Monday, April 25, 2011

They Did Not Want Karate

A good friend and I joke about this urban legend (maybe. check it out here) which boils down to a really tough karate expert asking a would-be assailant, in calm fashion, "Do you want karate?"

I was thinking of this as I set out from my fancy apartment in my fancy LA neighborhood to see if this already deeply satisfactory area was going to completely ace it by providing a good dojo in walking distance. I had found a place online that looked promising: it was a club, rather than a commercial dojo, and it practiced a form of karate related to the ones I'm familiar with. I was rehearsing little speeches in my head: explanations of how I had studied Shorin-Ryu (so different!) Karate and my progression through some belt ranks in two different forms of that school, and how I would ask if I could train with them instead of just watching this first day. I was also wondering if I'd even like Shotokan, which is what this dojo practiced - I've never done it but it's apparently pretty different from Shorin-Ryu.

All moot, however.

What I was met with, after awkwardly making my way through a chain link gate that looked like it was really meant to be locked, was a scene from a white-collar Caribbean prison after everyone has fled the city. Manicured grounds, gates everywhere, locked institutional buildings on a whole campus, playground, track. No karate. A maintenance man helpfully pointed me to the "bungalows" in the back (they were bungalows, he was right on) but had no idea about any karate. Some people were in an auditorium, but they were seated and holding scripts and one looked like he was about to play piano.

Martial Arts in Walking Distance #1: Fail. I told myself it was my own darn fault, but not even. I totally tried to call. Next: Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.