Monday, June 28, 2010

My Strange and Awesome Karate Kid Dream

I recently saw the remake of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan, and enjoyed it quite a bit. In case you haven't seen the movie, I won't say anything about the movie other than what's in the trailer. One of the winking nods to the original was Mr. Han (Chan's recasting of Mr. Miyagi) not catching a fly with chopsticks, but rather killing one with a flyswatter, then using chopsticks to pull it off of the wall and throw it away... a main plot point in the dream I had last night.

My dream was fairly brief, and a bit of backstory was implied, but not shown in the dream itself: Mr. Han now runs a martial arts school. One of his students is a teenaged girl from a culture not very... how shall we say... "women's studies friendly". (It was unclear where specifically she was from - maybe Iran, maybe an African village. My dreams are ambiguous like that). She had an overbearing father who was waivering between supporting his daughter at the school, and pulling her out to have her veiled, executed for being alone with a male non-relative, circumcised, what have you. Mr. Han, sensitive to her plight, does what he can to keep her healthy and free.

Her dad is invited to a dinner, and the dream begins with him showing up in full pomp and traditional manners, and sitting down with Mr. Han to discuss his daughter's progress. Shortly thereafter, the nameless daughter wanders in with a friend, giggling and holding a bucket of water with which to dump on someone as a prank. Dads blows a gasket and dresses her down with a single word in their native language, and she knows instantly that she's done for, becoming sullen and near tears.

Searching for a way out that doesn't get his student pulled from the school or worse, Han notices a large fly buzzing around the room. He pulls out the chopsticks, and concentrates very intently. He snaps the chopsticks together loudly, close to the fly, but a miss. The noise attracts the attention of the father and daughter, who see Han has his "sensei face" on, and are both curious about what is happening. Another snap of the sticks, and the fly is caught cleanly. -- It's important to note here that I felt Han's nervousness at the situation as though it were my own, and the fate of my own favorite student was at stake. After I woke up I was still in a near panic.

After catching the fly and amazing everyone in the room, Han calls out a demand that the daughter begin the day's training exercise for her father "like they planned". It involves alternately catching a fly with chopsticks, and scrubbing the floor with water from her bucket. The daughter, seeing her potential salvation but still shaken up, starts wildly snapping chopsticks at the fly, looking flustered and defiant at the same time. Han coaxes her quietly to slow down, and eventually she gets closer, and closer.

The dream jumps forward in time a few minutes. She grabs the fly with the chopsticks, and calls out "Four". Han calls out a command in Cantonese to switch, and she goes back to scrubbing the floor, 3/4 of which has been scrubbed already. The other girl is no longer present, but has assumedly snuck away to get some soap to add to the water. Dad is pleased at the demonstration that was "planned" for him, sees that she is making progress, but still needs more training. It is clear that the girl will stay at the school, and all will be well.

...and that's where I woke up, panic stricken and relieved for the girl I had grown to love over the few months I had known her.


  1. I like your dream. I would love to see a movie like that, complete with crane kicks.

  2. Thanks, Margaret. After going over some of my old entries, I see that I haven't replied to any of your comments. Sorry about that; I definitely appreciate having you as a reader.