Tag Archives: students

A Most Welcomed Surprise

Friday, a child who isn’t mine hugged me as if she were.  When I let my arms fall away from the bear hug around her lanky 10-year-old frame, hers remained so tightly wound across my rib cage and back that I couldn’t move if I wanted to without taking her with me.  A blue sash level student of mine who’s leaving for six weeks of summer camp out of state isn’t just going to miss Kung Fu; she’s specifically going to miss me.  I didn’t expect it and don’t know if I deserve it, but it was a most welcomed surprise.

“I miss,” are two words I find myself saying more often than I’d like.  The most recent family funeral three weeks ago was a goodbye to the last of the four women – two aunts, a grandmother and my mother – most responsible for my character and my better childhood memories.  But it isn’t just the dead I miss.  It’s also the remarkable young man I raised who no longer lives in my house, and the eccentric, now-teenaged girl who stopped dancing in the car years ago.  I miss the former colleagues who only kept in touch when my departure from the office was new.  And I miss remembering with ease where I left my glasses – or simply what day it is.

There is nothing new, of course, about middle aged people bemoaning the passage of time and the unwanted changes it brings.  There’s nothing new about melancholy accompanying loss.  And perhaps the most familiar remedy of life for ridding me of any hint of self-pity is the embrace of a family member.  So there’s nothing new in the comfort of a hug either.

But there was something new in having a child who isn’t mine hug me as if she were.  It gave “I miss” a happy meaning for the first time in recent memory.

Advertisements

Strange Day

Testing day yesterday was small, quiet and lonely.  Only six black sashes were there to evaluate the candidates, and for the first time since his promotion, my son was not among them.  He had a school obligation, and the rest of the family simply had no reason to attend.

Adding to the unusual vibe of the day, only one Siheng joined Sifu in the demonstration portion of testing.  A two-person demonstration was a first in my testing day experience – but it certainly made the morning move faster.

IMG_20140426_113442

The upside of so small a contingent of black sashes was that I ranked higher than normal in the hierarchy of those present and thus was able to award the sashes for the first time.  I enjoyed that – particularly since I got to award the yellow sash to my last new student, the seven-year-old who joined the school and my class right before the class was no longer mine to teach.  It was bittersweet.

IMG_20140426_113824

I ended the morning bolstered to come out of the box I’ve been assigned to for two months.  Taking advantage of what seemed to be a decent mood for Sifu, I asked if he has an idea of when I may return to Friday class.  I’m not actually sure I prefer his Friday class to the quiet and freedom of intense self-training in a gym that’s near empty during end-of-the-week happy hour, but I’d like the freedom to choose.  It’s strange to be without that freedom after three years of taking it for granted.   Conscious of both Sifu’s discomfort with confrontation and my own with face-to-face disappointment, I waited until I left the guan and emailed the question.

While waiting (now at the twenty-two hour mark) for Sifu’s response, I look forward to hurrying through an extra Sunday workday and finding a solution to the broken down laptop problem along the way.  It’s been a bit of an abnormal weekend with no Saturday kung fu class, no family quality time, no home computer and an extra workday… but I’m still smiling. 🙂

 


What’s Changed

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.