First off, I love a good kung-fu movie.
In highschool, kung-fu movies were all the rage. We were forever comparing the martial arts prowess of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, debating for what seemed like hours on the technical merit, power moves, and unlikely battle scenarios of each action star. A passerby might catch the occasional “But all Chuck Norris has is a round-house kick!” or “Bruce Lee could NEVER win a fight without his nunchucks!” coming away from the heated conversations.
Because we were completely saturated with kung-fu, wu-shu, and every martial art we could greedily shove into our eyes, we often fancied ourselves experts-by-proxy… including many hilariously awful demonstrations to each other of our imagined prowess.
The one aspect to this that we did not expect in least was That Guy.
You know who I’m talking about.
That Guy everyone knew, no matter the city or town you lived in, that took kung-fu movies WAY to seriously and honest-to-God thought he knew martial arts simply because he watched every movie in the genre available to him. That Guy would swear up and down that he “totally for real bro” knew how to execute all of the moves or had a cousin in another town (“yeah you wouldn’t know him”) that taught him these sweet and deadly skills.
Naturally, That Guy would be the first one to find you and your group of friends talking about some action movie you’ve just seen recently and decide to launch himself into the discussion (unwanted, of course), complete with hand movements and wobbly leg kicks (“yeah I’m off my balance this morning from all of the chi exercises last night!”). The worst was yet to come.
After regailing the group with tales of his kung-fu adventures and skillful exectution of “body poetry” (his words, not ours), That Guy decides to up his game and insist that someone, anyone come at him so he can “totally for real bro” prove he knows what he’s talking about. This is where the worst has arrived.
One member of our group of friends had enough of That Guy’s kung-fu bluster and accepted The Challenge of taking him on. After all, That Guy had his honour to defend and mastery of the arts to display. However, That Guy didn’t realize that his opponent was, unbeknownst to him, an actual martial artist. Thats right: a true blue 4th-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
He never advertised it because he was a pretty humble and quiet guy, rarely talking or contributing to our kung-fu discussions, despite being the only one who actually knew what he was talking about and could easily kill our fun (and us) by pointing out every flaw in our logic… but he didn’t. We all just knew he was quiet, deadly, and we swore to each other secretly a ninja, so we felt a sense of “nobody is going to mess with us while he’s hanging out” type of security.
That Guy didn’t realize that his adversary was about to impart some ancient wisdom on him in the first few seconds of their confrontation:
“Don’t Poke The Bear”.
Our friend warned That Guy that he would not attack him first, that no action on his part would be taken unless provoked, and that if attacked head-on he would have no choice but to take it as a threat to his personal safety and defend himself in kind. It was like the kind of disclaimer one would hear right before you’re about to touch a bolt of lightning and Zeus tells you “Its going to hurt, you’ll probably scream, throw up, then black out”.
It turns out Zeus’s disclaimer was spot on for what was about to happen next.
That Guy launched himself at our friend with a comically off-pitch “KIIII-YA!” and swung his open hand at him in what he must have assumed would be a fight-ending neck chop. What happened instead was our friend quietly slid to the side out of the way, grabbed That Guy’s arm, did some kind of too-fast-for-the-eye movement, and ended up spinning That Guy around… only to jump in the air like a gazelle, and round-house kick That Guy in the chest.
That Guy must have read Zeus’s disclaimer before hand (and promptly ignored it) as he definitely looked like he was hurting, he screamed something we can only imagine That Guy thought was Japanese, he threw up on the ground, then blacked out… right on cue.
Of course all of the commotion That Guy had caused drew a crowd, and at this point it was a couple hundred high-schoolers watching in abject fear and awe that this normally quiet and unassuming kid just martial arts-ed the stuffing out of That Guy. The principal had run out of the school to see what the heck was going on, and only caught the tail end of the encounter. Everyone had heard our friend give his own warning to That Guy before-hand, and vouched for the fact that he didn’t start the fight but boy howdy did he ever finish it.
The principal took both our friend and the now waking up and shaky That Guy into the office to call their parents to find out what to do with them as fighting wasn’t allowed in our school. It was a short conversation when the parents arrived. Our friend essentially got off free and clear due to the self-defense case, and That Guy’s parents took him home for a few days to rest up and think about his actions.
The next week we saw That Guy walking towards the group, only to have him spot our friend and do a complete 180 degree turn and bolt in the opposite direction. I guess he had all the kung-fu he could handle and didn’t want seconds.
To this day, when ever I watch a kung-fu movie, I think back to our friend and the time he was set upon by his nemesis: That Guy.