Kunming, Yunan, China.
Began Kung Fu and began training to get my black belt. I trained for three years, initially, and did 4+ hours a week, on average. Kung Fu was my whole life, at that point. I constantly asked to more classes, but was refused because they worried about a burn out. I did almost burn out, shortly after starting my second year, but mum had already paid and so I was forced to continue. The burn out and lack of motivation did not last long and I began to enjoy it once more.
As I rejoined Kung Fu at the newly opened Valley View Martial Arts, I very quickly realised that my skills were not nearly where they should have been. The previous place, Island Kung Fu, had been a bit of a belt factory. They pushed people through, regardless of their ability, so long as they profited. Upon realising this, I began to train harder than ever and soon got into the best shape I've ever been in. Within two years I was where I should have been, coming out of my Black Belt Test. I began to teach, and now (due to chronic joint pain) have lessened off on the physical side, but continue to learn and teach, albeit slower and less frequently, but I love it no less.
Roughly fourteen months after I was born, I was adopted by my mother and brought home to Youbou. I do often think about how different my life would have been if I was adopted by someone else, or if I'd not been adopted at all, but it's a very minor part of my life. Just as people ask me if I want to meet my 'real' parents, I ask them how my mother is not my 'real' mother. She raised, fed, played with, changed, and cared for me, did she not?
Despite training with Sam for two years prior to my third year of training at Kung Fu, it was not until the beginning of our third that we really became friends. It was mostly due to us being two of the only few girls our age who had passed and moved up to the next level that we begun training closely together. This is on my timeline because, even if we don't talk or are in a rough patch, she's always someone who changed me for the better. She was my first real best friend, and that has lasted for eleven years. Though she was a constant in my Kung Fu life, she quickly traveled outside that, to become the person I talked to most. The person I based my whole social life around when I began at Kelsey. The person who was always, unconditionally there. She was an excellent influence on me, particularly when we were younger, as I had a hard time making friends as I was so high strung, among other things. She has worn me down somewhat - in a good way - and mellowed me out.
Moving to Frances Kelsey was a huge social and emotional upheaval for me. I changed my entire peer group, and mostly left Duncan (as Kung Fu and work had migrated to centre around Mill Bay/Shawnigan) I had had bad experiences at Queen of Angels in which I was not always the victim. I had no friends there, and I did not like many people. It was a bad place for me, but I had been there for nine years and did not want to change. Moving to Kelsey was one of the best choices I've made. I have since changed my friend group numerous times (sometimes even over the course of one year), but my baseline happiness is a lot higher than it was at QofA and I have never regretted it, or wanted to go back.
This was the first bad mark I'd gotten on anything significant and it felt awful. I'm one of those people who tends to be quite goal-oriented, and having such a poor outcome really took its toll on me. I felt as if I'd not done enough, that I'd wasted an entire term.
Starting at VIU was a definite change in my lifestyle. I'd always been told that it would be harder at uni than it was at high school, but had never really believed them. It was not until actually arriving there that I realised how true it was. I got an A by Kelsey standards on my first Psych midterm which appeased me for a bit, though. As my marks continuously dropped, little by little, I began to understand the difference. It was not until meeting with my English prof that I found out that I was doing quite well. I had a 70 something average and expressed my worries that I was doing poorly in the class and she looked at me in surprise and said that I was an excellent student and that I had one of the highest marks in her class at the moment.
For quite a while in QofA my mother worked long hours and so I went to the school's "Angel Care" which was the after school care program there. We used to play with Lego and video games, and play dough, and dolls and such, but there was always competition over the best stuff. I have always been (and probably always will be) a bit of a pushy person, and on this particular day, I was losing the battle over the best Lego pieces. Andrea Zoric, the woman in charge, came over to see what the loud noises and yelling were about. Upon seeing seven or so children fighting over Lego, she firmly let us know that if there was any more fighting, no one would get to play with them. From there, everyone settled down a bit and people began to play and build quietly. I did, however, not start getting better pieces. And when no one would trade with me calmly, I proceeded to start a very loud argument over the pieces and had them ALL taken away, because if I couldn't have the nice ones, no one could.
Earning my Black Belt, to me, does not fit under Physical like the rest of my training. It was more of a personal milestone than a practical one. The day of training immediately after was no better or worse for me wearing the belt than the one immediately before. It was the three years of hard work and 4+ hours a week of training I put in every week, every month, every year. The Black Belt did not matter to anyone else, because no one knows exactly what and how I went through and experienced my three years - those were unique and individual to me, and that's what the belt represents to me.
The Sash of the Teacher was an important emotional milestone in the same way that my Black Belt was. It marked the end of five more years of training. The aim of the Green Sash is to take a white belt and train with them and help them grow, until they reach their black belt. Elizabeth Cox was the woman that I ended up working most closely with. Starting her journey towards Black at around the age of fifty, and putting in roughly double the amount of classes necessary (she had ~17,000 at the date of the ceremony), she has constantly been an inspiration to me. The day I received my Green Sash was the day of the Black Belt Test and subsequent ceremony. It was not something I expected to get, and was fighting back tears when they called my name and handed me the sash. To me, it represents the renewal of my training (the realisation that the three years I'd spent were not nearly enough, and I was not nearly up to scratch), the friends I'd made at Kung Fu, the job I'd held for roughly four of those years, and the teaching experience I'd gained.