Mark Hunter, the lead singer of Chimaira, has returned with a third entry in his regular Gun Shy Assassin column, “Dear Hunter.” Read, learn, and enjoy Mark’s prose.
When I was little, my father was famous. He was the greatest guitarist in his country music empire, and he was the Honky Tonk’s decapitator….
Or so the story goes.
I grew up a child of divorce, and partly because of this, I was an angry little shit. So, when I asked my mom for karate lessons at the age of five, I was met with minimal resistance. Any chance to get my hyperactive ass out of the house was a blessing for her.
Saturday morning Kung-Fu Theater was responsible for my first glimpse into the world of martial arts. The Shaw Brothers, Bruce Lee, Bruce Li, and even Bruce Le had me running around the house kicking the shit out of invisible henchmen.
In the early to mid 80’s martial art movies were still a craze, and subsequently dojos were everywhere. Even the rural areas had at least one. Amish ninjas. I’ve seen em.
I started training Goju-Ryu Karate in 1982. My goal was to be like my hero, Bruce Lee. They didn’t have a Jeet Kune Do class near me, so this would have to do. I enjoyed Bruce’s quiet demeanor and explosive bark when he’d attack. I recall getting reprimanded for imitating him in class. Waaaaaaaa!
A couple of years (and belts) later I see a movie with a character sharing the same traits as the founder of Goju-Ryu, including his name, Miyagi. Of course, I was stoked, and Daniel-San became my new hero. Holy fuck am I dating myself. Which reminds me, I walked into Radio Shack today and asked for the components build a time machine….anyway.
Apart from confidence with bullies, the eastern philosophy I was learning gave me a unique set of eyes compared to the western trained mind. It also alienated me and made it hard to make friends. Most kids liked football, I wanted to take a samurai sword and slice their football in one fail swoop, then heal it with ‘energy’. This was before drugs.
The major focus of that style is the balance between hard and soft. Thanks to this, I am able to live comfortably when times are dark because I understand the importance of it. While most run for the hills when the going gets tough, I tend to ride things out. While I have been told I might be psychotic, I think I’m a subtle mix of sane and batshit.
Having the ability to face and conquer fear is a gift I’m not sure would have been possible without martial arts. Understanding balance provided me with unique knowledge to help me help others, while also giving me an extreme advantage over adversaries. If only I could do the full splits.
Part of balance with martial arts, for me, is being able to walk away from it when I need to. Music called me in my teens, and later Tony Jaa called me (not literally, although that’d be sick) back to the dojo.
In 2007, I started training Muay Thai while dabbling in Tae Kwon Do and Jui-Jitsu. Then in 2010 a back injury, world tours, and a few serious family stressors led me to tap out for a bit.
The beauty of the martial arts philosophy is that it will always be there, I can always learn from it, and it has never failed me. I have been trained to strive for spiritual freedom, and to fight using my mind. The martial arts are great for people of all ages.
“Obey the principles without being bound to them” — Bruce Lee
Time for this Lone Wolf sans Cub to get off the internet for a while and get back to the dojo. The next Bruce Leroy is in the making, and I’m tired of social media. If you need me, find the Abbot of Shaolin.
Ten Ass Kicking Martial Arts Flicks:
“The Big Boss”
“Revenge Of The Ninja”
“The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin”
“Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior”
“Kill Bill V1 / 2” – I count this as one
“Five Deadly Venoms”
“The Chinese Connection”
“Master Of The Flying Guillotine”
“Best Of The Best”
* If you haven’t yet, you MUST see “Construction Worker 3: Blood Brothers.”