The Dragon Journals
The Dragon Journals

My Story - Chapter Two : The Journey Begins...

It would be lovely to say that "well, now you've found it and you'll treasure it always" but even Aunt Martha's precious, irreplaceable diamond ring finally was lost forever. We aren't always grateful of what we find, nor do we even recognise it at the time. Or maybe, like me, you find you are always starting something new, then the novelty wears off and it is put aside, never to be used again. For example, after many years of lessons I do still play the piano on occasion; however, I am not a pianist. Will this art prove to be another item begun and never finished? This questions plagues me for several months, since my first class was so exciting that I had to wonder how long the thrill would last.

That first class was definitely not the typical Karate Kid KungFu Kombat Klass errrr class. In fact, it was so extremely opposite that I had to wonder just what kind of "granolas" were taking martial arts classes. Well, that may sound extreme, but this was my first impression:

The site of class was a church, in a room several paces inside a heavy church door and past a billboard advertising, "Spiritual Healing," "Easter Mass in the Park," and "Scripture Night," among other items. We were early, so we had plenty of time to learn that our souls were yet salvageable (according to the posted articles, anyway), and to wonder if this applied even to those of us who were about to take classes in ... umm... well, fighting. As it turned out, the class immediately before the martial arts class was something that sounded extremely New Age "Chi Kung" or "Qigong," a health practise. None of this really bothered me. I was here to learn a real martial art and was ready for "whatever" - for now, anyway.

"Whatever" it was, it certainly was not anything I had expected. It was nice to stretch a bit before the class and I was glad to see that everyone else was also wearing mostly track pants and T-shirts. Then I learned that there were a few small things I would have to learn before being allowed to learn how to fight. Namely, I had to learn how to sit quietly (for me, this is nigh impossible. Ask any of my friends). And how to stand. And how to walk. And how to - well, you get the idea. I remember thinking "I wish I'd paid more attention in kindergarten," but by then I'd discovered how difficult it is to change habits of almost 40 years as the leaders of our group, Neil and Eric, showed us (with extreme patience) all we needed to learn before we could even begin.

So, you must be wondering, what kept me interested during and after that first class? Well, first of all, there are no "belts" or "belt systems," in other words, you are as good as you are and no artificial groups exist. We are all on the same path - and when those further down the road turn around and call out "hey, can't wait until you get here and find what I've just found!" - well, you can't help feeling good about this type of group.

Also, nobody pointed out something I've known for a few years, and that is that I'm female. Yes there are differences but no beginner needs to have additional obstacles thrown in their path, do they? Well, this martial art is about skill, and I was told that size doesn't matter. Better and better. The Shifu (teacher) of this system was taught by a Chinese man whose sons weren't interested in learning the family art, which was at risk of being lost forever. These tidbits of information not only kept my interest intellectually, but when I was shown that I could maintain an "unbendable" arm and push away several large people who were leaning their (not inconsiderable) entire body weights on me - well, now I'm sold.

The one thing that very nearly undid me, with all my good intentions, was the issue of practising. Just like the pianoforte, in order to improve you need to practise at least daily, and this was to be my devil for months to come. Also, it's somewhat bizarre to practise walking. Standing. Sitting quietly. Well, if you don't believe me, try walking slowly up and down your living room for 15 minutes, without interruption and without stumbling over the dog / cat / furniture / husband, etc.... Then again, you could simply trust me when I tell you that it isn't easy. But it can be done...

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