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A death in my kungfu class: John Whalen

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  • A death in my kungfu class: John Whalen

    There is a guy in my class who is a third degree black belt in tae kwon do. Recently he was open minded enough to join kungfu/wushu. The thing is he is 64. But he was a very young 64. He almost had cubes. He could do pushups all day. He could hold horse stance better then most. I would let the students up for a break and he would stay in his stance straight through.

    So anyway last week in class he was talking about how good he was feeling. In my opinion he was getting better. Then suddenly during his form he passed out. My teacher performed cpr until the paramedics got there. Then they worked on him for a half an hour. But they couldn't revive him. He died right there in the class.

    He had my respect as a martial artist. But even more then that he was a young soul. We had planned many snowboarding trips for this year. I don't have any friends over 40 nevermind 60. He was cool and down to earth. I recently spent the day explaining differnet kungfu styles to him at a tourny in Jersey.

    He had an enthuisiasm for kungfu that many peoeple a lot younger them him lack. And for that alone we have so much more in common then anyone else I know. So I miss him. He was my kungfu brother. I see this connection so clearly now. I will miss him. One guy like him is worth a hundred mediocre students.

    Just remember to appreciate your training and you kungfu brothers and sisters. Because none of this is permamnent. I trained so hard in class today. and I thank God everyday that I am young enough to train kungfu.

    I will always think of him. His name was John Whalen. Everyone keep him in your hearts and thoughts tonight. I know he is in mine.


  • #2
    right on, brother mortal... right on....


    • #3
      Every moment training is truly a gift.

      This makes me think of the evening gatha:

      Let me respectfully remind you,
      Life and death are of supreme importance,
      Time swiftly passes by and opportumity is lost,
      Each of us should strive to awaken...awaken,
      Take heed, do not squander your life.
      Every mom


      • #4
        My condolences to all involved. Unexpected sudden death is not an easy thing to deal with; it sometimes affects those who view it with many questions and difficulties, sometimes, for quite a period of time.
        Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

        "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

        (more comments in my User Profile)


        • #5
          yea thats to bad, people like him can motivate people who suck at life to actually try in gung fu and life ingeneral
          "did you ask me to consider dick with you??" blooming tianshi lotus


          • #6
            That was a beautiful eulogy.

            My thoughts and good wishes are with his family.
            Whatever doesn't kill me had better be able to run damn fast.

            "You are one of the most self-deluded immature idiots I've come across here for a time..." —Blooming T. Lotus


            • #7

              "Arhat, I am your father..."
              -the Dark Lord Cod


              • #8
                My heart goes out to you Mortal as well as the rest of the school, and his family and friends... truly does... I know all too well these things can sneak up on you without warning... sometimes it doesn't matter how fit able or young you are...

                peace man..
                The essential point in science it not a complicated mathematical formalism or a ritualized experimentation. Rather the heart of science is a kind of shrewd honesty the springs from really wanting to know what the hell is going on!


                • #9
                  John Whalen is in my thoughts. My condolences, Mortal.
                  Becoming what I've dreamed about.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all of your condolences. I am pretty messed up over it.

                    Thanks again


                    • #11
                      as doc said, its hard to deal with someone dying on you unexpectedly, I've had that experience, and it took me a while to come to terms with it. So I just want to share these thoughts with you.

                      Your friend lived a fit and healthy life to the age of 64, and he was in apparantly fine health right up until the second he droped dead. He was doing exactly what he wanted to do, the way he wanted to do it and he was not in pain. Prehaps most importantly, he was with true friends.

                      Friendships are shared, you must have made a similar impression on such an inspriational individual. It appears that your enthusiasm for your shared interests were a major part in your friend's motivation to live such a full life into his senior years.

                      It is an honour to be with a true friend at the time of passing.

                      You were together.



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chicken
                        Prehaps most importantly, he was with true friends.

                        It is an honour to be with a true friend at the time of passing.

                        You were together.

                        Awesome insight. Chicken, I'm impressed.

                        Well, I've had some death defying experiences lately, well, not really death defying, but at the time, I didn't realize that. I'll give you an example. Maybe this will help put things into perspective for those involved.

                        In Thailand, or, when I was doing that medical mission in the Philippines this past summer, I developed, unbeknown to me, a gastric Helicobacter Pylori infection, which had caused one hell of a gastritis. Add to that the extra Coca Cola ingestion to combat my migraine condition that worsens in the month of October in Thailand because of the severe weather changes, and I was a set up for some major esophagitis.

                        Well, a few weeks ago, at 4 AM, I had developed a supraventricular tachycardia, totally unexpectedly. It had cause a very rapid heartrate which triggered a near fainting episode. Let me assure you, when you're in a foreign country, or anywhere for that matter, if your heart is beating at 200 beats per minute, in an ineffective fashion, and you're not getting enough blood flow so that your arms and legs go white, as you lay in bed on the verge of passing out one of the things you think of is death. You most certainly don't think about what you're going to eat for lunch the next day.

                        It was most reasssuring to have had my girlfriend at my side. Though she had no idea what was going on, and no idea as to the potential seriousness of this, her being there had given me a sense of peace in the face of what I had mistankenly thought was going to be my death throes. Had I been alone, it would have been a horrible experience.

                        Turns out there's nothing wrong with my heart. The esophagitis from this gastric infection had been so severe, and had caused so much pain, that it triggered heart irritation. But, I hadn't made that connection at the time.

                        Being with friends and loved ones during a time of distress makes a significant difference. I don't fully understand why, and I hope I don't have the opportunity again in the near future to further investigate it.

                        Your friend's passing was quick, more so than you may think. He may not have even been concious of what was occurring; conciousness starts to recede within about fifteen or twenty seconds after blood flow to the brain stops. So, if he was aware of this, he knew he was with you, and that time of his awareness was short and most probably completely painless and anxiety free.

                        Chicken's comments have incredible insight. Very impressive.
                        Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

                        "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

                        (more comments in my User Profile)


                        • #13
                          I hoped that sharing would help... thanks Doc, I'm happy that you're arround to validate what I had supposed!

                          When faced with someone who is dying, it turns out that those of us with empathy imagine ourselves in the same position. Problem with that is that you then go and project all your own worries about your own death onto the dying. Now when someone's dying its not the best time to be self-indulgent, I think all would agree! So it is quite important to me that I worked this through.

                          I was alone (other than my grandfather) and that makes it a double whammy. Once I acknowledged that the problem was the fear of my own lonely death, I could accept that being there with a friend who cares about me is one of the profoundest privileges that fate could award me.

                          Once I realised this, and imagined how I would want my companion to be when I die, I think that being calm, sincere and slightly up-beat in respect of the culmination of a life however apparently unfinished, are all great attributes.

                          I have tested this since, and it was fufilling to go home and cry for 3 days, knowing the tears were tears of sadness at my loss and not self-indulgence.

                          I now no longer fear other people dying on me, and consider myself fortunate to have been with both of them. The next person that dies on me... well they might not know it, but they're gonna be with a real pro!



                          • #14

                            Sorry to hear of your loss.
                            practice wu de


                            • #15
                              Hi guy. I feel the urge to tell you something. Don't know why or if it will make a difference to you.

                              It is natural to feel the sense of loss that you do. That is because you really lost something. Like a physical something that you are missing.

                              Do you believe in energy? People have energy. Don't let the negative people convince you otherwise. This energy has lots of properties, but the one I feel applies to this situation is the property of connection.

                              The energy of a human being can connect to the energy of another human being. The energy of one human being can not only connect to the energy of another human being, but it can actually.......take up residence or store itself in the body of another person.

                              That means that some of your friends energy is inside of your body and some of your energy is inside of his body. The same thing happens with anyone any human being is close to.

                              Your pain is a real physical pain because there is a real hole inside of you. The place inside of you where your friend used to be is empty.

                              For me, this is a helpful thing to know. If someone I know dies, or maybe some friend and I argue and we break our relationship, I know that the hurt feeling is because that person's energy is no longer with me.

                              Instead of being mentally confused or upset because of the strange, hurting, and overwhelming sensations I am feeling, I calmly know that if I just wait awhile, the hole inside of me where the person's energy was will heal itself.

                              Knowing that I exchange energy with my friends or other people in a relationship also consoles me because I know that, even though they are dead or gone physically, they are still with me. I bet if you tried, you can see your friend in your head right now. I bet you can recite conversations you had, or maybe you can remember how bad he was stinking after training hard in class one day.

                              All of those memories are just as real as if the guy was just about to knock on your door and come in for a visit. He is not really dead and gone. He is just waiting for you to remember him or remember some situation the two of you were involved in.

                              Don't be sad. Go ahead and think of him. He is still alive in your memory. That is what immortality is. The memory of a person's words and actions still living on in the people that they knew.


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