BRATTLEBORO -- Bak Mei, or "White Eyebrows" in the Chinese translation, was a feared but respected martial arts master who survived the destruction of the Shaolin Monastery by the Qing Army in the early 18th century. A wealth of knowledge contained inside the Mount Shong temple was lost, but a collection of Shaolin's greatest secrets did survive.
Though many kung fu styles can be directly traced back to Shaolin, over time hundreds of systems have been developed around the world, and they continue to emerge and evolve.
One particular style has become known as Running Fist, and this is what Sikung Lew Henderson teaches students at a class he holds Wednesday evenings on the Common during the warm weather season, and at Gibson-Aiken Center the rest of the year.
"You want to link one move to another and flow like water," said Henderson. "I teach style upon style."
Henderson said he is skilled in five other disciplines and the importance of each can be found in its origins.
In an attempt to unite these differing styles, practicioners, students, and anyone else seeking to expand their understanding of the martial arts will come together for "The Gathering", a first of its kind area event that will be held on Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, across from ReNew Salvage, on Town Crier Drive.
"There is going to be an exchange of techniques and philosophies," said Henderson, who is helping to organize the event along with colleagues of his, also recognized masters.
The Gathering will feature a "Triple Threat" demonstration by Grandmaster Sijo James Robinson, founder of Running Fist, along with Grandmaster Soke Thomas Gettling, and Sikung Kasey Cheung.
Henderson said area martial arts schools have all received invitations to attend. During the event, a representative from each local school will be allowed 45 minutes to an hour to explain their unique style.
Henderson and Shihan Frank Bonanno will also be on hand to assist in instruction.
"Think of it as an open seminar," said Henderson. "Come one, come all -- a chance to get them all together."
David Aquino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 164.