“David! You awake for me today?” I jokingly asked the seven-year-old who has a hard time keeping his attention on me, and an even harder time holding a horse stance for longer than a split second. He assured me he was awake and ready to go.
“What’s your name? Can you tell me your name?” I asked the kindergartener who couldn’t conceive of straightening his arm all the way when throwing a jab. The shy little man became more talkative as the morning progressed. He and his slightly older brother were joining us for the first time. The younger struggled with right foot versus left, the older with front hand versus back. It got a little frustrating when doing drills with other beginners who weren’t as new, but they were earnest, eager and adorable, which made me happy to meet them.
“I’m taking weapons today, Sijeh!” another student told me in a louder voice than I’d ever heard him use. His smile was so wide and radiant, I could feel his excitement from a few yards away. I looked down at his waist and noted that the new sash color he was wearing made him eligible to attend beginner weapons for the first time.
“Oh yeah,” I answered! “Today’s the first weapons class for you. What’s it going to be? Staff or sword?”
I couldn’t help but wonder if watching me practice for the last few months influenced his choice. “You’re going to have fun,” I said, matching the smile of the hard worker who likes to get it right.
“Um, I don’t know this yet,” she quietly told Sifu as the rest of us began to do wheel hand drills. Purple looks good on the little spitfire, I thought. I remembered her sparring match at testing the week before. That small, thin, quick little thing gave her overly-aggressive little brother all he could handle and then some. It was a proud display of girl power, leading to a well-deserved promotion.
“Where’s my girl?” I asked after bowing to Sijeh. The infant child of the school’s first couple was asleep in her car seat in the office, looking angelic and much bigger than the last time I’d seen her two weeks ago. I was able to get a couple of finger grabs and wide-eyed grins out of her later in the day, after her nap. All that was missing was a quick hug, but I knew I could get her mom or Sifu to hand her over for a minute the next time they brought her in.
Noteworthy minutes to remember. Highlights of another Saturday at kung fu. The little things that make them my martial arts family. It’s the little things that make their place in my life so big.