His name was Bob Hope, just like the comedian, and he studied Karate. Unfortunately, he was nutty as a fruitcake. It was obvious he was nuts because…well, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell the story, and then you can make up your own mind.
We called him Mud Car, because that’s what he had on his license plate. The license plate was on a fortyish delivery wagon. He had modified the beast so much we didn’t really know what model of vehicle it had originally been.
One day he offered me a ride home, I slid into his car and looked into the backseat…a hundred strands of webbing stretched across the innards. “That’s parachute webbing,” Mud Car explained. “I use parachute webbing because it’s the best thing there is for holding the inside of your car together. He turned on the left turn light and we crawled into the rushing traffic.
On the floor and every side of the car fire extinguishers had been clamped.
Mud Car leaned forward and clicked a switch. Nothing happened.
“What was that?” I asked.
“That puts more energy into my tail lights. I’m facing away from the sun, and I want people behind me to be able to see me even though the sun is reflecting off my taillights.” He came to a full stop, looked both ways, checked his side mirrors, looked at his rear view mirror, and crept around the corner into–you guessed it–the rushing traffic.
Now, you may have come to the conclusion, as any right thinking person would, that Mud Car was crazy.
Oh, tip of the iceberg, mon ami.
Mud Car had memorized the times of ALL traffic lights in San Jose. The point of which enabled him to traverse the town without ever hitting a red light. I am not kidding.
And now we get to the juice.
He was terrible at Karate. Couldn’t concentrate properly, couldn’t make his body take the proper positions, and it always hurt to work with him because he had no control and always hurt his partners.
Still, the reasoning went, the guy on the street who attacks me is going to be crazy, so Mu Car, being crazy, is good to practice with.
One day in class he actually interrupted the proceedings to say, “I have a little pain right here, on my shin, it’s just a point, and it doesn’t hurt so much as nag me, do you know how I can get rid of it?”
The instructor looked at me, why me I don’t know…unless it was so he didn’t murder Mud Car. At any rate, I received the full brunt of his rage. “Hit your shin with a lead pipe! That’ll make the pain go away!”
Yes, Mud Car was certifiably crazy not because he was whimsical and quirky, but because he drove everybody around him nuts. I think this is the final argument when it comes to such things.
Now, the point of all this blather.
Mud Car was never promoted to Black Belt by my instructor. The reason is that the pre black belt rankings, called ‘Kyu,’ mean boy. The black belt rankings, called ‘Dan,’ mean man.
It is a statement of maturity. It is a calm peace of mind, an evolutionary thrust of the spirit, and one who has achieved a real black belt has made this statement of maturity. He is different, and people around him always feel the calmness he is spreading. This is a fellow who will always seek a superior solution to the possibility of violence. He is a man.
Mud Car, because he was crazy, could not make this statement. He could not forge his spirit in sweat, and become a calm, reasoning human being. He was just too crazy.
So, my instructor retired, and a new instructor came on board. The first thing he did was promote Mud Car to Black Belt.
Mud Car immediately left the school.
Hey, he got what he wanted, no more reason to stick around.
Now, why did the new instructor do that? Because he knew what would happen, and he didn’t want Mud Car around.
Oddly, I missed the nut. I enjoyed him, and I learned from him. Sometimes he made me crazy, but my crazy was temporary, and when I was on the other side of it…I had learned something.
And, I have always held the opinion that this incident somehow foreshadowed what would happen to karate.
You see, these days people don’t promote people to black belt because they have matured. They promote them because they can ‘fight good.’ They promote them because they had paid enough money. They promote them because they trained in a school of mixed arts and didn’t know what the specific end result of a specific art like karate was.
I guess, in the end, all I can say is…embrace the crazy people, for they are the stock from whom we all come, should we only adhere to the discipline of old time Karate.
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