Monday, August 13, 2012

The Root of Civilization (A Parable)

Kwai Chang Caine ("Grasshopper") and
Master Po, from Kung Fu
Two boys, ten years old, clad in crisp white and bound about the waist with red belts, bowed and stepped on to the floor of their karate school's floor.

They joined their fellow students to stretch muscles and warm up with kicks and punches at the air.

When their instructor arrived, he lead them in calisthenics, then settled them down into kneeling position -- backs straight, eyes closed (most of them), and the boys meditated to the music of orient that gently wafted into the room from hidden speakers.

For a few moments, nothing but music, the absence of words and the smell of bleach ran through the boys' heads.

Then, they were roused by the instructor. "Chum bee!" he yelled, and they all stood at attention.

"Ready to learn, Sir!" replied the boys and girls, jumping into the ready position, arms straight and angled away from their bodies, fists tightly-clenched, eyes forward.

"Gi cho sam bu, my count, begin....1....2..."

And the children went through their form, some gracefully, some not so gracefully, as the instructor roamed the room, re-positioning elbows, turning over fists and shifting the students' foot positions with gentle taps of his toes.

Daniel and Mr. Miagi, from The Karate Kid.
Before long, the instructor announced that there would be sparring this day and the children were excited. They put on their pads, on which there were blue and red circles to mark point-scoring.

Soon, the two boys with the red belts were brought into the center. They shook hands.

"Kin ya," said the instructor, and the boys bowed. The instructor then chopped his hand through the air between them and the bout began.

There were kicks and dodges. A few kicks almost connected. Finally, one of the boys spun backwards and landed a hard kick to the chest of the other. The kicked boy fell backward to the mat. Angry, that boy charged forward and threw a most un-karate-like punch to the face of his opponent. The other boy fought back, tackling the other to the mat and they rolled and punched each other.

By the time the instructor had separated them, there was a smear of blood on the grey mat. The noses of both the boys streamed red.

That day, both the boys were sent away from karate class for fighting. Their belts were taken by the instructor, to be returned after a month, depending upon their behavior...

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