In honor of International Women’s Day yesterday, I’m coming out with a bit of a confession of my own.
I grew up in a world filled misogyny – on both sides of the family. My uncles on my father’s side in particular were the ones that I heard from the most.
Not all of them mind you (I had 7), but looking back there was the unspoken resentment toward’s women. I guess this was a family thing.
One example – whom I’ll call Uncle B, flew to China when I was in elementary school specifically to find a wife. Naturally said wife was probably from a middle class family (earning less than $10k/yr USD) and didn’t know English.
Basically he was her only connection to the outside world when he brought her to the states. Fast forward about a decade and they (un)fortunately divorced. I say that with parenthesis when what happened in the next few years.
Long story short, she managed to open a few Chinese buffets in the area where she had lived and even went down to LA to open a few more.
As for her ex-husband (my uncle)? He now has not worked for the past decade. From what I know he lives survives off of the divorce payments that his wife pays yearly while caring for their now 18 year old son.
So what happened? I don’t know – but what I do know is his attitude towards his ex-wife and women in general.
A misogynist – a thorough, “stereotypical” misogynist
Back then I didn’t mind it – in fact I felt it wasn’t my place to question his words. Now looking back I realized that he is sorry excuse of a man…
…Placing the blame of his problems on his financially more successful wife while not seeking any job for the fear of degrading his “sense of worth”. By the way, he often blames others for his problems regardless of gender. He’s also an unapologetic racist (his wisdom could be shared on a different day).
It’s said that say that quite a few men on both sides of my family exhibit this outlook – hell even some of the women hold this view of themselves.
Now I’ve always been a martial arts fan…especially when it comes to Avatar.
In Legend of Korra (sequel to the original series), some styles were “modernized” to reflect the fast-paced, 1930s steampunk-isa feel of a world 70 years after the original series.
What if Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino were to update each of the martial arts that represented the bending arts in the (now dead) plans for a sequel? Especially one that will most likely take place in a period of space travel.
Well never fear, for Avatar Andrew is here! Here are my predictions if that were to happen.
Taekwondo/Hapkido for firebending Fire has always been the symbol literally and figuratively of “attack, attack, attack”. So it makes sense that say in the confines of a space ship, a fire bender has the potential to be highly destructive since a fire bender’s power comes of the individual’s chi.
Wing Chun/Systema for water bending
Tai Chi is a “soft style” martial art, using internal power vs. the raw power of say Shaolin or TKD. So if water bending were to evolve in the future of Avatar, I’d say Wing Chun or even Systema. You’re confined in a small ship and water is precious, even unavailable. You have to be quick, fast and decisive with your movements to quickly finish your opponent(s) off.
Muay Thai – earthbending/metalbending
Earth bending in LOK went through a lot of change from ATLA. Out were the stands of Hung Gar and in were the quicker footwork, waterbending – like movement of Republic City. I surmise that in the confines of a spaceship, earthbenders are going to be energy efficient and direct to the point – like Muay Thai.
Aikido – airbending
Why not my very own martial art for my brethren’s Avatar Aang’s original style. Martial art that is circular? Check. One that emphasizes peace and harmony? Check. One that puts emphasis on nonviolence? Check. 3 traits of an Airbender already down. I see why not!
One of the greatest things about the cartoon series is that the creators based the fictional powers of “bending” on real life martial arts. Having trained in Aikido for 7 years, anything that realistically portrays martial arts in the media is always a pleasure.
Note that Sifu Kisu was the chief martial arts advisor for Avatar: The Last Airbender tv series.
Northern Shaoling Kung Fu – Firebending
Hung Gar Kung Fu – Earthbending
Bagua Zhang – Airbending
Tai Chi Chuan – Waterbending
…and something extra
Southern Praying Mantis – Toph’s Earthbending (because Toph deserves her own recognition).
So it’s a wonderful twist of fate that I made my greatest Aikido discovery… after I was kicked out.
You heard that right, I got kicked out – in August of last year.
Long story short:
I had hit a plateau in my training in August. At the time I had grown tired of hearing my two sensei infer to me repeatedly that was I was too mental. Plus I realized that I was too “soft” in my movement – too limp and “no energy”.
One day I realized that I moved better outside of the dojo than I was on the mat. I had a pep in my step outside of the dojo and I was much more “settled” outside of the dojo than in.
Which is great right? Well to me it was weird. – How could I be moving better outside of the dojo than in? – Why was I always tired and lethargic before, during, and after training? – Why was I NOT down whenever I wasn’t training?
The second question was the real reason I decided that perhaps my training needed some much needed boast.
So then I thought to myself – Why don’t I bring the energy that I have outside the dojo, inside? – So it wouldn’t hurt right?
I was wrong apparently
4 years ago I ran into hot water because of my flirtatious ways and lack of social awareness. I was then asked to leave then for a few months (when turned into 8) and then allowed back. Before I had consciously decided to try bringing this new attitude to the mat I asked myself if those same people who sent me off 4 years ago would have forgiven me by now and had forgotten the incident.
Around the last week of August of last year, my sensei pulls me aside after class one day and informs me that there were some members of the dojo that felt that I made the same transgressions that I did years ago. The conclusion being that they felt that my presence was not welcomed any more and that they wished to have me leave.
Oh fuck, not this again.
It has been about 5 months since that incident and I haven’t set foot inside my home dojo since that time, nor have I set foot in a dojo. One good thing: while I’m still technically a member of the dojo, I can’t train with the rest of the crew for reasons above. If I do train, I have to adhere to a set of rules that were agreed upon between myself and my sensei.
Do I deny the accusations brought forth to me? No, not at all – social graces has always been a weak spot for me and thus I’ve dedicated myself to continual improvement in that area. But what I do accuse my accusers of is of not confronting me personally – and instead having the work around my back and have the situation blowing up in my face.
Okay, so what’s the silver lining that I speak of? Well, it’s this: I finally got what I wanted out of my training Aikido.
Well, what is it you ask? I had found myself.
That’s right! I finally feel that I’m comfortable in my skin – this is big because I’ve always been very “out of body”. Some people call this “always in the head”. Grounded, centered? Whatever, it only took 7 long-ass yearsof training!
But you know what? I think if it wasn’t for my banishment, I wouldn’t be this confident in myself in the first place. Along with this confidence, I finally solved the problem regarding my social graces!
But of course, all of this came at the cost of my being ousted from dojo. Was it worth it? I don’t know. My sensei has been surprisingly supportive of me, even saying that my absence is a way of “protecting me” from the other yudansha (I bought him a bottle of Italian wine as a thank you). We’re arranging a meeting with my accusers at the moment, though with all the judgement that this going around, even if these confrontations were to end on a happy note, I will be taking my martial arts training else where.
I think the only other loses were my waistline and my job situation (unrelated).