When people ask me how long I have been teaching, and I say over 25 years, I often get a confused look. Perhaps because I look so young! ha. I wish!
I often think about age and experience and realize those two numbers represent entirely different things. Just because someone is ‘older’, doesn’t make them more experienced in things they haven’t practiced. Just because someone is ‘younger’, doesn’t mean they don’t have experience. Reading those lines back is confusing, but basically… you know, the old saying: don’t judge a book by its cover!
I have the perfect story for this that dates back to… oh maybe 18+ years ago. I was attending the Yee’s Hung Ga tournament in New York, and had brought my students with me. My friend was a male Sifu from Yee’s and we went to meet an uncle of one of my students. When we arrived, the uncle immediately ran over to my friend and shook his hand exclaiming how happy he was to meet his nephew’s Sifu. Embarrassed, my friend said, “No, no, I’m not his Sifu, she is his Sifu.” The uncle did a double take, because as you can imagine this was about 18 years ago, so I looked even younger (lament), and I was a she, not a he!
I always laugh at these situations, and don’t get too offended, because this is the stereotype I have dealt with my whole life. I am really proud that in the Wah Lum system there are several female Sifus and a good number of female kung fu practitioners. My father is always really proud of this fact as well. *Girl power!*
Post instructor certification weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of ‘thinking about the old days’. Perhaps this is because I had 2 students from my earlier demo teams testing together this year. (Matthew Martin of Wah Lum of Raleigh and Hiep Dang of Wah Lum of Portland) It was a double take for me to watch them both testing together after all these years. This was Matt’s 3rd test and Hiep’s 1st test. I cannot believe how quickly time goes by. On top of it all, they were fight partners and teammates for a long time. I never imagined they would both be testing to become a Sifu and that they would even produce students of their own one day. As I don’t have biological children, I imagine this is what a parent feels like when their kids are all grown up! I’ve been through so much with these guys, been to their weddings, been through hard times… and now they have decided to follow the path of becoming a Sifu. They have chosen to propagate and share Wah Lum with others. I am proud.
I am really proud of the growth of the entire Orlando branch of the Wah Lum tree, the students that have studied with Sifu Tu Truong and I at the Temple. Antonio Guerrerio of Wah Lum of Brasil, who has been traveling back and forth to the Temple for the past 20 years. Torsten Landau of Wah Lum Germany, who has been spending his summer training with us for the past 9 years. Last but certainly not least, Oscar Agramonte, my husband who has taken the word partner to another level with being not only my husband, but my partner in Wah Lum. (not an easy task)
I look forward to watching them grow as instructors and meeting their students. I look at all the members of the Wah Lum family and am overwhelmed by the growth of this tree with so many branches. All from the seed that my father planted. He took the teachings of his Master and brought it to the USA to share with the world. I like to remind my students that they are part of something so much bigger than just the classroom they are standing in. Somewhere in the world there are others lining up to ‘bisan‘ and start their kung fu class just as they are. How cool is that?