“Wanna learn karate,” a friend asked me the other day, kicking the air.
“Nah, that’s not really my cop o’ tea,” I said, sipping jasmine from the patio and watching in amusement.
“What is your cup of tea,” he asked, slamming his elbow down on a plank that didn’t budge.
“I’m drinking it,” I said snickering.
“You know what i mean,” he said flatly, rubbing his arm.
“For one, a little peace and tranquility goes a long way,” I said, taking another sip.
“I would have settled for peace and quiet, but I guess tranquil is good, too; what’s the difference,” he asked.
“Quiet, of course, means making no noise, or making very little, which is good; being tranquil, on the other hand, means remaining calm, and that includes when your best friend is purposely trying to break your very rare and sturdy cut of Redwood,” I said, glancing at the board he held.
He looked down at it. “Oh, uhmm—heh—sorry man,” he handed the board over to me, giving a nervous chuckle and trying not to look me in the eye. “Here you go man.”
“Here, I’ll show you what I mean by calm and tranquil,” I said, motioning to the rear garden.
As we walked he asked, “you’re not about to show me your collection of shrunken heads, are you?”
I looked back at him confused, “I don’t know what your cup o’ tea is, but shrunken heads give me the creeps. I’m pretty sure that’s the opposite of peace and tranquility.”
“It was worth the shot in the dark,” he said. “Can you imagine if i would’ve gotten that right though? You would have thought I was a mind reader.”
“I doubt I’d think well on anyone’s part if I had a secret collection of shrunken heads,” I said.
“I’m sure a public collection would be so much more acceptable,” he added with voice that was too genuine to be serious.
“True dat,” I said, showing him the Chinese boxing dummy. “Voila, this is what I mean by peace and tranquil. My friend looked utterly confused.
“Okay,” he said. “SO, you have a secret fetish for poorly-carved, life size dolls, nice.”
“Watch and learn,” I said. I sat my tea down and began connection several blows in different variations to the dummy. It creaked and inch slightly at each blow until the sequence was finished.
“Okay, you know those ‘learn more’ buttons on the annoying websites,” my friend said.
“Yeah, why,” I asked.
“I’m clicking it. C’mon man, I wanna learn more,” he said, poking his finger repeatedly on an imaginary button in the air.
“Okay, so what you’re trying to learn, karate, is about brute force. It has a great deal to do with a hard structure, proper kicks, strikes, and throws, but that can be dangerous if you live your life with such tension. Being loose and employing readiness for whatever is thrown upon you is not only a stoic mindset of not worrying over that of which you have no control over.”
“That’s deep man,” he said.
“Well, think of it this way: If you go into a fight, or perhaps a daily setting, where you have to commence in battle, or keep up with the daily grind, would you rather do it tensed up and have your energy quickly depleted, or would you want to be like Bruce Lee says.”
“What does he say,” he asked.
“It goes like this: ‘I said empty your mind; be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup it becomes the cup; if you put into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friends.’,” I said.
“Hmm,” he said in awe. “That’s pretty awesome.”
“Yupp, so all you have to do is approach the situation as calm as possible, only excerpting energy when absolutely necessary. Like this,” I said, giving the dummy a few quick punches.
“Oh-oh,” lemme try, he said. He reared back his hand and struck the dummy as hard as he could.
“Maybe I should practice knitting again,” he said, getting a cast put on his hand at the hospital.