Imagine you're walking in a backwoods area of Japan.
There's a small college nearby and the gymnasium is right ahead. You hear
strange noises and sneak in to investigate. You go up a stairway to what
must be the Alumni booth overlooking the gym floor.
Down below there are dozens of Japanese men and women dressed up in
costumes from America's Wild West of the 1800's. Some have ten-gallon
hats; others have big fuzzy chaps; all are wearing holsters with
wooden guns. They've paired off with "pardners" and stand 2.5 meters
apart. The one on the left, called "varmint", says the traditional
phrase, "This town has not sufficient size to contain two of us. You
must depart." The person on the right, the "Good Guy", responds,
"Reach for your shooting irons, you unclean rodent!" They both draw
their wooden guns and yell, "Bang!", and the "varmint" falls to the
ground; the "Good Guy" blows on the barrel of his wooden gun.
This is repeated four times. The "pardners" then switch sides. This goes on
until the "Sheriff" stops class to demonstrate a new "draw."
Do these people seem silly? Would you laugh at them?
Jim Baker currently teaches at
Aikido Society of Memphis.