The Butterfly, the Hurricane, and the Cow Hands
Sifu Antonio’s wife, Suelen told me that the students requested that for the grand opening show in Brazil, I do at least 1 butterfly kick. It seems to be my signature move. It makes me laugh because the very few films I have worked on always involve this movement. Mulan, Mortal Kombat Conquest, etc.
Growing up I always called the butterfly kick the hurricane kick. Why? My father called it hurricane, so it was the hurricane kick. Fast forward to when I was 16 and trying to learn Cantonese. I started dissecting words and expanding my vocabulary. The Chinese for the movement I was so famous for was Wu-dip-tui, which translates to… Butterfly kick. What!?! For 16 years of my life I called it hurricane and now it’s a butterfly? I was so frustrated! Why would my father call it hurricane? I am not sure really, but the tornado kick in Chinese is a jumping crescent kick, so I am guessing he confused tornado, hurricane, and then the whole thing got jumbled. Either way, it was crazy to have that discovery after so many years. I also have an affinity for the butterfly kick, because it was a move I absolutely could NOT do. I could do gymnastic aerials before I could do the butterfly kick. So what did I do? I practiced and did thousands of them. Maybe 10,000 (DYK: 10,000 is the number of hours for mastery according to Malcolm Galdwell, but before that book came out the number of days for mastery according to the Wah Lum Handbook states… you guessed it, 10,000!)
That’s my short story…
Oh, wait. Cow hands. You are probably wondering why I have cow hands in my title. My mom is the chief tai chi instructor at the Temple. She is a master of tai chi and has been studying extensively for decades. Around the same time of my butterfly epiphany, she also had one of her own. She would teach the students cow hands, because that is what my father taught her. One day she decided to print out all of the moves of the form for everyone and translated the Chinese. The Chinese translation for our ‘cow hands’ was actually cloud hands! My father had been pronouncing it cow hands, but meant cloud hands. Ah, communication. So much fun! I can only imagine how many things have been lost in translation, or pronunciation through the years.
Oh, wait, wait. Did anyone get my title comparison? Hint: any C.S. Lewis fans out there?