Tonight began my training for the International Chinese Martial Arts Championship (ICMAC) event next Saturday. I’m working on a form called Xiao Bajiquan. Roughly translated, it means “Small Frame Eight Extremes Boxing.” Roughlier translated, it means “NANCY SMASH.” Things are going pretty well, but I can’t help but think of the last time I participated in a tournament. The story began last October. It was a love story between a girl and her dagger. A sort of abusive love story, but a love story nonetheless.
After last October’s ICMAC tournament in DC, my kung fu teacher decided to give me a present: a dagger form called Wind Dragon Single Dagger. Oh, happy day! I looked exceptionally ungainly with a weapon in my hand, but I was so delighted to be swinging a knife around that I didn’t even care.
During my first unsupervised practice with the dagger, I thought I would try to do some figure eights. This is because I am a reckless idiot. I plunged the point of the dagger into my left wrist…and it stuck there. When I pulled it out, I noticed that the cut was only about a centimeter long. “Wow!” I thought stupidly, “I would have expected a stab wound to be much more gory!” Then I bent my wrist and the tiny cut opened up to flash some subcutaneous fat layers. After that, I had to sit down for a while.
My next encounter with the blade occurred in similar fashion, except this time, dagger met thigh. I was practicing my form and as I hit a stance, I also hit my leg. The cut was deeper and uglier, but far less distressing because I couldn’t really see it. When it comes to stab wounds, ignorance is bliss! Or something.
Flash forward to December: I looked cool and confident flying through my form with as much grace and poise as can be expected from me, and I was ready for the small local tournament where our club basically cleans house every year. My name was called, and I strutted out onto the floor. Spectators watched with bated breath, judges assessed me with fascination, and my teacher beamed with pride. Then… Well, remember that stance that previously resulted in a stab? I hit it with a vengeance. This time, however, I didn’t get off with a simple stab. No, not at a tournament! Everything is much more theatrical at a tournament! I felt the blade slice down my thigh and the subsequent burning as the injury registered in my brain. “Well,” I mused, “as long as the judges didn’t see, they won’t take off any points.” I continued on without flinching, then waited for my scores. First place! I shook hands with the judges, who all had lovely things to say, then walked gingerly to my coach. He escorted me to the hallway, where we assessed the damage: no rip to the pants, so it couldn’t POSSIBLY be bad, right? I pulled up my pant leg to reveal quite the hideous gash. To this day, I have a lovely scar to remind me that, no, I’m not a cool kung fu master. I’m that awkward jerk who cut her leg open at a tournament with a blunted knife.
From these experiences, I have learned three very important things: 1) Never, ever flinch, 2) Yoga pants from Target are suitable for battle, and 3) I love my dagger. I love it so bad.