Forced Slow Down

What a crazy, wild ride the past couple weeks have been.  I attended a bunch of extra classes to get a better handle on the grappling curriculum.  Work has been steady.  Chad & I have started looking at starting a new business venture that has taken time.  Kids keep me hopping...  I have been living life full out, that is until I could not keep up that pace one second longer.

Last Wednesday was a definite high in my kung fu life.  I focused in and met the goal of getting that last stripe.  I'm not so sure my precious son fully appreciated the beating required but I am grateful that he let me use him as a victim.  I am also grateful for the additional attention that Sifu Lindstrom sent my way during that time.  It was a successful push.  I did indeed meet my goal.  It really was a pretty exciting moment.

Then Thursday hit...  I felt tired and slow all day long.  I managed to push through all that was required of me but barely.  I had a sweet friend hang up the phone on me after telling me to just go have a nap.  Friday was another day filled with go, go, go...  As the day wore on, I felt worn out.  By the time I went to bed I knew that there was a head cold on it's way. 

This weekend, I stripped life back to the must do's.  Kids made to it their activities on Saturday morning.  Groceries were purchased on Sunday to start the week.  Nothing else happened!!!  Just napping and reading...

Today I am still operating in my slowed down state.  I made it to class but drank peppermint tea while watching everyone else kick the bags.  It was a class that I know I needed to do but I just did not have it in me.  Then it was home for another nap.  Tonight, Chad is helping me out with much of the driving to and from the kwoon - another item to add to my gratitude list.

We spend a great deal of time talking about progressing wisely and not approaching mastery in an all or nothing manner.  This past week, I failed to do this and my body is now reminding me that indeed, I am a mere mortal.  I knew that I had been pushing myself too hard over the past few weeks without enough downtime and rest.  I was reminded that if I do not listen to my body, it will talk a whole bunch louder and it will get my attention.  Perhaps this time I will learn from this forced slow down...

Karen Bergstreiser

Rekindle the Flame

I attended a documentary at the Garneau theatre a couple weeks ago. In this documentary, a young man talks of his experience as a chef, cooking for a large group of people on a regular basis.  This young man was asked if he ever gets tired of his job. His reply was that when he runs out of new ideas of what to cook, it gets repetitive, and that leads to boredom. He becomes bored with his job as chef, until he comes up with new ideas of what he can cook.  Then he is no longer bored, and his responsibilities as chef become enjoyable again.

When I heard this, I immediately thought of my opportunity to teach Kung fu to kids.  When I run out of new ideas of how to teach, my classes become repetitive, and then I become bored. I don't look forward to teaching because I feel like I'm going in circles with ideas. Teaching the same small circle of ideas over and over again. When I research teaching kids Kung fu, I manage to come up with new ideas. Watching a video of classes, can give me even a small snippet of an idea, and I can take that and teach a number of classes. It's so exciting to bring a new idea of how and what to teach to class.  When this happens, I feel I am relaxed and able to teach my best classes. As I introduce a new idea, more new ideas often come to me right as I am teaching.  I think outside of the box, and it becomes spontaneous and exhilarating. These are my favourite classes to teach, and the kids always seem to enjoy them a lot too.

I also find this to be true as I train. If  I train the same way over and over again, it becomes so repetitive and boring. That leads to a decline in wanting to train. But, if I can think of new ways to work on the same form or technique over and over again, it becomes challenging and suddenly rekindles my desire to improve, and train harder. This drives me further on, and plays a huge role in my quest to become closer to mastery.

I felt that today. I have been working constantly to finish my new weapon form. I managed to get to the end, learning the last move a mere few days ago. I have been going through it from start to finish, so I can get the sequence memorized. Today I video taped it, and saw many errors of my ways.  As much as it kind of sucks to see how much work I need to do to improve my form, it's exciting to pick apart pieces of the form and work on those certain pieces only.  It definitely takes away the boredom of doing the form over and over again from start to finish.  As I improve on the small bits and pieces of the form, it improves the form in it's entirety.  

Brenda Stoddart

Three Cups of Tea

I recently finished the book Three Cups of Tea written by Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin. The timing is perfect because it ties into one of the charities that Silent River Kung Fu and the Benevolent Foundation supports each year. The charity I am talking about is Malawi Girls on the Move. 

The Benevolent Foundation and the charities we support are a big focus at this time of year as we prepare for Pandemonium. When talking about each of the charities, I have found that some people are resistant to supporting charities that are outside of their own country or even their community. An even smaller percentage of people questioned why support a charity that builds schools for just girls rather than girls and boys. These are good questions and they offer an opportunity for conversation and that conversation can help to create awareness.

Every person, every plant and animal that exists on our planet is connected to each other. As I am writing this I started to think about how the Earth is round, one big enormous circle and how that ties into our practice of Kung Fu. We are taught in Kung Fu to see and feel the circular motions of our techniques and understand/feel the six harmonies. When throwing a punch for instance there is more than just a fist involved. Other areas of the body are affected and move in conjunction with the punch. Even if we don't make contact with the punch there is still a ripple effect happening. 

I understand the desire to focus on what we can see and hear within our own communities, because it is easier and less overwhelming then looking at the world as our community. It is important to understand though that even halfway around the world we are still connected. The ripples may take a bit longer to reach us, but there is no doubt that we will be affected either positively or negatively. Education provides hope, empowerment and opportunities that wouldn't exist otherwise creating a positive ripple around the world for all to benefit from. 

Three cups of Tea is a true story about how one person can make a difference. Greg Mortenson had a vision that started with building a school for girls in a small mountain village in Pakistan. After ten years with the help of numerous people 55 schools were built. By 2009, 81 schools had been built in Afghanistan and Pakistan. 

"When I look into the eyes of the children in Pakistan and Afghanistan, I see the eyes of my own children full of wonder---and hope that we each do our part to leave them a legacy of peace instead of the perpetual cycle of violence, war, terrorism, racism, exploitation, and bigotry that we have yet to conquer " ( Mortenson 335).

Michele Ward