Monday, April 12, 2010

My Journey - 'Above the Law' and life changing moments - Part 1

Where did it all start? It may have with watching kung fu movies on the weekends. Terrible production values, lots of cheesy sound effects and dubbed English had me hooked for a short while. As a young lad, I tried Karate for a bit. I didn't really like it. I tried Judo on the advice of my father who had taken it for a while and always liked the concept of using some one's strength against them. I kind of liked it but never stuck with it. As I went from child to teen, I always liked fight scenes and martial arts movies, I even went through the mandatory ninja phase.

I tried a very hard traditional style of Karate again in my teen years. I appreciated the style and those in it, but it never seemed to click with me. These were tough guys and girls and excellent martial artists, but the hours of repetitive stance work, walking drills and single strike work wasn't enough to keep me enthralled. To be clear, I'm not knocking Karate, it just wasn't for me at that time.

Somewhere around 1988-1989, I rented a movie that changed the way I would look at martial arts forever. I rented Above the Law starring the relatively unknown actor Steven Seagal.

I was amazed with the things he was doing. Now I'm not saying it's the best movie ever made, but the martial arts techniques were incredible. They were unlike anything I had seen. They were realistic, done in real time and were brutally effective. I was hooked, rewinding and re-watching the scenes over and over again.

I may have a discussion on Steven Seagal in a future post, but for now I will just say that he was, and likely still is, the real deal.

Back to my story. If you are a martial artist of any style and have not watched Above the Law, you owe it to yourself to do so, if only for the techniques.

In the opening scenes, Nico (Seagal) tells a story that is essentially picked from Seagal's own life, if I'm not mistaken. He talks about being taken to a baseball game as a kid where there was a martial arts demonstration. He says how he was amazed and mesmerized by the way this little old man was effortlessly throwing opponents around. It was life changing and led to his study of Aikido in Japan.

Just watching, I knew there was something else out there and I wanted to know more. I was discussing this with a acquaintance/friend of mine a short time later. I remember scratching my nose as I was talking and being startled as he roundhouse kicked my hand away from my face. I didn't even see it coming. He wasn't trying to hurt me or anything, but it surprised me as I didn't even know he was into martial arts.

It was he that told me about a martial arts club that he went to that taught Jiu Jitsu. He said it had all the good stuff of Aikido plus a lot more (including kicks, as he had demonstrated so eloquently).

He suggested I pop by one night to check it out.

A few weeks later I did.

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