My friend Grant called me “Grasshopper” after reading one of my Facebook posts. I really need to scale back my postings. Grant asked if I remembered the reference from the 1972 TV series “Kung Fu”. I wrote back that “Kung Fu” was my very favorite TV show.
Back when I was a kid, I wanted to be the strong wise Shaolin Master Po in the television series. Over the years, I got that being student Grasshopper was the deal. Grasshopper continually discovered life.
In the series “Kung Fu,” David Carradine starred as half-American half-Chinese Shaolin priest Kwai Chang Caine. Orphaned in China, Kwai Chang grew up in the Shaolin Monastery trained in kung fu and the Way of the Tao.
Caine became the fugitive from China escaping to America in the 1870’s. He searched for his half-brother Danny, to create his new life. On his journey, Caine helped and protected those weaker than he was from those who wished to harm them.
At the Shaolin Temple, Kwai Chang cultivated his profound relationship with blind Master Po. Master Po called Kwai Chang “Grasshopper” when he heard the grasshopper at Kwai Chang’s feet that he didn’t see. Master Po became the Father Kwai Chang needed to become a man.
That’s my synchronicity with Caine. My transformational relationship was with Sensei Dan. Over the years and until he passed way, Dan became the father I needed to become the man I wanted to be.
Caine became the outlaw when he murdered the Emperor’s son. The Emperor’s son ordered his soldiers to kill Caine’s beloved Master Po. Consumed with rage and vengeance Caine kills the murderous soldiers and the Emperor’s son. Although justified in his actions, Caine knows what he did was wrong. Yet, his Master Po forgives him. He gives Grasshopper the gift he would have given his own son.
The martial arts in “Kung Fu” were cool for its time. 1972 represented the martial arts cultural Renaissance in the US with Bruce Lee’s Chinese movies gaining popularity around the world. Bruce’s “Enter the Dragon” was released in 1973, after his death.
In retrospect, the martial arts on that TV screen now paled in comparison to 2017’s “John Wick: Chapter 2” or “Atomic Blonde”. Back then my parents didn’t allow me to see kung fu movies in the theater, because they were all R-rated. Oh, well. I ended up seeing “Enter the Dragon” years later.
As a kid, Caine was my Hero partly, because he was the kung fu master. Mostly he was my hero because he was the good man who had kindness and compassion. He helped others who could not protect themselves. He helped them discover their own greater within. Caine used his powers for good, not evil. I wanted to be like Caine. I wanted to be a hero. Now I’m Aikido Sensei, because of Sensei Dan.
No one really becomes Master of anything. Mastery is in on-going self-discovery, a surrender to being the forever student who sees the world as wondrous. You become “Grasshopper” in mastery.
Sensei Dan still inspires me. He was mastery for me. He was the man of few words. He said, “Jon, you don’t have to do it (Aikido) like I do. Make it work for you.” Sensei truly believed the world would be better if everyone trained in Aikido. In a way, I inherit his legacy.
I wish to be the great Sensei like Sensei Dan. Really, I believe Dan would have wanted me to continue to discover, and to create. He told me, “Make Aikido your own.” In that way, I shall forever be Grasshopper, who honors Sensei. That honors me as I continue to see the world with wonder.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view or reaction here at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
Photo credit: Pixabay