Written by Jen Tracy, current Nam Yang student.
At the Kung Fu retreat,
we learn lessons of cultivating power over the mind and the body. Our teachers pass on techniques that have been used throughout the long traditions of kung fu to channel and bring forth our healthiest chi, and find the tools within us all to put us on the path to becoming our best selves. To some, a kung fu retreat might not seem like an obvious setting to find romance. But to me, it seems obvious: you are connected through a unique shared passion and practice, and committed to working on yourself in the kung fu style: hard work over a long period of time. This is why, when I heard Elodie and Dominic’s story, I wanted to know everything!
Elodie and Dom both attended Master Iain’s recent weekend retreat in Portugal, after first meeting at the retreat in Thailand back in 2014. Elodie reached out when we first announced the Portugal retreat to excitedly reveal that she is pregnant and looking for the best ways to continue her Kung Fu training while pregnant. Kung Fu holds a very special place in her life, as it is where she first learned many practices that she still does today, and where she met the father of her baby and husband-to-be.
Back in 2014, Elodie was training at the Kung Fu retreat for months before Dominic showed up. As the retreat was not as full when she started her training, she had gotten to have a shared room all to herself, but as the retreat filled up, she knew she was going to have to share a room soon. She decided to take matters into her own hands and choose a roommate, and she knew in her gut that this roommate should be Dom – a new student who she had seen around, and felt a connection to, even though they hadn’t spoken yet. She made the bold move of beginning their relationship by asking him to share a room.
Elodie says “I think he found it quite weird as we hadn’t spoken up to the point I asked him to move in to my room so he was reluctant and said he’d prefer to stay in his own room. Disappointedly I went back to my own room to consider my options. Later that evening I went back to knock on his door a second time as I had thought about it and really thought he was wrong! I had my mind set on convincing him and this time it worked! He moved in the day after. The rest is history – as they say! We spent the remaining time of our holidays together; first at the camp, later exploring the northern mountains of Thailand on mopeds and then visiting temples in Chang Mai.”
Dom says “One of the main things that I took away from the retreat that people don’t expect is Elodie! I went to the retreat to try and ground and find myself; I was getting older and didn’t feel like I had any direction, I certainly wasn’t looking for love! But after spending time in the mountains, waking up early, training and being with myself, I guess I opened up to allowing life in – and from that I met my future wife and mother to our child. If I look back now, I can see how every choice led me to that place and Nam Yang gave me something and someone which I don’t think anyone would have expected and for that I will always hold it in a special place.”
There are many aspects of living the Kung Fu lifestyle that may influence the way you perceive and behave in “normal” life. I asked Elodie and Dom both how the lessons they learned at the Kung Fu retreat play a role in their day to day lives.
Dom answers, “Master Iain also told us some personal stories and gave us life lessons that still stick now. One in particular is about posture, standing, sitting and walking straight; showing confidence through your body, its something which we both consider important and have since found it had an impact on our daily lives.”
Elodie says, “I’ve found it extremely rewarding to have pushed myself in the last few weeks to reach the goal of learning the whole 66 steps of the Shaung Yang. I felt proud of the self discipline and focus I had needed to complete this task. Reaching a goal through hard work and dedication is definitely an experience that stayed with me and that I’ve grown from.”
Elodie and Dom are such a beautiful love story to me, because they knew the importance of working on themselves as individuals, and in doing so, they were each able to bring the best version of themselves to a relationship.