View Full Version : The Tale of Dunkel Ananas, as told by Dunkel Ananas

3/01/2009 7:23pm,
I guess you'd call me a martial hobbyist: someone who does the martial arts because he enjoys punching, kicking, and throwing people. I've never been one to worry about teh streets and I've never thought about trying to become a "cage fighter." In regards to the former: maybe it's because I'm a obese white man living in Wisconsin, but I've never really been around enough street crime or watched enough local news to really become worried about it. Regarding the latter, well, my martial skills are "passing" at best and I would be too worried about serious brain injury, as paranoid as that may be. My interest has always been in just getting into the occasional scrap, is that so much to ask?

Well, in suburban Wisconsin, yes it is. I think I might be getting ahead of myself, so I shall go back to the beginning, as that's a pretty good place to start a story.

My martial arts story starts in a town in the southern half of Wisconsin in the middle of the last decade (mid Clinton era). My brothers and I were, like many children of the 90s, fascinated with the The Power Rangers/The Three Ninjas/Walker Texas Ranger. So we hounded him about taking "karate", not knowing there were other martial arts. Now my father was something of a poor man and could not afford the steep prices of the mcdojangs in our area for the three of us, but as luck would have it he knew a guy from work named Mark. Mark, who had experience in martial arts such as tae kwon do and judo, would come to our house on Sundays and teach the three of us about the martial arts for about $5 a pop.

To be honest, I don't remember a damn thing the man taught me. Forgive me, I was 9! But as I recall, Mark's classes usually went something like this: Mark would show up, perhaps with some training tool or perhaps not. He would give us 10-15 minutes of instruction and then my brothers and I would go at it. The sparring varied from minimal to medium-contact, depending upon what the training of the day was and how my father and Mark had prepared. Medium-contact sparring usually came on days when Mark and my father had cooked something up that would allow for safe sparring. For example, one December morning my father took every pillow and mat in the house and constructed a makeshift ring with which my brothers and I could safely throw each other around with the worry of splitting our heads on the concrete. On another day, in late Spring if I recall correctly, my father got out a bunch of foam pads and some duct tape. My father would duct tape the foam to one of us and the other two would attack him.

Inevitably, Mark moved away, taking my elementary school art teacher (I cannot remember her name) with him. Where did they go? I haven't the slightest. In fact, I have no idea how they met in the first place. My town can be somewhat weird.

This left me with a martial void. My brothers lost interest, yet I yearned for more. So when I was 11 my father decided to enroll me at the AKF Martial Arts Academy, a school that taught Kyuki-Do. The master of that place was a great guy in every sense of the word. Great with kids and an honest businessman. He didn't use contracts, he didn't swindle people, he didn't mind if the tuition was a few days late.

That being said, Kyuki-do is your average hapkido/tae kwon do hybrid that mixes basic tae kwon do forms with a little grappling. Mind you, we did spar, but this was a large children's class. Some days the attendance got to30-40 students, and it was just the master, his son and daughter (both black belts) to teach them. The son was about 2 years younger than me and the daughter is roughly 2-3 years older. I do not call their black belts in to question (in fact, the son went on to be one of the best wrestlers in his division in high school. Unfortunately, he went to my rival high school and I am thus forced to disdain him.)

The belt system at this school (and the rest of the American Kyuki Do Federation's affiliated schools) went thusly: white, yellow stripe, yellow, green stripe, green, blue stripe, blue, brown stripe, brown, red, and then black. I made it as far as green stripe (it was my favorite belt anyway, because as a resident of Wisconsin I am required to revere the Packers as Gods.)

From what I can tell from the beginner forms at least, they greatly resemble tae kwon do forms. For example, the white belt form was a simple "block punch, switch directions, block punch" sequence. I encountered almost an exact duplicate when I tried out a tae kwon do class a year ago. We would also run scenario drills, including one-step sparring drills where your opponent launches a punch at you and you deflect and parry in a prescribed manner. I never really got those to work.

Sparring was also a mix, going from point sparring to medium contact, not unlike what Mark did. In retrospect I think it had to do with the size of the class on any given day. If the class was over 30, we'd usually do one-steps, air reps of various kicks/blocks/punches in line, and perhaps forms. Days with 20 or so kids we might get lucky and do point sparring. Less than 20, and we may just get to do medium contact sparring.

When we sparred, we were required to wear the usual krotty gear (special thanks to Century Martial Arts equipment: sellers of cheap foam crap for all your martial needs!) Head contact was to be minimal, no shots to the backs, and you couldn't ream your opponent. Basic sparring rules if you ask me. We'd spar with a partner for 3-5 minutes and then switch.

After 3 years of this, I got bored. I was 14, and I wanted something more excited, dare I say, teh deadly!? It was around this time I bought an Ashida Kim book at Barnes and Noble (one of the few purchases I woefully regret.) I started to subscribe to "Inside Kung Fu" and reading the articles (one of my favorites was an article on "bat kung fu" which the article purports to be the ancient origins of ninjutsu. I loved it at the time for the mystery, now I love it for the historical inaccuracies.)

Eventually I talked my father into letting me taking Shaolin Ke?po in Madison ( scant 40 minute drive away.) I took Shaolin Ke?po at a place called the "Monkey Bar Gym," dedicated to alternative means of fitness (many of the fitness classes revolve around body weight exercises and trampolines.)

When I first went to the Monkey Bar Gym, the ke?po class was not in session. Instead, I sat in on a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Even then I could see just how tough those guys were. My logic at the time led me to believe "if these guys are that tough, then the class with the word 'shaolin' in it must be at least 10 times as tough!"

As you may expect, shaolin ke?po was not tough in the slightest. The instructor was an interesting guy. He worked as a bouncer at one of the many bars on State Street (one of the partying-ist places in America thanks to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.) He also taught a kickboxing class I believed, but kept to the usual curriculum in shaolin ke?po. He was also oddly tough when it came to rank advancements - I believe you had to train for a year before you could advance beyond white. Contrast that with the mail-to-order videos that will grant you belt advancements peddled by Villari himself from his website.

After about 5 months, I grew tired of driving 40 minutes there and back to Madison twice a week. So was my father, who began to complain about the rising cost of gas. Around this time I started getting into weight training.

I entered sophomore year in high school, still without a school. I still weight lifted on a regular basis, but wanted to get back into the martial arts. I looked around at the schools in my area and found a judo class at the YMCA. I went there for two months. For the two months I was there I was treated as something like a rag doll, being thrown around when the advanced students felt they needed to practice a technique. I think I was taught one throw. I didn't really feel like I belonged there, probably because I didn't. The judo club offered two classes: one for children and one for adults. By children, I mean 10 year olds. As a 15 year old I would've been twice the size as anyone else in the class. The adult class was populated with guys in the late 20s to mid 40s. I was worlds apart from them, having nothing really to talk to them about. It was a small adult class as well - only about 10 people total with maybe 5 guys showing up on a regular night. After a few months I gave up on the club and went back to just weight training.

For a year I did nothing martial at all. This would've been around 2005. For the beginning of 2005, I stuck mainly to weight training. Then around mid Spring, I was waiting for a ride after lifting in my high school's gym when a bunch of track guys ran by. I made a crack about how running was lame. One of them challenged me to try cross country next year. Being a jerk, I accepted. I spent the summer running and in the fall I joined the cross country team.

Now, I had always been a fat kid. In the process of showing that guy any idiot could run cross country, though, I lost about 100 lbs and got down to 180. After the season was over, I felt like I never wanted to run again (the coaches had us running 6 days a week in excess of 4 miles a day.) To this day I still despise running, but since I've put on the freshman 150 (thanks a lot, college. Okay, it's not that much but I did get really fat Freshman year) I really need to get back into it.

A few months after the Cross Country season was over, I decided to try out AKF again. It was just like I remembered, except the people were older. I was there for two months. I decided to quit one night after grappling practice. I was grappling the master's son. Now, it is important to note that the master's son is about a foot shorter than me. I figured that he should have easily defeated me, him being a black belt/high school wrestler. While we rolled he was attempting to put me into some hold, when I had a brilliant idea: I stood up and threw him off me. Maybe he was taking it easy on me. Maybe my combination of being stronger and taller than him proved to outmatch his skill. Maybe I just got lucky. But after that, I just didn't have it in me to keep going there.

For the next few years I occasionally weight lifted, tried a few schools in my area with no success. I swear that every school in my town teaches the exact same TKD Mcdojang stuff. I thought about trying a martial arts club at my school, but here were the choices at the time: TKD and Aikido. This was after I had discovered the wonders of Bullshido, and so decided to not waste my time. I here rumor that my university just got a BJJ club, but I am transferring to a different school next semester and am only on a part-time basis as a student right now.

So here I am, fat, out of shape thanks to a lack of training. Seeing as I'm only going part time, I am looking for employment. Well, due to recent economic activity the GM plant shut down, flooding the job market with unskilled labor. I figure I might as well just go to Madison, where the job market is better and about the same drive to my university. This gives me the added benefit of looking for martial arts there, which is a Mecca of martial artistry compared to my home town. I've decided to look into boxing gyms, as I've become bored with the pajamas and foreign names associated with Asian martial arts.

And that brings me back to today. Not much of a story I suppose, but it's my story. This is the story of your average (if not below average) martial hobbyist trying to find his home in this big ol' martial arts world. Will I ever find it? Who knows. All I can do is keep on trying until I find something I like. Until then I'll work on my physical training and reading threads on Bullshido to learn more about prospective martial arts that might catch my fancy.

Oh, and if you read this entire thing: congratulations. You are as bored as I was when I decided to write this.