Been awhile since I’ve posted anything worthwhile. Halloween slowly fades into memory, and around me decorations are already shifting from pumpkins and spooks to snow, bells and wreaths. I’d prefer people at least waited until after Thanksgiving but…Well, what are you going to do, eh?
Thinking about Thanksgiving reminds me to consider what I’ve been thankful for, even this early in the month. And at the moment, I’m thankful that I never gave up on my martial arts training.
Yes, you heard me right. Your humble blogger here also has a background in the art of Kyin Kung Fu San Soo, and is quite proud of it. I don’t know if I would be where I am today without some of the lessons I received from this discipline, and the friends I’ve made during my training.
Let me begin at the beginning: I was never a very athletic kid. I had no interest in sports, let alone going outside to play. I was one of those poor souls sucked into the television of the day (back when, in my opinion, the best cartoons were on TV). Then I discovered video games, and that was another thing altogether. Needless to say, my mother needed to force me to do something to exercise regularly, despite the fact that I thought it was the most boring thing in the world. I was presented at that time with an ultimatum, to pick any sort of athletic activity I wanted – anything but refusal. I opted for martial arts.
Little did I know at the time the fatefulness of that decision.
I signed up with American Tiger Martial Arts (then under the name American Tiger Karate, despite it being a Kung Fu school), and was almost scared out the first day. I felt nervous and small, and had no idea what I was doing. When the Master Instructor of the school suddenly loomed over me during one of drills with a large foam bat raised over his head, I ran crying back to my parents. I begged them not to make me do this, but again I was presented with the ultimatum: this or something else, but I had to do something – my “no exercise” policy was not an option. So I went back, fared much better my second class, and slowly got into the swing of things. It turned out Master Gregoire was a nice guy, though intimidating when he wanted to be. And with effort, I started to get into things.
As time went on, I worked my way through the belt ranks and kept at it. It was tough, undoubtedly, and there were times I simply wanted to give up, go back to being lethargic and careless. But I either drummed up my own motivation or had my parents to back me up, insisting that even when things got hard, or I became jaded with the classes, that I should keep going, make progress, continue to work at it.
That was me when I was seven, maybe eight years old. And here I am now:
Yours truly, dressed in the school’s instructor-blue uniform. I earned my Black Belt rank at age 11, and actually started teaching there in 2006. While my college schedule as interfered with my ability to work what is essentially my first job, I’ve managed to use my technical knowledge to help promote the school – if you clicked the link above, the trailer on the front page was shot and edited by me. I’ve done many such projects for the school, and I’m happy to do it.
Besides this, Kung Fu has affected me in a positive way both physically and mentally. Other than the obvious skills that come from learning unarmed strikes, blocks and maneuvers that could very well save my life one day, I gained some much needed self-confidence and self-discipline through my training. I can kick myself into gear and become motivated whenever I really need to, something I make use of constantly as a writer. I’ve pushed through obstacles because of the diligence instilled by the training. I’ve made friends through this program that I still have strong ties with, and would not trade those friends for the world. And most importantly, I carry the merits of that training with me into my everyday life.
Like I said earlier, the impact going to this school has had on my life is profound. I am incredibly glad that I didn’t go with my weaker judgement and quit my training. I cannot express enough how important it was that I hung in there and made it all count. It might have been tough, or dull, or aggravating at times, but it all proved worthwhile in the end. And even though I’m not actively training right now, I will never forget how this school and the people in it helped prepare me for life in the world – focus, patience, self-esteem and restraint.
So yes, I’m thankful for that.