Friday, August 1, 2008

Getting Into a Good Dojo

Dear Friends,

If you’ve ever wondered what Hard Taco sounds like LIVE and IN PERSONS, you may enjoy the new song for August, "Rotisserie.” It was recorded at a dojo party in 2001.

On the Subject of Dojo Parties
By definition, a martial art is any codified system of combat in which the combatants yell "Hi-YAH!" during a strike. To begin the path towards mastering a martial art, you must first select a dojo. This is sort of like picking which fraternity to join. Everyone tries to get into the "cool" ones, such as Jujitsu or Tae Kwon Do. 

But remember this: the dojo has to want you, too! At the end of Rush Week, there will undoubtedly be a roomful of drunk ninjas throwing shuriken and empty sake cans at the projected pictures of the less desirable candidates. These candidates will inevitably end up in a Tae Bo or Acupressure dojo. They can still make lasting friendships and learn a lot of valuable life skills, but no one will ever come to their parties except, perhaps, girls who do yoga.

Here is a summary of some of the most common martial arts, to help you pick which dojo is right for you.

A Mandarin word for "Two of (something)." A martial art is considered to be Judo if it consists of any combination of two different attacks, such as:
1. Kicking and hair-pulling
2. Suffocating with a pillow and teasing
3. Identity theft and growling
4. Telling half-truths and decapitating

Jujitsu is a form of combat that takes place while lying on a floating pool mat, usually between bouts of intense tanning. A modern adaptation of jujitsu has been embraced by the military in Japan, where entire companies of armed soldiers recline comfortably in pools, waiting for their orders to paddle lazily over to the deep end and shoot someone.

Aikido is not a form of fighting, but a notion of harmoniousness that unites the nine elements of the corporeal world (or Qiuouii) through ethnic jokes. For instance, I could describe a scenario in which a rabbi, a black Canadian, the Pope, and some gay persons are all in a rowboat when something tragic and amusing occurs. The punch line is not relevant. What is important is that all of those people were in that rowboat, fishing together, working together to catch fish, and enjoying each other's company. This togetherness has been referred to as the Qiuaiaa, or transcendent concordance. Aikido derives from the desire to attain this state for the self and for humankind. It also emphasizes the importance of stretching.

Ninjitsu is a form of combat practiced by the Ninja. (Likewise, Moose-jitsu is the form of combat practiced by residents of a particular city in Saskatchewan.) Ninjas are known for making warfare using unorthodox methods that have been forbidden by the Samurai code, such as assassination, espionage, and sweeping the leg. Ninjitsu, in fact, is not technically a martial art, since the black scarf wrapped over the mouth prevents the ninja from articulating the phrase, "Hi-YAH!" This muffling face wrap was imposed by the 16th century Samurai authorities who determined that Ninjas had been screaming "Hi-YAH!" at inappropriate times, such as when putting two pieces of bread together to make a sandwich.

Acupressure applied to the wrist of an attacker may quell a motion sickness-induced rage, which could theoretically pave the way for further attempts at diplomacy. Otherwise, acupressure is so poorly-suited for self-defense that people will want to be your enemy just to have an easy ass to kick. (See "A note about Ultimate Fighting Championships" below.)

This is the most popular martial art among children for one reason: grade inflation. There is so much grade inflation in karate that practically every 9-year-old in America already has a black belt. If you need to boost your GPA to get into med school, this might be the right dojo for you.

French Kicking
I included this one to drive home the point that not all martial arts are Asian in origin. French Kicking is popular among teenage couples who often refer to it as "Tongue Kicking" or "Slipping the Foot."

Shaolin Kung Fu
This martial art was developed at the Shaolin monasteries in the 11th century. The Shaolin monks developed ways to punch people that were literally a hundred years ahead of their time, giving them an enormous technological advantage over their foes. As you can imagine, a monk that is equipped only with an 11th century punch is going to be no match for a monk with a 12th century punch in his arsenal.

Finally, a note about Ultimate Fighting Championships:
Ultimate Fighting is a sport in which people from different dojos compete against each other. If you are ever involved in some sort of Ultimate Fighting Championship, try to arrange your opening match against an acupressurist. All you have to do is punch them in the stomach once, and they will spend the rest of the match pushing on their own earlobes to quell the pain.

With warmest regards,