I have been studying martial arts at Chan's Kung Fu School for over a year now. I started learning Tai Chi in January 2021, Jow Ga the following June, and self-defense techniques along the way. I have also recently started co-instructing a youth kung fu class. Over this year, I have slowly increased the amount of time spent at the studio.
At first, I felt out of place. I was the youngest in the Tai Chi class by far, I didn't know what to do with my body, and I was stepping into a cultural space that was not my own. But the people there, especially Sifu (master) Chan, made me feel like I belonged.
As I became a better martial artist, I gained a better sense of community. I slowly felt more comfortable interacting with people, and, slowly, I made friends. I don't exactly know how I went from an outsider to a part of the community, but I know how much it has changed my life.
When I started coming into the studio once a week, I was stuck in my room. Now that I come in five times a week, I have learned multiple new skills and made lifelong friends.
Even though I started studying last January, this February was the first time I celebrated Chinese New Year because it was previously canceled due to COVID. I got to witness the Lion Dance for the first time. It's incredible how two people and some fabric transform into this creature. I just wanted to reach out and pet them.
These lions are meant to ward off evil spirits, and you feed them money in red envelopes to bring good luck. They first wake up, then walk around searching for food. Once they find it, they jump in excitement. Once they gain the courage, they scoop up the lettuce and money. After chewing, they spit the lettuce up. I guess greenery doesn't agree with lions.
A baby lion animated by Sifu's son and another Little Mantis Kung Fu student inspects the audience.
This was special because I got to showcase the forms I've been working on for over a year alongside my friends. We have worked so hard. We've put bruises, sweat, and tears of joy into our practice. Sharing that with our other friends and family was the perfect way to bring in the new year of the tiger.
If your zodiac sign is the tiger, it's your year. I'm a hare, but I know some of the tiger's luck will rub off on me.
Gong hei fat choy!
Here I am with Ally performing Sparing form in Jow Ga.
This is Sub Dook Sau (or ten poison fingers).
I also take women's self-defense classes and have learned many techniques ranging from throws (like in the video) to boxing. In this video, I throw my instructor Matt over my shoulder.
Check out how cool my friend Alain is! He is playing a traditional Chinese New Year song with a jazzy twist.
Bonus picture of my friends and I being goofy!