Pink Numchucks….. Or Why I Hate This Industry

Yeah, I know they’re spelled nunchakus, but the Lady that said it definitely said numchuk. And if that really twisted you up, you’re a goober. Catch me in person some time and we’ll talk about translating japanese, or your level 24 Wizard, cause you’re probably just as fired up about that. Anyway, back to topic.

I’m in the gas station by my house and one of the things I have to endure is this woman who works there, always going on and on about her daughter doing karate. I’m polite. I smile and congratulate. Karate may be silly for self defense, and any actual life altering depth. But it can be an OUTSTANDING character development activity. Knowing this I am as supportive as I can getting pulled into 30 minute conversations about karate and all it’s glory. I oblige. It’s for the kid. And the lady seems super happy. I’m a gentleman. This has been going for about a year now. Well, in the last few months the conversation has shifted slightly. She isn’t so pleased. She’s noticing all the fees that are less than obvious. And the mandatory events that cost money. Every belt test (that comes every two months!) cost like 50 bucks, and then you have to buy the new weapons and patches and what the hell ever, that comes with this new belt. This is when I know that the Sensei that they’re dealing with is a that typical used car salesman turned teacher that is so prevalent in this industry. I don’t want to sound insulting because I know she’s invested, but I try to explain to her that some guys in the industry are more about the money than the students. But I’m still talking in hypotheticals cause I don’t want to look like the guy from another school bagging on the “other” school. It looks juvenile at best, and could really upset this lady. It all goes right over her head. Sensei worship is strong.I usually let it go.

Well, this is where the pink numchuks come in.

This day, she tells me how her kid was really upset at karate today. She passed her test, and now had the “opportunity” to buy numchuks!!!! Sensei gave her the catalogue to pick out the color she wanted and she chose pink. Don’t get me started on the whole society teaches girls to pick pink thing. Or that numchuks shouldn’t be any damn color…. or plastic. We’re going to stick with what REALLY pissed me off. And that is this Sensei telling her kid that she SHOULDN’T get pink. The kid protests. She really wants pink. The Great And Wise Sensei then explains that she shouldn’t get pink because….. all the other kids will laugh at you. ARE YOU F**KING KIDDING ME. That’s the character development you’re rolling with. That’s what you teach kids. It doesn’t matter what you want honey, do what makes other kids accept you. Awesome. Bullshit. I think you could hear the steam come out of my ears.

I literally sit the woman down and explain to her that who you pick to mentor your children is important. And even the small decisions they make teach the kids “how to be”. Much less what they overtly instruct them to be like. Shouldn’t the martial arts make kids so confident, that if people would make fun of them for something, they can stand strong in the courage of their conviction?! Martial arts should make people MORE ABLE TO PICK PINK for gods sake. I can skip through the old port in a pink tutu and no one will say a goddamn word. Isn’t that supposed to be what we’re shooting for?

We discussed the long term ramifications of that little lesson she was taught. It goes from don’t pick pink cause they’ll laugh, to don’t stand up for that thing/person cause they’ll laugh. Once you’re “that person” it’s an easy jump to doing something to fit in. Drink this. Say this. Do this. Or….. you won’t fit in. It’s all pink numchuks. After the talk she was all fired up. I told her to go to Sensei and tell him that she had talked about it with someone she trusts, and she had decided that the lesson she was teaching her kid wasn’t consistent. Her kids confidence to be herself was, after all, the entire point of taking karate, and so….. She would in fact like to have the pink numchuks.

She practiced how she was going to take a stand with the guy. We role played. It was awesome. In 30 minutes I helped her gain the confidence and determination that she would pass on to her kid. That’s what teaching is about. Anyway, because I’m also realistic, I know that this is the first time she’s stood up for herself. And, sensei is probably used to people caving in. He’s probably not going to understand what she’s getting at. Gonna say she’s making a big deal over nothing. Will pat her on the arm and belittle her in that “now, now, little housewife” way that he knows will shut her up.

So, We practiced how she would explain that “it made more sense when my friend explained it. And he was worried that I would mess it up when I explained it to you, so…” (pulls my card out of purse) “If you’ll just give him a call…. I’m sure he could explain it better.”  I told her that if at that point he still didn’t get helpful, that I”ll get in touch with him and try to have a rational discussion about the responsibility of a martial arts instructor to lead by example. As well as various other points.

And she would then recieve a shiny new pair of plastic pink numchuks…… for free.

Just doing my part