Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Kid

We have all seen it, that 1984 classic, the Karate Kid.
When this movie came out, frankly I was skeptical. I had been training about 3 years under my teacher, and I thought I was a badass (doubtful I will ever think that again). The reality though, is that for all of its campy 1980s anti-style, The Karate Kid is one of the greatest martial arts movies of all time.

You loved it. You know you did. Be honest.

What do I like about it? Where do I start? This movie appeals to the Daniel-san in all of us, the underdog that wants to fit in, that wants to be accepted. At the same time, the Daniel-san who needs maturity and wisdom to reach the next level. With it come self-confidence, and a the respect of peers.

As well, we all must have our Mr. Miyagi. Someone who knows more than we do, and does not belittle us for it. One who sees our childlike selfishness as phases, and our boundless energy and enthusiasm as opportunities for development. Someone who sees the end goal for us, even when sometimes we cannot see it for ourselves. We need someone to make us start to walk, so that we can discover how important walking really is. We need a motivator. We need someone to show us how to "believe".

I love the fact that this movie presents the martial arts so positively. It includes the kind of zen dialog between Miyagi and Daniel that is so common with good teachers - that marvelous way of pointing you in the right direction and giving you enough to find the way on your own. Far too many movies emphasize the violence and lethality of martial arts; too few show the universal benefits it can bring as a way of keeping one humble and focused on personal development. Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies are entertaining, but miss the point for me, and cause youngsters watching to want to emulate exactly those things I would want them not to. The movies wane a bit after this first classic, but that's OK.

for a Tibetan Lama, he doesn't smile much

There will always be a romantic part of me that wants to paint fences and wax cars, knowing that it will help me win the championship at the end. That part of me still knows the crane kick can beat the five-point palm exploding heart technique. My personal Miyagis have been many, and they still have much to teach me.

Now, where's that paintbrush??

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