So you’re already familiar with my writing and got an introduction to my love for drawing. I find it interesting that I have such a love of the arts as an engineer; a lot of engineers I’ve known are pretty much just focused on their field. Not to stereotype or anything. Then again, people do have some surprising and unexpected talents.
My dad, for example, is very much a computer geek. His hobbies mostly involve reading software manuals and tinkering around with old work laptops. He’s not much for fiction reading (or anything not computer-related, for that matter), and while he does enjoy movies, he only watches them when I do. But, he’s a very talented singer. Sadly, I don’t think I’ve heard him sing since my mom got sick, but before that, he’d regularly belt something out while cooking, or at any random time. He was also into theater. When we lived in Kuwait, he was part of a theater group, and I have a vague memory of going to watch one of his plays, though I have no idea what it was about.
The musical bug actually bit everyone in my family, but decided to skip me for some reason. My dad sings (well, sang), my brother’s also a great singer and can play music by ear. My mom taught singing and has even performed on stage. And me? When I was in kindergarten, or maybe 1st grade, I was part of the orchestra during some school show and played the triangle. Ding-a-ling-a-ling. That was me. I was supposed to be in some sort of musical play in 4th or 5th grade, but I had such a horrible case of stage fright that I dropped out during rehearsals. Music just didn’t want to be my friend, and I was happy waving to it from a distance.
However, there is one art that I fell in love with quite unexpectedly – karate. It was a classic movie romance: two people meet, can’t stand each other, spend most of the movie bickering, and end up together. My brother had started training karate towards the end of high school. He’s always been a fitness buff, and was on various sports teams throughout his school life. He’s also had a long-standing love of martial arts and martial arts films. But rather than running around the living room with a ruler pretending it’s a samurai sword, he decided to actually take up martial arts as a hobby, and a way of life.
As a skinny nerd with no athletic abilities whatsoever, I had no interest in any of that. My brother would often practice punches and kicks on random pieces of furniture or the walls, and would even try to get me to be a human punching bag. He wouldn’t actually hit me or anything, just throw punches aimed toward my face or torso, for practice. What it lacked in pain it more than made up for in annoyance. Imagine sitting in your favorite chair and reading a book, when a flurry of fists breezes past your face. Not distracting at all.
My brother was a fierce competitor too, participating in all sorts of tournaments and coming home with many a medal. He earned his black belt, became a part-time instructor, and took up a few other martial arts too. As indifferent as I was toward the martial arts, I was pretty excited when he started doing kobudo (weapons training) because it involved using nunchucks, staffs and sais. That’s three of the Ninja Turtles right there! Sadly, swords are banned here, so no Leonardo to complete the set. But I digress.
Martial arts was of no interest to me at all, even though my brother tried now and again to get me into it. Martial arts films were cheesy and over-the-top, and while Bruce Lee’s skills were certainly admirable, he couldn’t hold a candle to cartoons when it came to entertainment. I was pretty determined to never have anything do with any of that stuff.
Until college, when my stance on that matter took a pretty sharp 180.