When the karateka receives his first belt promotion, he rushes out to tell everyone.
After he receives his shodan certificate, he exits discreetly through the back door.
This saying reflects the humility of a mature, well-trained Karate expert. More importantly, it contains practical advice for martial artists of all stripes: let your skills remain secret; revealing them indiscriminately can only bring trouble.
Upon learning that you practice Karate, strangers and casual acquaintances will call upon the crooked wisdom imparted by a hundred Hollywood movies and TV shows, to draw kooky conclusions about your character and identity. Sooner or later, you will hear variations on all these themes:
- That karotty stuff doesn’t work in a real fight.
- So…what if I do this? (Followed by a sudden attack.)
- Where is your chi ball?
- Guess I’d better not pick on you, huh?
Such hackneyed attempts at comedy can be annoying—especially if you’ve heard them every month for the last ten years—but they are also telling. (A person who doesn’t bully you because you know Karate, for example, should be watched carefully.)
The greater hazard, however, is posed by what they erroneously believe but never speak aloud. Your pre-supposed violent tendencies, or your imagined love for ritual and role-play, will color their perception of everything you say and do. It is not just your actions, but also your subjective persona that determines whether you get that second date, the promotion at work, or even a criminal prosecution.
Fortunately, the solution is straightforward and easy to implement: conceal your Karate identity. Always present yourself as one of us (good), not one of them (bad). We hate drugs, but love coffee and beer; we hate exercise, but love watching sports; we hate foreign martial arts, but love…yoga!
If anyone asks where you went yesterday evening, or how you got that bruise on your forearm: just say yoga, and say no more.