Tuesday, August 25, 2009

History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi- Part I

If you want to see a show with awesome action and amazing humor, History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi is definitely for you. (It's called Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple in the American dub; however, I am more fond of the other name, so that is how I will refer to it.) The story follows Shirahama Kenichi, a generally unimpressive high schooler on his martial arts journey. (I am hesitant to call it a "quest," because he is pretty much thrown into the martial arts world.)

The story begins with a chance meeting between Kenichi and a girl named Miu, when she sends him flying for walking up behind her. The two make it to school late, due to a little run-in with the river, and end up standing in the hall. After school, Kenichi goes to the Karate Club, where he doesn't so much learn as get beat up the entire time. To add insult to injury, the senior students make Kenichi clean the dojo after class. When Kenichi tries to hit one of the sandbags, Daimonji, another 1st year student (and total meathead) bullies him and challenges him to a fight the following week. The stipulation: the loser must quit the Karate Club forever. It's been a bad day for Shirahama Kenichi.

On his way home, the young Kenichi witnesses Miu standing up for an old man being threatened by some thugs. He attempts to help her, but fails miserably. However, Miu demolishes the gang of thugs with relative ease.

If you are in a situation where a weak or timid person is being bullied or abused, you should do something about it. If at all possible, appeal to someone in authority to handle it. However, if that is not an option, be prepared to verbally stand up for that person. Sometimes, that is enough. However, if it comes to it, and the person doing the abuse decides to make it physical, by all means, defend yourself and that other person to the best of your ability. Never just go looking for a fight-- it's dumb. That leads into something Miu said to Kenichi.

Martial Arts Are Not Only for the Strong

Martial Arts are, at their base, the means to most efficiently defeat your opponent, stop an altercation, or defend yourself. This means, if a fight can be avoided or a situation resolved peacefully, it is preferable to the alternative of violence. This is not only morality, but about survival, efficient use of your energy, and the well being of yourself and those around you. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?" Martial Arts were invented by weaker men to defeat stronger men. It's out of necessity-- a need for survival. Martial Arts are not only for the strong.

In any case, off my soapbox. Miu then tells Kenichi that if he wants to be strong, he can go to a certain place. (In the manga, he doesn't go until after the fight with Daimonji.)

The Place Where Heroes Gather

Kenichi follows a very complex map to a place called the "Ryouzanpaku." He is greeted by a very large man, who tells him that this is a place for martial artists who have mastered their particular art or who have grown to dislike the sports-oriented world of martial arts. Here we have a Muay Thai fighter, a Karate Master, a Kung Fu Master, a Master of Weapons, a Jujitsu Master, and the Elder. Miu reveals that this is her home and that Furinji Hayato is her Grandfather. This is pretty much the end of episode 1.

I am an advocate of learning as much about combat as possible and not being limited to a style, per se. That being said, I don't judge anyone for being a "one style" martial artist. If you are a karateka, a judoka, a kung fu practitioner, a kickboxer, a fencer, a boxer, a ballet dancer-- ok, maybe not a ballet dancer-- whatever you are, be the best that you can be in that style. You must also, though, be aware that doing so may leave you weak in other areas, but it is your job as a "one style" martial artist to overcome the challenges in an inherent weakness in your style versus another style. It's another way for all of us to learn.

Not a whole lot of training in this edition guys, but there's a lot more training and workouts headed your way from History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi. Good luck and train hard!
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