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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Armchair Warriors, revisited......and judging a book.....

A few blog posts ago, I posted an entry called "Armchair Warriors and Futon Fighters", which spoke of the pros and cons of learning martial arts solely through media instead of through an instructor. I just want to share an amusing conversation I had with an Armchair Warrior just 30 minutes ago. (statements in brackets and italics are the thoughts that ran through my mind).

A gentleman came in and asked me "What's the difference between Wushu and Tai Chi?" Not a hello, not a "good afternoon", not even an answer to my "How are you today?".

As I started to answer his question, he "gently" interrupted me and  said "...Cuz, I'm asking because there IS a difference between Wushu and Tai Chi, you know..."

"Um....forgive me for misunderstanding, but are you asking me about the difference is, or will you be telling me what the difference is?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm asking you what the difference is....'cuz I have a martial arts background and I know what the difference is, and I just want to know if I have it correct...."

"Oh, I see." I said. I proceeded to go through a brief synopsis of the differences between Wushu and Tai Chi, and I didn't get far into the dialogue when the man interjected "....have you heard of pakooah?"

"Yeah, Pakooahchan". 

"OH!" I exclaimed. "You mean Bagua Zhang....Yes, I've heard of Baguazhang".

"Yeah, its all about circles, you know....." he answered.  I'm thinking of getting into Tai Chi because with all my martial arts experience, I think its time to learn the true meaning of martial arts...." 

At this point, he proceeded to "teach" me the meaning of Tai Chi and his style of kung fu. I let him speak for a few minutes till he said.... "then the Dalai Lama brought kung fu to the Shaolin temple..."

I had to interrupt at this point. "You mean "Boddhidharma", right?"

"Yeah, of course....Dalai Lama..." 

"Okay, so you're interested in Tai Chi, right? We have two classes....Yang style and Chen style. I suggest that you try a free lesson in each to see which class you'd prefer."

"I'd like the style that teaches the whole combative applications. Because of of the meaning of Tai Chi, I'd like to get into the combative stuff" he said.

"The meaning???" My voice trailed off because I didn't know what he meant by the "meaning of Tai Chi".

"Yeah, in Chinese, Tai Chi means "Great energy", you know. I want to gain that kind of energy...." he answered.  (he did NOT use the word "Qi" as part of his translation, did he?)

  The conversation went back and forth for another 15 minutes. I was amused by his big confidence in his knowledge, however incomplete it was. Impressed, actually....I was impressed that he was really trying hard to let it be known that he was knowledgeable, I wanted to giggle, actually.

"Well.....I can explain Tai Chi till I'm blue in the face, but I don't want to take up your time, I suggest...-"   I was interrupted by him stating "No, you don't have to, I already know all about it".  (don't roll your eyes, Rusty, don't roll your eyes....)

"If you don't mind me by asking, if you know about all about it, why are you looking for Tai Chi?" I asked

..."Cuz I want to learn the forms. I know with my previous background that I'll be able to understand it quicker than the usual beginners and master it quicker...." he answered.

"'re looking to be a teacher?" I asked.

"Yeah, I figure in a couple of years I can help teach at a school or teach on my own" he said.
(Oh my Gaaawwd....)

"Taiji isn't something that can be mastered in a mere 2 years, nor is it something that one can deem themselves skillful in, within such a short time, regardless of previous experience..." I said.    "Um, Sir, how long, out of curiosity, have you studied?"

He stepped forward a tad bit, folded his arms and said in a proud manner "I don't wanna brag, but I've done martial arts for about as long as you are alive..."  (you're kidding ,right??)

  "Thank you for the compliment about my age," I said. It was all I was able to say without giggling.

"How about this..." I said. "As I said, I don't want to bore you with the whole history of Tai Chi, why don't you come in and try one of our classes tomorrow night?"

"Well, I'll be around I'm sure, but I'm not going to say I'll be here tomorrow 'cuz it depends on what I'm doing tomorrow.." he said in an indignant manner.   "Who teaches that class?" he asked as he looked through a Tai Chi brochure. "Will I be able to meet the Sifu?"

"Maybe.....So, out of long did you study?"

"Uh, I did Tae Kwon Do when I was a kid, then Hung Gar.."

"How long?"

"6 months Hung Gar"  (6 months??)

"With which Sifu? Here in Seattle?"

"Uh, no, I learned from a guy who did Hung Gar and came up with his own style" he said.

"And your Sabumnim?" I asked.  

"What's that?"  he asked.      (you did Tae Kwon Do and don't know the terminology?)

"And how long in Tae Kwon Do?" I asked 

"Same, around 6 months. But I've studied many years on my own, you know. I've studied every book by Bruce Lee". Not everybody knows his own art of Wing Chun that he developed."  (Are you serious??)

He continued: "I'll be able to learn from the Sifu, right? 'Cuz I want to learn Tai Chi right, you know. I'm sure you're learning great things too, huh? How long have you been studying with the Sifu?"

I pointed at the "About Restita DeJesus" section on his brochure. "Um....that's me...I teach the Tai Chi classes".

He looked at the brochure, then at me, then back at the brochure. "YOU'RE the Sifu?"   (let the stammering begin)

"You're the teacher?"  he asked.    "And you teach the Wushu classes too?"

"Interested in our free intro class tomorrow night?" I asked.

"Uh, It depends on what my Monday looks like tomorrow." he replied. "Um, I didn't know you were the Master, I uh....uh..."

"Okay then. Have a great day. I'll see you again soon".   (Cue to leave. Cue to leave.)


So, I wonder if he'll show up tomorrow night. 

Suggestion to martial arts "academics" out there. Its great that you're learning theory and concept from books and videos, but do NOT, I repeat do NOT assume that you can brag to the "office assistant" about your whole 12 months of martial arts classes and academic study done on and off for the past 15 years. Spare yourself the embarrassment of trying to impress the office assistant.

This situation made my day.....very amusing! But all I can do right now is shake my head in pity.


Century Massage & Bodywork, Inc said...

Hahaha! Funny story! *stick foot in mouth*

Matt Timlin said...

Haha that's hilarious, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous (or funny) thing.

Bobbe Edmonds said...


..Oh my sides...


Rusty, we MUST collaborate on a book about "Wing Nuts We Have Met in the Martial Arts".

My wife once intercepted a phone call from a prospective student years ago...They had heard of me through some grapevine or another, and wanted to know what style of Kung Fu I taught.

Which is to say, NONE. But before she could get that much out, the guy then asks..."And can you tell me if it's PRE-Shaolin Temple Burning or POST-Shaolin Temple Burning?"

We still laugh about that. And the sad thing is...That guy wasn't remotely the worst I have ever seen.

Restita, Seattle Wushu Center said...

Bobbe: Wing Nuts! I love it! Hahahahaha! Post and Pre burning temple style?

Chris said...

You should have invited him to teach a seminar on February 30.