Performance Anxiety – Not Allowed In Kung Fu School – Ch.4
In order to introduce students to public performances plus keep us motivated, the school keeps every now and then a Kung Fu Grading. We present the forms we have learned in front of all Masters and our colleagues. The Masters assess the performances by giving grades.
MY FIRST KUNG FU GRADING – 29TH NOVEMBER 2016
The day before the kung fu grading I was nervous.
I remember Daniel talking with me about travelling to Colombia. I wanted to go with him.
It is funny how much the state of mind influence our vulnerability to make a decision. I knew I didn’t have money and deep in my heart I knew I wanted to train. But, because I was in stress these two factors didn’t matter. I wanted to have a distraction. Travelling to Colombia was that distraction. With that thought I didn’t have to worry so much about the grading, because afterwards I would be far away from people, who could judge me.
Realising that I laughed. If I would have a mirror I would look at myself with disapproval. Instead I said:
- No more hiding Basia.
I knew, I had to go through it and with the time it will be easier.
During the kung fu grading the stress I felt was not overpowering. I dealt with similar emotions before so many times. It wasn’t anything new for me.
Janina was first to perform. Her face was tight. After her were boys. One of them looked very funny. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. That relaxed me a lot.
My face was strangely tight. I bowed and started to perform basics. The time was passing veeeerrrry sloooowlyyyyy. I felt everybody’s eyes on me.
After performing all kicks I began sweeps.
In one moment my concentration swept away. It was like in a dream when you wake up and cannot remember what you have been dreaming about. I couldn’t remember if I have done front sweep or back sweep.
The rest of my performance went smoothly.
THE NEXT KUNG FU GRADING TOOK PLACE FOUR MONTHS LATER ON 31ST OF MARCH
I have learned many forms since the first kung fu grading. I decided to grade two Kung Fu Forms: Staff Form and Tong Bei Chuan, and one Form learned from Master Miao (Tai Chi Master): Long-Tasseled Sword Form.
I was skeptical about the amount of forms I planned to grade. It seemed way too many.
But, my boyfriend, who always tries to check my limits, was so enthusiastic about it and sure that I am able to do it, that at the end I couldn’t say no. The good argument standing for it was that I wouldn’t have to grade these forms later. I could entirely focus on my next forms.
The second kung fu grading turned out to be a real challenge. I was one of the last students performing. I didn’t have a lot of time between each form performance.
After presenting Tong Bei, Staff Form and Broadsword, the next was Long-Tasseled Sword Form and almost immediately after it slow Tai Chi Sword 42 Form.
When I went in front of the Masters – judges, I felt my legs trembling, still feeling the effort from the last performance. My balance was very insecure. I knew I could do it calmly and with confidence. But because I was tired, I couldn’t control my body.
The kung fu grading came to an end. I was super happy. Daniel was impressed. It was afterwards that he told me that almost nobody or very rarely someone performed so many forms at once during the grading and that I was really amazing being able to do it the way I had done it. I was angry with him but again proud of myself to meet the challenge.
I felt my confidence in performing growing gradually.
MY FIRST PUBLIC PERFORMANCE
Two weeks before the third kung fu grading I had opportunity to perform in front of 300 kids and 100 adults. This was the first time I was showing my skills to a bigger public. I was scared. But at the same time curious and ready to rise to the challenge. The form I chose was Long-Tasseled Sword. It is elegant, impressive and not tiring form.
I was wearing black Kung Fu suit with the embroidered gold dragon, borrowed from my roommate – Tina. It was a first time that I wear a proper Kung Fu performance outfit. My hair were tight up ordently. I had a make up. Being nicely dressed felt good.
In the first part of my performance, the long tassel got tangled up in the suit. I realised it, when I wanted to make a next move, but I couldn’t. Surprised, automatically I untied it without an effort and kept performing. My lips were shaking a little bit. But, at the end, the performance went quite okey.
THE THIRD KUNG FU GRADING WAS AT THE END OF MAY 2017
When the kung fu grading time came, I had different emotions than previously. Firstly, I didn’t think about it as much as before. Secondly, I wanted to enjoy it more than just having it done. Thirdly, this time I was more aware of the environment, of myself, my gaze, strength of my movements and the energy around.
It went okay. Not perfect, but not bad either. I noticed that I became more critical towards myself. Before, what counted the most was that I won’t panic and I won’t forget anything. This time I also cared about the quality of my performance.