Been a rough couple of weeks in kung fu. I was informed by one of my Si Hings (Older Brother), Reggie, the student that re-taught me the basics of kung fu, that the Sifu didn't like seeing the same people doing forms every time, so we should give it a shot next time. Hence I might be doing a form next Sunday... I hope so. So I started showing up for late night practice three nights a week.
In short: I'm still not that great. I tried to do Lau Gar Kuen with another student named Jimmy (a youth a little more than half my age; light, nimble, and a good lion head). He knows fewer forms than me, but they are fast and precise. I tend to muddle through them heavily, getting worn out halfway through, but he was breezing through it. After a couple of sessions, I wasn't doing Lau Gar with Jimmy any more; I couldn't keep up, honestly. Instead, I was doing the first form, Mui Fa Kuen, by myself. It was kind of a big disappointment. But tonight I found out I might not even be doing that; there are these little children, you see, that would also be doing Mui Fa Kuen. It's either me or them (or maybe both, but there's not a lot of time for forms). On top of that, I don't seem to have the lower back strength to do Southern Lion long enough (or the grace, especially while bent double). Pretty discouraging. I've been pushing myself harder to try to compensate. I spend extra time practicing my forms and push myself harder during class. On my days off I do yoga to help recuperate, as well as other exercises (like snowshoeing). I've tried to eat and drink less (so that I wouldn't be so heavy on my feet), but I have a pretty difficult time fighting my stomach. Bleh.
After second class tonight, I was pretty much at my nadir. I didn't even practice southern lion because there were better students available, and I wasn't even doing that well on the dragon. Plus I found out that I was competing against grade school children for a chance to represent the school. I was beginning to wonder if this would be my last time trying to do this, since I obviously didn't have what it took. I was changing my uniform when two older students, separately, both told me that my Mui Fa Kuen was looking pretty good, much improved, actually. They're both from my class, more experienced than myself, and very dedicated. And now I don't care that much about whether or not I get to demonstrate next Sunday.
Kung Fu has always been an uphill battle for me; I've always detested sports as a waste of time, so I've never spent time in real physical training. I can't help but compare myself to other students in my class; many are younger and faster, some have been training longer than myself, or have a background in another form of martial arts, or have been lifting and boxing outside of class, or seem to pick it up naturally... etc. When I do this, I tend to end up feeling like damp toast. And I'm not sure how to deal with that, most of the time. Kung Fu is about hard work, not self-esteem. I'm not sure if it's valid to measure myself by my own progress; it seems like such and easy way out (which, while generally applicable to most situations in life, may not be applicable in a traditional Chinese setting or when training in self-defense; who cares if you're better than you were a week ago if (a) it doesn't satisfy the sifu or (b) it's not good enough to protect you from a mugger). So much to say that I was glad to have a little validation from my Si Hings tonight.
Also: writing personal posts late at night is probably a bad idea.