Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hollarin' out the window

Hmm.. I wonder if I spelled "hollarin'" correctly? Either way, let me explain the title of this posting.

I went to my class early, with Bo staff in hand. It was a beautiful spring day, warm, with a slight breeze, and I had anticipated the chance to do some Bo staff training in the great outdoors where I could swing the Bo at full extension without worrying about hitting various furniture. I had it all planned: Go to class an hour early, and enjoy some private training in the parking lot as I awaited the arrival of Sensei, and the other students.

All was working out rather well. Sure.. I was wearing a spring coat whose zippers jingled each time I did a move, and clunked against the Bo staff once in awhile making me cringe inwardly at the extra dings, and dents I was making on the wood. I had done my warm ups, basics, and was working on smoothing out the techniques of my Bo staff kata in moderate speed when I heard a derisive yell coming from the traffic that was driving by about 100 feet away.

A young ( perhaps 25 year old) man had made the effort to bring down his window, hang his head out of it (as he is driving) and yell derisive remarks to me about how pathetically he felt I was at handling my Bo staff. I found it quite amazing how quickly he was able to assess my skill in the few seconds that he had to glimpse me through the trees, buildings, and other cars that were driving by. I also found it amazing how many words of derision he had been able to amass, and send out in less than a breath... he did ALL this while leaning out of a car window, and still driving. Obviously he was quite skilled at insulting people and driving a car. It was quite a nice car actually.. a nice deep water blue. I thought how pretty the car was in contrast to how nasty the driver was acting.. what a contrast!

Now.. of course.. being the contemplative person that I was.. I didn't stop my kata, but continued working on my technique, and focusing on proper stance, placement of hands, exchange of grasp, flow of power.. and deep down inside my mind, and heart started thinking about why this young man had felt the need to insult so strongly.

It could not be that he actually watched my kata, and handling of the staff, because there was no time for him to see that. What he had seen was a greying old woman with a Bo staff in her hands moving slowly.. without seeing what she could do, he instantly assumed that she would be horrible.. I bet that aging people and Martial arts just couldn't fit together in his mind. He feels the need to protect the macho vibrant youthful thin and powerful image of "Black Belt" in his mind from this old lady's presence. If I was practicing something acceptable to "old" people like lawn bowling, I doubt that he would have felt the need to say anything. I just can't picture a young man screaming something like "LAWN BOWLING SUCKS!" out of his car, but then, who knows the mind of a young man concerning Lawn Bowling.

Ah.. thinking with his mindset.. here is this old lady with a Bo staff in her hands.. How dare she even hope to try her hand at martial arts.. it's an insult.. no? It's almost akin to the reaction that I get from my children's friends when they see that I like to play video games with my kids. Their instant response is "But.. but.. Moms don't play video games.." My children always respond with "Mine does.."

Guess what young man in the car who may never read this posting ( but that doesn't matter).. Let me fill you in on some true facts: Moms can, and do play video games when they want to, and old people can, and will do martial arts if they so desire.. there is no age limit to learning the art of Karate-Do. The only thing that stops us is our own will power. You are NEVER too old to do anything you want to do. Sure.. at an advanced age we have to listen to our bodies more, and accept our limitations with the grace and humility that living many years on this earth can help one to develop. Life has taught us that nothing good comes without some sort of hard work, and sacrifice, so we are ready to train in Martial arts with a patient attitude. You can yell out your insults to the wind because it's the only thing that is listening, and I'll still be practicing my kata when I'm three times the age that you are now.


Silverstar said...

Right on. This guy was clearly a wanker who has no self esteem so he has to try and make others feel bad. So sad.
I give you total props for doing what your heart tells you to do and refusing to let other people's prejudices or narrowmindedness deter you from your goals in martial arts. :)

John Vesia said...

People who make stupid remarks like this guy reveal far more about themselves than the ones they're supposedly insulting.

So you ignored him and continued with your practice. I'd say you did alright.

lizzie said...

What type of video games do you like to play with your children? Which platform does your kids have, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or the Wii? My brother has the Xbox 360. I like to watch him play all the time. I play by myself if I have time. When I was younger I loved playing video games. I loved playing Gran Turismo, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro on the Playstation. I don’t play them much any more because of school.

[Mat] said...

Probably that he just watched the latest "extreme" martial arts competition and just didn't get why your bo wasn't going 4 feet high in the air.

I admit that while I practice basics and even seeing Shihan do them with an "outsider's" eye... it just looks boring.

No great "kung-fu mad eye" skills here. No 25 y.o. guy disguised as a 92 y.o. chinese master. Just a stick of wood going around a bit.

Receiving a bit of the wood in the face would probably have changed his mindset. Otherwise, he probably goes on his day going : woah, you wouldn't believe what I saw. And old geezer trying to do karate. hahahaha. that was pathetic etc etc etc.

Now, he goes on his day with a great big smile. Why shouldn't you?

#1-Hitting his face with the bo will not even solve the problem, just create more. Not an option.

#2-Insult back? Same as #1

#3-feel bad and try to understand and try to reflect on your technique? Maybe.

#4- (ma favorite) just focus on what you're doing, keep smiling because you like doing it as if it never hapenned. I garantee in 2 minutes, all memories of the guy will be gone.

A very wise man said :
Once you feel good enough inside and that all exterior disturbance don't affect you, you've truly mastered your life.


Many a great senseï do recommend not travelling with the gi on.

Be well Mir,

p.s. I'm actually going to class on tuesday. Wish me health.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you Silverstar. I appreciate the props very much.

I agree John, it is very revealing as to the sad mental, and spiritual place of this person that he felt the need to insult others. Thanks for the support.

We have a Game Cube Lizzie, I like the Spyro game also, but the swirling scenery tends to give me a headache. Most of my favorite games are RPG games like Zelda. Or quiet happy games like Harvest Moon.

Mat, I kept training in spite of this person's noise. I find that this incident only served to center me more into acknowledging that I chose to train in karate regardless as to what other people's opinions are of me.

As I looked back at the whole scene, I decided that next time that I chose to do some training outside of the dojo, I will go into this little out of the way area that is sheilded from sight from the street by the trees. I'm not going there out of embarrassment nor shyness, but more to avoid the chance of becoming the target of someone who wants to see if they can take on an old woman with a stick. I want to make it my habit to avoid confrontations.

Will said...

It's hollerin' and it comes from the word hallo - a variant of hello :)

Karate is so misunderstood by the masses. I've come to appreciate differences in style and approach to learning and, over the course of my years, to avoid snap judgements.

Even were I to see a kata that was ugly beyond belief and techniques that were atrocious, who would I be to denigrate - I could be seeing a beginner's first steps towards mastery or perhaps a master's experimentation with some physics of awkward motion. Of course, I could also be seeing some awful karate done with every good intention - would that a bad thing, all by itself?

Critize analytically (leave western judgement out of it) all you want, in private, or in a non-personal context, but hollerin' out the window of a passing car? Not a chance.


lizzie said...

This is sort of on the subject. Last Friday, I was practicing a kata for a tournament in the parking lot when I was waiting on my mom and sister. Normally, I wouldn’t have practiced it at all because I never train on my own anymore. When my sister saw what I was doing, she said that it’s embarrassing for me to practice kata during rush hour traffic because lots of people can see me. I think that my mom agrees because she didn’t contradict my sister.

There is nothing wrong to practice a kata where everyone can see. If I saw Supergroup practicing her Bo kata, I would think that would be so cool. My brother compared that with a person that’s practicing ballroom dancing in a parking lot. I think that would be a little weird because of the lack of a partner. I wouldn't call that embarrassing because it shows that person is committed to what they are learning and working on and they only want to improve themselves.

lizzie said...

Supergroup, I know that you weren’t embarrassed when that kid was yelling at you from his car. You just took the opportunity to train before class. Would your kids be embarrassed because you practiced in the parking lot? I think not because they are in karate too. What if they weren’t though? Would they react the same way as my sister did?

supergroup7 said...

I like your words, Will. You are so right about the whole idea of judgement. Even if the performance is "ugly" according to our eyes, what harm has been done to us, and our training? I've seen plenty of houses painted in the most outrageous colors that I never would have envisioned as possible to be placed together. I just drive by, and think "hmmm.. that's not for me.."

supergroup7 said...

Lizzie, when someone loves to do something they just can't help themselves. My best friend is a pianist. I catch her practicing the fingering of her songs on any flat surface that might be in front of her. My daughter's friend is a ballerina, and I've seen her sudden get up on her toes, and twirl for no reason other than she enjoys doing the action. One day, as I was taking the bus home, I watched a young gentleman pull out two drumsticks from his backpack, and start doing all of the movements to drumming as he sat on the bus listening to his Ipod. The Karateka in me recognized that this man was practicing the techniques of his song.

Embarrassing? I don't think so. Unusual? SURE..
Dedicated? Definately

supergroup7 said...

Would my kids be embarrassed by my training in the parking lot?

To be honest, they expect it from me. They've seen their Mom practice her karate in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the garage, in the backyard, you name it.. Mom's practiced there.

Once, when I was waiting for my daughter at a school field trip, I started doing some little movements from a kata pattern that I liked. I was bored just standing there. My daughter turned around to catch me flipping my hands slowly in a circular motion. She gave me the cutest "Ah.. Mom.. you are incorrigable" look, and smiled at me. I gave her a shy shrug, and kept on with my "mini" kata.

Colin Wee said...

Sounds like I should add this to my Assumption of Risk and Safety in the Martial Arts page?

Point 11. Try not to train in such a location where you may get hollered at by wankers.


MrX said...

I don't no if this helps but it happened to me twice in the last 6 months while practicing with my Bo outside.

So this probably means that it's not the grey hair with the wooden staff but only the staff and an ignorant fool (or just an ignorant fool)!

Keep on practicing!

supergroup7 said...

"Point 11. Try not to train in such a location where you may get hollered at by wankers. "

Ha ha ha :-D Oh Colin! .... No fair making me chuckle all day like that.

supergroup7 said...

Thank you for telling me that MrX.. I bet you that it has something to do with practicing Martial arts, or the Bo staff more than anything else.