My Xifu

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My Xifu
Unlike many days, I had the rare chance of picking my grandson up from basketball practice. On the way to his school, I remembered the days when basketball was all he could think about. When he turned six, I gave him his first basketball hoop to play with. Many of the days when I babysat him, I only fed him and picked up the balls after he was done being Magic Johnson. I was so fond of the days when I helped him shoot baskets and practiced drills. The sudden banging on the window interrupted my chain of memories. “Hey gramps, could you open the door.”

He seemed so frustrated when he came in the car, throwing his backpack and gear in the back. “What’s wrong?” I inquired. It was not the right question to ask when you’re pulling out of a parking lot. I accidentally pressed the gas pedal as he screamed, “We’re not doing anything in practice! The only thing the coach is letting us do is dribble and passing drills. It’s so freakin’ boring!” Luckily there wasn’t a car in front of us or else we would have paid dearly.

“You know kiddo, your problems were just like mine when I was growing up in China. Growing up in the country, I wasn’t as fortunate as many of the other kids at school,” I recalled, “When I walked home, kids would throw rocks and anything else at hand at me. When I told my father to help me settle my bully problems, he made me go to the temple and learn kung fu. Life would have been miserable if it weren’t for Xifu Yen, my kung fu master.”

“Hold on, you did kung fu in China!? Why didn’t you ever teach me? What did you learn, The Crane, Tiger Claws or some other amazing technique?” My grandson asked while making some weird movements with his hands. “Oh no. I learned an even better technique,” he was at the edge of his seat looking at me as though I were some deity, “the Art of Cleaning the Temple and Everything In It. My Xifu would make me scrub the whole place everyday with a ragged cloth until I could see my own reflection. Day after day, I would be on my hands and knees scrubbing away. Just like you, it was boring.”

“Along with cleaning everyday, I would ask my Xifu when I would learn some kung fu like the monks in the temple. They were amazing acrobats and martial arts masters in their respective styles,” I elaborated, “He would always say, you are learning the basics of kung fu, just not the refined martial art. You will see sooner or later.”

“If weren’t learning any cool techniques, what did you do about the bullies?” he asked. “Hold your horses I haven’t got there yet. This is why you are so impatient, you never listen to your elders,” I scolded him, “Have they ever steered you down the wrong path? Now let me continue. I quit the doing kung fu at his Temple, but he said that I could return whenever I wanted to. I always told myself that I would never go back.

One day, as I was walking back home, the bullies were following me as usual. Except this time, they cornered me and the biggest, meanest and fattest boy punched me right here,” pointing to the upper part of my nose, “I was bleeding like a slaughtered pig. Furious, I stood up like a dead man; waves of rage fueled my fist and landed a perfect upper cut to his jaw. I swear he flew at least 5 feet away from me. Then, I realized my master was teaching me kung fu indirectly. I never thought of it, but all the cleaning help improve my strength.”

“Wait, did the other kids stop bullying you?”

“You bet. Ironically, I became the most popular and strongest kid in school. Anyways, it has yet to register in your mind, but your coach is teaching you the fundamentals of being a fantastic team. Bet you never thought of it that way, have you?”

“Ya, you’re right, but have you ever thought about getting out of the parking lot?” he said sarcastically

He was right, I hadn’t driven an inch after while I was telling him my past. “We better get home or else your mom will kill me with her style of kung fu on me, a poor helpless man.”





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