Biography – Harry Affley

Harry Affley was born in 1950 and by the age of 2 years he was plagued with serious asthma, food and environmental allergies. He spent a large part of his formative year’s ill with constant bouts of allergic reactions and severe asthma attacks. His asthma was labeled as exercise asthma, when he played as a child it usually brought on an attack. So, he spent his youth very sedentary. When he reached the age of 20 he found that his health had improved and was able to finally participate in sports and physical activity. However, after years of limited physical activity he noticed his stamina was not equal to that of his peers. Mr. Affley began to research and study different types of training and philosophies of exercise. He obtained a degree in Respiratory Therapy to gain a deeper understanding of the disease that plagued him for so many years. Following a number of years of research he looked into the martial arts. Little did he realize this set him on a life time journey to know the depths of true physical training.

Harry began his studies in Tai Kwon Do but lasted a mere three months and then he tried the Filipino arts which were also short lived. He knew that the right art for him was out there but which one. Without any martial art friends in his world he was on his own to search for the style that felt right inside. In 1978 at the age of 28 he met a man (Dr. Martin Argall) who began sharing the ideas and philosophy of TaijiQuan. Martin became a friend and began teaching him the Cheng Man Ching style of TaijiQuan and Pushhands. One of the things that impressed him about Martin’s skill was that Martin could push him around so easily, without effort. Even though Martin was not of a real high level in the martial arts world he had a quality in his movement and touch that was different than the other teachers and practitioners that he met. He was pliable and yielding but not weak. This interested Harry greatly; in fact it seemed to touch the depths of his being. A question arose from deep inside, “Is it possible that softness could be effective against strength?” Because Harry was weak as a child he believed that true strength could only come from weight training and cardio workouts. It amazed him that someone his own size could easily throw him on the couch.

In the summer of 1979 Harry went to his first week long training session put on by Benjamin Lo, Robert Smith and Abraham Lu. He was amazed that many of the women there were able to push him around easily. This further sparked his interest, “How could a woman, smaller then he was push him?” Martin smiled and told Harry, “it is because you try too hard and you are rigid” Harry wanted to know the solution, Martin said, “You must learn to relax”. This again boggled Harry’s mind. “How can relaxing have any bearing on pushing someone?” He told Martin that he wanted to do more of the TaijiQuan form to help him improve but Martin said, “Why should I give you more when you cannot do what I have already given you?” This made Harry so angry that he quit doing TaijiQuan for about a year. He was so frustrated with the philosophy of “doing less, letting go and relaxing” it made no sense to him. Harry felt like he must have more and have it now, because after all, “more is better.” During the next year he continued to watch Martin do his form day after day never missing a day. Martin just kept on doing his thing without interruption. Harry realized that Martin had perseverance and discipline and he did not.

The following year he attended another week of intensive TaijiQuan training hoping to be better than the year before even though he had not practiced for months. Now that he knew the secret he figured he could easily push people. He still struggled with people that seemed to be less skilled then he was, but they still were able to push him without much effort. It finally dawned on Harry that they were much more skilled than met the eye, in fact Harry’s interpretation was wrong. They were doing what Martin was doing, “letting go”, “relaxing” and then beating Harry with ease. It was following this workshop that Harry talked with Martin about this fact. Harry told Martin he was ready to listen and apologized for being so closed minded. It was after this insight that Harry’s training truly began.

Harry studied with Dr. Martin Argall, Ben Lo, Abraham Lu, Robert Smith, Sensei Daryl Bluhm and Stephen Machado over the next ten years. In the fall of 1988 he was introduced to Master George Xu in Grants Pass by Steve Doob and was enlightened to the fact that there was much more to the Internal Martial Arts then he had realized. This was his second big awakening in his path in the Internal Martial Arts. He realized that to truly become great required deep discipline and dedication to physical and mental training. Master Xu could not only push him easily but could easily beat him up without much effort. This lead him to a more serious study of the Internal Arts with the study of Yoga, Aikido, Qi Gong, weight training, running and continuing his Taiji practice daily.

Master Xu turned out to be a wealth of knowledge for Harry. He was also lucky that Master Xu was still changing and researching himself; this made it easier to follow rather than having a teacher who was not pursuing anything new which many Masters do later in life. Harry learned at this point that not all Masters do the same things, they have many similarities but also many differences. The unfortunate problem was Master Xu lived in San Francisco and the only way to train with him was at his annual camp once per year or weekend workshops in Grants Pass. So, Harry was only able to train with his new teacher two or three times a year and then practice in between. This went on for a number of years until 1993 when Harry made the decision to become a full time Internal Arts teacher. In this year he approached Master Xu and invited him to come to Portland, Oregon to teach a workshop. The workshop was a success and Harry has promoted Master Xu and many other Masters since then. Harry Affley is presently teaching in Portland Oregon at a number of locations with group and private lessons available. He started the Bubbling Springs Internal Arts Institute in 1992 and continues to sponsor Masters for workshops. He promotes a number of workshops himself on many Internal Martial Art subjects and teaches classes weekly. (See schedule and events pages in this website)

The other truly wonderful thing about Master Xu was the fact that he began bringing to the US masters from China. This was a great opportunity considering most students had one teacher to study with but Harry had at least one more per year to try to figure out the depths of their knowledge. Over the next thirteen years he studied with Yu Hua Long, Ye Shao Long, Zhang Xue Xin, Gordon Xu, Qing Zhong Bao, Wang Hao Da, Lu Gui Rong, Qian Zhao Hong, Wang Zhi Xiang, Xu Guo Chang, Wu Ji and Wu Mon Gui. The opportunity to meet these high level Masters could not have been possible without his teacher Master George Xu.

During a trip to Shanghai, China in December of 2004 to train in Master Xu’s first international camp a new organization was formed, Worldwide Association of Chinese Internal Martial Arts (WACIMA). Harry Affley was elected one of three vice-presidents to the US in this organization.

To represent his school he designed a logo reflecting 2 important facts; he chose the white crane as the symbol for his school because of the Chinese belief that they represent long life. The name Bubbling Springs was from his childhood memories of a beautiful creek behind his house that came from an artesian spring that everyone called Bubbling Spring. When he discovered that the Kidney 1 point (Yong Quan) in Chinese Medicine and the root point in Martial Arts was the Bubbling Spring point he had a great connection with his childhood memories. So, the decision was easy to call his school Bubbling Springs Internal Arts Institute.

Harry Affley is presently 63 years young and going strong; his asthma is long gone and his power in the Internal Martial Arts continues to grow at a very steady pace. His love for the Internal Martial Arts is evident in his teaching style, care and compassion that he has for his students and his willingness to share his knowledge, skill, discipline and perseverance. He said, “I am interested in being the best that I can be and to share that with others not to become the best in the world”.

Harry Affley became a Christian at age 5, although his life had many ups and downs he always knew that his Savior Jesus was guiding his path and continually pushing him to be better and work harder to become a better man. Finally, in his early 40’s he began to seek a deeper relationship with God. He enrolled in 1989 at Multnomah Bible College to study his faith; graduating 4 years later with a Bachelors Degree in Biblical Education. After graduating he decided to pursue the Internal Martial Arts as a full time career and established the Bubbling Springs Internal Arts Institute. Harry said, “I owe everything to my faith and hope in Christ Jesus.”

Harry’s final comment was, “practice, practice, practice and have some fun.”