Monday, October 26, 2009

Cultural Literacy and Friendship

I forgot about this other item I was going to mention in conjunction with Act of Treason by Vince Flynn. I write periodically about my propensity to want to know everything. And how uncomfortable it makes me to read and see things and not get it.

We don't have TV. We do, however had a DVD player upon which we watch a few movies a month.

This wasn't always the case. Prior to about 5 years ago, we had nothing in our home upon which to fry our brains while viewing the flashing images flicker on and off the screen. And so until that time, I depended upon the graces of our friends and relatives to keep me up to date with all the items of pop cultural import.

Char and Dave S would even periodically bring from Wisconsin their TV and VCR, when spending a weekend with us, since they knew we were lacking in this vital aspect of life. Thanks in large part to this bigheartedness, we were kept abreast of all the cult classics and "bonnet movies" of the 90s.

Another couple who contributed to my cultural literacy during this era is Tressie and Andy B. When we lived in Mankato we were frequently invited to their place for an evening. This may not sound like a big deal, but a family with five kids under the age of 8 years does not get invited out much and we really did appreciate the time spent with them.

Usually these evenings out would end up with us putting the kids to bed in Tressie and Andy's room and we adults would watch a movie. James Bond and Jackie Chan were frequent choices. Somehow we never did the bonnet movies with Andy and Tressie. I guess the guys did most of the choosing.

But I remember one night Tressie and I were visiting, I suppose, and putting the kids to bed and doing dishes maybe, and the guys called us in, "You've gotta come see this!" So we ended up watching the last few matches of UFC 4: Revenge of the Warriors, which culminated in 176 lb Royce Gracie winning an 15+ minute fight to submission against 250 lb Dan Severn.

I have to say I was impressed. It was an exciting match. While we were watching, Joe and Andy filled us in on the history of UFC and the Gracie family's Brazilian jujitsu.

Although I enjoyed the final match of UFC 4, I have never seen another Ultimate Fighting match. And I have to say, I've never even really thought about the Gracies since then.

Until last night.

From Vince Flynn, Act of Treason.
Rapp had been in a fair number of street fights as a kid, but it wasn't until he went to work for the CIA that he really learned how to fight. They'd started him out with karate and then judo. He had little difficulty learning both, and while the fundamentals were sound and the discipline was needed, he instinctively knew that in the real world, fighting was far more frantic. Judo and karate had too many rules. Too many constraints. It was on a trip to Fort Bragg for some additional training that he sat in on a jujitsu class. From the first minutes he knew this was a form that was more suited for real world combat. While karate used mostly feet and hand strikes, and judo used mostly holds and throws, jujitsu combined both and then added knees, elbows, head butts, choke holds, submission holds, and even a few more. Rapp began training in earnest, eventually spending several months in Brazil learning Gracie Jujitsu from the grand master himself, Helio Gracie. Over the years he added some Thai boxing to his regimen, but for the most part he focused on Gracie Jujitsu, eventually earning a third-degree black belt.
Call me a geek, but I love when I find a somewhat obscure reference in a book and it makes sense to me. Thank you Tressie and Andy for the cultural exposure. But more importantly for the friendship and the nights out.

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