Saturday, September 23, 2006

My First Kung Fu Tournament

A few months ago, I set a goal to compete in a Chinese Kung Fu tournament in September. I've been taking martial art training for 5 years, but I just switched to Chinese Kung Fu and Tai Chi Sword training this year. It's very different from Tae Kwon Do (a Korean martial art) that I was accustomed to, but I really enjoy the new training. I know for me to do well in something, I need to challenge myself, and competing in a tournament is certainly a great challenge.

I'm no stranger to martial arts tournaments. I have competed and medaled in several NJ state & regional Tae Kwon Do Championships. But, this would be special because it would be my very first Chinese Kung Fu tournament. I figured, it would be a new adventure and fun experience for me. I told my classmates that I was doing it for fun and for the learning experience. I'm just a "new kid on the block" in the Kung Fu world. If nothing else, it would certainly make a good bedtime story for my future grandchildren. :-)

However, right before summer, I started to have a lot of neck and back pains. As it turned out, I have 4 mild disc herniations in my neck and my lower back. The entire summer I was spending many hours in tests and treatments. I started to feel unsure about the tournament.

There was less than 2 weeks left and I didn't even own a Kung Fu uniform. I finally had to ask myself: "Are you 100% committed or just sort-of, kind-of want to do this?" It's time to clean up my act. So, I got my Kung Fu uniform and matching tassels for my sword, and signed myself up for my very first Kung Fu tournament. This is the 2006 Wong Fei Hung North Eastern All Kung Fu Championships. It's sponsored by Yee's Hung Ga International Kung Fu Association and held in Jersey City, NJ on September 23, 2006.

Last night, my son had a huge fight with me, because he didn't want to spend the entire Saturday going to a Kung Fu tournament with me. My DH and I tried to explain to him that we all have to go together, because I need Daddy there to take pictures & video, and I need all of my family to support me. "Come on", I said, "it will be so cool to watch the lion dance and all the different weapon forms!!!" Well, he doesn't think that would be fun. He would rather stay home and play with his Bionicles. I know. I understand his preference, but I want him to understand that Mommy also has something that I'd like to pursue for myself, and it's very important that I stick to my goals, and it's very important that we support our own family. No matter what I said, he just kept saying "I just don't want to go" and started wailing.

After trying to console him with no avail, I got mad & walked away. It's the night before my tournament, as nervous as I already was, I really don't need this. I also felt hurt. When my son finally calmed down, I held him on the sofa and told him that he hurt my feelings. I told him that I would ALWAYS love him, but this time I was mad at him because his behavior hurt my feelings. All these years, I have worked so hard to support everything he did, everything he liked. And now it's my turn to pursue something I like. All I ask for is some moral support from him, and the least he could do is to go to the tournament WITHOUT complaints. "It's not all about you", I told him, "Sometimes you need to do something for other people, especially your family".

I want him to know that as a family, we need to support each other. In addition, the world does not revolve around him. Even Mommy and Daddy have our own lives, our own goals, and he needs to respect that.

So, today is the day. The tournament registration started at 8:00am, so we all had to get up really early, and loaded everything in the minivan. I looked at myself in the mirror, in a sky blue Kung Fu uniform, took a deep breath, and left the house. I guess my talk worked somehow. My son was quite cooperative today -- not so enthusiastic, but didn't complain either. It turned out to be a LONG day at the tournament, but it's all worth it.

It's such an exhilirating experience! It's so awesome to see so many martial artists, from so many different styles, showing off their skills under one roof. The adrenaline-pumping sparring matches were exciting to watch; nontheless, I personally prefer the forms competition. The forms are an artful combination of strength and grace. It takes hours and hours of practice, tremendous patience, focus and discipline to learn a form well. Skills aside, there is something beautiful about it, when you see a martial artist's total focus, intention and dedication while performing a form. Sometimes it moves me to tears. I guess that's why they call it martial "art".

Martial art traing has been very empowering for me. When I was training in Tae Kwon Do, one of our student creed was "To be victorious with patience and bravery". Those are the two qualities I've been trying to cultivate. I've proven to myself so many things I (or anyone else) never thought I could do. Seriously, I'm 5'3" and less than 110 pounds. Probably the last person you would suspect who takes martial art training. I've had to overcome a lot of limiting beliefs & fears -- on my part, and from everyone around me. My parents and my doctor just couldn't understand why I wanted to do this in the first place. LOL! I tried it out because my good friend kept asking me to, and never expected that I would be any good at it. But I quickly found out that I really enjoy the challenge and the sense of achievement that comes with doing something well. I was always amazed that I was so much stronger (mentally & physically) than I thought. Besides, this was something that's for me, and me only, and that's a big deal when you are a mom. :-)

Anyway, I competed in two categories today -- Northern Hand Form and Internal Weapons, both in the Executive Division (for people 36 and older). I did Mian Zhang Quen ("continuous palm") for the Northern Hand Form, and Wudang Tai Chi Sword for the Internal Weapons. I was very nervous for the hand form, because I had just finished learning the form about two weeks ago, and I didn't really have enough time to practice. Plus I was waiting by the ring side for SO long that I was STARVING (past 2:30pm and no lunch). I tried to do my best, but just didn't feel like I was able to execute the form with full power. After having something to eat, I did a much better job with Tai Chi Sword. One of the judges came up to me with a big smile, and asked me how long I had been training in Jiang (sword). He was pleased when I said "six months". What a relief! :-)

I'm very happy to report that I won 1st place for both categories!!! Yay, two more gold medals under my belt!!! I'm very proud that I stick to my goal despite the obstacles. The gold medals are sweet bonuses! I'm very grateful for my master, my family, and all my friends who have supported me on this journey. This will become one of my most treasured memories. And you can bet that it will be told to my grandchildren many years from now. :-)

picture with my master Gary Carbone (center) and my classmate Robert Matthews (Photo by Carole Rizzo)

at the tournament with my master Gary (left), classmates George (middle), Lance (right), their children, and my children

at the tournament with Master Frank Yee, founder of Yee's Hung Ga International Kung Fu Association

Lion Dance performance at the tournament


Holly said...

What a fun share! I so admire people who just go after things. Thanks for the boost this morning! ;o)

Take heart, my daughter's instructors at Sylvan told us they waited with baited breath for our daughter and her stories to arrive each week! I've always struck a deal early on with new teachers that if they agree to only believe about half of what she says I'll extend the same courtesy. *wink*

Holly's Corner
Here via the Carnival of Family Life. ;o)

kailani said...

First place! Wow! I'm sure it means a lot more to you knowing the obstacles you had to overcome. Congratulations!

Here via Carnival of Family Life.

ZenKitty said...

Thanks for the congrats! Yes, overcoming the obstacles does make the success so much sweeter for me! :-)

toy said...

hi zenkitty
got a link to this post from gary carbone
who is also teaching me the same jien form

hes great!

anyway -
my hung gar school competes at this comp
so its good to someone else i train with compete here
and both of you guys winning

if you need a good chiropractor fo ryour back
i have one who performs miracles...