Taking me bowling is always a treat, because apparently, I’m fun to watch. In my teens and early 20’s, I used the 10 or 11 pound balls, ‘cause no cool kids used anything lighter than that; although those kids were often twice the size of my petite 5’ almost 3, 100-ish pound frame. I’d get up to the lane with my “best” bowling form, straining to swing my arm back, and send the ball in a pitiful roll toward the gutter, wondering what was I doing wrong. One time, I literally bowled a 6. Yes, you read that right- I knocked down 6 pins in 10 frames. Ahem, ok, you can stop laughing and hear the rest of my story.
A few years ago, I finally acquiesced to a group of enthusiastic friends and agreed to bowl once more, despite the painful memory of being labeled as a horrid bowler unfit for anyone’s [albeit informal] team. I said to myself, “I don’t care if I look like a geek; I just want to have fun! I’m going to use the fluorescent 7-pound kiddie ball. At least it doesn’t hurt my arm!” And then, something amazing happened. When I rolled the lighter, more appropriately sized ball, I actually knocked down more than half of the pins! Super-excited with my newly found confidence, I finished that game with a score somewhere between 50 and 60, a huge improvement compared to the upset years before.
With time, I also gave up on swinging my arm back, opting to swing a little and aim for the center dot painted on the wooden lane floor. To onlookers, it appears like I causally walk up to the lane and drop the ball, which makes its way down the lane at a whopping 6 to 7 mph. Much to their surprise, it rolls straight down the middle, with an average knock-down rate of 8 to 9 pins per frame and even some strikes and spares. Now, my average is about 100 pins per game, which is totally awesome! And I’ve worked up to using 8 or 9-pound balls, depending on how strong I feel on a given day. My friends still laugh when I bowl, but they’re laughing because it’s hilarious to see other people throwing heavy balls at great rates of speed only to get 1 or 2 pins down for all of that effort, while I saunter up with my unconventional style and do the best I can to achieve the objective, ultimately coming back to a group of proud smiles, high-fives, hell yea’s!
Recently in ILC class, we were working on an exercise that required us to expand and essentially walk through our partner, pushing them back. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t make my partner budge. Faced with another crushing subjugation, I left class with tears in my eyes and a defeated heart. On the drive home, I asked myself, “How will I ever be any good at this? I’m doomed!” Not wanting to slide down the spiral of self-pity, I told Sifu how I felt and asked for advice. In addition to reminding me that I was unfairly judging myself, in one of the subsequent classes, Kelley talked about how everyone will have their own “flavor” of I Liq Chuan. As I worked on being more neutral with myself, his message reached me loud and clear. I started taking stock of and being grateful for the things I do have going for me that would help me perform the moves correctly. For me, it is unlikely that my personal power will rest solely on brute strength, but flexibility, mental clarity, and precision are aspects I can cultivate within the current limits of my structure; and with time, my structure will develop a greater capacity to withstand force.
Right now, I’m like cinnamon-spiced peaches and cream…what’s your flavor?