I am not going to lie to you.
I loved Karate Kid.
It changed my life.
A movie about a skinny kid.
Coming out on top.
Getting the girl.
Getting the car.
And driving off into the sunset
With a trophy to boot.
I mean who didn’t like it in my generation? Ralph Macchio was a household name. That is how I started martial arts. Living through the movies. I was too young to know about Bruce Lee. His movies weren’t exactly playing in our one movie, movie theater in town. There was no internet. Information traveled slowly. Heroes were slim to none. People still looked up to their brothers or fathers. They were the ones who set the example to follow or broke our hearts. Rock stars were burn outs. Jesus was perfect.
I trained in a little dojo in downtown Brookhaven, MS at an old railroad junction. Brookhaven was a railroad town like most, except the train no longer stopped there and most of the stores were starting to go out of business. Wal-Mart was growing across America like a virus, yet to arrive but soon to conquer. The town decided to turn the railroad junction into a small civics center. And that’s where I found my martial art, Isshin-ryu. A little known Japanese martial art that was picked up by American soldiers. Like most American martial arts it was stolen from the cultures we got stuck protecting from our own broken foreign policy but that’s another matter. What doesn’t kill you builds a U.S. military base in your backyard.
I was ten years old. My father was a Marine in the Korean War. I could tell he was proud. I finally learned how to take a punch. How to throw one. How to dance on my feet. How to swerve not to meet, direct contact. And to roll when I did.