“Why am I here?” I said aloud in front of Sijeh Stephanie and a group of under sashes we were leading in a Chu Chi Chuan demonstration. It was the first rehearsal for the Chinese New Year performance we do at a local school, and twenty minutes into it, I was mentally through.
I’d just been told that in addition to leading the under sashes in kicks and Chu Chi Chuan, I was assigned to perform a section of 12 Kicks with three other black sashes – the section that includes jumping into a mid-air horse stance, doing a front sweep out of the landing and following it up with a tornado kick. I could be annoyed with Sifu for assigning it to me; but it’s his modus operandi to push a student as far as they can go. It remains my responsibility to remind him of what I shouldn’t do, even if I can pull it off. And 12 Kicks is something I just shouldn’t do – at least not that section.
I had to do that form about sixteen hundred times during my black sash exam period, and I must have practiced it at least one thousand times before qualifying for testing. I didn’t expect to ever again have to do any part of a form that singlehandedly took pieces out of each of my knee joints – literally. I had to have torn and floating cartilage removed from one knee and the torn ends of the meniscus removed from the other, all because of the rigors of 12 Kicks.
I had no way of knowing that I’d be told to do 12 Kicks for this year’s performance. But once I did know, what possible reason could there be for me to continue to volunteer for something that required I not only do the damned form several times again, but do it publicly, in a group of people who don’t have any injuries (which would make my limitations quite glaring – particularly under stage lights)?
There was no reason. Not. One.
I’m crazy about kung fu, and the argument can be made that I’m just plain crazy. But not enough to participate in a show that will cause me unnecessary pain and anxiety for no reason better than good advertising for our school.
I’m not that crazy. Not yet. Not today.