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Parallel Universe and Identity Crisis

January 15, 2010

My cousin has started teaching Tai Chi. In fact, he launched his website late last year, you can check it out at

It was interesting to go through the site, it brought back many memories of my younger days. When we were teenagers, I was training in praying mantis (while haboring my ninja-dreams) while he was pursuing tae kwon do with his trademark seriousness and sincerity.

After I started National Service I stopped pursuing my goal of mastering praying mantis. Looking back I realize how foolish that was, because I had no good reason to stop. Time? Energy? Oh, come on! In Israel the ninjutsu people in the army will go AWOL for the sake of training. They saw sneaking in and out of the army camp undetected as a necessary part of their ninja training. And I can’t even muster the effort to make a training trip once a week?

While I grew slack, my cousin grew even more serious, and began to take tai chi lessons from MY praying mantis Sifu. In a sense we can say that he took my place and eventually became more of my sifu’s student than I am. He wasn’t given some black belt/black sash thingy to show his credentials, we don’t do things like this in Chinese Martial Arts. But he was given permission from my sifu to teach. And that, in the Chinese scene, counts for a lot.

So right now, where do we stand? I’ve gotten my Sandan in Bujinkan Taijutsu, and I am glad for it. I know I can teach, in fact, my sensei has repeatedly bugged me to go start my own classes. But my cousin has kept on in my original path, one that I have no reason for leaving, other than laziness. Somewhere deep inside me I still feel like a chinese stylist, not a Japanese one. I don’t think it is a matter of race. I suspect it’s just that nostalgic, yearning-for-childhood side of me that wishes that I kept up my first art as well as my taijutsu.

Hence the title of this post. In a parallel universe I would have continued on in my praying mantis training and maybe even taken up tai chi. Maybe by now I’d be the one teaching those two arts, not him? I guess I’ll never know…

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