Of all the outrageous, glittery, wild, fantastic things I’ve dreamed of doing in my life (non of them involving bungee cords) I never for a micro-second imagined that one of those things would be a spinning inside crescent kick.
It is a thing of wonder to me that I can do this. That before I turned forty one years old I couldn’t do it, but now I can. I couldn’t do a plie to save my life when I was eight and engaged in the obligatory girlhood stint in ballet. My ballet teacher made it (gently) plain that ballet was not, perhaps, the ideal activity for me. I don’t remember being hurt by this. I remember knowing it to be the truth. I had no flight. I had no grace and my limbs were stubbornly stocky and though I wasn’t in the least bit fat I was what could be described as being of “sturdy” build.
As a young person without aching joints or fat or any previously broken bones I never experienced what it felt like to achieve something with my body; to reach high for some impossible physical feat and actually grab it. I did know what it felt like to feel my body working well, doing as I told it to do; running or walking and getting that sly burning stretching feeling in my muscles as they work against an increasing demand for speed and strength. But I never asked my body to do something my mind thought was impossible or wonderful.
Like the spinning inside crescent kick.
I haven’t tried doing this kick since dropping the regular Kung Fu classes in the spring. I was barely able to hit the practice pads at that time. I haven’t practiced it since then because I’m scared of this kick. I’m scared of falling on my ass. Not because I’m afraid of making a fool of myself. Screw that. I have no fear of looking foolish. I’m scared because it was an unlikely non-violent fall on my ass that broke my hip in the first place and from which event I suspect I am still suffering post traumatic stress disorder.
There are two things I know for sure (down from the ten I previously knew for sure) and it’s this: I must NEVER give birth again and I must NEVER break my hip again.
So I’m scared to do things that take me off balance. This spinning kick requires momentum and turning while extending your leg out to catch a target. I’ve seen people fall doing this kick many times. You can feel your balance shift while you’re doing it. Last night in Kung Fu I had to do this kick I haven’t practiced. I don’t know how it’s possible but I hit the pad nearly each time I did the kick and even better than that is that I was able to complete the 360 degree turn at least fifty percent of the time. I could hardly do that at all in the spring.
Bodies have memory. That’s a well known fact. I think they have extraordinary memory. I know this for unpleasant reasons but this is one of those times when my body remembering something has been a gift and an exhilaration.
There is another thing that’s changed and that I’m at a loss to explain- I am now able to do a power yell in class. I had to do it in forms. Though some students (they know who they are!) don’t do it anyway. I did it. It took me two years of Kung Fu to be able to do that. I did it in forms class because I had to. Then last night a saucy young punk in class told me to give him a power yell for an exercise we were doing and at first I said no because I’m used to saying no. But then I did it. And then I did it again. We changed partners and I was doing an exercise with a friend and he told me to do the power yell again and I did it. Almost no one else was doing them. I threatened my friend that I would make him do them in his turn and he told me he is too scared to do power yells.
I was floored. This is a student whose strength and power I admire. This is a guy who I would not want to get in a physical fight with. How could such a person be scared to make a power yell? Yet I obviously understand the fear of the power yell. I told him it took me two years to get to that point. He said maybe he’d get there too when he’d been doing it two years.
It made me realize how far I’ve come. I’m still just a purple belt and it will take a long time to get a black belt from my Sifu but I’m giving myself a black belt right now for not quitting every damn time I pull a muscle or a ligament, for coming in spite of panic attacks and all my anxieties being triggered at once, for taking my deepest fear and dread (physical abuse) and taking its power away and making it mine. MY power. For finally being able to yell a terrible yell even when the rest of the class are all silent as spiders.
For being able to do a spinning inside crescent kick.
My next goal is to do it well.