To be a beginner again. Discover the Kung Fu Secret.
Thinking of it, currently in November of 2016. It happened almost 40 years ago. I stepped for the first time into the University Judo Club in Rostock (HSG Südstadt). Somebody helped me in the locker room to figure out how to tie up that brand-new white belt. Loud noises came from the mats. We were about to be introduced to the first falling exercises (Ukemi-Waza). Just making that loud noise, slapping the mat while falling seemed very manly. Very exciting. The instructor with his washed out brown belt was preparing for his upcoming black-belt test. Judo throws, breaking balance, bleeding elbows, getting the wind knocked out of you, gasping for air, eying up what comes next, yellow belt, manly sweat in the air, orange belt, feeling almost motion sick from the sheer amount of falling exercises.
About a year later, I switched to Jiu-Jitsu. The oldest members, around 17, 18, were juggling with strange round weights (kettlebells). I was 14 years old. The about 70-year-old Sensei, Johannes Trybull, appeared on the mats, doing several falling exercises. I remember thinking how somebody that ancient, could still move this powerful. A handshake turned into a painful fingerlock, throwing me on the ground. It really hurt, but damn did I want to be able to do that to someone else. More falling exercises, now on concrete floors. Even the kettlebell dropped on toes, wasn’t really that bad. You want to learn to defend yourself? You get every now and then hurt. It was that simple. It was exciting.
1980, the first karate katas in the backyard. Long evening walks, checking the neighbourhood buildings for roof repairs, grabbing quickly a stack of roof shingles. I remember one breaking test in particular. Some fifteen roof shingles piled up, gasoline poured over it, match, fire, lights off. Guests said, that the flames went for a moment up my arm while breaking the tiles. How much cooler can you be as an 18 year old.
In 1984 I started training the Siu-Nim-Tau, chain-punches, partner exercises, exchanged letters and postcards with my future Si-Fu, Keith Kernspecht. Soon I faced my first WT instructor, a mighty 1st Technician Grade. WT people might chuckle now. It was the mid 80’s. First level TG’s were the kings. One hand still in his pants pocket, he knocked three of us young guys down. I wanted that skill.
Now it is 2016. I still enjoy showing every beginner the very basics.
To be a beginner again.
What do you do?
Ask yourself what single point you want to achieve in tonight’s class?
Help a training partner.
Show up! Get involved. Don’t wait at the sidelines.
Communicate with your training partner.
Remember the magic of the first hours of training.
Remember your goals. Did you lose sight of them?
Is the grass greener on the other side?
I see so many, even instructors jump from one martial art to another. Everywhere seeking the “thing”.
Challenge yourself. Set goals. Write them down. Ask your instructor for help.
Don’t wait to be entertained.
Find something new, even in what seems the most basic exercise.
To be a beginner again. That is the Kung Fu secret. Train hard. Ask. Make others better. Analyze yourself. Only you can make yourself good. Don’t wait for something to happen. Don’t just jump on the next bandwagon, the next trend. Kung Fu is hard work.
To be a beginner again.