I haven’t been this happy without nerves about something kung fu related since I showed up for my first class after my black sash test to learn the opening moves of Lian Huan Tui. Five days later, I was spinning a staff for the first time, and I rode cloud nine for the next thirteen months. Today is the first day of the post-crash era, because I signed up at a great gym last night – one where the membership representative looked at me like I was silly for asking if membership allowed me to practice kung fu on the premises, with weapons.
“We have a belly dancing class here, and she uses knives. As long as there’s no one else in the room, you’re more than welcome to use any one of five different spaces to practice with weapons. How long have you been doing kung fu?”
Five different spaces where I can practice? Five! My mind instantly went to my happy place, and I smiled like a preschooler at Disney World for the first time. I was so lost in glee and relief, it took a moment of her looking at me in silence for me to remember that she’d asked a question at the end of the sentence.
I told her how long I’d been at it, then asked a question of my own: “Do you offer any kind of martial arts classes here?” They don’t. “Would you like to?”
And just like that I was suddenly armed with the contact information for the woman who would audition me to teach at the new gym I hadn’t even practiced in yet. Even better, the membership rep can’t wait to run interference first and tell her all about me.
I wasn’t just thrilled when I walked out of that gym last night; I was proud. I’d done what I do best – the very thing that started the trouble with Sifu: I got tired of hanging out with feelings that were unproductive and potentially destructive, and I did the next seemingly logical thing to get rid of them. Perhaps that’s the spoiled American in me, (compared to the tradition-oriented American-born Chinese), the one who wants the instant gratification of an immediate solution to a problem. If so, fine. I’ll own that, without hesitation. Because here’s what I know: last Saturday morning, I was off to kung fu with my tail between my legs, taking responsibility for my breach of tradition while burying my hurt and ignoring the personal affront. This morning, Sifu can treat me however he chooses, and I can just go to the gym.