An Intellectual Approach-es

At first glance, an intellectual sees karate, its structure, its syllabus, its canon, and EUREKA! sees a system that he or she can deconstruct. Runs home, brushes up on his zen, sits down in his easy chair, pours himself a cup of wine and sits back to read that article that caught his eye as he was perusing the sports section of the magazines in his favorite bookstore, The Zen Philosophy and its Application to the Martial Arts.

Call her May. Doctorate in literature from UCLA, classic pianist with a Baby Grand in her studio apt., two years in law just for curiosity, at a loss for her mood swings, got suckered into going to the Violeta Dojo by a kindred spirit. She had a nervous tic, an impromptu giggle. Three months into it she confessed to me, after offering me a ride, that she didn't think that the karate she knew could actually save her ass in a tight spot. I agreed. She said that maybe she was better off taking shooting lessons, getting a gun permit and buying a good solid .45. I agreed. What's the point, she asked. She'd read all she could get her hands on and still all those katas seemed meaningless. All the while giggling at the most inopportune moments. She was paying for the beers, so I heard her out.

I knew she wasn't being flippant about it but I just didn't have an answer. I got the feeling that she was upset because it was the one thing she had gotten herself into that she didn't immediately excel and wow them with her proficiency and insight. She felt that since she couldn't get a handle on it maybe there was no handle to be got. I told her I didn't understand Opera and flunked College French. It did little to raise her spirits. Then she giggled and said good night, leaving me stranded in the bar. Shortly afterwards she dropped out.

She had been dutiful in the dojo, really did try her best, giggles and all. I guess maybe she needed a more intellectual dojo, with koans flying left and right. Meaningful conversations. Sutras she could mull over. Tea ceremonies in pastel kimonos. Maybe the sensei for a boyfriend.

When I run into her every now and then she still giggles (even with 2 kids and a husband). And she giggles even more when I tell her I'm still doing karate. She finds it amazing, and funny.

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