View Full Version : Kung Fu, Cows and Taipei Courthouses
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11-16-2005, 10:11 PM
As I was walking into the main Taipei Courthouse yesterday, where I teach California criminal law, I noticed a bunch of t.v. station vans out front. That is not that unusual as Taiwanese politicians, fading Mando-Pop divas and jilted lovers frequently use the court system here in Taiwan as a stage to get on the evening news and air their sad stories/dirty laundry.
But when I walked into class one of my prosecutor students asked, "did you see all the news reporters when you came in?" I said "sure did, what is the comedy-melodrama of the day downstairs". He said, "oh, it will interest you, it is a case about gong fu fraud".
Oh, oh, I thought, now what. Here is the story.
The prosecutors indicted a "Grand Master of Tai Chi Chuan" named Hung Shih-ho. He was accused of cheating several thousand disciples out of at least $819,000,000 New Taiwan dollars ( about $24,800,000 in U.S. dollars—pretty good money for a taiji teacher! And yes that is 24 million bucks. ) And, no surprise, he is also charged with tax evasion.
According to the indictment, Grand Master Hung teaches the art of "Divine Attack on a Bull" (literal translation) which allows the person to kill an animal or human from a few meters away. Just to make it clear, the Grandmasters claim is "kill from a few meters away without a pistol", killing from a few meters away with a pistol is a fairly common skill, as you perhaps all know.
So—the trial was set for an hearing yesterday and somebody leaked to the media that Grand Master Hung was going to demonstrate the "Divine Attack on a Bull" in court to prove to the court that he is the "real deal". It was unclear whether Master Hung was going to kill the bailiff, the judge or a volunteer student (or maybe his attorney!). But in any event the media was all over the courthouse.
One of the kids/students, in either a fit of frustration or the ultimate in student loyalty; tearfully told the judge, "I want the master to use his Divine Bull Power to kill me, I would rather die than live and know I was cheated". (the Taiwanese have a flair for melodramatics, especially over at the courthouse).
What the Grandmaster should have done was turn to the kid and in his best Darth Vader voice said; "I find your lack of faith disturbing"; but apparently Grandmaster was not a Star Wars fan.
But alas, in one of the great anti-climaxes of courthouse kung fu, when the defendant Grandmaster Hung, got to court (perhaps on the advice of his attorney) the defense changed from "it ain't b.s., it ain't fraud, I can and will kill something from 3 meters away" to—"uh, your honor, I do not know where my disciples got these crazy ideas, I never told any of the saps, excuse me, I mean students, that I or anyone could kill from a distance…"
Although I mock the whole escapade, the story actually has one sad aspect, which makes me quite angry actually. And that is the fact that several of the student-victims came from fairly poor families and had poured most of their savings into this jerk's "I can teach you to kill cows from a distance plan". I have zero tolerance for that kind of thing. If Grandmaster Hwang wants to rip off some millionaire business guy or some well to do airhead fashion model, I could kind of look the other way on that chalking it off to a moron and their money is soon parted, but ripping off poorer country kids—if it was Judge Brian giving the verdict—it would be state prison time for Grandmaster Hung.
On that happy kung fu criminal justice note I will close for now,
Specializing in the Criminal Defense of Qi gong Masters Gone Bad
11-16-2005, 11:47 PM
Very interesting stuff, Brian. Thanks!
Sometimes those of us who strive for a rational approach to our martial endeavors get really frustrated with all the woo-woo crap out there but this particular vignette is a Good Thing.
It also highlights the fact that the Woo-woo Ryu and Crap Fu fraudsters ain't just a Western phenomenon ...
Welcome to the forums, too.
11-17-2005, 05:41 AM
Brian, If aikiweb gave out prizes for most interesting title on a first post you would win hands down.
You have got to think that learning a skill like that would make getting a job at an slaughter house a whole lot easier, can you imagine the interview,
"so master hung, what makes you think you are suited to a position with Bulls To The Slaughter LTD"
"well, i can kill one from 3 meters away"
"get out please, now, just go, crazy cow killing fool"
Just out of interest, what was the outcome of the case?
11-17-2005, 02:22 PM
Very entertaining and classy first post. Thanks!
11-17-2005, 03:23 PM
Welcome to aikiweb! what an auspicious beginning post!
24.8 million US dollars...the Yellow Bamboo folks must be green with envy. Hell, I'm gonna slap my momma for saying that martial arts doesn't pay...
Thanks for posting that; I think I'm headed for a career change. ;)
11-20-2005, 04:12 AM
Thanks everyone, glad the post was of interest and/or amusement.
John, as to the dollar amount, I couldn't believe it either. When my prosecutor student first told me I turned around to the white board, wrote the figure $819,000,000 NT and asked him to count the zeros and commas and make sure we were talking the right figure. He said "yeah". What it kind of points out is Taiwan, although the economy has been in a downturn recently, still has its fair share of money. And sadly enough, Taiwan still has its fair share of "poorly informed consumers". And to go along with that Taiwan also has plenty of fraudsters and con-men. Actually fraud, in all its forms, is a major criminal justice problem here.
As to the outcome, I will keep all you posted. It will probably be several months before the court hearings end and a verdict is reached. I am going to follow the case because I think I will end up writing a law journal article on it. I suspect at some point, Grandmaster Bull Killer will use some form of "freedom of religion" defense. Taiwanese criminal law has over the past few years been trying to figure out how to draft criminal laws which will be effective against the con-men without running afoul of religious freedom. The problem you got is that alot of these martial arts/chi gong dingbats also claim to be some kind of Buddhist or Taoist master and they use that "status" as kind of a shield from criminal fraud prosecution. If some prosecutor indicts them, the pseudo-Buddhist/Taoist/Chi gong master immediately holds a press conference and starts bemoaning the prosecutors "oppression of religious freedom".
In any event I will keep folks posted.
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