Sunday, February 1, 2015

It's for real men

My ass.

Back when I did Ju Jutsu, one of the few real practitioners we had was a small woman, older than any of us, instructor included, who'd came from abroad. Her technique could only be second to her fighting spirit.

I've found similar things here and there. But, as it happens, I was just watching a karate training video, filmed in a dojo in mainland Japan. High school students. From where I stand, it's a pretty weird video. You have those ideas of Japan, you see some small training halls, visiting instructors to Europe bring their pupils... and you get ideas.

Most of them can't kick. Mind you, I can't do a proper "karate kick" myself, I know that. Apparently, they don't. It's been said that shodan, the black belt, is taken more lightly in Japan; some people go so far as to say that you can get it more easily. I know a Japanese iai instructor who expressed surprise when I failed my nidan, and it didn't feel feigned. Apparently, in many places (I won't even dream of saying it's general), it really is easier to "start" the black belt path.

Again, it's weird. It's one of those schools with two belts: black or white. That's it. Traditional. But it looks weird to find black belts who can't sit in seiza, whose rei shiki is a bad hasty routine. And some kids have an impressive precision... when doing prescribed forms. Their sparring looks like cockfighting. Healthy young men bashing against each other, shining in sweat.

And then, you start to see the commonalities of the ones that somehow look better. More focused, more intent. They're the smallish kids, the girls...

"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." Does it apply to karate? Myths insist, every generation, on the story of the sickly kid who goes into martial arts an becomes a beacon, an example, a master. I know a couple of real life examples myself. And, for what it's worth, the concentration of nebulizers around our mat is impressive. But, when it comes to us, we still look for the healthy guy, the kicking champ. Tall, muscled, healthy. And it can give you some impressive artists. But it's the tiny guy who's finally found something that makes him feel whole, that gives him the hope of having a chance (both socially and physically), of proving himself.

And, yet, we often manage to forget them.

Take care.

EDIT: They're not a high school. They're a private university!

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