In June of 2014 I walked into CMAA and spoke to Shifu about weapons training. I was 54 and had collected martial arts weapons of all sorts for years. I had a wide array of swords, knives and other things, but I had never learned how to USE them. When Lucas showed me a few of his videos from his competitions, I was skeptical of what I was going to be able to learn. I told him “I won’t be doing any flipping or flying, but I would like to learn something new”.
I started going once a week for a private lesson, as I could fit it between my work schedule. We started with a stick. Again, I was skeptical. What kind of weapon is a stick?! But I stuck with it. I would practice at home in the morning. I started with 10 minutes… then as we progressed to more advanced thigs I would go through each exercise and form. 20 minutes to a half hour. Every day.
I started to teach a class near my house – I called it “old folks Kungfu”. I was sure that others would have the same fun and love of “movement with purpose” that I had. Nope. Not everyone. But I did regularly have at least one person who showed up – so I got to review my basics as I shared with others. I love the quote: “I never worked out a day in my life – I go and play and have fun”. That has been true for me.
It was not long until I learned broadsword… then straight sword… then spear and Pudao. In 2016 Shifu encouraged me to enter a competition. He mentioned that training for it would make me better. He was right. I placed second in my one (and probably only) Kungfu competition. It DID make me better – and gave me a great appreciation for all my schoolmates who train and compete on a regular basis.
I went on to learn chain whip and double broadsword, and – with a little encouragement, I began to learn a few empty hand routines. That too, has made me better with my weapons. I am now turning 58 and I fondly claim to be the best white-sash weapons master in the school! I have also lost nearly 50 pounds and I am in better shape now than I was when I was 30. I still don’t flip and fly – but I can hop and jump now!
I look forward to learning more… 3 section staff, more bladed weapons, and I am now working on Southern Style empty hand. We are moving to Virginia this year, so I am hoping my weekly classes will be via a virtual connection, so I can keep my training up. Kungfu is a part of my life – and health – in a way I never anticipated it would be. I am living proof that no matter where or how we start, the important thing is to just keep showing up and learning. Moving with purpose: with your mind, body and spirit together, brings a health and wellness that is a priceless reward.
By Ruth Brown