Chio Woon, eulogy

The BCAF board wishes to express our gratitude for the long years of teaching and dedication to Aikido of Chio Woon, 4th dan.  He taught for many years at the Victoria Aikido Centre, and although it's some years since he retired, he has been much missed.  Our thoughts are with his family at his passing on Sunday, November 5th, 2023.

Bruce Riddick, past president of the BCAF and friend of Chio's for many years, has written a lovely eulogy that conveys Chio's gentle spirit and dedication to Aikido.

Chio Yu Woon (1941-2023)

 A Life Well Lived

Hunting, Fishing, Mushroom Picking;

Birds, Bees, Canoe Building, Fruit Tree Fixing.

I Play Mandolin, Ukulele, Badminton:

Oh! Those Are Tons of Fun.

Forestry Research is My Profession;

Aikido Teaching is My True Passion.

                                                                    Fong Woon 2023

Chio never stood still for time; always engaged.  He was a family man, an outdoors man, a gentle and caring person.  I remember the canoes he would build and his vegetable garden; no one could grow basil outdoors as he could.  I remember the family Aikido practices at S.J. Willis School; children’s classes first, adults afterwards.  The adults would play or practice in the corridor during the children’s classes and the children would play together in the corridor during the adult class.  On Saturdays almost everyone would go for a group lunch afterwards.  Aikido was great and Chio was a part of that.

Chio started Aikido around 1985 and graduated one kyu per year, as most of us did.  Shodan in 1994, Nidan in 1997, Sandan in 2001 and Yondan in 2007.

Later when his sense of balance and sensation in his feet were affected, he inspired us with his perseverance.  Eventually it was too awkward for him to practice, except with select friends; and I was blessed to be one of them.  If either of us slipped or tripped, we’d hold each other up. 

Aikido was his passion, he gave so much to others.  Ben Peacock said, “Chio was always super kind and supportive of me … I’ll miss him dearly.” Aikido gave back as well.  Unable to practice, Chio could still pass on his knowledge to others and the opportunity to teach was vital in keeping him going, as the chief instructor well knew.    In this way the dojo, his students and others contributed to his longevity.

From Adrian Taylor, Victoria Aikikai:

 Chio Woon was my first Sensei.  I joined an aikido program through Pearkes (Saanich Recreation).  The club was called Tillicum Aikido.  Regrettably this dojo only lasted a few years. However in that time, Chio gave patient and dedicated instruction.  Chio was always a stickler for performing the basics precisely.  I remember him telling me many times to move my foot six inches this way or that.  Or keeping my arm “unbendable”.    He gave me my foundation. He made me better.  In every regard.  I will miss him and do my best to keep his aikido spirit going through my own practice and what I show to others. 

 From Ed and Jerrilyn Wass, Victoria Aikikai: 

Chio Sensei was an enthusiastic, inspiring, vibrant, and dedicated teacher. He was always patient, kind and generous. His spirit blossomed and his countenance visibly changed when he entered the dojo. At seminars, he often practiced with beginners making them feel welcome and comfortable. When practicing in other classes or seminars we often hear his voice of wisdom, and encouragement. Whenever visiting him, he would always encourage us to keep on practicing and to remember certain specific movements.

 His gardening tips and memories of his childhood were greatly appreciated.

 Over the last few years, Chio was bedridden, and his caregivers would take him for walks and down to McDonalds where he enjoyed watching the children and the activities there.  Whenever we visited Victoria, Thuong and I would stop by to visit Chio and Fong.  Sitting by his bedside we’d do our best to communicate and sometimes I’d grasp his closed hand to open up his grip and flex his fingers.  He’d smile and his fingers offered no resistance.  It was like opening the petals of a flower. That became the limit of our Aikido practice.

Often we’d take tea with Fong and see how much she loved and cared for him; making sure he was always comfortable and making him smile whenever she caressed his cheek. 

Eventually he had to go to the hospital.  It was pneumonia.  While he was there, time stopped for an hour at 2 am on the first Sunday in November, as it usually does…Chio offered no resistance and took his ultimate ukemi. 

From Bruce Riddick, a long time friend