Why I Love Kung Fu - An Essay
(This is an essay I submitted to my Kung Fu instructor this week, who assigned it to me as a way to remember why I stick with Kung Fu during the plateaus and frustrations.)
Since I was a child, I was never the athletic type. I was typically the last picked on a team in gym class. I was not energetic enough to stick with after-school sports. As a means to maintain some basic level of activity, I participated in ballet, jazz, and tap dancing. However, this was only for fun – there was no competition involved or a desire to really push myself. This was also the same with cheerleading in both high school and college.
Flash forward to 2010. As an adult, I was making choices to better myself in a variety of ways: physical fitness, dieting, and gaining self-confidence as examples. After conversations with some of my friends, I chose Kung Fu as a means to get into better shape without the forced monotony of a personal trainer, since I’ve always hated the gym. But I never expected kung fu to affect me positively in so many ways.
First of all, Kung Fu has given me a routine physical training. By attending classes 3-4 times a week, I am consistently working on my strength, flexibility and endurance. In the 1.5 years of training, I see it in the number of pushups I can do before collapsing, or the ability to wrap my foot behind my head as if I was a kid again. I even see it outside of Kung Fu, by lifting heavy boxes and multiple grocery bags without complaint or making it through a full day with my heavy camera gear. I may not be in the best physical shape, but I am in the best physical shape of my entire life. I can only hope to add supplementary fitness such as bicycling, weight lifting and cardio training to improve my Kung Fu abilities so that I can make significant progress.
Second, Kung Fu is improving my personality in terms of self-confidence and outgoingness. I am typically a shy person with years of working thru poor self-esteem and self-confidence issues. I am training in a supportive environment where instructors and classmates equally want to help me succeed in a positive manner. By being part of such a dedicated community, I am able to relax more and be more social with people, both new and old. I am also proud of the accomplishments I have made in a short time. For instance, I would have never dreamed of competing in two martial arts competitions in 2011, due to my fear of performing in public or having people judge me.
Kung Fu also prepares me to defend myself should a bad situation occur. I work in a retail banking industry that is prone to bank robberies. I have been involved in two robberies within the last two years. Although I am unable to use self-defense in these events, being in a helpless and threatening situation has affected me psychologically. Kung Fu helps me gain the strength and courage I need to know what to do if being threatened or attacked.
Overall, Kung Fu gives me more purpose in my life. I have spent the last few years trying to find a hobby or activity that would challenge me without losing my interest. Even after a long and frustrating day at work, I look forward to attending Kung Fu class to center myself. I get bummed out when I’m sick or have a work schedule change that limits my training. I am not doing Kung Fu just for fun – it has released a competitive edge in me that I actually like. I want to be physically fit and mentally strong. I want to be able to spar and learn how to use weapons and transition in my forms effortlessly. And all of that involves more focus and more training – which I am willing and happy to commit to.