Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I can (not) feel it in my bones...

nor anyone else's for I am not Japanese.

I was thinking about this while I was watching a Three Stooges show on the subway coming home this evening . I am not a fan of the Three Stooges, but I pass the time watching it on the train everyday. It seems strange that one can watch an old American TV show from the 1930s on the subway in Tokyo, but we are in a hi-tech world.

To enjoy this show, all one has to do is watch the train exits when it stops at a station and the doors open. Everyone will then rush for the exit as if the conductor is going to slam the doors shut and take off before anyone can get off. There will be about 20 people stuck in the doorway at the same time. Then, as soon as they are out of the door, the rush ends and folks start walking at the normal dead-one-legged-turtle-in-molasses-in-January Tokyo pace while playing games in their cell phones.

The show isn't over yet. As soon as most have pushed, shoved, kicked, gouged, scratched and clawed their way through the door---politely, of course, this being Japan---the folks outside begin a reverse Three Stooges move.

However, just as they start, the guys or gals who have either been sleeping or too lazy to stand up and move until the last possible second make a mad, insane, rush for the door and push, shove, kick, gouge, scratch and claw their way out as the others begin to push, shove, kick, gouge, scratch and claw their way in. Politely.

There is always an element of mystery to this. What happens to the one who stands in front of the doors at each major station and acts as if he/she has no clue that someone might want to get off or on the train and so remains in everyone's path---like a rather dull tree stump---as the doors open?

As I watched this rerun for the millionth time, my mind wandered. I started thinking about an aikido-jujitsu (juujutsu) martial arts course that I was conned into taking for a few months last winter. The way it was taught, it would take someone about 30,000 years to become proficient enough to whup a marshmallow, but that wasn't my problem.

The problem was that as a non-Japanese, I was unable to feel my opponent's "bones move". Our esteemed sensei mentioned in one of the early classes that this was a key technique, but that only Japanese could feel it. I think he said that for my benefit as I was the only non-Japanese in the class. I would have asked "Then why are you taking my money if you cannot teach me?" but I didn't really get what he was talking about. It made no sense to me, so I thought I must have misunderstood. I was corrected on this later.

Anyway, the students then proceeded to practice feeling each others' bones move. He had me try too, even though I was evolutionarily unequipped for the task. Strangely enough, nobody else in the class could feel their opponents' bones move either. Obviously, nobody was Japanese even though everyone claimed to be. Chinese spies? North Korean agents? Sony Clones? (Wait---would a Sony clone be Japanese? What if it were made in a Sony factory in China?)

There were other things that were way over my non-Japanese head in the course. Once our fearless sensei was teaching us how to defend against a knife attack. He chose me as the guinea pig as he seemed to like to do. He handed me the wooden stick that we used to simulate a knife and told me to stab him.

I did. Right in the gut. Would have been a very painful, deep, and nasty wound were it a real knife. He told me to do it again. What a man! Knifed and asks for more! This time he blocked me and avoided the stick in the gut.

I never did master that move as getting stabbed in the stomach and then asking someone to do it again did not seem to be a good idea to my befuddled non-Japanese mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment