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I Want to be a Kung Fu Fighter:
Lamentations on Life and the Joyous Art of the Fighting Game
August 13, 2000

CAPT025.jpg (5356 bytes)I want to be a kung fu fighter. I want to dance like Jackie Chan and flip like Jet Lee on wires. I want to have a wise old kung fu master that says things like, "You fight well for one so young, but you must learn to let go of your anger and become like the stream. When you can do this, you will be invincible."

Unfortunately, I’ve run into a minor bump in the road that has deterred me from this glorious dream, namely that I tend to suck at things requiring enormous amounts of physical skill, or even minor amounts for that matter. But the dream lives on. I’ve attempted the Drunken Master technique a few times, but it never worked out quite right and it certainly never looked as cool as when Jackie Chan does it. While hoping to hear gasps of astonishment from onlookers and the knocking knees of evil doers everywhere, I instead hear, "Oh, that poor man," and, "Honey, don’t stare".

CAPT150.jpg (4483 bytes)Many people question the usefulness of becoming a kung fu warrior in this day and age. After all, hardly anybody gets jumped by a band of evil martial artists when they go grocery shopping, and it’s even rarer that political squabbles are solved with kung fu fights like they are in the movies, but then again maybe they should be. I guarantee you a higher voter turnout if Al Gore and George W. went a few rounds John Woo style instead of those lame debates. But I digress.

chuck-getting-beat-on-the-g.jpg (4120 bytes)My point is, that it’s true. I will never be a great kung fu fighter, and I’ve finally come to grips with it. But all is not lost. Thank the stars above for looking down on a little something called fighting games. I can’t stand on one hand, and I can’t break blocks of ice with my forehead, but I can work a D-pad like a samurai with a katana, and ninjas drool when they see how buff my thumbs are.

I’ve learned much, and studied under various masters. I can stare my enemy in the eye and say, "You’re Capcom skill is strong, but it is no match for my art of Namco." Or "Hmm, his Dead or Alive 2 skill looks invincible. It’s almost as if he studied under Gary Coleman . . . but perhaps I can lure him into facing my unorthodox Powerstone technique." And so on.

16.jpg (5026 bytes)It is through these games that the clumsy, the lazy, the dispossessed would-be warriors of this world can still transcend through kung fu fighting. One can find the thrill of dispatching your opponents with your impenetrable defense and clear the living room of fellow warriors. Or perhaps you will realize the agony of defeat as you’re vanquished by a superior martial artist. Maybe one who doesn’t have a job or go to school, and just stays home all day training, maybe this person manages to defeat you with a lucky blow. This doesn’t break you, it only makes you stronger because it gives you an opportunity to practice your, "Although I have been defeated, I will rise again to smite you," speech, which is an integral part of any kung fu arsenal. Yet even this, in all its glory, is simply practice in anticipation of the greater cause. If ever I face true evil in this world, and if said evil plays Tekken, I’m going to whoop its ass all up and down the street and send it back to the pit of hell from whence it came, and humanity will be better off because of it. Don’t worry, I am a humble warrior. There is no need to thank me in advance.

 --Jeff Luther