Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nunchucks: Living Without Fear

Last Friday, I took the kids to the annual Carnival at school. Part entertainment, part fundraiser, make that almost exclusively fundraising for the parents and entertainment for the children, there were some high notes to the whole excursion.

We spent a couple tickets for some cheese pizza slices and root beer and then settled down to enjoy the healthy, well-rounded meal at a cafeteria table close enough to the stage to hear the raffle announcer announcing winners. For the thirty bucks we spent in raffle tickets we won a $10 gift certificate to a restaurant that my husband finds vile. On the upside, I spent two dollars to buy the kids four raffle tickets in the "Kid's raffle" (you simply cannot train children in the arts of gambling young enough, I say) one of the youngins won a pretty cool toy worth significantly more than one dollar and probably off-setting my raffle investment.

Back to the dining experience. Standing on stage were some funny-looking kids wearing their karate outfits. You know the ones, ill-fitting white pajamas with many-colored belts--the best being black. As a break in the raffle we got to see these kids demonstrate their "art". They were ser-i-ous. Deadly serious.

The kids went in order from the least to the greatest, I presume. Although, honestly, they all looked about the same. It could have been just shortest to the tallest. Since they might maim each other actually doing their moves, the demonstration consisted of Karate-Kid style "shadow moves". Slashing the air, making super slo-mo turns and startling kicks at phantom enemies, the kids were trained killuhz.

Childsplay, this exhibition was, until the end. Clearly the children deferred to this last woman, the teacher. She was tough, on the butch end of feminine and definitely grim. She also could wield the fear-inducing, spine-tingling, extra-special, super scary, cower-in-the-corners weapon of Ninja choice: NUNCHUCKS. Now we were getting somewhere. Besides Bruce Lee films, nunchucks just don't pop up in ordinary suburbia life much.

She bows slightly to the audience, her mouth curved in a I-dare-you-to-laugh sneer, her eyes meeting anyone's who is not entirely enraptured in their fine dining. The nunchucks start flying. Around her neck. Under the arm-pit (for all the enemies that attack from under the arm-pit). Behind her back. She prowls the stage twirling. She head fakes and turns her back swinging. Chop! Slash!

I watch transfixed. Stunned, really. The part of me that was rolling on the ground laughing (inside of course, I didn't want my ass kicked--do you think I'm stupid?) was superceded by the part of me that was fascinated by the sight of a woman who was clearly empowered by two little sticks and a chain. She looked utterly ridiculous.

Nunchucks suck. Anyone with a broom could whack her on the head or poke her in the stomach before she could put a stank on them. Over at Wikipedia the author states:

It is generally considered by martial artists to be a limited weapon: complex and difficult to wield, it lacks either the range of the bo (quarterstaff) or the edged advantage of a sword, and is prone to inflicting self-injury on the user. [emphasis added -ed.]
No kidding.

But there this woman flailed, humorless and utterly self-unaware. She was without shame.

This caused me to pause. Why am I so worried what other people think? I don't go in public wearing white pajamas. I don't engage in staring contests with completes strangers. I don't stand on a stage kicking the air and nearly choking myself with an ancient weapon.

Surely, if this woman could strut herself in front of mature adults and their families to forward the reputation of Karate, the martial art of champions, I could pick up the phone and call a pretty warm contact. What is so difficult?

Fear of looking stupid, or fear of what people might think, or fear of failure stops people from living their dreams all the time and most of us don't aspire to being a Ninja. Most of us just want increased sales, or better client service or product improvement. Easy.

So next time you're afraid to step out there, think of Nunchucks Lady. What's the worse that can happen? On your death certificate, I guarantee it won't say: Cause of Death--Embarrassment.

1 comment:

Chalmers said...

Great post sis. I am dealing with this fear as we speak. I am about to do something that I have never done, out of fear... I am going to confront a church bully, most likely, in the middle of church. While fear of embarassment is strong, my desire not to look at a coward in the mirror is much stronger. Thank you for this post.