The snow started falling at four in the afternoon. Sparring class was scheduled for 5:30. At 4:30, the email came through telling us that class was still on, and we were in the car before five. We’d successfully dodged the weather bullet, but for how long? About ninety minutes, the answer turned out to be.
I couldn’t leave it all on the floor Thursday night, despite the desire to make up for the New Year’s Day closure and prepare for public performance – to say nothing of burning off a few more calories from the anniversary celebration trip. At first, sparring class itself, with more students than I would have expected to brave the weather, limited the space I could comfortably occupy with a swinging staff. But the weather proved to be a greater enemy than square yard (or meter) limitations. Getting the family home in one piece, when on the road with those who seem regularly challenged by driving on dry pavement, had to be the first priority.
Snow has always been a lifelong friend and playmate… until kung fu. As it continues to coat the streets with an ever-thickening layer of obstruction, I’m having a disturbing flashback to the blizzard of 2010, the one that closed public schools for a week and kung fu school for almost two! It was then that I learned I’d been turned, that kung fu was no longer the equivalent of a gym membership to be used to trim my midsection. It was important to me in its own right and not interchangeable with anything else.
I’d just passed my blue sash test in early winter of 2010, and the snow started falling in droves just one day after my second class with a new purple sash wrapped around my waist. I’d been taught the opening moves of the Shaolin Fist form, seven moves out of about fifty, if we’re breaking everything down into its smallest components. So when the snow closed down our corner of the world, I was cooped up with virtually nothing new to practice. And I had just started to feel like I was really doing something in class, like my body was starting to speak the kung fu language fluently. Then, thanks to Mother Nature, translation class was out – literally – with only one new sentence to practice!
My family would have put me out had it not been for the sword. We’d all started going to beginner weapons class as green sashes, the soonest we were eligible. So I had a fair amount of the traditional sword form to practice – but without the room to do it in in my house (always the problem!). To this day, there are blade marks in my living room ceiling and a couple of pieces of my furniture, simply because there was nothing else I could practice while imprisoned by winter in early 2010, and I had to practice something!
There are no ceilings in my house high enough to accommodate staff spins. And as with Shaolin Fist four years ago, I don’t know enough of the new Xing Yi and Pa Chi freehand forms to tide me over if locked in by weather again. So like a kid outside a locked candy shop, my nose is pressed against the glass, silently offering sacrifices to the cloud gods, if they will just confine this storm to a day or two’s inconvenience. I know it’s not much, but it’s all I got. Whatever it takes to dodge the weather bullet.