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I Conceal My Treasure...
Martial Arts and the Public Eye

Last week I saw three different people who had never learned the lesson of "concealing their treasure in public".

Were these three people victims of a robbery? No, not at all...

I will explain, but first, let me introduce the guilty:

Case #1: Red gi (uniform) in public
Rather than carrying his uniform in a bag, this young man decided the best way to walk to class and home at night was to wear his bright red gi and striped green belt. (The belt, I will add, was also tied incorrectly and the ends were not the same length - and the guy's almost a brown belt?)

Case #2: Tai Chi shirt in Chinese restaurant
Rather than change after class, this overweight lady wears her Tai Chi club shirt to the Chinese restaurant. She then decides to wait for her friends from class in a prominent place rather than sit down, to ensure she displays her club shirt to the entire staff. She keeps looking back every so often to see if the are checking her shirt out. She talks loudly about Tai Chi class...

Case #3: Overweight man with fanny pack and Glock T-shirt
While visiting a friend at a physical therapist's office, I see an overweight middle-aged white guy come in. He's wearing a Glock T-shirt, sweatpants, and a fanny pack (that's a *big nylon belt-pouch* for my English friends who are are tittering over the use of the term "fanny" pack). He never removes the fanny pack for some funny reason as he goes through his exercises, though his gut hangs over the top (no lie). He keeps touching it, checking that it is still there. Hmmm...wonder what's in there? Got any clues, Blue?

What did they all do wrong???

To find the answer, let us go back in time...

Long ago, in a martial arts class far, far away we were taught to salute with a closed right fist covered by an open left hand - the classical Chinese greeting.

There are a number of meanings associated with this salute (the moon and sun, the scholar and warrior, etc.), but the one that is relevant here is "to conceal one's treasure". The open hand conceals the fist, reminding us not to reveal our skills in public. Martial arts are an invisible weapon - unless the practitioner broadcasts the fact that they know them.

Let me ask you - Would you walk down the street with a $100 bill hanging out of your pocket, or on the brim of your hat?

Think that would get you some attention? Maybe some bad attention?

The same thing applies to your training - and applies doubly to any "tools" of the trade you may have with you. As Jim Keating so simply put it "Weapons may be present but should not be seen - if they are seen, then you should not be present!"

What was case #1 thinking? If you wear a red gi around you are going to get called on it at some point. That jacket with "Joe's Karate" embroidered on the back reads like "Hit me in the back of the head with a pipe first" to a goblin. The fact that his school is only 2 blocks from a popular drug-hangout corner and in the direction of the nearest place to get beer and cigarettes seemed to pass him by. Hey - what's there to fear when you have a red gi on???

Now, the lady at a the restaurant in case #2 won't about to get hit in the head like the first guy, but what was the point?

Was she going to impress the Chinese / Korean / Burmese / Indian wait staff that she's "one of them" by having on an "Asian" T-shirt? Show that she cares about their culture, traditions, and sweet and sour pork? I can almost universally guarantee that wearing a martial arts shirt to a Chinese restaurant will not get you any better service, but will mark you as big guai-lo #1 and might get you the "special sauce".

Going as a big group all dressed in Kung Fu T-shirts can even look like a challenge to the young waiters who DO box. Many years ago I witnessed this firsthand, though nothing happened other than bad service and some glaring after the "old man" of the place came over and decided that the Kung Fu guys were not a threat - they were just ignorant and hungry.

Now case #3 was almost comical, if it weren't for the fact that he had a handgun and I doubt did much practice with it. Maybe he once watched some videos on his couch while eating chips or something - I don't know. I just wanted to put an arrow pointing from the word "Glock" on his shirt to the pack with the white medical tape that they had sitting there, but restrained myself.

This is like all the camara-less guys I see in the summer who are wearing "photographer's vests". Or maybe it's the same guy with a different great concealment rig on. Maybe he could carry one of those hollow books and just save himself the trouble...

In all 3 of these cases, I think these people want attention, and I would bet in their minds their minds this is perfectly normal. If you asked they wouldn't notice that they had done anything strange!

The lesson of the day? Conceal your treasure in public...and learn to look for little details that give people away:

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