Friday, August 16, 2019

Pat-isms and loose translations

Since I recently re-launched my judo classes after a 2-year sabbatical, several of my students and judo buddies have expressed their amusement and/or delight at what they have called my "Pat-isms." 
Those who know me know that I have a touch of a chip on my shoulder about American martial artists who try to out-Japanese the Japanese guys.  People who know me also know that I have a passive aggressive streak about a mile wide, so I'm not afraid to turn a sacred cow into a cheeseburger just to frustrate a pseudo-Japanese grammar-Nazi.  I also find it just plain funny that people think of Mississippi residents as ignorant yokels, so I enjoy wallowing in that stereotype. 
But you know what's really interesting?  I have found over the years that I can communicate martial arts ideas better using portmanteau, malapropism, puns, and poetic terminology than I can using the martial-Japanese equivalent of pidgin, Spanglish, or Engrish.
So, my classes end up being a celebration of colloquialism and loose translation such as,

  • "This technique is called, shomenate, which in the ancient Japanese language, means, 'Grab the other guy by his face.'"
  • "Tonight we're working on koshiwaza (that is, crack-of-the-butt throws)."
  • "Now let's do the drinking bird exercise."
  • "First thing you do in this move is get out da way (because you do not have time to get...out...of...the...way) and throw both hands up like a cow-catcher."
  • Y'all move around and get all swoovely so you won't pull a muscle.
  • This move is named, "Snow Resting on a Willow," because it was named by an old dead poet and we don't have any better name for it.
  • Scooting instead of shrimping.
  • "He might bust me and kill me and do all sorts of stuff to me - but he's going to have to do it with my arm spearing through his head."

My students have laughed and marvelled at this sort of Pat-ism for years, and it doesn't look like my storehouse of stupid is going to run out any time soon, so if that makes me the Yogi Berra of judo, so be it. 
But if you enjoy a friendly, colloquial judo practice full of people who actually realize that they are not, in fact, Japanese, then come on down to Mokuren Dojo and play with us!

Want to discuss this blog post?
Come find me on Facebook at my Mokuren Dojo FB group

Patrick Parker
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