Liz Heidhues 10.16.2022
A few weeks ago, I beamed with pride and positivity at Tat Wong Academy when Master Chow verified, I had reached the highest Intermediate level in Kung Fu Martial Arts. In traditional ceremonial flourish, Master Chow presented me with a Certificate of Appointment. He then untied my Green belt from around my waist and replaced it with a bold Purple belt embellished with a Black stripe in its center.
The Black stripe signifies I am a member of the Black Belt Club. Black belt is a rank I promised myself I would earn by the age of 74.
It takes a lot of discipline and practice to attain.
I originally started training in Kung Fu self-defense in 2018, after my first False Citizen’s Arrest and brutal handcuffing.
I shut down after that cruel and unusual experience. My posture was noticeably impacted.
When a colleague exclaimed when I walked by her “Elisabetta! You’re all hunched over!! Like this . .” and proceeded to demonstrate, I realized I was walking around looking like a chewed-up stick of chewing gum.
I had always been interested in self-defense.
Our son earned a Black Belt in Martial Arts when he was a teenager. He was beaten up by sighted kids (he’s Blind) coming home from school one day. He enrolled in a Martial Arts program for the Blind. No one could ever beat up the Blind kid again, even though they threatened to do so many times and once even tried to steal his expensive adaptive equipment off his back. His ferocity scared his attacker off.
Our son was my inspiration to venture into Tat Wong Academy to learn self-defense. If he could overcome his barriers with self-defense training, then I could learn to cope with the debilitating aftermath of a False Citizen’s Arrest in my old age.
Tat Wong Academy was welcoming and compassionate.
Learning how to block attacks and strike back in powerful ways boosted my self-esteem. Mastering the targeted blows and kicks released my anger at the Injustices I had had to swallow.
I advanced from Yellow to Green belts under three kind and highly skilled Masters – stabilizing my posture, improving my physical and inner strengths, growing in self-confidence.
Grandmaster Tat Mau Wong, founder of Tat Wong Academy, shared a few laughs with me whenever he visited the Academy. Age-wise, I placed in a pecking order over Grandmaster Tat Mau Wong, a few years younger than me. He liked to tease me that he was no match for my physical strength and fitness from a lifetime of running, cycling, never owning a car. I admired that his biceps were bigger than mine, and that his agility and adroitness far surpassed me. Grandmaster Wong ardently supported my quest for Black belt.
I felt I was becoming a good fighter. I could successfully punch and kick back at higher level classmates than myself.
But the bottom fell out of my life with a second False Citizen’s Arrest at the age of 70!
Again, I had to process inexplicable police abuse. Again, I had to seek out physical therapy for my back, injured in a second brutal handcuffing. The trauma became too much to deal with.
I totally shut down this time. I stopped doing everything – teaching English, Kung Fu training, relationships, caring about living. I retreated from the world and hid in my kitchen. I didn’t jog, didn’t kick nor hit at imaginary foes, and didn’t practice my religion.
Then the Pandemic hit. The floor dropped out from under me, and my life was forever changed. Tat Wong closed as well as the language school where I had been teaching.
It took 2-1/2 years after my second False Citizen’s Arrest and yet another nightmarish incarceration to return to Kung Fu training.
I am grateful to be back at Tat Wong Academy. I have been working on my self-defense techniques for four months now. I feel safer and more in control with every class I attend. I am making up for lost time.
No longer am I afraid to leave my house. I can hold my head up high and walk again with a straight back, not bent over with the oppressive memories of two False Citizen’s Arrests in my old age.
I’m a survivor. I’m not afraid of anything really, anymore. I have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, and I am a survivor.
My Martial Arts training is honing my body and mind to be a Warrior in my elder years – to fight for “Virtue In Action”. I am looking forward to the day when I will earn appointment to Black belt.
When that day comes, I want our Blind son to be there because I want him to know his mother never gave up.
For now – I am thrilled every time I don my Kung Fu uniform and cinch that hard-earned Purple belt with a Black stripe around my waist. It’s a good feeling to be back with my classmates at Kung Fu classes in Tat Wong Academy!