Our little family had a unique opportunity last night….one that required us to step waaaay out of our comfort zones.
When we first moved into our current home, we met a sweet Chinese man. He is very endearing and has a wonderful disposition. He took an interest in the fact that we are all involved in martial arts. Each time he has been in our home, he has encouraged us and brought such a sweet spirit with him.
A couple of weeks ago he called asking if we would be willing to perform at a Chinese Autumn festival. Performing is not something we do a lot of, because it involves stepping out of our comfort zones. We love to train and get better on our home turf, however stepping outside of this requires a lot of courage, or a sweet and persistent friend. We, reluctantly said we would.
To be completely honest, we actually tried to get out of it. However, everything we brought up (wrong country…we study a Japanese style martial art, not enough time to prepare, etc) he shot down (all martial arts came from China so what does it matter? and you are black belts so you are prepared, etc). We were committed and that was it.
It took a long time to come up with the music. Less time to come up with the demo performance.
Motivation was lacking, especially in the kids…which was a reflection of our initial emotions.
A decision had to be made.
It came down to who we truly are and how we wanted to represent ourselves, family and our karate family. Deciding to train strong and perform strong made a huge difference in our hearts. Team Smullin was going to represent!
So the evening of the performance came….
We walked into the venue and saw that we were totally different from everyone else in the room. Not only were we the only martial arts performance lined up, we were the only Americans who would be stepping on stage.
As the crowd filled in, we felt how different we were…American, English speaking, tall, dressed in gi’s and carrying weapons.
The Chinese culture is so kind. They are truly incredible people.
As the program went forward, we realized that they are not the type to yell and get all hyped up. It was a totally different environment than what we have performed in the past. After each performance they would clap and that was it. Hmmmm….I really hoped it would go well for us.
There came a point that we simply had to not care about what was going to happen, we just needed to be us…Team Smullin…and do what we do best.
Martial arts has trained us to do many things with our minds and bodies. One of the best things I have learned is confidence in what I know and the amount of time I have spent training. Walking on to the stage, we all went to that place and let our bodies do what they have been trained to do.
Did we mess up? Yep. Did I smack the overhead screen with my sword? Yep. Did I almost fall off of the stage? Yep. Was our ending a little skewed? Yep.
Did we startle the crowd with our blood-curdling yells? Yep (It was pretty fun to see some of the looks on their faces). Did the boys amaze them with their chuck skills? Yep (they are pretty filthy chuckers). Did the girls impress with their swords? Yep. Did the crowd clap throughout the performance? Why yes they did. Honestly, if there was a best in show award…we would have taken it…;)
The entire event was a reflection on who we are and where we have found strength in our family and lives.
Not one thing about us fit…Americans at a Chinese festival, Japanese martial arts at a Chinese festival, English speakers at a Chinese festival, and rocking music at a Chinese festival. However, we fit, because we were there together. We fit, because we understand that being different is nothing to shy away from, it is something that gives us strength. We fit, because we know who we are and what we can do.
It is a powerful lesson we have learned over the past few years. I am grateful that we were able to step out of our comfort zones, into a beautiful culture, to see.