My favorite training session of the week is Monday night. It comes after two days of resting the body, so my knees allow me to give it all I’ve got. But that’s not what’s on my mind, as I plow through the Monday workday schedule. I keep mulling over the fact that classes are on hiatus this week for the holidays every day except Monday, so today’s class is the last I’ll help teach in 2013, before I hit the floor with my staff for self training.
Instead of obsessing on getting in enough practice tonight to last me until Thursday’s self-training hours, I’m preoccupied by how strange it will be not to see most of the people I see in regular, predictable intervals until January 2nd at the earliest. Self-training is something few show up for during the end-of-year break, as many are out of town – or are just plain happy not to have to break a sweat. So it’s likely that my family and I will have the school almost to ourselves during those hours. I’m already feeling out of sorts about the impending emptiness in the building.
I can’t believe I’m not simply thrilled to have the extra room to swing my staff to my heart’s content. What’s with this sadness over eight days off the normal schedule? I don’t recall feeling this way in the previous five Christmas/New Year’s breaks that passed since joining the school. So I have to ask myself: what’s changed?
Last year, I was one month away from the last of the six tests for black sash, and I was too single-minded to be sentimental. The year before that, I was just back from surgery to remove the floating cartilage; so my training pattern had already been broken, and I was already missing everyone long before the end of the year. In each of the three years before that, I wasn’t close enough to anyone at the school to miss the people as much as the training time when the holidays rolled around.
And there it is. It would appear, then, that I am what’s changed.
In 2013, I became a peer of the black sashes I was once expected to speak to with little more than “yes, sir” and “no, sir.” I got to feel close to people who used to be just instructors to me. There’s also the unavoidable affection I feel for the people I help teach. This is family.
There were a few who felt like family members long before the black sash was wrapped around my waist, ones who were nicknamed “little brother” or affectionately referred to as “kiddo.” But the bond now is with just about everyone who’s been at the school longer than a couple of months. Somewhere along the line, I became just as attached to the people as the art they taught me.
Would I love kung fu if I didn’t feel bonded to those with whom I share it? Undoubtedly. But the unavoidable truth I’ve found this holiday season is that the people make me love it more.