by Sifu Laurent Bernardin
Kung Fu is over two thousand years old and is deeply rooted in tradition. The art is passed on from generation to generation and from master to student. By design, change is slow and deliberate. However, just like in biological evolution, change does happen and can be accelerated when the system experiences a shock. We have all seen an example of such an event over the past eighteen months. However, this is not meant to be yet another article about the pandemic.
That said, as Kung Fu parents and students, we certainly have had to deal with our share of change, and I stopped counting how many times we updated the schedule that is posted in our kitchen. In-person classes are available again and even the kwoon is open for training on rainy days. If you choose to take advantage of these options for your children, you might, like me, experience both a sense of relief but also a share of anxiety. Relief, that they are again able to interact directly with fellow students and instructors, without the intermediary of a screen. Anxiety, lingering after a long period of time, trying our best to keep at a distance from other human beings.
For a good number of students, additional change has come from moving up in the age programs. A move from the Youth to the Juniors means switching classes, meeting new students, and getting acquainted with a new Sifu. Expectations also tend to rise both in terms of physical endurance and ability to focus. Moving from the Juniors into the Adult program can be even more intimidating as students may now find themselves training alongside Sifus that they’ve known as teachers for many years.
As we deal with change, however, Kung Fu also provides us with “rocks” that remain constant. The structure of a Kung Fu class remains largely unchanged independent of delivery mechanism and age level. Our curriculum is another (near) constant that students can rely upon; what they learn in a class will remain relevant for years to come. And then there is what may be the essence of Kung Fu and has been since its inception: students see improvements that relate to the effort they put in.