A few misconceptions about real-life Ninjas, cleared up

Okay. I’m a ninja here, right? RIGHT? glares until everyone else cowers in fear. Thank you. But in that vast circus called real life, I’m also a persuant of the martial arts - tae kwon do and a smattering of hapkido. I cross-posted a variant of this in an LJ community I subscribe to, and I’ve grown fond of it, and really, it makes more sense to say this to non-martial arts than my fellow martial artists. So, without further ado, a (on preview, very long) list of Things That Bother Me About Non Martial Artists, in Semi-Conversational Form.

  1. I do martial arts. Specifically, tae kwon do and hapkido. I am allowed to casually refer to it as karate, as in, “Crap crap crap I’m gonna be mad late for karate!”. This is because I am aware of the differences between karate and the dozens of other MAs out there. You, on the other hand, aren’t. So, if we’re chatting, and I tell you I do TKD, please don’t reply with a witty, “Oh, cool! You do karate?” I don’t. I do TKD.

  2. It’s not kung fu, either.

  3. To answer your questions before you ask them: Black belt, seven years, five years. I’m assuming your questions are ‘what belt are you’, ‘how long have you been training,’ and ‘how long did it take you to get your black belt?’
    3a. Yes, I am a black belt. Yes, for real. No, I’m not joking. Yes, I am a girl. Yes, I am seventeen. Yes, I am very small. Yes, I am a blackbelt!
    3b. No, don’t ask me if I’m ‘any good’. It’s not a simple ‘yes or no’ question. What am I good at? I’m good at jump spin kicks, but weaker on sparring. Am I good compared to the white belt that just started training? Yes. Am I good compared to the head instructor of my school, who is an 8th degree blackbelt in hapkido? Uh, no. Am I good compared to someone who trains in a different art? Can’t really say, can I?
    3c. Yes, there are different degrees. I’m a first degree. This is too complicated for you.

  4. Yes, I have broken boards. Yes, with my feet and hands. No, not with my head.

  5. No, I haven’t ever broken bricks of cement. No, I don’t know if I could punch through that wall. I’ve never tried, and I’m quite happy not knowing. Even if I could, it probably would hurt.

  6. Okay, I still don’t do kung fu. Stop making silly noises.

  7. Yes, we do yell. In TKD, we call it a kiyap. To summon the ancient and mystical Powers of the Ninja Stone. Actually, it tightens your abs so getting hit/thrown hurts less, and other reasons that you don’t understand.

  8. No, I have never killed anyone with my bare hands. Probably couldn’t. I don’t really want to try, but you’re starting to tempt me.

  9. Yes, we do bow. To the flags, and our instructors, amongst other things. No, it’s not weird after the first couple classes.
    9a. Yes, I did just start to absently bow walking into homeroom. Shut up.
    9b. Uh, no…I didn’t just absently start to bow as I handed my test in. I was…uh…stretching my neck.

  10. Yes, the bruises and scraped knuckles did, technically come from fighting, only it was knuckle pushups and sparring and working on a punching bag. Oh, yes, I’m a gangsta looking for a fight. Ha. Ha. Shut up now.

  11. sigh. No. I’m not going to hit you as hard as I can. I’m tempted, but I won’t. I can’t fathom why you’d ask me to do it. Why not? Well, last time I did that I was in eighth grade and got detention for a week. If you hit me first? Well, I’d be very highly annoyed. I’d consider hitting you back, but really, you’re not worth it, so please don’t.

  12. Yes, I can kick over my head. Especially if I jump.
    12a. Yes, I could sweep you or throw you right now. But I’m not very good at it, so you’d probably get seriously hurt, so no, I won’t do it.
    12b. No. I don’t know any ‘kung fu grips’ or ‘karate chops’. Really, there’s NO SUCH THING. And also, I still don’t know kung fu, nor am I a karate kid. Shut up.

  13. Yes, I really am sore. I spent the better part of an hour doing things that hurt last night.
    13a. That odd perfume is Tiger Balm, and it is the nectar of gods. I don’t care if you think it smells funny.
    13b. Really, I’m not just trying to get out of gym class. The sprained wrist is real. Look, most of the girls in my gym class have broken a sweat about three times in their life; I do it at least four times a week. Getting out of gym class isn’t worth my effort.

  14. No. I’m not going to ‘show you my moves’ right now. Because, see those desks? And people? They’re in the way. Also, see that the bells about to ring? Also, I can’t show you my karate, because I don’t know karate!!

  15. Yes, that page full of little stick figures is a stick figure going through the moves of one of our patterns. It’s more interesting than biology, okay?

  16. Yes, I spar guys. Most of my classmates are guys. No, I’m not as good as most of them, I’m better than most of them, because they’re lower belts than I am.

  17. One last time: IT IS NOT KUNG FU. IT IS NOT KARATE..
    17a. Watching Chuck Norris, Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, Jet Li, etc, does not mean you know anything about martial arts. At all.
    17b. Martial arts in movies? Pretty much all fake.
    17c. Okay, how about this? If I do what you asked, and hit you as hard as I can, will you stop calling it kung fu?

And…that’s pretty much it. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had at least snippets of this conversation.

Wow, it sounds like you have to deal with a lot of yahoos asking stupid questions.

So, anyway, if I were to crouch in the shadows and throw a throwing star at the back of your head, would you sense it in time to whirl around and catch it? Would you catch it in your teeth?


How 'bout ice blocks? Can you break ice blocks?

Ahem. I’m better now.

Same thing happens to me when people find out I’m a herpetologist. “Why do you like snakes?” Or when they find out I started college at 12. “Oh, so your some sort of genius right?” “How’d you get so smart so fast?”

Well, how’d you get so dumb so fast?

Face it, people are stupid. But you have the RealUltimatePower. :smiley:


I once talked to a Japanese guy who, like many others, had earned a black belt in about 1 year. He indicated it was no big deal: it merely involved practicing 2 hours in the early morning about 4 times a week.


Lots of people did it.

Oh, and a first degree black belt implies that you can begin mastering the art.

Good luck with your studies.

<<Ilsa: What college course did you take at 12?>>

The Real Ultimate Power

I wail on gaint guitars until it sounds so sweet that I crap my pants.
We should party sometime.

Cool! You do karate?!

Nice list, NinjaChick; you’re pretty articulate and clearly intelligent. However, I checked, and apparently I am allowed to casually refer to tae kwan do as “karate” if I feel like it, so kindly lose some of the attitude. Also, don’t assume that something is too complicated for your questioner to understand; it’s unnecessarily insulting. Otherwise, don’t worry if somebody asks you stupid questions. Before long you’ll be out in the real world. Enjoy your studies, and growing up in general.

I don’t know why anyone who knows the difference between karate and tae kwon do would want to say “karate,” when really meaning tae kwon do.

I’m probably wrong here, but I was under the impression that TKD was actually an early offshoot of shotokan, and that the term “Korean karate” is actually pretty accurate. What’s your take on this?

Also–no “karate chops”? You don’t do knife-hand strikes?

Oh, and Tiger Balm sucks. You should try to track down some real Chinese “dit da jow” (aka “hit medicine”, and often referred to just as “liniment”)–it’s orders of magnitude better. Has more of a smell, though.

Yeah, that confused me, too. I would think that NinjaChick of all people would not excuse herself for referring to Tae Kwon Do as Karate since it leads others to infer that they’re the same (which is one of the rants here). Also, “Tae Kwon Do” has 3 syllables, just like “Ka-ra-te”, which makes it kind of a crappy shorthand replacement/abbreviation, though I guess “Ka-ra-te” is marginally easier to say quickly.

And NinjaChick, have you ever fought against hounds, or bees, or hounds that when they bark, they shoot bees from their mouths? :wink:

[Keanu]Whoa! She knows kung-fu![/Keanu]

Hello my name is askeptic and I’m an…Woops, wrong forum, Sorry

But seriously, it didn’t occur to me that the OP was not just some subtle parady that I just didn’t get. After seeing the responses by more experienced Dopers I got a little skeptical. Then tempted to toss out some off the cuff smart ass comment, luckily I remembered that smart ass comments (from me, at least) has not proven to be a winning strategy for me. I’ll just say that while I am not a Ninja, if I touch my nose with my right pinky I can turn invisible. Thats pronounced inv-is-able. Only problem is I seem to be the only person that realizes when I’m invisable. Everybody else pretends they can still see me. Darn it that makes me Gosh dang mad. They should realize that I have the power of invisability, and they don’t, and they are just dummies…

Are there any movies that show martial arts realistically (either “completely realistically” or “well-that’s-about-as-realistic-as-Hollywood-ever-gets realitically”)?

That’s just something I’ve wondered about from time to time, and your list brought it to mind.

I bet if NinjaChick were an Evil Movie Ninja[sup]TM[/sup], she wouldn’t wait to attack the hero one-on-one, but would inspire her fellow Ninja to attack en masse.

I think since NinjaChick mentioned that she’s seventeen, most of these questions are coming from her classmates. You know, the average slackjawed high school male. I can see why she might be reluctant to go into detailed explanations with one of those, especially when they have such a hard time reconciling the idea of a girl that’s into martial arts.

I wish I could tell you that it gets better, NinjaChick. I mean, mostly it does, but you’re still going to run into ignorant louts who want to ask you if you do Kung Fu.

I know all about ninjas.

[http://www.realultimatepower.net/]Ninjas are cool; and by cool, I mean totally sweet.

I got so excited about ninjas that I screwed up the links. I’m sorry. If there are any ninjas, don’t cut my head off!!

I don’t think so. Or atleast not a mainstream movie.

You have to remember right off the bat that it will always only be “As close as hollywood can make it”.

Everything is Choreographed to make interesting. So how can you get a real representation of fighting?

I get the same question from time to time dealing sword fights in the movies as a historicla fencer, and the answer there is again: no, it’s nothing like actual combat.

What is “kung fu”?