I have been living by these words for nearly six years now, but until a couple of weeks ago I didn’t fully understand it. Every month we have a Kids Instructor Meeting. Which means once a month, on a Monday, I kiss my daughter goodbye, tell her I love her, and come and learn how brilliant my colleagues have been and what we can all do to enhance our teaching even more.
This month was slightly different. We had a combined meeting of Youth Kung Fu and Kids Instructors so the meeting started before my partner arrived home from work meaning I arrived a little late. When I arrived everyone was divided into groups, some large, some small, and as I deposited my belongings by the wall I was beckoned over to the smallest group of all by two of my friends.
“Rin, come join us! We’re the ‘Integration’ group!”. Smilingly I sit down and Agnès and Josh explain to me that we are discussing the four fundamental skills we encourage people to develop in our classes. The instructors have split into four groups, each group representing the “skill” they feel is their strongest. According to the slide beaming onto the projector screen these skills are;
Ross is talking us through Cambridge Kung Fu’s Vision and Values so that all the Instructors can better understand our aims for running the classes in the way we do. By sheer kismet I have managed to join the group that is discussing what I feel is my strongest skill.
Each group was tasked with discussing the skill they had chosen and why they felt it was their strongest out of the four of them. As Agnès and Josh had already discussed why they felt it was their strongest, the bottle naturally spun to me. Pausing to gather myself, I think through everything that has happened to me since making the life-changing decision to move to Cambridge five years ago. I’ve met some amazing people, I’ve fallen in love, I fell in love all over again when my daughter was born, I have a job I never thought I would do but now can imagine doing nothing else, I’m pushing myself further and further than I ever thought I would or could and most of it is thanks to the influence Cambridge Kung Fu has had on my life outlook.
Looking back on the person I was, I feel like something inside me was fundamentally broken (due to all sorts of factors, some internal, some external). I was angry all the time, tiny little things plunged me into a pit of despair and I was always ready to see the negative in everything. My reactions to situations were grossly exaggerated and completely out of proportion to what was actually required. It took a complaint about my teaching for me to fully realise the negative effect I was having on the people around me and how exhausting it was to carry around this deeply negative outlook. For my own survival, my relationship, my daughter, I desperately needed to adopt the attitude and outlook we try to teach our kids into my everyday life.
In order to integrate everything I was learning into my life I needed to think of myself as a student. When a situation occurred that upset me, made me angry, or generally caused me to be very negative, I would take a few days to calm down and then think back over what had happened. I would then ask myself, if I had seen a kid acting/reacting in that way during one of my classes what would I advise them to do, what techniques would I tell them about to use in the future. Using this technique I have managed to get to a place where I feel more ‘balanced’, one of the most telling results was my way of coping with the Kids Summer Camp every year.
The first year I helped to organise the Summer Camp was massively stressful, not helped by the fact that I’m bit of a control freak. It was so stressful that I had to take a week off sick afterwards. The following years progressively got better. I was still stressed (or ‘busy’ as we call it in the office “I’m NOT stressed, I’m busy!!!”), but managed to claw my way through the week, juggling the Summer Camp, teaching and getting the other aspects of my job done as well. The least said about the Summer Camp I was pregnant the better (I was not a happy pregnant lady!). Gradually over the years I’ve managed to let a little bit more go, learned to see the behaviours in children for what they are (just being playful, not actually disrespectful) and learned to not take people’s reactions personally and react emotionally myself (for the most part). The last year was the most intense Summer Camp we have ever done, as we ran two rather than just one. Despite it being one of the hardest years to date, I was the most relaxed I had ever been during that time of year. Having worked hard at integrating the Cambridge Kung Fu mindset into all aspects of my life, I was able to work calmly with the children and my fellow instructors and recognise when I needed to step back from a situation to avoid reacting emotionally rather than usefully.
All this, and more, is why I personally considered integration to be my strongest skill. I’m not saying that I’m not good at the other three (although, between you and me my focus suuuuuuucks), but if I don’t find a way to incorporate them into my life what good are they?
If you would like to find out more about the Vision and Values we uphold, you can find more information here.