The Martial Arts

Hapkido. I love the grimy ceiling. I learned in a studio/dojo not dissimilar in the mid 1980s. I have a wave of nostalgia.

I studied the Korean martial art Hapkido for about a year when I was a kid. This was immediately following the Karate Kid / Revenge of the Ninja movie craze. Every boy in America wanted to do martial arts. It was formative for me, because it exposed me to different ways of thinking and taught me how to start using my body in ways other than the instinctive. It taught me to think about movement, and to fight with intent.

I also needed to be hit and bounced a little. Mom had sheltered me too much and my Dad judged me to be destined to be a push-over. He judged everybody that way though, all but the meanest, whom he seemed to admire.

I would have continued but my parents balked at the expense and time required taking me to and from the dojo. I continued practicing without instruction for a little while, but eventually my interest wained, and I got in trouble for side kicking another kid who didn't know when to quit. I still remember several basic techniques.

I often wish I had continued, at least until I got a black belt. Hapkido is definitely one of the less showy, more practical martial arts, and is now favored by successful Mixed Martial Artists (MMA) at the professional level. The other discipline favored is called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a bogus trade name in my opinion. There is nothing Brazilian about it. My sensei was also a 5th degree black belt in the original Japanese Jiu Jitsu, and was a huge advocate of it. Of course, he was trying to build a business so he wanted more students, but it just goes to show that guys were out there doing MMA before the term became mainstream.

I've been watching a lot of MMA lately, despite my misgivings from what we now know about brain injuries, and I'm having to resist the urge to get back into the martial arts. I know I'm too old for it, and I already have too many hobbies, but I also know that guys older than me sometimes get into it for a few years. I miss the discipline and focus on physical fitness.

It would probably be a mistake though.


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