Hump Day: Martial arts not my cup of tai chi

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

At my Rotary club meeting last week, our guest speaker discussed the topic of tai chi, a “Chinese martial art practised for both its defence training and its health benefits,” according to its online Wikipedia entry.

Now, I’ve never done tai chi other than the very basic stuff last week, but it was quite intriguing. Because of the meditational and breathing techniques it teaches, I can certainly see the health benefits. It looks very relaxing – and I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult than it looks. From my sporadic gym membership days years ago, I remember that doing exercises slowly was a lot more difficult than doing them fast.

But self-defence? I’m not sure about that one, unless your plan is to kill the other person very, very slowly. I can just see the news article now, “Mr. Smith was murdered by a person using tai chi over a six-hour period, during which time he was out of the room for most of the assault. He even took in a movie.”

I mean, there doesn’t exactly seem to be the element of surprise, unless the goal is to get you to fall asleep during the attack then the tai chi guy or girl bops you over the head with a heavy frying pan in between snores.

Of course, you know this means I’m going to be getting angry emails from people who practise tai chi, right? “I’m going over to your house to beat you up! I’ll need to stay for a week.”

Martial arts have always intrigued me. I have many friends of all ages who do karate, judo, tai chi and others. I’m too scared of getting kicked in the head, so I’m not sure if karate or judo are choices for me. It’s like playing in goal in hockey and being terrified of the puck. I have a nephew who’s a goalie, and I think he’s pretty brave for playing that position. If it were me in nets, all you’d hear are high-pitched girlie screams of “Mommy!” every time someone took a shot on net.

I have another nephew who’s only seven and who takes karate after school. I’m not too sure how many belts he has, but I know he’s getting up there. I know one thing, I’ll never tease him to the point where he does his imitation of Bamm-Bamm Rubble from the Flintstones and throws me through the air like a rag doll. Highly unlikely since I’m 10 times his size, but I don’t trust little kids who do karate. They’re just at the right height for a swift kick that would have me singing countertenor in the choir pretty fast!

Not only am I scared of getting kicked, some of the things I see these people do in karate class are just not Brian-friendly. Let’s see, drop to your knees on the hard floor and then jump right back up. Yeah, sure. How about drop to your knees on the hard floor and then scream in pain as your kneecaps snap off and roll across the floor? That would more likely be the scenario.

Oh, and my favourite is breaking those boards with your head or your hand. Sure. I’ll do that. Right after I go bobbing for apples in a pot of boiling grease. Sounds like about as much fun. I’m all about the mind-over-matter thing. I get that. I understand people can do whatever they put their minds to. I’m a believer, trust me – well, for everyone else except me.

Because I know what would happen if I ever went insane and tried to break a two-by-four with my forehead. I’d concentrate like heck and psych myself up. I’d be as confident as a starving grizzly bear in kiddie pool full of delicious fresh salmon. There’s no way this can fail! And then, just as my forehead was about to hit the board, someone would cough and break my concentration.

The next thing I’d remember, I’d wake up cross-eyed in the hospital wearing a diaper and a bib – and finding putting together two-piece puzzles too difficult. Not to mention a forehead that would be doing an Oscar-winning imitation of hamburger.

I feel the same way about people who walk across fire at those leadership development events. At one time, motivational expert Anthony Robbins was quite famous for getting people to believe in themselves enough that they could walk across fire without getting hurt. And they’d do it, too!

Again, it’s OK for everyone else, just not for me. Why? Because I’d likely trip and end up face-first in the glowing embers. It would be bad enough walking around with scorched feet after that, but no eyebrows, either? I’m not so sure. Besides, I’m a bit concerned that I’d start smelling a bit too delicious while lying there in the embers as my body cooked like a pig at a community barbecue.

When I was a kid, my father decided that I should join a boxing club. I was going to be a lean, mean, fighting machine. The only problem was that I was actually a pudgy scaredy-cat who wasn’t exactly looking forward to picking my teeth up off the floor after every bout. Me? A boxer? Really? Getting kicked in karate scares me. Getting hit by the puck in hockey scares me. Snowball fights are right up there with root canals for me because I’m not a fan of getting hit in the head by a ball of ice. Oh, and paintball. Yeah, that sounds like so much fun, too. Bang! Bang! I prefer: Good! Bye!

I’m not sure martial arts are my thing. I’ll stick to my own tried-and-true self-defence technique that’s served me very well for years: Drop to the ground in the fetal position and tell them I’ll give them $20 if they just leave me alone. Oh, and cry. A lot.

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