You don’t mess with Ron Baulne.
Standing at a barbecue shortly after the nation’s second-highest-ranked black belt had whupped several other lesser black belts at the Canada Games Centre on Saturday, Baulne exuded confidence.
“If I hit you, all you’d hear is the wind,” said Baulne, who eschews violence.
In fact, four blows could be delivered in the time it takes most people to deliver one, he said.
“Don’t believe me, take off your sunglasses,” he added smiling.
And suddenly, you realize talking to this guy can land you in unsettling territory.
Three hours before, he’d taken down two armed black belts. Several times.
In fact, one of them had a gun.
And, against Baulne, it didn’t do him any good. No good at all.
Throughout eighth-degree black belt master Baulne’s two-hour demonstration, two sounds were consistently heard.
First would come the smack of a body colliding with the matt, immediately followed by sounds of surprise, or even astonishment, from the crowd of more than 60 people squeezed into the centre’s multipurpose room.
“I’m very proud today,” said Luc Perreault, chief instructor of Whitehorse’s Shaolin Dragon Kung Fu School, one of five schools in Canada overseen by Baulne.
“The public is happy because my students gave a good show, so for me it’s perfect.”
Perrault’s students also took part in the demonstration, with adults students demonstrating 6-on-1 fighting techniques and children displaying some typical exercises performed in a class.
The visit was Baulne’s fourth to the territory, because, for the school to remain sanctioned by the sport’s international federation, Baulne and Perreault must meet at least once a year.
“He’s doing well,” said Baulne. “Every time I come here we train. I train him to be better, learn better things.
“I started him from white belt all the way up to black belt. If it were not for me, he would not have opened (his school). That’s his own school, directed by me. Everything must go by the master.”
And you don’t want to mess with the master, as spectators witnessed on Saturday.
Baulne had brought along two black belts from his main school in Quebec.
The trio demonstrated various techniques to defend against attackers.
They came at him with a Samurai sword. Baulne stood alone. Unarmed.
His opponent wound up on the ground, disarmed, with Baulne on top of him.
They came at him with a gun. They wound up with the weapon pointed at their head. Or their chest. Or their groin.
“I point it down at him—if he shoots, he shoots himself,” said Baulne, standing over one of his black belts with the mock gun drawn on him.
Every time, the master’s defence was so quick and effective he made it seem like having a weapon was, somehow, a disadvantage.
Throughout the demonstration the master kept reinforcing the idea that kung fu is
about respect, not violence.
He also drove home the point that size doesn’t matter.
“Kung fu is not about fighting, it’s about respect—respect for yourself and others,” said Baulne.
“You don’t need to be strong or six-feet tall. If a woman is 80 pounds and five guys attack her, if she knows quite a bit about kung fu, they won’t get her. They will be laid down on the ground. That’s for sure and I would bet (on it).”
Aside from the demonstrattion, while in town Baulne tested every one of Perreault’s students. Perhaps a clear indication of the progress of the local school, all 31 of Perreault’s student passed to move on to a higher belt.
“After my fourth year, that’s perfect,” said Perreault.
Baulne is the first Caucasian in Canada to reach an eighth-degree black belt. To earn the belt, Baulne travelled to China and completed a test called the Triangle of Death in which he faced three armed black belts simultaneously—with full contact.
Baulne said he would never encourage a student of his to attempt the test.
“I did it for honour,” said Baulne. “That’s the worst thing you could fight in your life. It’s so hard that one in a thousand passes the test.”
At the end of this month Perreault’s school closes for the summer, but he will be accepting new students in September when it reopens.
Perreault hopes the demonstration increases registration in August.
“Last year we held a small demonstration,” he said.
“Very quickly, I received 12 new students. I think (after today) I will receive many new students.”
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