Self Defense School Of Kenpo - Tracy's Chinese Kenpo ( Fist Law - Chuan- Fa )

Self Defense in empty hand, stick and edged weapons - Private Instruction - No Belt Testing Fee's - No Contracts

Memories Of Sifu John Cochran

Sifu Cockrans 1st anniversary of his death occurred today May 1st.  

     May I share a few memories I have of Sifu Cochran with you.  Sifu and I never totally lost touch of each other even after I received my Black Belt from him in 1976.  We met a few times for breakfast when he was a new professor without tenure in the economics department at Metro State college.  These were always nice get-togethers and we would share our view points on education in general.  I remember what bothered  Sifu at the time was that students who could not handle the math that was used in the 300 level classes did not have the common sense to simply drop the class and go back and take the prerequisite math class that was needed to handle the problems in the specific 300 level course that Sifu was teaching.  We both came from "Old School" and command of the fundamentals was important.  Not all students were going to be A students. Sifu said, college is supposed to be higher education and students should not be treated like High Schoolers.   Sifu always expected me to be a good study of the material he taught me.   I believe I was the only Black belt he had that learned all the material he had learned.   Sifu mentioned a Black Belt he knew who wanted to learn Long 4 kata from him.  He said, why should I teach it to him, he would just change it to the way he  wanted to do the form.  By the time he got done with changing the form to suite himself,  it would not even look like Long 4.  We both had a good laugh over that.  I knew the guy he was talking about very well.

       Sifu came over to my house and I taught him Tiger and Crane and Tam Tui, finger set and moving finger set.  That was back in 1980s.  Now how many teachers would ask their student to teach them?  He wanted to learn the forms but more importantly he wanted to see how I taught and how  I had evolved as a Black Belt and a teacher.  You just don't see that type of thing that often in the Martial Arts.  He was working on his P.H.D. down at the University of Boulder at that time.  He was still teaching a hand full of students on Saturdays. 

       There was a Friday night around 1974 when Sifu and I were these only ones left hanging around his Karate studio, all the students had left to go home, when a man came through the door and introduced himself to Sifu as Jack Farr.  I was a color belt then but I could tell this guy was an important Kenpo Black belt.  Mr. Farr asked Sifu if he had Long 4 and Sifu said, " Yes I do." Mr. Farr said he was a Parker Black Belt and I when I heard that  my ears perked right up to listen to what he was going to say next.  He held on to a very thick notebook which he showed Sifu.  I was impressed with its size.   Next,  Mr. Farr asked Sifu if he had Long 5 and John said that he did.  Mr. Farr was impressed because Sifu was only a 1st degree Black belt in Kenpo.  Mr. Farr said he was going to test in front of the "Old Man" meaning GM Ed Parker next month  for his 2nd Degree Black belt and he would be performing Long 5 for his test. It was this meeting with Mr. Farr that I realized different organizations had different belt requirements.  I felt good knowing my teacher had material that a 2nd degree Black belt under GM Parker was required to have.  That was my thinking at that time in my Kenpo life.  Years later I would compete against Mr. Farr in Kata while he worked for Coors in Golden, he was very good indeed.  He always enjoyed the Tom Connor forms that I competed with and he said, "Bill you always look good".  That compliment from Mr. Farr always pushed me to train harder. 

      Sifu and I played golf now and then with each other...I was a poor golfer and shot in the low 100s and Sifu was in the 80s.  He had grown up playing golf and I had only a couple of seasons under my belt when I quit and took up surfing and knocking the tennis ball around the courts.  He did not make fun of my poor golfing skills.  After one of our golf outings we stopped at a bar for a beer.  I asked him about Long 5 kata and a move called "fending off" that Orange belts learned in the TRACO system that Sifu taught.   To my surprise when we came out of the dark bar into the sunny day light, Sifu did Long 5 right there in the Parking lot, this shocked me to no end but later on I realized that Sifu was simply a pure teacher by his very nature

       I was stretching out on the studio floor one day and Sifu walked on to the floor with a sword.  This got my  attention.  I watched him practice the TRACO Single Sword form.  In my mind it was beautiful.  After his practice session was over and he went back into his office I wondered across the floor and  into his office and asked him when would I learn that sword form. He said, when you are working on 1st degree Black Belt requirements.  From that day on I trained very hard just so I could learn that Sword kata. 

       Sifu was a good light weight Fighter with lots of competition in the Denver area and I watched him win first place a number of times.  One fight he was tied and it went into over- time.  I saw him do some breathing exercises before he and his opponent bowed in.  I could see Sifu actually thinking while out on the floor and the next second he scored the winning point.  I quarried him about his breathing exercise.  He said,  " If I can control my breathing,  I can control my thinking processes and have a better chance of winning a close match.   Again, his wisdom had no boundary and he held onto no secrets, again he was teaching me