23 May Inside Kung Fu
The first thing I learned from my sensei was ‘empty your cup.’ Many martial arts teachers are concerned more about how much you are willing to learn than what you already know,” she insists. “Just empty the cup before making any judgments and learn everything you can; that’s my philosophy in martial arts and that’s my philosophy in life. Of course, what you already know is very important, but sometimes relying too much on experience could prevent you from learning new things.
STARTING OVER…. AGAIN
BY DAVE CATER
To most martial artists, the thought of learning a new discipline is tantamount to studying a new language. Leaving your comfort level, abandoning the forms and applications you have worked so hard to master, takes a rare combination of confidence and humility.
That’s one reason why black sashes in one system are seldom willing to “empty their cup,” to begin at the beginning, to admit they don’t know everything. Starting over is never easy.
Unless you are Sayaka Pereira, who has started from scratch so many times that’s it’s almost become a way of life. From leaving home to strike out on her own at the tender age of15 to her recent sojourn into the beautiful world of wushu, Sayaka always has been one who embraced the journey even when the destination wasn’t totally clear. The greatest piece of advice came from her first martial art (Muay Thai) teacher when she was 7. “The first thing I learned from my sensei was ‘empty your cup.’ Many martial arts teachers are concerned more about how much you are willing to learn than what you already know,” she insists. “Just empty the cup before making any judgments and learn everything you can; that’s my philosophy in martial arts and that’s my philosophy in life. Of course, what you already know is very important, but sometimes relying too much on experience could prevent you from learning new things.”
Growing up in Japan and Europe, Sayaka went on her own path at the age of 15 due to a family tragedy. She enrolled in an International High School Exchange Students Program and attended various high schools in Singapore, China and the United States. Sayaka admits leaving home at the age of 15 was difficult, but ultimately the most rewarding experience of her life, especially after the recent reunion with her mother who now resides in Australia. “During my high school year, it was really difficult to learning everything that other kids take for granted. But it also made me strong because it gave me the power to trust myself.”
Besides martial arts, Sayaka has been dancing and performing since the age of 4, and her original plan was to pursue a career in performing arts as well as medicine. But a freak sky diving accident, combined with the length of time it would take to become a doctor, force her to re-examine the alternatives.
Sayaka turned to accounting, because not only would it allow her to use her brain, but it also provided the financial stability and flexibility to accomplish the “20 million more things I want to do such as martial arts training, dancing, cooking, playing the piano and harp, singing, spending more time with friends and family, learning a new language and studying Chinese medicine.”
Sayaka recently graduated from university with honors. “It was another big challenge that I had to overcome – going to school, working in the office, dancing, modeling, commercials, auditions, martial arts training, supporting myself and family abroad and taking care of my own health – all at the same time.
Her latest entrance into the unknown is the sport/art of wushu, which she is leaning from Hames Hu & Jenny Tang at the Southern California – based Tai Chi Wushu resource. “it has many components of dance, but is also has power, everything I was looking for,” relates Sayaka. Wushu, according to Sayaka, is beautiful, fluid, powerful – and new.
I like the feeling of seeing something I can’t do and then pushing myself to do it,” explains Sayaka, who also has studied karate, jiu-jitsu and capoeira “I actually enjoy the frustration that comes from not knowing how to do something and the figuring out a way to do it. I think everybody needs that frustration.”
The way Sayaka sees it, frustration is just the first step on the road to mastery. The hardships you face, the hurdles you encounter, the changes you endure are merely part of the learning process.
Every time I overcome a hardship, I appreciate what I have accomplished,” she maintains. “And that makes it all worth it.”