Author Archives: Nikunj Mistry

Story – Japan

“This is a story that is repeated in martial arts circles in the US and Japan. There are representations of this in Bruce Lee’s movie Enter the Dragon. The basic story goes; a martial arts master is on a boat in a harbor. As tends to happen in these stories, some guy is trying to make himself look cool and challenges the master. The master says alright, but not here on this crowded boat. He points to an island and says, let’s go on to the beach and fight there. When they arrive at the beach, he insists that they take a given amount of paces before they turn and fight each other. The challenger agrees, they turn back to back and start pacing. The challenger takes his ten steps and turns around. The master is back in the boat rowing back to where they came from.”

Andrew told me that he heard of this story at the end of 9th grade. He had decided that he wasn’t content with how he was as a person. He wanted to change and one way he did that was to train in martial arts; he now practices 7 different forms of martial arts. He also said that he is the kind of “doofus” that whenever he becomes interested in anything, he researches it as much as he can. He also said that the story is one of the most repeated stories besides the tea cup one, but he hasn’t really repeated the story much outside of the martial arts world. Andrew said that he heard this story from his master and many others in the martial arts world. He thinks that the meaning of the story is that brute strength and skill aren’t the most important, intelligence matters just as much if not more. I agree with Andrew about the meaning of the story. It seems to be a simple story about the importance and power of one’s intelligence. I think it also serves as a cautionary tale that you should not show off or boast of your skills because that could get you into trouble. I hadn’t ever heard the story before Andrew told it to me, but I agree with his analysis, and it definitely seems to serve as a lesson for those in martial arts and for others as well.

Annotation: This story is referred to in the Bruce Lee film, Enter the Dragon.

Enter the Dragon. Dir. Robert Clouse, Actors: Bruce Lee. Concord Productions Inc, 1973.

Folk Story – Jewish

“After the Exodus when the Red Sea folds in on itself and restores itself to normal; the Hebrew people who have just been saved and are celebrating on the banks of the river. And, it said that in heaven, the angels joined in and celebrated and danced and sang, until god asks them how they can be rejoicing when they have seen the slaughter of thousands of his creations, his beloved Egyptians.”

Andrew said that he heard this story from his rabbi, but doesn’t recall there being any special context or reason for why the story was told. To Andrew, the story means that God loves all his creations. He said that just because someone has done wrong or you don’t like them, it doesn’t mean their life isn’t valuable. Andrew said that he would sum up the meaning of the story with, “Love thine enemy and life is precious.” I agree with Andrew as to the meaning of the story. But, while I do think one message is that all life is precious and that just because someone has done something wrong doesn’t mean their life isn’t valuable, I do think there is another message. According to the story, God questioned the Angels as to why they were rejoicing when they had seen people being slaughtered. I feel like the story is also saying that we shouldn’t take pleasure in anyone’s pain, or in anyone’s demise.

Folk Remedy – India

“If I’m sick my parents give me tea with ginger, honey, or cloves. The honey tastes good but the other stuff tastes nasty. For a sore throat, my parents tell me to suck on some cloves. For a stuffy nose, they tell me to put salt water in my nose. For sinus problems, I’m supposed to gargle with salt water. Getting a head massage with coconut oil is good for hair, and it’s supposed to be cooling.”

Asif told me that his parents have been giving him these homemade remedies since he was a small child, probably around 5 years old. As far as he knows, the remedies have been passed down through the generations in his family, and are actually quite common in India. From his experiences, he said that whenever his parents give him the remedies he feels better afterwards, and actually prefers the remedies to some of the more mainstream or western medicines. He thinks that he will continue to use the remedies and pass them onto to his own children.

My parents are from India and they have given me the same simple remedies for these common ailments. The only remedy that I actually use is the tea with ginger in it because I take more common medicines most of the time. When I was younger, my mom would put coconut oil on my hair, which felt pretty good. If I had an upset stomach my mom would sometimes give me ground up nutmeg. Also, my mom told me that although she hadn’t ever tried it, she heard of people in India making a paste of dried ginger and applying that to their foreheads as a remedy for a headache. It is supposed to burn a little but it helps get rid of a headache. But, now I mainly use the medicine you buy at a store. These remedies are just known and accepted in India, but I fear that they are becoming less popular as India is modernizing.

Traditional Story – China

“There were once two villages that bordered one another. One of the villages practiced headhunting as a tradition to their worship and it caused quite a bit of trouble for the other village. Something needed to be done in order to solve this issue between the two villages. The leader of the village that does not practice headhunting came up with a plan and so he met up with the people of the village that practiced headhunting. The leader said and promised the headhunters that he will provide an individual from his village to serve as their prey but only if they promise that this will be their last hunt, and so they agreed. A man fully dressed with a cloak that covered his entire body was sent into the village where the headhunters will hunt him. With great skill, the headhunters took the man’s life, however when they lifted the hood they realize the man whom they have killed was none other than the great leader of the other village. Tears came falling from the headhunters lamenting over the great sacrifice made by this man for his own people and from that day onward the headhunters stopped their headhunting tradition in honor of the man who gave his life for others he cared about.”

Chien-Jui said that he heard this story from his grandfather when he was younger, and that his grandfather would always tell him many different stories. Chien-Jui said that he does not recall the context in which he was first told the story, but that it was common for his grandfather to tell him such stories. In his opinion, the point of this story is to demonstrate what sorts of qualities a leader should have. Specifically, what he got from this story is the characteristic of sacrifice; a great leader must be willing to sacrifice for his or her followers. He said that sacrifices are not all about death; or rather the types of sacrifice should illustrate the leader’s devotion to the mass almost like their protector, their hero. I agree with Chien-Jui about the meaning of the story. It seems pretty straightforward, as a lesson to be a good leader. I believe that the story is trying to convey the idea that sometimes leaders do need to make sacrifices for the good of their people.  I think that the story also shows that sometimes drastic measures need to be taken to find solutions to problems, and you must be able to make tough decisions as a leader. Also I think the story serves to show that just because something is common practice doesn’t mean it should be accepted. Just because the village used to practice headhunting didn’t mean that it or right or should be accepted.

Children’s Song – Korea

“Hak gyo jong ee, dang dang dang, uh seo mo yi za, sun shang nim ee wo ri lool, gi da ri shin da”

“School bell is dang dang dang (ringing), let’s gather around, our teacher is waiting for us.”

Kwangsub told me that this is a traditional Korean children’s song. He said that he first learned this from an elementary school text book. But now he thinks kids probably learn it when they are in kindergarten. He said that lots of people know the song and it isn’t just taught in school or learned from books. He thinks that its purpose might be to teach children to be prompt and on time getting to class.

I think that Kwangsub is right when he says that the purpose of the song might be to teach kids to be on time when they are at school. It is similar to English songs that are meant to teach children how to do things or to help them remember things. It seems like this Korean song is analogous to songs like the “Clean Up” song that was featured on the Barney television show many years ago, and is now widely used without reference to the show.

Korean Children’s Song