I hear it a lot, mostly from lower rank (although not always). We’ll be in a workout or doing a form, the student will make a mistake, and will say something like, “Dang! I’m sorry!” or “That was terrible.”, or some other derogatory remark about their kung fu. Or I’ll just see that ‘look’ in their eyes; not the look of determination at trying to get a difficult move or the look of determined frustration (is that really a term?) at trying to remember a sequence and getting it wrong for the 20th time. The ‘look’ that says, “I’m a failure” or “I’ve really screwed up and let the whole School along with 1600 years of ShaoLin tradition down and I ought to be beaten and kicked out on the street in the rain” OK, maybe not that drastic, but you know what I mean. I know what it looks like and feels like because I’ve been there, done that, got the t shirt, and lived to tell the tale (Thank you, Master Garry, for your patience). When that happens, I really want to stop the student for a minute and just ask, “Who’s not happy with your kung fu, anyway?” “Certainly not me. Not the other instructors. Not the rest of the students who are sweating and breathing hard and pushing themselves as hard as you are to get this right. Who are you apologizing to, anyway?” Now, I appreciate that you want to do well and get things right. I love the fact that you’ve chosen be a part of our School to learn kung fu. I really respect that you’ve chosen to study with one of the hardest working and toughest Schools in Western North Carolina. I just wish you’d cut yourself a break and realize how much you’ve done, how far you’ve come, and where you’re going to be, if you stick with us. I’m just tickled pink that you come to class and do all the sit ups, push ups, drills, punches, kicks, elbows, etc. I’m happy that you bruise and laugh it off, get hit and ignore it, get kicked and act like it never happened. Hey, who’s not happy with your kung fu, anyway? If you need correction or instruction, a little motivation or a swift kick, I’ll be glad to provide it. You focus on your kung fu and feel proud that you’re a part of our team. Most people would never walk into our School, and those that do often walk out because they can’t hack it. You’re still here. Come back tomorrow and we’ll do it all over again. No apologies next time, though. Agreed?
ShaoLin Kung Fu of Asheville 304 Waynesville Ave. Asheville, NC 28806 828-775-9122