Ok, classmates. The pressure is on, we are in the final stretch of the semester. The weeks we have left in school we can count on one hand. As you see your future coming closer and closer, you begin to stress more and more.
The anxiety can feel overwhelming and you look for an outlet. Any outlet to take away the feeling of being on a rowboat filled with holes in the middle of shark infested waters!
Lucky for me I had a mentor, teacher and friend that suggested an activity that I had always wanted to try. So, on a chilly Saturday morning we met up and traveled to the far corner of Ohio.
We crossed the treacherous roads of the I-75. Our journey was perilous as we made it to our destination in a land far away named Sidney, OH.
We looked at the brownstone temple before us, and it read Scherer’s Martial arts. We entered and before us was a story of stairs leading all the way to the top. With much excitement and exhaustion, we journeyed to the top of the stairs. There I followed my mentor’s lead and entered the space before me and bowed slightly after taking off my shoes.
I then sat down crossed leg next to a row of people in black or grey shirts and exercise sweats. Their I sat ready for my first official lessons in the spiritual, mystical and sometimes deadly art of Kung-Fu.
First off, television and movies lie. There is no soaring through the air and dancing on the leaves of trees as you swing weapons and strike down your enemies.
In real life, Kung-Fu means hard work. Before you can hit, kick and perform crouching tiger and hidden dragon you have to learn to breathe. Breathing and balance are the bedrock of what Kung-Fu is based on. This by itself is a feat.
The first order of class was greeting the Sifu, Kyle Scherer. I expected to see a wise elderly man of oriental descent with a flowing white beard. Instead, I was meet with a middle age man with slightly sunburned skin and a modest country accent wearing a camo sweatshirt.
He greeted us and started us through stretching and balancing maneuvers that seemed easy, but were some of the most complicated movements of my life. When I looked back at the Sifu all my doubts about him were wiped away.
He went through the movements as if it was the most natural thing in the world. His skill and expertise astounded me. I looked to my left to see the person who brought me, and she too looked so at ease, as if she was doing a dance she had been doing from birth, but in reality, had only been practicing Kung-Fu for a couple of years.
Next, we did striking and blocking drills. It was a numbered system that was very difficult at first to get a hand on (pun intended), then we did two man application drills followed by forms, all this in the style of the Yan family Wing Chun technique.
Be it at a speed of a turtle, it felt good to practice with another student instead of the imaginary enemies in my room after I watch my favorite Kung-Fu movie.
We ended the class with another string of stretches and then each student went to work on whatever form or discipline they had been trying to perfect. I talked to the Sifu who wasn’t just a teacher, but a healer, a practitioner of other forms of Kung-Fu disciplines and an all around incredible guy.
He had personally traveled to China to study with a grandmaster to become a master. So, as we put on our shoes, bowed once again and said goodbye to the Sifu. My mentor asked me what I thought about Kung-Fu. I respond by saying that it was wonderful, peaceful and the breathing really helped me center myself.
I could see why this was a great form of stress release. The only thing I wished she warned me was about the stretching because a new appreciation for Kung-Fu wasn’t the only thing I gained in that class. I also gained a large torn hole in my sweats! But it’s ok because now I know how to breathe through the embarrassment.
Justin A. Baker