Comparison Chopping

Remember Caine? Not the biblical guy, but Kwai Chang Caine, the half-Chinese, half-American Shaolin priest who wandered the old American West in the 1970s television series Kung Fu. Played to subtle perfection by David Carradine -- he didn't look Chinese, exactly, but you knew he was, because he spoke really slowly -- Caine was a man of enlightenment and restraint. Only after prolonged provocation by frontier clodhoppers did he resort to his magnificent martial-arts training and deliver swift justice filmed in slightly blurry slow motion. As per the teaching of his wise Master Po, Caine didn't like, or even want, to fight; he deployed only enough violence to defuse the threat.

Well, you can forget Caine. This is 2001: Carradine has long since been to drug rehab, and the world is an extremely dangerous place. It's kill or be killed, and you need to decide now which side you're on. Naturally, there are still plenty of people willing to put in years of hard labor to earn a black belt. Give them a deep bow of respect -- before you drive their nose cartilage into their brains.

A new breed of self-defense systems promises only the quick and brutal decommissioning of one's opponent. Caine would be appalled, but who cares? By the time he opened his mouth to complain, you could rip his kneecaps off.

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Eric Dexheimer
Contact: Eric Dexheimer