ambivalence, noun
uncertainty or fluctuation, especially when caused by inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.

I feel ambivalent about holidays.

On the one hand, there’s no Brownies, which is sad because I enjoy it. I love seeing the girls each week, watching them grow and having fun with them. I even enjoy the paperwork (sort of), which probably says more about me than I would like.

On the other hand, there’s no Brownies, which means that I get to go to Kempo.

Shorinji Kempo, for those who don’t know (which is most people, it’s quite obscure), is a Japanese martial art. It has a lot of emphasis on self-defence, working together, and building a better society by improving the quality of the people in it.

We do “hard” forms – punches, kicks, and blocks – and “soft” forms – pins, eludes, joint reversals, and throws. We also do acupressure massage, to put each other back together again afterwards. And meditation, and philosophy. It’s very eclectic and well-rounded.

I used to train at Shorinji Kempo twice a week, but several years ago one of the Brownie leaders in our area retired and I was the only one willing to take on the unit. Unfortunately it clashes with one of the Kempo training sessions, so for the past few years I’ve only been training once a week and twice in holidays. Well, any holidays that don’t have Brownie Holidays in them, that is.

As I said, I’m ambivalent about this.

Originally the idea was that I would train up someone else to take over, so my exile from Kempo would be temporary. Two things conspired to make this difficult:

1. We live in a very student-heavy area, so a lot of our leaders are students. I can’t, in good conscience, leave the unit entirely to a student who I know is going to leave in two or three years. It wouldn’t be fair on the girls.

2. I found, much to my surprise, that I actually like being the one in charge. It’s different from the role I used to play – that of the “fun, younger leader”. Before I took on the new unit, I didn’t think I was ready to be the serious one, the one that does the telling off. It turns out that I didn’t need to worry. It is possible to be both fun and serious, both a friend and a respected authority figure. And I love it.

I still miss Kempo (especially the social side, which mostly happens on the day I can’t make), but I wouldn’t give up my Brownies for anything.

Ironically, working for the good of society is one of the ideals which Shorinji Kempo tries to instill in its students, and it is just that ideal which forces me to choose Brownies over training.

Learn more about Kempo: Visit the BSKF website.


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