Friday, May 21, 2010

You Can Learn About Motorcycling From Mr. Miyagi

On my website I have a statement "Everything I needed to know about life I learned from a Honda gas tank label". Of course, I was kidding.

But now I am going to make two more statements, and an explanation "Everything I needed to know about riding a motorcycle I learned from the movie Karate Kid IV aka The Next Karate Kid". And everything I needed to know about motorcycle maintenance I learned from the movie McGruber.

Let's start with Karate Kid IV. Riding a motorcycle, like karate, is dangerous especially when you take it to the streets. Threats are everywhere, and to stay safe you need a combination of technique and a sixth sense. Not to mention an ability to remain calm, and to respect the traffic around you, to stay focused, and to be always in control of the situation. Another similarity to the Karate Kid, is that you will generally have four or five opponents against one, and you are by far the smallest out there.

In Karate Kid IV, a small elderly Japanese guy named Mr. Miyagi takes it upon himself to train a girl named Julie in the ways of Karate. There is a lot of Zen involved, and enigmatic instructional techniques. You don't, for example, learn to kick a bag. You learn to "be the bag". Similarly, you cannot learn how to drive defensively, you must learn to "be the traffic". In the movie, this technique of learning and teaching works miraculously for anything, including bowling. A group Tibetan monks who have never bowled before (I assume from the context, but it was never explicitly stated) get in a bowling match for money and win the game easily because of their superior mind control of the ball. They can even get a gutter ball to score a strike.

Many lessons are accompanied by puzzling sayings such as "Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land." That one almost makes sense. But the next one does not "Sun is warm, grass is green." Not at my house it isn't.

These are quotes from Mr. Miyagi again, about traffic conditions and other things, though the dialogue is actually from the first Karate Kid Movie and was not repeated in movie IV, so I put it here

Miyagi: Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do "yes" or karate do "no." You karate do "guess so,"
[makes squish gesture]
Miyagi: just like grape. Understand?
Daniel: Yeah, I understand.
Miyagi: Now, ready?
Daniel: Yeah, I'm ready.
Daniel: Wouldn't a fly swatter be easier?
Miyagi: Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything.
Daniel: Ever catch one?
Miyagi: Not yet.
Daniel: Hey, what kind of belt do you have?
Miyagi: Canvas. JC Penney, $3.98. You like?
Daniel: No, I meant...
Miyagi: In Okinawa, belt mean no need rope to hold up pants.
Miyagi: Daniel-san...
Miyagi: Karate here. [taps his head]
Miyagi: Karate here. [taps his heart]
Miyagi: Karate never here. Understand? [points to his belt]

(My interpretation, that motorcycle safety is not in a helmet or in a motorcycle, it is in your head and heart. Although of course, having a helmet is useful for holding your brains in.)
Daniel: Where am I, this ring over here?
Miyagi: Hai. Number three.
Daniel: What's that guy kneeling like that for?
Miyagi: Don't know.
Daniel: Don't you know anything you can tell me?
Miyagi: Hai. No get hit.
(The parallels to motorcycling are pretty obvious here)
Miyagi: [Daniel has just gotten his driver's license and Miyagi has given him a car for his birthday] Just remember, license never replace eye, ear, and brain.
Miyagi: [repeated line to Daniel] Look eye!, always look eye!
And one more actually from Karate Kid IV (I guess all the best lines were used up in the first three movies)

Julie: Is there a trick to this--something I haven't figured out?
Miyagi: Pray.
Julie: Pray?

Now for motorcycle maintenance, inspired by MacGruber, a film from the Saturday Night Live skit, based on a parody of a character from the TV series MacGyver. In the original series, MacGyver was always getting out of trouble by making complicated devices out of house hold materials. MacGruber made this funny (or funnier) by exaggerating it out of all proportion, and also having the device fail most of the time in a massive explosion. OK so this is the lesson I got from the movie. Making stuff out of crap is a lot cheaper than buying accessories at the motorcycle shop. Just make sure they don't fail on the road or it's going to be embarrassing.

1 comment:

  1. Very much enjoyed your comparison today. Thank you!