I would have never thought that of Peter Ting. When I first started aikido I went to a Osu Festival-marathon-and Peter took me under his wing in one of the sessions and worked with me one on one. He was one of the nicest people I ran into all day. To this day, I still teach one of the irimi techniques he showed us.
Just a quick note on Peter Ting.
Peter was a true enigma. Your memory of him resonates with my own. He was capable of being the kindest, most compassionate, gentle human being I've ever met. And I've had the privilege of being in the company of some truly great human beings.
But Peter was also one of the fiercest people I've ever known, and his sense of righteous indignation could turn toward violence, if we're to believe his own stories.
Keep in mind that Peter was among the very last of a generation of 19th century kung-fu guys. They were, in many ways, the analogs of the gunslingers of the American Wild West. Peter's training began when he was, what... four, five years old? Hard training, too, according to his tales.
Even if Peter never spoke about himself, we could still hear much of his story told in the broken lines of every single finger on his hands. More broken bones in the rest of his body, too.
Peter eventually found aikido, and for him, it was a better way. But he had a long life of severity that even decades of aikido would not erase. Indeed, I don't think much of Peter would have remained had all that been excised.
Peter's life ended harshly, and we nearly lost him to poverty and homelessness and destitution even before the cancer took him. There was perhaps some poetic symmetry in the tragedy, befitting someone of legendary, even epic, stature. For me, I'm just eternally grateful to those who found him on that park bench and took him in,
and gave him some friendship once again before the sickness came.
Make no mistake, Peter spat fire and shook the walls and rattled windows when he taught. He scolded and threatened and shamed. But I've never in my life seen such a look of liquid love as what came through his eyes when he saw you taking time and patience with a beginner. It was to these that he bowed the lowest, as if he knew that his time was done, and that real hope lay with those whose future was just beginning.