As I was laying half awake during some dark hour and reviewing everything I could remember about the last couple days, I recalled that on several recent drives I had seen several Kenpo 5.0 stickers on car windows. I also noted that I had not remembered seeing a single sticker, window or otherwise, for any other versions of Kenpo.

I wondered how this observation might prove useful to me. I was about to abandon the whole exercise when I realized if I was ever arguing with someone about whether natural selection takes place, I can just ask them to show me even a single a bumper sticker from Kenpo versions 1.0 through 4.0. And of course, they won’t be able to and I’ll yell BURN and do an infuriating and needlessly lengthy victory dance.

Then to further explore the topic, I imagined naturalist David Attenborough narrating a scene where there’s a crowded gymnasium on the day of the big martial arts tournament, and the camera slowly pans to a corner where all the Kenpo 4.0 guys are warming up and stretching and surveying the room for the competition. One of them says, “You know guys, I’m feeling really good about today. As long as some kind of newer, more adaptable form of Kenpo doesn’t unpredictably come in through the door,” and his friends snicker sarcastically at his air-quote-y confidence,”we just might sweep this thing.”

But while they’re high-fiving each other, the gym slowly gets quiet, and everyone stops what they’re doing and turns to the main entrance as a small group of men clad in all-black Kenpo 5.0 uniforms slowly enters. They pause for a moment and then continue forward in disciplined unison, thumbs casually behind their belts, eyes focused straight ahead, expressions unreadable. Their haircuts are short.

One of the Kenpo 4.0 guys puts his hand on the shoulder of the guy in front of him and whispers, “Who are those guys?” because someone needs to say out loud what everyone in the gym is thinking even though it’s pretty obvious.

David Attenborough quietly lets us know that while Kenpo 4.0 may cling to existence a bit longer after today, refusing to tap out to the merciless joint-lock of destiny for as long as it can, for all intents and purposes, Kenpo 4.0 is no more.

(Camera pans slowly backward, watching the Kenpo 4.0 guys staring over at the Kenpo 5.0 guys, puzzled expressions on their faces and hands on their hips. We feel a little bad for them, but, well, nature… David Attenborough is pondering what will happen when Kenpo 6.0 inevitably arises; he quotes Darwin: “The world will not be inherited by the strongest, it will be inherited by those most able to change.” We wonder how that will go, and we’ll already know we’d totally watch David Attenborough narrate it when it happens.)

That went on for a while.

While I was trying to remember if I even knew whether there actually ever had been Kenpo versions 1.0-4.0, I recalled another bumper sticker that I had noticed and filed away in case I needed something else to do late at night instead of sleeping.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” –Japanese proverb

Right off the bat I wondered, just like everyone else probably would, what might happen once someone has fallen seven times, remembers the quote and gets up that eighth time, and immediately encounters another situation that requires additional falling and they’ve already used all 8 of their prescribed get-ups.

Do they just go, “So I’m not really sure what to do here,” or maybe after seven falls they’re finally like, “I am noticing a pattern where I keep falling and getting up and that’s not really working for me so maybe I should just stay fallen here for a minute and come up with some more proactive steps to try out, otherwise I might keep passively allowing the same cycle of events to take place over and over.”

Or maybe whatever you decide to do after that seventh fall is simply a reflection of the way you are currently wired, brain-wise and doesn’t point to any higher truth.

It just seems like you’re really limiting your scope by committing to 7 falls or less. But maybe something like
“get up one more time than you fall” or
“times you get up = times you fall + 1” lacked a certain mystic-sounding zing they were trying to go for.

I must have gone to sleep eventually.

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