The term ikigai generally refers to ‘that which makes life worth living’, and can be something very specific to your life. It can be a hobby, a person, or some other passion that drives and fuels you. (I wrote more about the concept here).
Recently I was reminded of a sister concept that is equally important – appreciating what is around us. Things might not be perfect, but the truth is we live in an amazing society during amazing times. If we don’t take time to stop and appreciate what’s around us it’s like we have nothing at all.
Comedian Louis CK recently went on the Conan O’ Brien show and talked about this very phenomena. But, like only a good comedian can, he puts it in such a way that it seems blatantly obvious and hilarious how we take our world for granted. Check it out:
(or click here to check it out on youtube)
That video is extremely funny and true. “How quickly the world owes him something he knew existed only 10 seconds ago.”
Even the smallest things in our lives are astounding if we stop and think about it. Clean water, fresh food, instant communication (like so)…the examples are endless.
As ikigai increases, appreciation for everything increases. As appreciation for everything increases, ikigai increases. They are connected and equally important.
“They began squabbling after leaving Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party late Saturday. Shortly after midnight, things blew up. Brown pulled his silver Lamborghini to the side of a street in L.A.’s Hancock Park neighborhood. That’s when, per the source, Rihanna grabbed the car keys and tossed them out the window, sending Brown into a rage.
He tried in vain to find the keys, then came back to the car, put his hands around her neck and, according to the insider, said, ‘I’m going to kill you!’ According to the source, the 20-year-old ‘Disturbia’ singer told police that she lost consciousness, and when she awoke, Brown had fled.” – E Online
Here are some further details on the physical nature of the assault:
“The source told Access Hollywood that Chris Brown allegedly hit Rihanna with his fists and bit her during the alleged incident, which took place around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.
Brown, 19, was arrested on Sunday and charged with felony criminal threats. He was released on $50,000 bail.” – MSNBC
Most news sources also gave two other bits of information:
“In a 2007 interview with Giant magazine, Brown said his mother had been physically abused by his stepfather.
‘He used to hit my mom,’ he was quoted in the article. ‘He made me terrified all the time, terrified like I had to pee on myself. I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, ‘I’m just gonna go crazy on him one day … ’ I hate him to this day.’
In the same interview, he said he had studied martial arts, which he used to defend himself once in a fight with several classmates. Brown said after his mother broke up the fight, he urged her not to go to the police. ‘Don’t go to no cops pressing no charges,’ he reported begging her, ‘like we don’t do that in the hood.’”- Times Dispatch
This is extremely unfortunate. Cases of domestic violence are always outraging, and when it occurs between high profile individuals the consequences can be widespread. Celebrities carry the responsibility of maintaining personas worth emulating, and when the wrong message is sent (like in this case), the trickle down effect can be very undesirable.
There’s little doubt that Chris Brown wouldn’t want his actions to influence fans negatively (or impact his career negatively), but should he be officially convicted of these charges, he’ll become part of a very unfortunate ‘fraternity’ of musicians who are infamous for inappropriate and dangerous behavior.
Although Rihanna’s health (and proper repercussions toward Brown) are the most important factors here, there is something more subtle that concerns me. Almost every news source I encountered while investigating this case vaguely mentioned something about Chris Brown’s martial arts practice. For example:
“Brown, known in addition to his singing for his athletic feats of dancing — he has performed upside-down — previously said he studied martial arts, according to the New York Daily News.”
Here is a handful of reputable news sources I found stating something along those lines -
Huffington Post – Rihanna Bloodied, Beaten, Bitten by Chris Brown
Gaurdian – Rihanna Was Victim of Alleged Chris Brown Assault
MSNBC – Brown Bit Rihanna, Hit Her With Fists
ABC News – Can Chris Brown Bounce Back?
MTV News – Rihanna Reportedly The Victim in Chris Brown Case
Times Dispatch – Chris Brown Charged After Argument with Rihanna
What are they implying? What is the point of including this piece of information? It seems relatively harmless, but the cultural implications are actually much broader than we might think.
First, they might be suggesting that Chris Brown’s martial arts experience aided in the effectiveness of his assault on Rihanna. That would be a legitimate aspect of the story if any reports indicated something other than a barbaric act of violence.
The three types of attacks cited are choking, biting, and hitting with the fist. Which of those stands out as martial in nature? I would understand if Brown were using high kicks or perhaps joint locks, but the kinds of attacks mentioned are indicative of an enraged man using brutal, untrained methods to cause damage. I think it’s clear that martial arts were not involved in the physical act of this attack.
Second, they might be suggesting that Brown’s martial training turned him into an aggressive, violence-prone individual. If this is the case, then it demonstrates that the negative sterotypes of martial arts are as strong as they ever were.
With karate or taekwondo schools in every small town in America, one would think that information regarding martial arts would be wide spread. One would also hope that, while many schools might be suspect in quality (aka mcdojo), they would at least teach the essential maxim of ‘defense only’. Just from my personal experience, I think that most do. Certainly there are plenty of exceptions and there ARE violent martial artists, but not nearly enough to suggest that martial arts are a cause of widespread violence, especially in domestic cases. Sadly, I think the history of abuse in Brown’s family is much more telling.
MMA practitioners should be a little worried too. Riding alongside the ‘martial art’ claim is this report from an anonymous police officer:
“According to TMZ.com, unnamed law enforcement sources said Rihanna’s contusions “look like an MMA [Mixed Martial Arts] fighter or something … [It] looked like she was growing devil’s horns.” - Mercury News
That’s not good.
I’ve seen a lot of MMA fights and a lot of COPS. Getting hit in the face always looks roughly the same. Which, like I said earlier, is another obvious reason martial arts weren’t involved with this case – there were no armbars or ankle locks here that would be indicative of MMA.
Ultimately, I think the news sources would simply defend themselves by saying ‘well this was a case of violence…and martial arts are about violence, so that warrants the connection.’ For them, Brown’s martial arts experience was a juicy nugget they found stashed away in a two year old interview, but perfect for his recent troubles. To me, in a case that is all about sending the wrong message, this is yet another message that shouldn’t have been sent.
Welcome to the land of nothing-is-sacred (aka Hollywood).
Word got out that there is a new Karate Kid movie in the works. This film is projected to be a continuation of the Karate Kid storyline that will “borrow elements” from the originals (as opposed to being a strict remake). Slated for the lead role is Jaden Smith, 10 year old son of Will Smith.
Some other tidbits about the production-
“‘The Karate Kid’ will be produced by Jerry Weintraub (who launched the original franchise) and Overbrook Entertainment’s James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz. It will be the second movie on which Will Smith and his 10-year-old son Jaden work together.
The shooting will start next year and the remake will be written by Chris Murphy. The movie will reportedly continue the plot of the 1984 hit and will go with the action in more exotic locations such as Beijing and other cities. China Film Group Corp. will co-produce in China.
Just like in any other karate movie, Jaden will play the role of a bullied kid who is eventually trained by a mentor in various and unexpected ways (remember the waxing method?) to finally beat the bullies.” - EfluxMedia
“The part of Pat Morita’s inimitable Mr. Miyagi has yet to be cast, but given Jaden’s apparent inability to appear onscreen without pops by his side, don’t be surprised when Big Willie’s Dojo takes on Cobra Kai in this updated version.” - Variety
I’m a fair guy, so let’s start off with something I like about all this. Will Smith is a pretty fantastic actor. I’ve enjoyed Independence Day, the Omega Man remake (I Am Legend), and of course Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down…
Will Smith is great. And honestly, there is nothing wrong with his son either. He is a talented child actor. The problem is in the principle.
The Karate Kid Movies (1 and 2 especially) were a rare occurrence. They were films that brought together entertainment, culture, and martial arts in a way that had never been done before. I can’t think of any other movie that tries harder to express real martial spirit (not just ass kicking).
Furthermore, the original movies were steeped in Goju-Ryu, a legitimate karate style. The training done by Daniel (paint the fence, sand the floor) were all taken within the context of Goju-Ryu kata. Amongst those kata, Tensho was utilized most predominantly. (Tensho shown below)
It’s extremely rare for a movie writer who cares about moral message and historical relevance to get together with producers and film makers who care about the same thing.
That’s why, when it happens, you appreciate it and leave it alone.
Or…if you’re a Hollywood exec…you try to squeeze a couple more pennies out of it. like so:
The Next Karate Kid was a corny, canned remake of the original plotline, which was an especially bad idea because Karate Kid III was already a pretty corny, canned remake of the original plotline. The additional problem with Next Karate Kid is that they threw out all of the things that made Karate Kid plausible. Instead of focusing on Okinawa, now the focus was on mysterious Buddhist monasteries (real original) and proving that Hilary Swank, with a weeks worth of training, could beat up 6 or 7 dudes without breaking a sweat. Blech.
Unfortunately, it seems like Hollywood didn’t learn from its failed resurrection attempts and will have another go at it.
Premature Predictions About The New Karate Kid:
Jaden will be 11-12 yrs old when the filming of this movie starts…what karate are we really going to see here? When I teach kids, I focus on very simple self defense techniques like foot stomping, shin kicking, and calling for help. What do you think Jaden is going to do? (Answer: spinning hook kicks while surrounded by 5 bullies).
Replacing thoughtful commentary between Daniel and Mr. Miyagi will be canned “lessons learned” moments.
Replacing a coming of age story will be super adventures to “exotic locations” and pouty “stop picking on me!” scenes.
Will Smith will be funny, entertaining, and maybe even a little moving…but it still won’t excuse the fact that they chose to throw the original Karate Kid movies under the bus in order to get a little extra publicity and buzz.
Update – Jackie Chan slated to play Mr. Miyagi. Read about it here.