Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Kuchi Bushi

     Most of you have probably already encountered one of the dreaded kuchi bushi, the "mouth warrior" who occasionally visits martial arts classes and is only too happy to critique everyone’s performance. He’ll enthusiastically recite his alleged martial arts lineage and offer plenty of free advice to anyone who’ll listen.

     He loves to intellectualize about various martial disciplines, analyze and theorize – but he just never has the time to get out on the training floor and show you what he’s talking about. He must also live a life of constant torment due to the many injuries he seems to have accumulated over his many years of rugged training. I say this because whenever I’ve tried to pigeonhole one of these slippery warriors and get him out onto the floor, he manages to elude my request by pointing out various and sundry injuries, maladies, or surgeries that preclude his ability to do anything physical.

     Some kuchi bushi are fairly well educated individuals, having read all kinds of books and articles about their chosen discipline. Others have little, if any, understanding of anything having to do with martial arts.

     Not long ago I was pulling into the parking lot of a local supermarket when the old pickup truck in front of me stalled. The driver fired it back up and without any further ado, we cruised into the lot and parked our vehicles. As I walked into the store a young man approached me and apologized for any inconvenience he may have caused. He was, he explained, the driver of the pickup.

     I assured him that there was no need to apologize; I’ve had the same thing happen myself. The young fellow then began explaining the difficult circumstances of his life. He sighed and said that he couldn’t afford a better vehicle. Instead of acquiring a quality education and obtaining a high paying job, he’d spent his life training in the martial arts.

     I raised my eyebrows in surprise and asked him what martial arts he had studied. I should've known better but I was just trying to make polite conversation on the way into the grocery store. The next twenty minutes were spent listening to this fellow's description of his extensive martial arts career.
He said that he held a rokudan (6th dan) in Taekwondo which his teacher (who was a three-time World Champion) had learned when he lived in China (!!!). After all, Taekwondo originated in China, he said. And his instructor had wanted to get it straight from the horse's mouth. My new acquaintance also held high-grade black belts in Karate and Judo. Not bad for a youngster who wasn't even out of his twenties. He explained that he used to spend several hours a day training and that he regretted not having taken the time to go to school.

     I wasn't sure if he was referring to college or elementary school.

     He'd won several national championships but, alas, he had injured a knee and had had to give up his competitive career. I suggested that he go back to school, being careful not to mention my own involvement in the martial arts.

     Actually, I hoped that my suggestion would end the conversation so that I could decide which breakfast cereal to buy. It's tough to make a decision like that when you've got someone jabbering at you.

     My strategy worked. The idea of returning to school was something of a revelation to him and he thanked me for my wise counsel before he bounced off towards the beer and alcohol aisle.

     Kuchi bushi.

1 comment:

  1. Oh...yes. I just had to laugh when I read this. I can just see you standing there...cause I can relate. Thanks for the great story...Kuchi Bushi...I will remember this :)