Loss of the friendship is still number one on my distress-o-meter so far…. but I’m starting to look ahead with a clinical interest to the time I’m really going to start freaking out in earnest about the question of my very identity as a martial artist/warrior now that SK and my kung fu group have been amputated from my life.
In the Shaolin tradition, at some point (usually after reaching black sash level, which is intermediate level) it was common to leave the temple to wander the world. Some came back years later to continue training, others didn’t. If you didn’t leave the temple when your teachers thought you were ready to, they kicked you out.
CK often references her own having been "kicked out of the temple"… DD declared her so when she moved out of town four years ago, even though she was a mid-level white sash at the time…. everyone always considered her a more advanced MA’ist because of her other arts and teaching skills.
I had no intention of leaving the temple, ever. Never even entered my mind.
One of the things I liked about Shaolin is that there was really no ceiling on what I could learn- I was never going to be "done". (Also, I never thought I’d approach CK’s level of skill, nor approach black sash.) I fully expected to still be training under SK when I was 100 years old.
I certainly never expected to be leaving like THIS. I had my doubts about the class surviving after DD abandoned it, but I always figured that even if the group disintegrated, I’d still be able to get together with SK regularly and train. It never once crossed my mind to think what would happen- or what it would be like- or what I would do- if he was just….gone. Forever.
If this was another era, and my teacher had died, as his senior student I might be expected to take over teaching the group. If SK had actually died, I’m not sure what I would do- but I would have at least felt some responsibility to honor his legacy by thinking about and providing in some way for the rest of the junior students.
My teacher’s not dead, and I haven’t reached some level of rank that causes me to feel it’s time to take walkabout from (or get kicked out of) the temple. This is a lot messier, more confusing, and without honor. It feels dirty and unfinished.
One could view this, however, as the universe (or Rickson Gracie/s however you may define such) kicking me out of the temple.
If I were seeking some kind of higher meaning in this, one could wonder if there is something else I’m supposed to be doing now.
Hey, wait! I’m not ready! I wasn’t done yet! There is still so much I wanted to learn from SK!
I am left with a very fundamental question: Who am I now? Who am I as a Shaolin practitioner permanently separated from her temple? Who am I as a warrior permanently separated from my mentor?