WKFA Instructor Anne Vandrus

Sifu Anne Vandrus

Youth Student’s Corner

Before a grading, I always ask students how they’re feeling, and more often than not I hear “nervous” as their answer. If you’ve ever said that to me, you might recall my answer: good. Being nervous is a good thing. While the feeling of nervousness may not be very fun, being nervous is actually really powerful.

Whether it’s before a grading, before your first class with a new instructor, or before facing any challenge, being nervous means that you care; it matters to you. As a martial artist, being able to take something seriously is an important skill. For example, if you take sparring seriously you can improve your Kung Fu technique, or if you take your grading seriously you can set a new personal best. Those butterflies in your stomach are saying that what you’re about to do means a lot to you. Caring about your Kung Fu journey helps you reach your goals, and makes each success feel worth it.

Being nervous also means that you were willing to take a risk. Sometimes you have to step out of your comfort zone or try something challenging in order to grow. If you never took any chances, then you might never feel nervous… but you’d be missing out on all the opportunities to push yourself beyond your limits. Maybe it takes a really hard grading to help you realize you’re stronger than you think!

Being nervous doesn’t make you weak or unprepared, nor does it make you any less capable of success. I think nervousness is a sign of courage. Having courage doesn’t mean you don’t get nervous, it means being afraid but still trying anyway. Just by taking that risk – showing up and doing your very best, no matter how nervous you are – you can grow as a person and as a martial artist.

Still feeling nervous? Here are some tips that might help:

  1. Breathe – Take a minute to just think about your breathing, keeping it nice and slow like when we meditate at the start of every class. Sometimes we hold our breath or breathe too fast without even noticing.
  2. Focus your thoughts – Find somewhere you can sit quietly and calm your mind down a bit. Tell those nervous thoughts (like “you’re not ready”, “things will go badly”, etc.) that they’re not true. Remind yourself why this is important to you, and why you can be excited about it!
  3. Talk about it – Tell someone how you’re feeling, and what you’re worried about. Just talking with someone you trust might help you work through it.

I’ll let you in on a secret: everyone gets nervous. Some people get more nervous than others, but it’s very normal and very okay to feel that way. Even your Sifus get nervous! Next time your nerves get you down, remember that it’s a good thing; so have courage.