The Family Seahorse Crest

I came across this video of a seahorse giving birth on youtube and thought you would be interested to know the Lee family arts of Tai Chi etc’s crest is a seahorse. The following text is an extract from my book 'Student Of A Master'.

Our badge has a circle showing the Yin and Yang sign with a seahorse wearing a coolie’s hat. The circle shows that we are one family. The Yin and Yang symbol shows the two opposing yet complementary factors within any family and everything within the universe. When the seahorse mates the male pairs with a female and she inserts her long ovipositor into the males pouch which is situated on his belly and lays her eggs. When the young have hatched and are ready to be born the pouch opens. The male seahorse bends and then straightens its body in convulsive jerks until finally its baby seahorses shoots out through the mouth of the pouch. They are about ½ inch long at birth and perfect miniature replicas of their parents. The male rests after each birth and shows signs of extreme exhaustion when all the babies are born. 

To me my Master was the perfect embodiment of these principles. He was the head of our family and he nurtured his offspring (his students) with great care. His pouch (training hall) was always open to newcomers. Once they entered he nurtured (trained them) with great care and attention. And when they had grown physically, mentally and spiritually he would open his pouch that they may be born and go forth and live and multiply (having become teachers themselves they may now repay the debt and teach others). He existed for his family and his work, which was teaching our Taoists Arts. The coolie’s hat worn by the seahorse is a symbol of humility. Many times I watched my Master walk round the training hall picking up bits of paper, cotton thread etc. whilst some instructor has been designated to conduct the warm up exercises. In full view of his students he showed he was prepared to do the most menial task himself. I once saw him use a vacuum cleaner that had been left in the training hall. He turned it on, and off he went round the hall cleaning the place up. Everyone including myself was amused to see the Master vacuuming the place. I was taking the warming up exercise session at the time and enjoyed the fun too when he stuck the vacuum on my training trousers in an unfortunate place, however, I survived the experience intact.

I have met no other Master who’s ego and self-importance would not forbid him from performing such a menial task as cleaning up the training hall himself. Yes, Master Chee Soo, you wore the coolies hat, and you wore it with dignity and pride. I feel deeply honoured to have had you as my teacher.  After his passing I felt obliged to carry on this work as others have before me. So that others may have the opportunity to study the Taoist Arts. Their value is as relevant today as it was in ancient times. 

The truth will always be the truth. The way of the Tao will remain regardless of man’s interference. Ecclesiastics 1:4 A generation goes, a generation comes, yet the earth stands firm for ever. 

It was my honour and privilege to be a student of Master Chee Soo for those twenty one years. The essence of the Taoist arts, is it's the doing that counts, the direct experience. Many times during that training I wondered why I continued spending my weekends turning myself into a physical and mental wreck whilst others went off seeking pleasure and indulging themselves. Well, now in my seventies I have the physical abilities and health many others envy and I have an optimism and zest for life that seems to have disappeared from the lives of most of my contemporaries.

So I sincerely mean this when I say, “Thank you for that training Master.”

About the Author Howard Gibbon

Howard, who was a student of the late Grand Master Chee Soo for 21 years has been practicing and teaching the Lee Style of Tai Chi and related arts since 1973.