Getting back into the habit

Training was fabulous, yesterday. Not that it isn’t always, but after three weeks away, it was something of a relief. I got to Islington early, having been to Fulham first to hand in some work and collect some more (and, having learnt there’s plenty more to come, I left with something of a bounce in my step). I sat and read for most of the time I was there waiting – it was a good excuse to read some more of Fingersmith and it took me by surprise at the end of the first section. The first person narrator hadn’t seen it coming so, of course, neither does the reader.

Shortly before I knew the children would be arriving for the class, I made sure I was ready to go in and help, and when I went into the hall, Dave was already there and greeted me with, ‘So you’re still alive.’ Yes, I definitely am, and I’d missed everyone more than I can accurately convey, which might seem strange after only a couple of weeks, but only if you had no idea how much my classmates mean to me.

Kala joined me for the children’s class and another chapter of my story was read out to them. (It was humbling and rather nice, earlier on, to hear Dave say parts of it are ‘brilliant’ because they make the children think about what kung fu is all about.) I have another story to write, now, with the same character. It doesn’t take me very long and I actually find it very easy, apart from one or two things I struggled with for the first one (the chapters are based on specific things the children need to remember), so to know that I’m doing it right, and especially in the eyes of such a fantastic instructor, is gratifying, as writing these chapters is fun for me.

The suang yang class, at first, didn’t go as planned. I started my pattern after the initial warm up and Dave said, ‘What was that?’ (I’d barely done two moves, by this time.) So I said, ‘I don’t know. I know what it wasn’t, but I don’t know what it was.’ Then, ‘I’ll start again, shall I?’ Dave said, ‘That’s a good plan.’ After that, I was fine, and it was just a case, as it always is, of practising and trying to iron out wrinkles (there are always wrinkles). The kung fu class afterwards didn’t wear me out as much as I thought, though I did really feel the fact I hadn’t trained for a while. When we partnered up and did kicks over each other’s hands, it involved a back-spinning kick and I felt quite dizzy at one point and started to lose my balance. I had said to Dave earlier that if I looked like I had my head in the clouds, it would be because it had been stuck firmly in books for the past couple of weeks, and I was in a little bubble. As long as I didn’t stay in it for too long, he said. During the patterns class, I already felt that there was no power coming out when I was practising, but wasn’t sure what to do about it, so it was good to have Dave come over and tell me. ‘If you have to be a vegetarian,’ he added, ‘at least try not to look like one when you train.’ I’ll take that away with me, because he did also tell me how to get the power rather than compensating for it elsewhere and now I’ll always keep that in mind. It was something I already knew, but it’s good to be reminded of things, no matter how long you’ve been training. And in my case, it’s now been three years.

After patterns, which went on for far longer than it should have (no complaints from me), it was time to spar. I’d got out of the habit and hadn’t sparred in about four months, so it was daunting, but it was also fabulous. I’d almost forgotten how much of a buzz it is to have to defend yourself against punches and kicks, particularly when the person you’re sparring with is someone you know and trust. For the first time, though, I felt the vulnerability of my fingers, as I wear mitts rather than pad gloves, which needs to be rectified as soon as possible. Given my profession, it’d be pretty inconvenient to have dislocated or broken fingers. (That could be said for any profession, I suppose, but I rely totally on being able to write, so in my case, it would be a bloody nuisance.)

On the train home, I was reading again. I had sat down at a table seat, but then four girls sat at the one on the other side, so I moved. This may seem silly, but on the way up, there were half a dozen girls on a trip to London, and it sounded exactly like that all the way up. I don’t begrudge people talking (I’d be a bit of a hypocrite, really, wouldn’t I?) but they didn’t stop for the entire journey, and I didn’t want that again on the way home. Anyway, the journey seemed all the shorter for having my nose firmly stuck in my book again and I was home shortly after midnight.

Funnily enough, I slept well, last night.

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