that she has received direct healing. Yet you don’t believe him. It’s not proof enough for you, and you think he’s just reiterating what he’s read in Sifu’s statement.
It is my understanding that this the same kind of word-of-mouth “proof” against Gary that Sifu originally received, and did not rush to take action against.
Now you both have direct experience of doubting statements of proof. Neither of you rushed to action to support the claims that Trish received healing. And neither of you are bad people for your reactions.
Perspective. It’s all about perspective.
Ellen White says
Although it was under far less dramatic circumstances, this year, I had to break away from someone who I trusted a great deal, had been a big part of my life, and had helped me a lot during a time when I really needed it. And even though the situation had become destructive for me, I still felt strangely guilty about doing it. But, it was the right call. Always disappointing when someone you respect turns out not to be who you thought s/he was. Feet of clay in a very human way is easy to forgive, but a Grandmaster who overlooks something so horribly egregious? That’s a much harder one. So, I can understand your struggles, but certainly think you did the right thing.
I very much hope that the women in this situation gain a small measure of peace from your actions, and hope that “Gary” will face legal action.
Eric Hawkins says
I can only imagine how difficult and heart-wrenching this entire experience has been for the victims. I can appreciate how hard this has been for you. I support you in your decision to resign and think you did the right and honorable thing. Your thorough investigation is an inspiration for anyone who truly desires to do the right thing. I am proud to be your student.
Since he is still out there, how can one avoid contact with “Gary”?
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Thanks, Eric. I appreciate it.
Regarding Gary, I don’t have a good answer for you. I’ve decided, for the time being, not to reveal his identity. But as I’ve said in other comments, legal recourse has not been ruled out by the people involved.
One this is for sure — Gary will never be at any of my classes.
Dear All, dear Sipak
What timing. I very recently wrote to Sigung about some of my own experiences in Shaolin Wahnam. The topic in general was not about abuse as a whole, but about the issue of misogyny I perceived in the school.
I felt that Sigung reacted in a somewhat detached manner to the issues I presented to him and I even ended up disagreeing with him on some of his answers. Pretty much all of you have never met me personally, but those who did know that I am never afraid to speak up. Why whould I, since I know my general reasoning is very sound, despite my age.
But in general, I found his answers thoughtful and kind. It IS obvious though, and I mentioned this in my answer to Sigung, that there are many cultural differences that we will probably never be able to overcome.
Anthony Sipak (or what else should I call you now? I am a bit confused by Sigung’s post on shaolin.org), please let me know if you would like to received the exchange between me and Sigung. If I can add anything beneficial to this situation, I shall gladly do so.
And I will talk to my own Sifu about this issue as soon as I can. My Sifu is actually unaware that I had the above exchange with Sigung as of yet.
I am just as heartbroken and have not yet decided how to associate with Shaolin Wahnam in the future from now on. I have recently left Wahnam Switzerland myself, not because of any specific reasoning, but because of a growing sense of detachment from the Wahnam community itself.
Seems my hunch was right, as it tends to be.
I have not read all the comments, but I just want to reinstate what Sipak Anthony has already mentioned in his article: Even though the outpouring of support is wonderful and no doubt a thing very needed at the moment, please do develop your own thoughts and opinions about this issue. I would not want this comment section to turn into a mob, as this would not help the situation at all.
Again: Dear Sipak, please do contact me, if you wish to read the exchange. I would be very willing to have it published as well. The exchange is already set to be published in a Q&A by Sigung, but only in November 2015. I have already talked to other family members and questioned wether it would even be relevant anymore in a year’s time. Seems like this conversation will see the light of day earlier than I ever hoped.
Please do contact me, seriously.
With warm greetings,
Claudien S says
It is funny or rather sad that you write this long post sharing your supposed bad feelings about Shaolin Wahnam whilst on your Facebook page dated 17th October 2014 there is a very nice heart opening post about Shaolin Wahnam. I have copied the post here:
“Tonight, I feel blessed, honored and slightly overwhelmed by the legacy that is Shaolin Wahnam. Huge thank you to everyone who was there, especially Sifu :)!”
All the best,
You are absolutely right. I got carried away by all the chaos and negativity and completely overreacted.
I decide to now remove myself from this discussion as a whole. I apologize deeply and sincerely for the negativity I brought to this comment section and will need to examine my own motivation and reaction to this situation more deeply.
Warmest wishes to you, wherever you are, and may you spend a wonderful Christmas.
I felt the same in Wahnam Switzerland cult of blind obedience mixed with some mysgony and machism. I left already for a long time.
Hi Sifu Anthony,
Given the details you have so clearly given, I think your actions are justified and honourable, and of benefit to others.
John Ramahlo says
I was a bit shocked when I saw the title of this and then in reading the details my shock gave way to surprise, disbelief, and then finally resignation. I remember it like yesterday when you started on your journey with Sifu Wong and have always been so glad for you to have found his teachings as it has had such a positive impact on you, both personally and professionally. To have that relationship come to a close, and in this way, is something I never would have imagined. I am sorry for your loss.
For all the years that we have known each other, you have always chosen the path of truth/right, even when it has been the difficult path. I truly am sorry for you to have had to have this experience, and I know the conclusion you have come to has not been an easy one. Coming to your own conclusions, rather than accepting the opinions of others, and the lengths that you went to in order to flush out the facts/truth reinforces that you have made every effort. If anything I am grateful for Sifu making it “easier” on you due to his response as it allows the break to be a clean one.
It is never easy when those that we are close to, and from whom we receive strong influence, turn out to be not all we had hoped they would be (and what we have striven to become).
I applaud you making the “right” decision and hope that others, and ideally even someday Sifu, will do what must be done, and that you do not suffer any undue professional repercussions based on your actions (I think of the old Sifu Cambrelen stories!).
Based on what I’ve read above, you clearly have the support of your students and your colleagues. I just wanted to let you know that you have my support as well and I am proud of you for making the decision you have made.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
I was crashing on your couch when I first went to meet Sifu Wong in 1997 in San Francisco! So you were there right from the very beginning!
Thanks for your support, old friend. I appreciate it a ton. As for my safety, don’t worry. I’ll start carrying a sword everywhere. Or do you think a staff would be a better choice?
Mark W says
You and I may not have seen eye to eye… But, I can’t imagine how difficult this has been, and may be, for you. You have made the correct ethical and moral decision.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you all the best and hope that those involved can heal from this and move forward in a positive way.
Charles Chalmers says
It is truly surprising just how many people come to such certain conclusions after hearing one carefully crafted, selective, biased account.
Andrew Hix says
Surprising to you, maybe. To me, I see a well-written essay teeming with rational thought and genuine feeling.
Charles Chalmers says
Anthony is indeed a very skilled writer, and a rationalist, and is very emotional. No argument from me on those points.
He is, however, only telling one side of the story.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Charles. All accounts are biased, including Sifu Wong’s. This is my heartfelt account of all of the information that I gathered from dozens of people over 2 years. You are right that it is “carefully crafted” — i.e. I worked hard to make the account as accurate as I could. I also checked for typos, but I may have missed a few. 🙂
Charles Chalmers says
Over the years I have known you to be a very talented writer. You know as well as I do that you cannot possibly give “all the information.”
You also know your audience very well. You have for example, changed the way kungfu is presented, at a basic level the vocabulary, for example. You certainly know that kungfu values, traditions, and methods seem alien and even very wrong to your audience. No effort is made to help your audience understand what they must in order to fully appreciate what you have done, or how what our sifu has done is entirely appropriate and valid, let alone excellent, from a chi kung or kung fu paradigm. On the other hand, you appeal to modern sensibilities, with their preconceptions, and expectations. For example, when hearing a sad story of abuse, the understandable response is to feel like crying, as you did, while smiling and making a practical suggestion for benefitting from kungfu teachings, like my sifu did, is absurd, or heartless and ridiculous. As it turns out, taking classes with my sifu is good for her.
It is clear that there is some context for valuing and applauding what you have done. I get that. But the situation is bigger than your context. I’m sorry you don’t seem to see that.
I really do see our sifu’s methods–that you find so objectionable–actually working very well.
Naturally, on your turf, there is no way you can lose an argument. I wonder even if you, or your students, will concede a single point.
I really do wish you the best.
Your Former Brother
Anthony, I’ve read your account, as well as Sifu’s response.
I know there are always many perspectives to a single story, and I know that I don’t know enough to make a truly informed decision.
I’m not aware if I even know the past instructor and/or victims. I also know that short of speaking with all parties, I’ll never know the whole story. In short, I cannot act as judge from this distance.
Personally, I’ve always seen the highest respect given to myself, my wife, and my children by all Shaolin Wahnam instructors, and a level of generosity rarely matched outside of Shaolin Wahnam by many instructors and SWI family in my 8 years as a student.
I appreciate—and share—your lack of tolerance for sexual abuse.
I also appreciate that you have acted upon your principles.
I wish you, Akemi, and your students the best.
Charles Chalmers says
I agree with you, Zach, that you cannot act as a judge at a distance, especially when getting only one side of a story. But on this forum, it seems that most are willing to cast judgement after reading a story.
Of course, my experience with the Wahnam family is also overwhelmingly positive, as are most people’s that I speak to.
I join you in wishing Anthony and his the best.
Matt Fenton says
I am honestly very surprised, and dismayed, by the reaction of many of you, Anthony’s students. Your Sifu has repeatedly, in this blog post, instructed you to question everything – all positions, all answers, all other questions. Yet nearly every single one of you has jumped to defend his position, and many have decided to take up the flame to cast Sifu as a monster. All because he said so, and you did not question.
How many of you have ever met Sifu? How many have attended one of his courses? Does it make any sense, at all, that he would be the evil mastermind behind some sort of grand cover-up of sexual abuse? Did you even stop to question if the allegations and implications against Sifu’s morals and ethics makes sense, and match the man? I’m not telling you how to feel, but asking if you even stopped to question it, as your Sifu instructed.
I have spoken/written with Anthony, and it is clear that he and I do not agree on all topics, especially on topics of what constitutes evidence and proof. These were not heated arguments, but plain discussions that revealed differences in thought. Our differences in thought, obviously, will lead to different courses of action. Anthony and I are from the same culture and are basically the same age. Yet we do not see eye-to-eye. Is there any doubt that Anthony and Sifu may also not see eye-to-eye on many issues? Can there be any doubt that they may choose different actions, both intending to do what is best, with a heart of compassion, intending to spread healing?
Please re-read this long blog post, and try to do so with an open heart (not a bleeding heart for your Sifu). See for yourself what is fact, what is Anthony’s opinion, and what is Anthony’s interpretation of Sifu’s words/actions. Is anything taken out of context? Could Sifu’s intention be different than Anthony’s interpretation? Would it be possible to take a stance, different than Anthony’s, and still have the victims’ best interests at heart?
I have no doubt that Anthony has acted in the manner that he honestly feels is righteous I sincerely wish him the best, and wish the best for all of you as his students. I hope that healing is quick, steady, and complete for those that need it. I hope friends can remain friends, recognizing differences of opinion, and despite of them. This has been a very polarizing situation. Yet everyone I have spoke with has compassion in their heart for any victims and for anyone that feels wronged by all that has happened.
Anthony has asked you to question, and not fall into blind following of the master. I suggest you do the same, re-read this blog post, and give some thought to the possibility of different actions/choices/decisions that could come from a heart of compassion and healing. When you have arrived at a place that makes sense to you, and feels right in your soul, smile from the heart and send blessings. Give your energy to the healing, and not the discord.
Shawn Chiusano says
Matt, no one here has referred to Sifu Wong as a monster or evil mastermind. Only you have. Surely without meaning to, I’d imagine you have insulted many of us here who have arrived at the same decision as our Sifu and have done so with a clear mind and a pure heart.
Your writing seems to be quite emotional in this plea you’ve written. I’d ask you to please re-read my Sifu’s blog post, and try to do so with an open heart (not a bleeding heart for your Sifu).
Matt- No, not “nearly every single one” of us has mindlessly jumped to defend Sifu Anthony. I absolutely have not taken up a flame to cast Sifu Wong as a monster. It’s interesting to me that this is the conclusion you have come to after reading all of these posts. I have certainly (even as a supporter of Sifu Anthony) not come to that conclusion.
Why do you assume that because we support Sifu Anthony’s decision we are not questioning? Do you feel like Sifu Anthony is lying about his experience? If so, just come out and say that. I am absolutely open to Sifu Wong explaining his choices, and making his own case to defend his actions. I have not closed that door. Unfortunately, Sifu Wong’s response on his own website today was lacking and not nearly as detailed as it needed to be to convince me that Sifu Anthony is in any way exaggerating, or behaving in an unacceptable way.
As to your question about whether any of us have met Sifu Wong. Yes, I have. Have I attended one of his courses? Yes I have. I am (or I suppose ‘was’ is more appropriate) one of Sifu Wong’s granddaughters, and was proud to call him Sigung. I was not one who was hurt or abused by “Gary”, but nevertheless, it is heartbreaking to see where Sifu Wong stands on this issue. I have read his public statement, and it broke my heart that he inefficiently addressed the issues at hand.
To disagree with Sifu Wong’s behavior and decide to separate from it is NOT claiming that Sifu Wong is an “evil mastermind”. Do not assume that Anthony’s students have all drawn that conclusion. I do not think Sifu Wong has acted (or not acted) from evil motives at all. What I am doing is using every ounce of compassion and empathy to put myself in his shoes and understand why he has done and said what he has.
He may think he is doing everything right, and no one should question him, but that is a slippery slope. Pride comes before a fall.
The bottom line is, although Sifu Anthony is the first to go “public” with this, he is NOT the first teacher in the school to resign, and distance themselves from Sifu Wong because of his decisions in handling the sexual abuse. Did you even notice the posts here from the others who resigned? Are you not willing to listen to them?
Do not worry, there is plenty of questioning going on here… I suggest you do the same.
Charles Nowell says
Matt, what would you ask? What information do you think is missing? If you’re certain a question is needed, what is it? What’s implied in stating that it’s time for us to question Sifu Anthony with such emphasis is that he’s not telling us the truth. What do you know that we don’t?
Matt Fenton says
To all that commented directly to me,
Anthony has posted some facts, i.e. “this happened.” He has also posted his opinion, i.e. “I feel this way about this action.” And he has posted his interpretations, i.e. “this was written by Sifu, and this is what I think he meant.” This blog post has presented fact, opinion, and interpretation all as fact. And they simply are not all fact (because opinion is opinion, and interpretation is interpretation).
Reading this blog post may lead you to similar opinions and interpretations as Anthony’s. However, much of what Anthony presents has been taken out of context, cherry picked to support his stance, and does not represent the entire story of what has, or has not, been done.
If I was to write a lengthy blog post to explain my position on a particular situation, I’m sure my post would be constructed in a similar manner. I would write facts, opinions, and interpretations. Anything I quoted would be taken out of context, cherry picked to support my position, and not tell the entire story. That’s just how personal accounts shake out. By nature, it’s a one-sided (personal) view. And if you read it, and it was the first time you’d heard about this situation, you’d probably see things my way, too.
Anthony is very influential. And that is great! He has a tremendous amount of good to share! The same is true of Sifu. That’s my opinion. I don’t expect you to trust me, just because I said it.
Brian Gates says
We got involved with you Sifu and Flowing Zen only a short time ago in Costa Rica. At that time we gave you our trust to guide us in this new way for us. I cannot even imagine how you feel having someone you viewed as a mentor, guide and friend betraying your trust. We trust you Sifu and are glad you are our guide.
Wu Song says
E-Props on all the internet cats being “yes – man”
And “e-props” for you calling them students.
Maybe if you weren’t so influenced by (your wife?) you would be able to have a clear mind on all of this.
Who are you to think Sifu will change his mind of a disciple he clearly likes and loves, and keep in mind this disciple DID repent and changed his ways.
Nice to go all out with a private thing like this.
And sexual abuse? “Victim(s)” did agree when all went down but had second thoughts after that?? Take him to court, do it!
And blaming Sifu for your poor health the past year, even financially?? Get a grip, all I’m gonna say. And then saying Chi Kung helped you get past that is a real disgrace to all past masters having to deal with real problems.
And by the way;
Zen isn’t flowing. Internal force is internal force, not internal strength.
And nxt time you have something to say, say it instead of writing a book.
And yes I’m drunk, it’s friday.
Lynda Lou says
This sounds like a deeply heart wrenching journey that you have undertaken with sincerity & truth-seeking. On your journey you found clarity and your own personal truth and a path lit up beneath your feet. And then you followed that path even though you encountered pain and disappointment and loss. Surely also you have encountered love and joy and appreciation and understanding. And wisdom.
I have learned from you only three times but all of those times have been since you were traveling this difficult road. It certainly did not dim your inner light or your compassionate, inclusive way of teaching or your sense of humor.
I hope you are beginning to experience a sense of relief. I hope your heart is lighter and that you can deeply feel all the love and respect that is being sent to you from so many kindred hearts.
S Russell says
I was the vice president of human resources for a division of a very large corporation. Among my duties included enforcement of policies regarding sexual harassment and seeing that the corporation was operating within the law. My late husband worked for the company that insured the Catholic Church in America and was responsible for overseeing many lawsuits. To have blatantly ignored the law and to have put his organization at risk for potentially millions in damages and in doing so knowingly, I have to say that sifu has behaved recklessly and stupidly. I am appalled by his behavior. I fired a number of people from executive vice presidents to local office managers for behavior not nearly as provoking as what you have described. A student teacher relationship is much more personal that of employer employee, the level of trust is or should be higher, the student can become, therefore, even more vulnerable. I felt anger when dealing with people in the corporation who simply did not or would not understand what the law required of their behavior. This situation is so much worse. You have been very brave to have revealed this. If you ever need some insight from someone who has dealt with the potential legal fallout from something like this, you know where I am.
Thank you for following the higher standard of ethics. The difficulty you have faced is immense, and I have great respect for the effort you have made to create change within the organization.
Your willingness and courageousness to be transparent with the process of investigation and decision are rare! The victims in this case go far beyond those who were physically affected by this perpetrator. Everyone in this organization is affected by the mind-set and attitude of the founder. The leaders who have had the courage to question, and then resign, have put ethical standards ahead of the cult of personality!
This is where your story resonates strongly for me. For fifteen years I was a part of, and subsequently left, a spiritual tradition precisely because of sexual abuses perpetrated by the founder, and abuses of power by some of the inner circle.
I understand just how wrenching and life-destroying this issue can be, and how much time it can take to make the final move to separate oneself from a beloved teacher and the organization which has become closer than family. The stresses involved take an extreme toll on all involved.
Reading this creates the hope that the drive to put ethics ahead of misguided loyalty to a person will increase in scope.
Thank you again, Sifu.
Abe Sloan says
As you know nothing is permanent. Entropy is a constant threat. It takes the up-most integrity to point out that those we have trusted no longer represent the values they have taught us. Congratulations, after searching your soul, for keeping your values clear and positive. -Abe-
David Boucher says
As criminal acts have been alleged I would very much like to see the police involved and legal action undertaken. Once a criminal conviction has been achieved then “Gary”s position will no longer be tenable within the Wahnam organisation. There is always a danger that instructors may be falsely accused and those who have experienced sexual abuse need to take responsibility for both themselves and others by reporting the offences immediately to the relevant authorities and professionals. This will strengthen the case for anyone else who may have had a similar experience and aid the prosecution of the abuser.
Charles Nowell says
I would be careful with that attitude; many experienced in working with survivors would disagree, I think, because of the reality of the situation.
David Boucher says
Can you explain why? Your comment does not actually make sense or answer any of the points I raised. Doesn’t someone have a responsibility to report criminal acts to the police both for themselves and for others, and to follow through with their prosecution?
I was part of a similar spiritual group with unscrupulous individuals. So I left the group and joined another and then another and another….. with each new group the same type of characters kept showing up.
Then I realised the problem wasn’t with the groups, it was with me. They were an out-picturing of my inner condition. They were reflecting me. Now my attitudes have become a lot deeper and more zen. I can’t run away anymore.
Leonard Lackinger says
I have never met “Gary” and I do not approve any form of abuse of power, but I am not in the position to judge the case and therefore won’t comment on it.
Most of the commentators here don’t seem to have made use of Anthony’s advice of questioning and take what he wrote as the absolute truth.
Following Anthony’s generally useful blog, it was obvious for quite some time that he was trying to be smarter than his master. So, his resignation doesn’t come as a surprise to many people.
Now he finally found his justification to leave the school. What better way than a sex scandal could he find to justify it for himself and save his face? He even turned it into an opportunity to raise himself onto the righteous hero level!
I find it symptomatic that Anthony is denouncing Sifu publicly, whilst no legal action had been taken on the alleged wrongdoer. So he only want to damage Sifu’s reputation and everyone’s associated with him and calls this righteous whilst doing nothing to bring the alleged wrongdoer to the court to have a thorough investigation. In fact he is putting more energy into denouncing his former Sifu instead of focusing on what “Gary” shall have done. He makes much effort in trying to destroy what he once loved and what brings health, joy and longevity to so many people’s lives, but he would have been confident when his master did what he liked him to and expelled “Gary” from the school, without enforcing any further legal penalty?
Sifu had his reasons for following his course of action, which he kindly shared publicly on http://www.shaolin.org now.
Anthony stresses out that his moral values are not in line with Sifu’s, but that is not true. They surely have the same view on sexual abuse, especially in a teacher-student relationship. Anthony is simply not satisfied that Sifu did not do what he liked him to. How much evidence Sifu needs to cast one of his senior students out is Sifu’s decision. Obviously Sifu is still not convinced that the allegations are true, so he does what you’d expect from every father, he thinks the best of his children. Having a court decide about the case, which should be the normal way of handling such an issue, would surely have aided to Sifu’s assessment. But this never happened.
The Gratitude Monday, which I find a nice and helpful project, seems like a farce to me now, as Anthony is obviously not even grateful to the man who – how he literally said himself – “saved his life” and the ones of thousands of other people. Sifu also trained about 100 instructors who are spreading health and goodness throughout the world. Now Anthony is doing his best in discrediting everyone associated with this “evil grandmaster” (how he subtly suggests).
Even if Sifu had acted incorrectly on this matter – WHAT I DO NOT SAY – and therefore had done one single mistake, it’s surely not enough to forget all the good he does and denounce him the way it is done here, including taking things out of context.
I appreciate that Anthony is caring for people in need and that he does what he finds righteous and honorable, but denouncing Sifu, who accepted him as his son and enabled him to earn his living by teaching the arts he loves, like this, is ungrateful and unscrupulous in my humble opinion.
I sincerely wish Anthony and all of his students well, but I call everyone to hear the other side too and to have an open heart when reading Sifu’s statement, before condemning one of the most generous and wise grandmasters who is spreading love, compassion, healing and forgiveness to the world.
Shawn Chiusano says
Leo, for someone claiming they won’t comment on the case, you spent your entire post commenting on it. So is it you commenting or is someone else telling you what to say?
I find your tone incredibly disrespectful to my teacher and my school. You disparage and insult my teacher then wish him well? Tell me which Shaolin Law that reflects?
In your post you suggested that even if Sifu Wong acted incorrectly or didn’t handle it properly the good he’s done outweighs some sexual abuse. Can you even hear yourself?
How would you like it if a trusted teacher sexually abused your son or daughter and the leaders you looked up to did nothing and kept the teacher on? How much good in the world would it take to excuse that? You are a disgrace and have no business coming to my schools site where you are a visitor, not even a Sifu or student and saying insulting things. Your wishes of peace come off just as hollow and inauthentic as your accusations. My teacher is too humble to correct you but I am not. I think it’s no mistake your organization has already lost so many instructors.
Simon Parsons says
Gratitude is not shown by following your teacher’s words unquestioningly, though you seem to imply it. And then you accuse those of us defending Sifu Anthony of doing exactly that, and suggesting that it is a bad thing. That seems a little confused to me. Please decide how we should be reacting.
Not to say we are unquestioning of Sifu. Of course we are. I can tell you all about how I was determined not to like him when I first met him, and how much I challenge him and his preconceived notions on a regular basis. Sometimes I think he’s wrong, for sure, and he knows it whenever I do. But he is not wrong here, and I know how much deliberate care he took in this issue. Why is it suddenly that because we don’t agree with you, we need to be more questioning than we already are?
As a side note, I have given this issue a lot of thought, and I do understand Sifu Wong’s position. I still don’t agree with it. It is still excusing of heinous actions, repeatedly, and casting doubt on the many victims, who have no reason to lie and are already going through hell.
We are not throwing out the teachings. The teachings are good and will spread, we will all make sure of that. But that doesn’t mean we need to be associated with people who, as far as we’re concerned, are committing or allowing unethical actions.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Hi Leonard. I don’t think we’ve ever met. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Anyway, that’s for the kind words, buried as they might be in some other stuff. 🙂
Your post seems to imply that legal action is always reliable in cases of sexual abuse. Is that what you’re suggesting? If so, then please do some research. It’s just not true.
For example, look at the scandals in the Catholic Church, which went on for years. Was legal action a reliable barometer of guilt in those cases?
I’d also like to point out that legal action is still a real possibility. However, I will also point out that the case is international in scope, making it far more complex. If anyone could have led the charge to pursue international legal action, then it was Sifu Wong. He had the resources, the contacts, and the motive.
I myself have spoken to 2 lawyers about this case. How many has Sifu Wong spoken to?
Charles Chalmers says
My Siheng, Barry Smale has pointed out that it needs to be the victims who take legal action, not some well-meaning third party. In fact, to press charges on someone else’s behalf would be unethical if not illegal.
My very best wishes to you Anthony. You know very well that I am sorry for your leaving the school, and even more sorry for your public denunciation of Sifu. You also know that, in my opinion what you have done is dishonorable and vile.
I suppose you have some satisfaction in so many people giving you accolades for the story you have crafted. Perhaps positioning your self as a moral superior to one of the world’s great grandmaster may carry you a ways still? But, as you know, from a kungfu perspective, you are a disgrace, not a hero or saviour.
I really do hope you can recover from this and live happily and healthfully.
Charles Nowell says
Chalmers, I don’t think anyone can take what you’re saying seriously, judging from the tone.
“If anyone could have led the charge to pursue international legal action, then it was Sifu Wong. He had the resources, the contacts, and the motive.”
When i first read your post, Anthony, i felt sorry for you, for the dilemma you said you were in. I thought, perhaps too generously in hindsight, that you were so eager to seek justice for a hapless victim, that you became frustrated with Sifu’s responses to you. It is not only you but every decent person who does not condone sexual crimes. So if it was your perception that justice was being denied, then your resignation, as it were, is something we can understand.
But your recent comments and a more careful reading of your blog post reveal more than what your emotionally-charged piece suggests on the surface.
You went to all that trouble, including, as you so pointedly reminded everyone, using your own money to investigate. All to what end? To present your painstakingly-gathered evidence to Sifu, hoping that he will take your evidence to blow Gary out of the water with a battery of lawyers? I mean, like seriously? ??? If your evidence had been so incontrovertible, why didn’t you bring it to the police? It was one of the first few posters, and not anyone from your former school, who astutely spotted this small but significant gap in your self-righteous crusade.
You seem to like playing lawyer. Not only that, private investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner too. If things had been different and you were the one being accused, would you not have had liked to have the charges against you specified, with the prosecutor presenting a clear case against you based on credible testimony, with a chance to face your accusers (not necessarily your victims but their advocates) and certainly not behind closed doors?
After all, isn’t a fair trial the bedrock of your society? It is quite clear that you expected Sifu to convict Gary and pass sentence based on your evidence.
Ask yourself this: When you have done wrong, would you prefer your father to denounce you on the dubious strength of allegations by others, or to reserve his judgement until he has satisfied himself of your wrong-doing?
Arun Blatchley says
The question about bringing the information to the police has already been addressed in several places in these comments, particularly by Simon Parsons.
Arun Blatchley says
I have read Sifu Wong’s statement. To me, it’s not much of a statement compared to what’s written here. My Sifu has put forth a clear, coherent timeline of events, with direct quotes wherever possible. Sifu Wong’s post gives a vague summary in his own words. Most people here aren’t Sifu Wong’s students, and not everyone commenting here is even a student of Sifu Anthony. It’s not enough to ask people here to simply put our faith in whatever he says. I encourage you to ask Sifu Wong for more information, since he hasn’t provided much aside from his own assurances that everything is fine.
I would caution you against trying to steer the conversation away from the issue of sexual assault, and toward my Sifu’s character. Refusing to acknowledge that people are suffering because of Gary’s and Sifu Wong’s actions does not make Shaolin Wahnam look good. Attempting to paint my Sifu as some sort of egomaniac is an obvious attempt to divert people from the issue at hand, that of rape and sexual assault. This is Rape Culture again, as I said in my response to Andrew Barnett.
You are right about something, though. I can’t think of a better reason to resign from Shaolin Wahnam than this. My Sifu has reached out to his local senior students for advice every step of the way, and it was with our encouragement that he came forward with this information. To me, the choice is painful, but clear. I would have resigned too.
Charles Chalmers says
You are quite right in noting a difference between Anthony’s post and our sifu’s response.
The difference is that Anthony has been planning and composing his denunciation for some time, while our sifu is responding within hours.
Best of Luck with Your Training,
Charles Nowell says
Chalmers, maybe Sifu Wong should spend more than a few hours dedicated to the issue of multiple students accusing an instructor of rape?
David Boucher says
Sifu Wong is a much wiser and culturally developed man than anyone else posting on this discussion. Please don’t be disrespectful and perhaps consider the issues involved more dispassionately?
Michael S says
Just for fun.
Why didn’t you punch Gary in the face?
For love’s sake.
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Good one! Actually, I haven’t seen him since the allegations were made. But if it makes you feel any better, I threw him pretty hard on the ground the last time I did push hands with him. I’ve even got it on video somewhere!
Claire Holland in Jacksonville says
As so many have said, my heart goes out to you for the devastating loss of your Sifu. The magnitude is like a death or end of a long marriage, but made more poignant by the shift in how you see him. I imagine that it even affects how you see your own walk in the world.
It seems to me that you have acted with complete honor and integrity. You have carefully gathered so much information, and thoughtfully sought as much input as possible.
Sifu- I think waiting until now to resign is entirely appropriate. I appreciate that you tried EVERYTHING you could do to ameliorate your Sifu’s attitude. It’s important that you are able to look back and recognize that fact.
I have read Wong’s response which was posted today. That post clarifies his attitude toward the situation, and absolutely solidifies my support for you, Sifu.
We must protect the granddaughters… even if it means disagreeing with our elders.
Mark Blohm says
“I want to apologize for the trust that has been broken through my association with Sifu Wong.”
I would like to say that I and many others are proud to be associated with Sifu Wong(Grandmaster Wong). Grandmaster Wong has explained the issue clearly:
“This accused instructor resigned from our school on his own accord. Some instructors wanted me to publicly denounce him but I did not do so because I did not want to act as prosecutor, judge and executioner at the same time. Moreover, despite what the instructor who denounced me as his sifu, said in his website, I had only one piece of evidence; the rest was unproven accusations.
A traumatic woman told me that she had sexual relationship with the accused and she regretted it. My utmost thought at her confession was not to denounce the accused but to help her overcome her trauma and continue to live happily and confidently. Bringing out the issue in the open might cause her and other victims more traumatic pain. Moreover, I hoped the accused instructor might repent.
I valued forgiveness more than indignation, regardless of whether the accusations were true or not. I wanted the victims and any aggrieved persons to leave the past behind and move on, rather than clinch onto grudges and be miserable for life. I believed I handled the case quite well. The woman told me recently and personally, “I am very happy now.” Indeed she looked happier and more beautiful than ever before. She is an inspiration for all of us.
All those who resigned had explicitly said that I had changed their lives, some mentioned that I had saved them. It is saddening that they resigned just because the accused recently attended my chi kung classes, invited by the organizer who did not know about the situation. But those who resigned had made their decision and I respect it, and wish them well.”
Charles Chalmers says
I am also proud to follow and stand behind our Sifu. His actions may be misunderstood and misrepresented, condemned and denounced, but I have seen first-hand the success of his methods which to some people may be totally incomprehensible. The recovery of the woman in question, and her continued discipleship attests to the benefits of both our sifu’s teaching, and also her determination to persevere in our arts despite, despite, whatever has happened.
You’ve done a thoroughly job but i don’t get it. I can’t see what you were or are trying to do.
“For two years, I’ve been working behind the scenes on a serious issue.”
to bring it to Sigung’s attention and let him make the decision ? because that’s exactly what you did … the victims really were okay with that ?
you delayed a possible criminal prosecution for two years, that’s the only fact i can see.
“going to the police can sometimes make the situation worse. I should also mention that this case is international in nature, so legal recourse is more complex”
So the victims don’t want the alleged rapist to spend time in prison ? they don’t want criminal prosecution ?
“I myself have spoken to 2 lawyers about this case.”
Maybe you should have spoken to an organization that is suited for international cases – International Criminal Police Organization ICPO-Interpol would be suitable.
I really respect the work you have done and the amount of energy you put in it. I really don’t like the way you handled it.
“That trust gets projected, by proxy, onto Sifu Wong. If you trust me, then by extension it’s natural to trust him, especially if you’ve met him.
Similarly, that trust then gets projected, again by proxy, onto Sifu Wong’s disciples and certified instructors.”
proxy trust ? sry for my wording, did you take drugs when you wrote that above ? that’s called blind following. when you go to a certified sw instructor, the only thing you should be able to trust is that you will learn shaolin wahnam style qigong, kungfu and nothing else!
i’ve said to much but not nearly enough.
i wish you the best wherever your path will take you
Charles Nowell says
Wait — so students can’t trust that they will be safe in classes? Only that they’ll get instruction? I expect more than that.
Natalie H. says
Sifu, I’m not great with words…but wanted to say I support you and I’m proud to call you Sifu. Thank you for standing up for the victims…Although this is a difficult time for you, I can’t help but wonder if this separation from Sifu Wong could be a catalyst for the next big chapter on your journey.
Love and light
I disagree with your post.
You state that there is overwhelming evidence of sexual misconduct of an instructor in Shaolin Wahnam. You conclude that the instructor in case is guilty of them. You then want Sifu to expel him.
You say that my Sifu has all the evidence to act. This is not true. There is only one concrete case so far that you brought to my Sifu: the woman you mentioned (Trish) courageously came forward to tell Sifu about a bad experience. You can read Sifu’s comment and what he did to help her on http://www.shaolin.org/. It is worthy to note that Trish has not left our school.
All other ‘accusations’, which you present as solid evidence, are just that: accusations that other people told my Sifu but cannot be confirmed in any way so far.
In truth, you are not a police investigator, nor a judge. Yet you take the role of both apparently in this case. Sadly, all the people commenting here take your words for facts without any convictions, or indeed even official accusations actually having taken place. (Ironically, you ask people not to take anything on faith. Except all the accusations that you are making of course.)
It would really make for an awful world if we all decided for ourselves who is guilty of something and who is not. I am glad and proud that my Sifu does not play that game and that he only acts on facts, not wild accusations.
Calling the evidence gathered by those working to bring transparency in cases of sexual abuse “wild” and downplaying the role of the advocate both serve to protect the accused. They are not neutral statements of peace but rather damaging blocks to clarity.
Here’s a relevant quote from the Leadership Council, a group that handles these situations frequently:
“Myth 2: People are too quick to believe an abuser is guilty, even if there is no supporting evidence.
In truth, people are too quick to believe that the accused is innocent, even if there is plenty of supporting evidence. According to Dr. Salter, ” Normal , healthy people distort reality to create a kinder, gentler world than actually exists” (p. 177). She notes that in order to find meaning and justice in everyday life, most people assign victims too much blame for their assaults and offenders too little.”
My view is that in this case is obvious clash of civilizations. While Anthony is focesed on problem and he is searching for other problems that exist from same cause, Sifu Wong is focesed on solution. Since, history of events can not be changed, Sifu Wong is looking for best solution as is. From Western perspective this can be interpreted as ignorance of the facts, but from Chinese pepective is interpreted as: ok, so what is the best solution for a person(s).
Here is a Chinese interpretation …
“Chinese medical scientists are not so worried about such details; they are more concerned with the patient as a while person, rather than the particular tissues or cells that are diseased. For example, they are not bothered whether an infectious disease is caused by spiral-shaped spirochetes or obligate intracellular parasites, or whether asthma is caused by IgE-mediated external allergens or by alternation in airway temperature and humidity – so long as the infectious disease or asthma is cured.”
-Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit (from “The Complete Book of Chinese Medicine”)
Charles Nowell says
Following your metaphor, part of the symptoms are that many of the instructors have been worried for the safety of the students. Doing nothing to assuage the fears of the instructors, even if strong action has been taken against Gary, essentially doesn’t treat the whole issue. Chinese medicine aims for the root, yes, but it should manifest in the full problem being dealt with.
Furthermore, our practices should help us to overcome our cultural biases and validate the experiences of others, in this case: those of the survivors.
David Burch says
What about clarifying where this stands in the 10 Shaolin Laws and taking steps to communicate that in way, shape or form, is okay, that it will not be tolerated, and that steps have been taken to ensure that it is not allowed to happen again.
I guess the main problem in all that situation is cultural. I have the feeling Grandmaster Wong is reacting like the Chinese guy who doesn’t understand how delicate the issue in the western culture is. It is not a matter of honor or punishment but of justice. As westerners we don´t just care that victims move on with their lives. To have justice is importante also then it is the base of our societies. No one should be more powerful than justice. Not even the Kung fu tradition. Allowing injustice by doing nothing to stop it is a real big betrayal in the western.
This statement clarify the main cultural differences in my opinion:
“I valued forgiveness more than indignation, regardless of whether the accusations were true or not”.
Then again it is not a matter of indignation but of justice (even if for many of us injustice might be the cause of indignation). “regardless of whether the accusations were true or not” is in the western culture a pitiful sentence, because it implies that the true is not important. I truly believe Sifu Wong is not aware of his mistake in not understanding that cultural difference. Sifu Anthony did what is right no just for him but for his culture.
I would like to invite all the people who read my comment, instructors or not, to imagine what it would be their opinion about the issue if one of the victims were his/her wife, daughter, sister, mother, etc.
David Burch says
Very good point. What if you, loving this art, sent your wife, daughter, or granddaughter to an event where she was raped or otherwise sexually molested? Would you still be defending the person who did that to her, who violated a most sacred trust and caused physical and long lasting emotional and spiritual harm? Would you happily send her back again and tell her to stand on the other side of the room? Where would you stand then?
I agree with you about cultural differences, they are strong.
If we talk about justice, what is procedure on West?
You will probably agree that involving police would be first step. They will take investigation and forward report to court, who will judge, and finally make decision who is guilty.
But in this case, Westerns didn’t follow their procedures and now we have scandal. That is normal effect of not following our procedures.
Sifu Anthony now declare that he is sorry why he was waiting for too long, and this is effect of not following Western procedure.
Now Sifu Anthony is mentioning Rules, but they are not Western, and is calling Sifu Wong for respecting the Rules, but the real issue is CULTURAL difference about RESPECTING JUSTICE and concequnces for not respecting it.
My strong advice for any organization is to must have clear procedure and following it stricly otherwise scandals like this will happened again.
I’m fully support Sifu Anthony in his decision.
I have advice for Sifu Wong, if you already have organization and branches through the world, let the local people run business because they know better cultural differences, and you can focus on your strenghts to heal and educate to heal.
God bless you all!
Bob Brunquist says
If this were an instructor who was accused of multiple murders, we would not
accept logic such as: “Consider this: he won’t help those affected (directly or
indirectly), he won’t change the events of the past (directly or indirectly), he
will not heal any wounds (directly or indirectly), he will not achieve the
reduction of abuse in any society (local or internationally).”
In fact, this quoted text could be used to release everyone every put into prison.
Sifu, This had to have been one of the most heart-wrenching decisions you have ever made. I don’t envy what you must have been going through these past months. But after reading many of the comments posted, I have to say that reading them may have been almost as difficult. Thankfully there are plenty of positive and supportive comments, but the negative ones have to be unpleasant and disheartening for you, even if you knew by publishing this there would be controversy. My heart goes out to you, Akemi, and all your loyal students as we all feel your pain. You have been an example to me personally, and I applaud your decision. There is no excuse for sexual abuse – or any kind of abuse for that matter, and to condone it for any reason is unpardonable. You have my full support and great admiration.
Bill Putman says
I take this to be one of the most important teachings of the Buddha: “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” You have have embraced this teaching, in principle and in practice. I am proud that you are my teacher, and I stand with you.
Mahmood Ahmed says
Worst Case Scenario
This may sound odd:
If you Anthony found out that Sifu Wong himself had deviated from practicing high values and moral codes, would you go and tell the whole world about that?!
If my father/teacher who raised me to hold certain principles and whom I owe my life to happened to be not exactly what I thought he would be, would I go and try to shatter his image?
Is that how I should repay him?!
What is the gain?
Are you by this Anthony practicing any moral codes if any?
You said it yourself before that : ” I owe my life to Sifu”
Is that how you repay him?!
How about if all you said was not based on hard evidence?
how about if the person in question is not Sifu Wong himself but one of his disciples whom you accuse of sexual abuse?
How about if this accused instructor is not officially charged by the many so-called students you claim he raped or abused?
Is it wise enough to go down this road and imply that your father is siding with evil?
Is that of any ethical code to market yourself on the expense of your father’s
Why would I spend 2 years of my life time trying hard to prove that one of my brothers is guilty? I would rather concentrate on my job and family rather digging in other people’s issues unless may be I am threatened by this accused brother?!
Is it the increasing number of students of this brother in XXXX [Note: Country edited out by Sifu Anthony in order to protect the victims]
Is it the success that he gained that even corporate presidents and elite members of the society happily call him sifu?
I am sorry that such a great journey ended up to this route.
I am sorry that I feel jealousy and envy are the main catalysts for you so called story.
I deeply feel sorry for you Anthony and wish you all the best in your future life
Shaolin Wahnam Instructor
Sifu Anthony Korahais says
Yes, it does sound odd. What sounds odd is your implication that I should somehow sacrifice my core values because of my gratitude to Sifu Wong.
If a surgeon saved my life, but turned out later to be a murderer, would I be obligated to protect him, and sweep the evidence under the carpet?
(Of course, Sifu Wong is not a murderer. I’m just using that as an extreme analogy.)
In other words, the fact that Sifu Wong saved my life does not, and indeed should not, prevent me from acting according to my core values. In fact, I am still grateful to him, in spite of my disagreement with him. Gratitude and disagreement are not mutually exclusive.
Frank Thompson says
You have had a difficult time struggling with the information you have gathered. I am proud to call you Sifu. As a survivor of abuse, I support your decision go public. Those who have not known the shame and pain associated with abuse, will never understand your feelings on this subject. They are ignorant of the ramifications associated with having to live with the fact that most people either do not believe the abuse happened or that the victim was at fault for somehow causing the attack.
Unfortunately, there is no middle ground for responses posted here. It is but human nature to take sides.
The unfortunate woman who was a victim may be “happy now.” She may have some peace of mind, but I believe the incident has had a profound negative effect on her, and will always be there in some form or another.
I have faith that with Chi Kung and Tai Chi, my life will not be as tormented as time goes by. Thank you for being there for me! Did I tell you I am proud to call you Sifu?
Jeffrey Ludwig says
Mahmood… I am not a practicioner of Shaolin but simply a Westerner who is learning the merits of a non-dual outlook on life. I don’t have any problem seeing Grandmaster Wong as a flawed, yet extremely influential and helpful man, indeed a giant among men. I also see Sifu (I use that term because this is his blog, to identify him) Anthony as a giant among men, who is flawed yet is walking his path and helping many. Both are worthy of equal honor, because they are both humans incarnating divinity. Additionally, I feel that Anthony is doing something very positive here: standing up for victims of sexual abuse, which is consistent with his role as a healer. His motivation, so far as I can tell, is not selfish. He’s opened himself to abuse because of what he’s done.
I hope that this should degenerate into a food-fight, attempting to discredit human beings. Let the arguments be debated and questioned, certainly. But attempting to discredit Sifu Anthony as “dishonorable and ungrateful” without recourse to solid evidence does not reflect well on Shaolin Wahnam as an institution, in my opinion. As Sifu Anthony states, there is no necessary contradiction in being honorable, grateful, and standing with sexual abuse victims.
I respectfully ask, why the attack on Sifu Anthony’s honor? Your post seems very emotional, and in my opinion is a remarkable example of “ad hominem” argument.
Jeffrey Ludwig says
I hope that this should NOT degenerate into a food-fight… goodness, the difference a simple word makes :-O
Bob Brunquist says
If my blood brother sexually abused 10 people, I would personally have him imprisoned. It is only right that he should pay any ramifications for the mistakes made. In the US, a good parent raises their child so that they would absolutely never sexually abuse another person, a shameful, disgusting crime.
I would never stand by and let another person be hurt by ignoring the damage my own blood brother had done. The only solution is to protect my greater family, society at large, from my dangerous brother.
Jeffrey Ludwig says
I’m in total agreement with you, Bob. The number of incidents of alleged sexual impropriety strongly indicates that action must be taken to ensure that ‘Gary’ is not simply handed the position of authority that he has had. Trust has been abused; the burden of proof is now on Gary to show that he purposes to reform and is making positive steps to that end. Even still, trust will be very hard to restore, and probably will never be fully restored. Further, if the allegations are proved, justice should be served.
The whole situation is just tragic, for all involved.
Charles Chalmers says
What you write makes very good sense. If it is not certain that abuse has been perpetrated, then at least the strength and number of the allegations strongly suggest the highest level of caution.
Our Sifu, Sifu Wong, may be forgiving and generous, but he is no fool by a long-shot.
Also, regardless of whether or not the allegations are proved, justice will be served. There is no running from Karma, or the laws of cause and effect. Doing good will bring good, doing evil will bring evil. None of us need to doubt those natural, universal laws.
Charles Chalmers says
I agree with you wholeheartedly on some points. The “crimes” alleged are repugnant. Even if the sex was consensual and not technically crimes, abusing the position of teacher to gain sex is deplorable.
I’m not quite sure how you would have your brother imprisoned, but I take your point. Also, I wonder what you would do in the absence of conclusive evidence and how would that affect your view? What if your brother lived in another country, you didn’t know him well, and all you heard were some stories? What if you felt he were, or could be innocent of the accusations? Would you be able to forgive him if any part of the stories were true? Would you try to help him overcome his “evil ways?” Or would you publicly denounce, judge and condemn him without even really knowing the full truth, as the resigned instructors felt we should do? What if the person in question were your son, and not your brother?
Lots of questions, and I don’t expect you to answer them all, but you seem to think the issue is much simpler than it is and that you have the correct answers so easily while we did not.
I do agree strongly that this is an issue of cultural difference!
My first impression when meeting Sifu Wong and the many students of the Shaolin Wahnam family about 3 years ago was a very warm welcome, great conversations with like-minded people and lots of fun. The intensive Chi Kung Course was fantastic and empowering. I was buzzing for many months after. Some of my good friends are within the Shaolin Wahnam family so I am a bit shocked to read the allegations.
‘Gary’s’ story has reminded me of a dark chapter in my life (let’s call me ‘Maria’ for privacy reasons) which happened about 20 years ago and NOT in this school:
I am actually one of those “victims”.
Having said that I do not see myself as a victim but as someone who has learned to trust myself rather than giving my power away to a teacher who seems respected, wise and all knowing to me. I have learned the hard way not to blindly follow but to question and act if it doesn’t feel right.
I did take legal actions and if it was not for the support of a woman I just met back then, I would have not been able to do so. It seemed easier to put my head in the sand and pray for the time to pass so memory can fade away. It was painful to talk to the police about the details because I was not ‘forced’ physically but manipulated mentally. I felt guilt and shame thinking it was all my fault.
I never had the courage to question this “teacher”, trusting that he would only want the best for me, helping me to clear my blockages and be free of society’s conditioned behavior. I did not question him touching me inappropriately. I have excused his behaviour in thinking that he was being helpful. Every attempt of my mind to question him was suffocated because of the amount of people who respected and trusted him. He showed a great display of psychic powers and so I respected him as well. It never occurred to me that he could use the same psychic powers to manipulate me and other women to force his will upon us.
Now, as for evidence, there was none but my word (and of course the word of other young women he has abused in the name of spiritual growth).
How can you prove manipulation and the abuse of psychic powers?
This blurr might or might not be helpful to you. This experience has taught me a great deal. I know I have to trust and act on my intuition. What is true for me, might not be true for someone else. What should and should not have happened is irrelevant as long as we are true to ourselves and act accordingly.
I am glad that 20 years ago I was not ignored and had a chance to hopefully prevent further harm to other young women.