Testimony from Ex Michael Guen Member Caroline
This is a testimony of an ex member of the Michael Guen’s group. Let’s call her Caroline for future references. Thank you Caroline for having the courage to come forward and share your experience – we know it takes a lot of guts to do that.
– Ruth & Karl –
I met Michael Guen via mutual friends in roughly 2006/6. I was very interested in taking his martial arts class because I loved the idea of martial arts/self-defense with a feminine energy twist. I signed up and arrived to my first class in Sebastopol very excited and interested.
My first “Red Flag” actually occurred that night. After the class was finished, we all sat in a circle. I believe the primary goal was to introduce ourselves (there was more than one new member, I think) and then some kind of question was asked. I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember that one of the senior-members in the group (senior meaning experienced, not 55+) shared a story about a regrettable time when she and another member in the group (who wasn’t there that evening) “raped” Michael. She, Michael, and the other group member were together and the two women ended up coercing Michael to have sex with them. She expressed her guilt and how wrong it was for she and the other member to use their power to take advantage of him like that. Her remorse and shame was tangible? Michael was sitting next to her and nodded in a agreement and then shared how victimized he felt from the experience.
Looking back, that should have been the last class I attended. I was immediately wary; no teacher/student relationship should ever turn sexual like that, and the teacher should be the one to put the stop to it, regardless of how manipulated he may feel. However, I sort of just made a mental note and thought perhaps it was a weird, one-time thing.
Over the next few months, it became clear that this was not just a martial arts class. Michael wanted as much time from his students as possible and almost everything he offered and any extra-curricular activity came with a literal price tag attached. While I did enjoy the Ba Gua classes, and the women I met, I was continuously wary of the “group mentality” that pervaded. This was NOT just a martial arts class where you attend a night or two a week. This was something more serious – it had a very “Us and Them” mentality. I also heard more stories about Michael and the sexual relationships he had with numerous females in the group. I knew this was NOT a group for me. Right before I quit, my closest friend in the group was verbally abused by several of the other women during a weekend “retreat” (which ironically I didn’t attend because the fee was too stiff). I couldn’t believe something like that would happen amongst a group of women that were well out of high school, and were committed to this “higher path”. I let Michael know that I was quitting.
The next day, I received an email that was sent by Michael to the entire group, explaining that I had left the group and that everyone was expected to cease communication with me immediately. I was shocked and amused, actually. I actually laughed out loud. I thought to myself, “Wow! This is like a cult!!” and never looked back.
Fortunately, my friend who had been ganged up on quit within the next few weeks and then reached out to me afterwards. Our joke ever since then has been, “Thank goodness we joined the cult so we could meet each other!” However, it’s no longer anything to joke about. Over the last several years, I have run into more than one former member of Michael’s Ba Gua cult that has realized how dysfunctional the whole scene is. Two of them apologized for not communicating with me after I quit. I wasn’t mad in the least. How could I blame them? They were fully indoctrinated at that point in time.
I consider myself VERY lucky that I sniffed a farce so early on. I only spent a handful of months attending classes, I never got anywhere near sexually interested in Michael, and I was never taken in by Michael’s whole schpiel. Now I know that while very talented and gifted, Michael uses those talents to control people, manipulate women, and for financial gain. It is so sad.
We are all on different paths and at different points in our spiritual growth. I truly believe we learn the lessons we are meant to learn in this life. For that reason, I understand that these words will not mean anything to someone who is under Michael’s spell, and in fact might actually be used by Michael to further his cause. Even so, I hope that my words will act to either A) help a current member of the group, who is having second thoughts, realize they should listen to their instincts; B) plant a seed of caution in the mind/heart of anyone who is reading this while researching Michael, but doesn’t want to take someone else’s word for it. You can join the group, find out for yourself, and these warnings may help you to notice your own red flags earlier on, so you keep from getting too involved; or C) stop you from joining the group altogether.
There are plenty of very talented, wise acupuncturists and martial arts teachers in Sonoma County who DON’T take advantage of their clients/students and DON’T have sexual relationships with them either. I recommend you go to one of them.
– Caroline –
Photo Credit: E.N.K. via Flickr