This article is intended as a companion piece to The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers series. It will provide additional information on the martial arts themes that frequently appear in The LXD.
What styles of martial arts are performed on The LXD?
In Episode 2, AntiGravity Heroes, Jimmy and Justin perform a dazzling set with elements of parkour, XMA, and modern wushu. Although the term wushu technically refers to Chinese martial arts in general, the term is most commonly applied these days to theatrical renditions of the arts, tuned for artistic performance rather than for direct combat application.
In a recent episode of their hit Showtime series, stage magicians Penn Jilette and Raymond Teller warn viewers away from the universally fraudulent field of martial arts. Now a real expert martial artist rescues us from their half-baked debunkings.
For their own convenience, Penn and Teller divide the world of martial arts into three categories: traditional, mystical, and murderous.
In a class of twenty new Taekwondo students, ten will probably drop out within three months’ time. Though they will cite a variety of excuses for quitting, all the dropouts show a lack of commitment to Taekwondo training.
One year after their first entry into the dojang, half again will have quit, leaving perhaps five of the original twenty students. Only one, maybe two, is likely to stick around long enough to attain the rank of black belt.
Like those early quitters, the black belts are motivated by a variety of factors. Beyond these varied reasons, though, there must be some unique character attribute that drives these people to reach elite black belt status.
Americans do not usually see themselves, when they are in the United States, as representatives of their country. They see themselves as individuals who are different from all other individuals, whether those others are Americans or foreigners. Americans may say they have no culture, since they often conceive of culture as an overlay of arbitrary customs to be found only in other countries. Individual Americans may think they chose their own values, rather than having had their values and the assumptions on which they are based imposed on them by the society in which they were born. If you ask them to tell you something about “American culture,” they may be unable to answer and they may even deny that there is an “American culture.”
(from Handbook for Foreign Students and Scholars)
A few minutes prior to the start of class, karateka (students) enter through the front door, immediately bowing to the sensei (teacher) and/or the kamidana (dojo shrine). The karateka remove their shoes, and enter the changing room to don their training uniforms.
Following is a selection from Dave Lowry’s essay collection, The Karate Way.
We have to admit that the popular image of the black belt is inextricably woven into the general perception of these arts we follow. While we may have a more comprehensive view of the belt, we need to see that in the population outside the dojo, in the world at large, it usually means something else. When a black belt is conferred upon a karateka, that has implications in the popular imagination. And we should consider some ramifications that perception and those implications have upon what people think about karate-do.
BLACK BELT – That uniform accessory most coveted by students of martial arts, who, upon receiving it, pretend it never held any interest at all.
PRACTICE – To endlessly repeat the same sequence of movements, always hoping for different results. (See also: INSANITY.)
KATA – An awful form of dance, often assumed to divulge some hidden meaning after sufficient PRACTICE.
Let me tell you a dirty little secret about black belts. They have no particular meaning at all.
No doubt you’ve heard of Monkey Kung Fu. But did you know that monkeys practice Korean martial arts too? See for yourself in the video below.