Tonight was a wonderful night. My parents and I were invited by my oldest friend, Fencing Master Stanley Yee, to a banquet celebrating the 5th Anniversary of his pride and joy: the Dragon Fencing Academy.
Stanley and I have been friends since the first night that either of us signed up for fencing lessons at York University in September of 1991. I had just come back from almost a year in Montpellier in Languedoc-Roussillon region in the South of France. I remember this really enthusiastic Chinese-Canadian guy in winter camo pants who was literally so full of energy that he was jumping up and down on the vinyl seats in York’s Tait Mackenzie Gymnasium. Little did I know that this encounter would be the beginning of the longest and most profound friendship in my life.
On this day, January 22, in 2006, Stanley took the plunge and realised a lifelong dream: to own a special kind of business – a professional, top-class fencing academy. 5 years ago, he held a fantastic party, with two Chinese Lions which conducted a lucky ceremony. The dim sum lunch was catered by the Ambassador Chinese Restaurant, and it was splendid. It was a day of hope and promise and excitement. 120 people showed up to give the Dragon Fencing Academy a good start!
Tonight, 5 years later, Stanley invited his parents, my parents, Doug the Academy’s Kenjitsu instructor (who is a grade 3 teacher in real life!), our old Fencing Master who taught that first lesson on that first night in 1991, Dr Zachary Kotlyar, and his young daught Valérie, to a sumptuous 10-course banquet at Ambassador to celebrate 5 years of prosperity, success and good luck. The meal was amazing and delicious, as Chinese banquets always are: a feast fit for a Prince. Peking duck, lobster, crab, grouper and several other delicacies were brought to table in a real festival of flavour!
The conversation was free and easy, the atmosphere well-lit, elegant and warm. It was a reunion of old friends. We exchanged stories and ate and ate and sipped some superb champagne before heading back into the chill winter night – replete with good food and the comfort that can only be felt after time spent with old and trusted friends.
I wish Stanley all the best for many more years of prosperity, happiness and good luck at the Dragon Fencing Academy! He has made it his mission in life to bring our beautiful and beloved sport to people of Toronto and York Region. That’s a really good thing.