“I think we started a revolution!” said the person who persuaded Sijeh Stephanie to teach me the beginning of the Pa Chi form. It was the last day of self-training before classes resume with the new year on Thursday, and the place was packed.
There was sanshou in the far end of the room, tai chi in the center, and me with my staff squeezed between the two groups. My children were on the other end of the floor practicing kicking combinations and the 12 Kicks form, while Siheng B. loosened up his joints doing Xing Yi near the front door. Downstairs, newly-promoted green sashes were learning sparring techniques on the bags next to my better half, who was doing side kick drills; and wushu folks were doing their thing, contorting their bodies in ways nature couldn’t possibly have intended.
This was the festive, relaxed, but hard-working atmosphere in the building when Sifu walked in the door. It continued after he went into the office and Siheng B. gave those of us who were there for his Xing Yi lesson on Saturday a few more moves. It continued when the tai chi folks asked Siheng B. to help them with the 16Step form, as I rested after doing some of my best freehand work in months (thanks to the shot in the back). It was the perfect atmosphere to ask Sijeh how she’d gotten Siheng Allen to teach her a form that was no longer part of the kung fu curriculum at our school – and to ask that she pass on the knowledge.
“I can’t teach it,” she said quietly.
“Why not?” I asked.
“I’m not allowed to, am I?” she asked looking over her shoulder.
“Sure, you are. You’re a black sash.” It wasn’t me who’d answered; someone else was making the case. “You can teach,” Siheng B. offered. Now, relying on the opinion of the one who got the Xing Yi flash mob started might not have been the wisest decision with Sifu standing in the office doorway, but that’s exactly what we did. “Teach it to me, too,” Siheng B. added. “I’ll teach you Xing Yi and you teach me Pa Chi.”
A free exchange of knowledge among black sashes, imagine that!
Several minutes later, Sijeh left me to practice the first dozen or so moves that she’d taught me, and someone announced that the revolution had been born. It was as simple as that.
It may die with the holiday season or need to be kept on the down low to survive beyond 2013. But tonight there was an ever-so-small revolution – and it was the perfect way to end my kung fu year.