July 17, 2018

Thoughts on geeking out

Geeking out has been defined, at least by way of Google, as freaking out over something that others think is geeky. I don't think everyone geeks out over something, but I feel kind of sorry for those who don't.

I admit to being a promiscuous geeker, meaning that I geek out on several things, ranging from martial arts to ancient Greece to critical theory, among other things.

I've noticed that people who geek out often like to geek out about movies about the object of their geeking. For example, when I was on the local volunteer fire department, our guys would laugh at the inaccuracy of firefighter movies...but they were glued to the screen and probably teared up at the appropriate moments (not that they'd ever admit that to anyone).

I'm in that boat when it comes to karate, and particularly movies and TV shows like The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai, the contemporary version of the story. While the karate techniques in this are only marginally like the real thing, the spirit of Mr. Miyagi is pretty close to the spirit of Okinawan karate, which in my opinion covers a multitude of sins. And the solo forms or katas shown are based on real ones, although they were generally mangled.

In this age of Brazilian jiu jitsu, Muay Thai and mixed martial arts, karate is as retro as analog watches, vinyl records and cell phones that are just phones. Still, it's my thing.

The movie and show are comically inaccurate as far as what it's really like for some of these reasons:

*First of all, the flashy techniques. Anyone who is dumb enough to try the crane technique (pictured above) really doesn't deserve to have intact ribs. And, while balance is good, spinning hook kicks on trees has limited application.

*Second, the training methods are hilariously unspecific. I seem to recall that the late great Bruce Lee said, "If you want to develop your punch, punch!" Instead, these movies emphasize waxing cars and painting fences and hanging clothes. You get good at what you practice. Exactly that.

*Third, it's amazing how many people become expert fighters if not black belts in a few lessons. It took most of the people I know several years. It's almost like downloading martial arts styles on The Matrix movies. If it was easy, it would be cheating.

*Fourth, I've done this stuff off and on for much longer than the median age of contemporary humans (without ever getting really good at it). I cannot recall a sensei or a senior show me a cool technique. Mostly they make you drill on the same dull, extremely non-flashy boring stuff you were first shown early on. You also have three really close friends: tiredness, boredom and pain.

Having said all that, I was glued to Cobra Kai like a fly on....whatever flies enjoy close proximity to. I can hardly wait for the next season.

Meantime, sweep the leg! And geek proudly.

To paraphrase book of Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible or Christian Old Testament, "Whatever your mind finds to geek on, geek on it with all your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom or geeking in the realm of the dead."

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