28 Aug 2008

Forked Tongue

According to google stats, I’ve just received my 2,000th visitor to the Meerkatsu blog this year. Of course this figure could easily represent 10 people visiting 200 times, or one person 2,000 times (more likely), I’m not entirely au fait with analysing the figures, but it is reassuring to know that some people read my rants at least some of the time. Interestingly, in the figures for 2007, there was an extraordinarily huge peak of visitors when I posted a photo of the rather gorgeous Kyra Gracie. So just for the sake of clarity, let’s see what she looks like again…

Taken from her website: http://www.graciekyra.com/
Every male BJJ practitioner I know goes on about Kyra, including me. But the website actually offers very interesting information, revealing her impressive fight stats and training photos and it endorses the widely held view that she is a tremendous athlete who is dedicated to her sport, which is more than can be said about me.

I had a number of people emailing me and commenting in my last post about the Chinese characters I wrote in the made-up fake martial arts diploma. It translates: I believe I am Chinese, but I am really a ‘Big Nose’.
'Big Nose' being an old-skool insult that Chinese people give to western ‘foreigners’. Other phrase book nuggets to use on your holiday could include ‘pale face white ghost’ (very nasty insult), ‘son of a turtles egg’ (probably the worst you could ever say) and ‘Imperialist Opium dealing scumbag’. OK I made that last one up, but in my experience, Chinese people used to be very blunt with their insults. What with the Olympics, international economy and general more openness they are probably much more world aware now and have more subtle insults. Or maybe not.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that I sometimes come across people here in the UK, especially martial arts fanatics, who live, eat, breathe, dress, and even speak with an oriental accent in their quest to be a martial arts master. It is really weird. But there are also reports of American BJJ instructors who, overnight, begin to take on a Portuguese twang when naming their techniques. For example, the word ‘guard’ is almost universally re-iterated by a Portuguese speaker as ‘Gwardo’, which is very quaint sounding but you know what it means. If you catch a native English speaker saying GWARDO, he has either been watching too many BJJ DVDs or has spent half his life in Portugal or Brazil…or just wants it to appear that way.
But nowhere is the ‘crime’ of pretending to speak in a fake accent more prevalent than in the karate dojo.
24FightingChickens master, Rob Redmond writes in his excellent website about just this very phenomenon:
To quote his article:
“I personally do not like using Japanese terms in my karate classes. I think it gets in the way of good communication, and that it makes things seem mystical that are truly quite plain and unimpressive. I also worry that use of Japanese in my karate classes will create an exclusivist culture where newcomers feel uncomfortable. I also tire of spending time and energy teaching the terms to students, or reminding them of what they mean. I also do not care for trying to teach pronunciation, since my Japanese is accented with American, it seems a little preposterous that I would be correcting pronunciation.”
It is probably for this reason that our style of trad JJ does not use Japanese words to describe techniques. But this can lead to problems when I get the odd Aikido, judo or jitsuka from another style coming to my dojo and talking about techniques using the Japanese terminology. I just nod, sagely, narrow my eyes, and witter something inscrutable under my breath…was that an insult maybe?…I'm not saying.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.


Ecceentric Rogue said...

You can count "1" reader....

slideyfoot said...

I would have thought that by now, you probably get 2,000+ visitors a week rather than per year. ;)

Meerkatsu said...

Nah, at this point my blog was still low down on the hit list, once I got my gi reviews in full swing that's when it starts hitting 6 figure hits.


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