Tessa // Age 11 // Wushu Copper Tigers // April 2022
I remember well, the very first time that I saw Tessa. Although not the youngest, she was a tiny one and oh-so-cute the way she would bare her teeth as she fiercely struck the bag and blocked Master Chen’s attacks. That was my first glimpse into who Tessa is. When I finally took over classes, she was the one testing this new teacher and my knowledge, making sure I was going to be an acceptable replacement as a leader for her and her fellow students. I am happy to say that it did not take long before a bond was formed. As one of my Wushu Warrior Girls and my little Tiger Sister, the strength in her personality is no less than her physical strength, which is great in both cases. She is a spitfire, full of energy, ideas, and enthusiasm that never seems to run out and gives her all even on the few days when she doesn’t have as much to give. She embraces her role as a senior student beautifully, providing an excellent example to follow, as well as always being happy to help guide others in their kungfu studies and keeping them in line, when necessary. Her help, along with that of her classmates, has been an invaluable part of our school and I am continually grateful for them all. Although she is still young, she has come a long way from when I first met her and I am both honored and excited to be able to watch her continue to blossom!
Thank you Tessa for being such an important part of our school and also, Happy 12th Birthday!
(Imari) When did you first start taking kungfu? Can you tell us about when you first began?
(Tessa) I began taking kungfu about 6/7 years ago and I don’t remember how I got in but I remember driving by here when there was the old Master, Master Chen and I was 5 then and he said I was too young to join so then I turned 6 and then I came back and he let me join.
(I) You mentioned that you have been here since Master Chen was teaching and you have been here through all the changes this school has gone through since. Can you tell me what this experience has been like for you?
(T) It was partially kind of challenging because there was the pandemic at one point in time and we had to do it on zoom and virtual in general for me is just not a good experience. For example when people are talking, and then it glitches and you don’t know what they said and then it unglitches and they’re talking about something else and you have no clue!
(I) I know, virtual is not my favorite either and it was hard.
(T) But we got through it!
(I) Yeah we did 🙂 What is it like training with your little sister? Do you two train together at home ever? Would you say you are competitive against each other or do you help each other?
(T) So Milla and me, we basically have been doing it the whole time together. We don’t really practice at home a lot except when we were on Zoom but yes, I sometimes compete with her, like a lot actually . Of course, that is also just my personality, I am a very competitive person, especially when we are doing things like sprints and stuff.
(I) What is the biggest lesson your training has taught you?
(T) Don’t give up, even when it is hard because then you’ll never get better. You gotta keep going, you can’t give up otherwise the road ahead is going to be harder than it already is.
(I) I understand, that’s a good lesson. What is it like to be one of the most experienced in your class?
(T) Honestly, it is not that different because there are so many new kids and sometimes I like to help out which makes me feel (not) powerful but in a good way, not like an evil tyrant kind of way but like you know what’s going on so that feels good.
(I) And that leads me into our next question: a senior student in your class you are often called upon to help teach. How do you feel about teaching and what has teaching taught you?
(T) Well, I like teaching honestly. When I grow up I kinda wanna work here maybe, like as a start-out job because I’ve been here a long time. I’ve learned that teaching is a lot harder than I thought it was and you have to be patient but I’m still a kid and I am not very good at that to be honest.
(I) If you had to share one piece of advice with your younger/less experienced kungfu brothers and sisters, what would you say to them?
(T) Do not give up, keep trying, and probably which is a personal kind of motto: if this is really hard and you’re going downhill, remember that there is always going to be an uphill eventually.
(I) That’s good advice and that’s true. A lot of people often give up on themselves too early.
(T) Yeah, that’s kind of how I felt when I was little because Master Chen said I was too young and at first it kind of stung and then eventually i got to know everyone here and the people just really helped out. The kungfu environment is very friendly and you can express yourself.
(I) Yeah, we have a good kungfu family here too.
(T) Yeah 🙂
(I) What are your hopes for your future in kungfu? Anything you want to accomplish in this next year?
(T) Hopes…hm…probably get better at splits because I used to be good but I broke my arm and I stopped and had to readjust when I came back.
(I) But you’re doing pretty well and your jumps have improved a lot this past year.
(T) I hope so! Oh and I do hope to do a butterfly twist eventually – like Steven!
(I) Yeah, he’s a good example to follow. Anything else you’d like to share?
(T) Not really.
(I) Okay, all good. Thank you Tessa!