August 1, 2023, Israel
The legendary Master Ken (real name Matt Page) does have a black belt in both American and Okinawan Kenpo, which is a form of Karate. He is a real martial artist and has been training since he was a teenager.
What is the purpose of comedy? One purpose is simply to make people laugh and forget their pain and sorrow for a little while. Even if one is not down in the dumps, comedy is a nice break from work and the daily routine, a way to rejuvenate ourselves. Comedy can lift us up, it can change our mood and get us out of a mental slump. Sitting and watching a 20-minute episode of Seinfeld is not a waste of time, you might find that after that your work productivity is doubled. It could be time well spent. On the other hands, sitting all day and watching comedy's is just a fast way down the road to emptiness and soon one will feel depleted and depressed. Comedy can elevate our lives, but it should not replace our lives.
This uplifting side of comedy is so important that it is even mentioned in the Talmud. The Talmud writes that before the great sage Rabba began his lecture, he would crack a joke, the rabbis would laugh, and then he would sit down with awe and reverence and begin his lecture (Pesachim 117a). Sometimes a joke can relax the tension and put everyone at ease, and then, they can study even better. There are many benefits to humor.
But then, there is another form of comedy, serious comedy, or educational comedy.
Sometimes comedy can teach us things that we would never be open to in a more serious setting. Sometimes we need to see the comedy to see the absurdity in our own lives, and in our own behavior. We need to take a good honest look at ourselves and laugh. And then, perhaps we can grow. Comedy can be healthy and a tool to growth. Comedy can be a way to keep us honest.
Comedy is also a way to remind us to never take ourselves too seriously. Even the great Albert Einstein is photographed in some zany situations and making silly faces. None are too great to laugh at themselves.
The martial arts world has been blessed with Master Ken. Master Ken is a character created by real martial arts black belt Matt Page. He lampoons, ridicules and buffoons the entire spectrum of martial arts. In his own extensive training, he has seen it all and instead of feeling bitter about the nonsense, stupidity and false bravado, he turned it into something constructive.
How many of us have stood there in class and watched a guy show a technique, step by step, step 1 through 27-B, and wonder...really!?! Are we really expected to pull this off in a real-life violent confrontation? Is there something wrong with our instructor? Has he really succeeded in deluding himself into believing in his own gospel. Lord have mercy upon us.
Or the instructor, who never had any real combat experience, walking around acting all Bad Ass and talking as if he were at the Alamo and Guadalcanal. Another comedian, actor Sascha Baron Cohen, does a fantastic job of lampooning the Israeli Krav Maga instructors. See my blog Krav Maga Buyer Beware.
Master Ken is an 11th dan black belt (although there are only 10 in any system) because he is "just a little bit better than all the rest", thus playing into the role of the rank chasing martial arts guys. Ranks seems to be more important than ability. On any given tour I sell about 10 T shirts for each Krav Maga DVD, that means that 10 people prefer to look the part than to actually learn the style. If I had only enough money for one, I would choose the DVD.
Master Ken pokes fun at us, the martial arts instructors, and for this we should be grateful. We need to take a step back and see how absurd some of us have become. Some of us have drunk the cool aid and believe the hype, the lies, that we sell to the public. We begin to believe our own fantasies. We begin to really believe that we are war heros and world champions. I can't tell you how many Thai Boxers I have met, all of whom claim to be world champions.
Thank you, Master Ken, Thank you Matt Page. and let this be a lesson for all of us, remain humble, don't believe your own hype, don't buy into your own sales pitch. If you choose to deceive others, at least be honest with yourself. Those fancy techniques will not work, your muscles and bad ass attitude do not make you a better instructor, practitioner or fighter, your rank does not make you a superhuman, you do not walk on water, you did not walk on the moon.
Get real folks and take Master Ken seriously. This is serious comedy.
And that is all for today.
Moshe Katz, 7th dan Black Belt, Israeli Krav Maga. Certified by Wingate Institute. Member Black Belt hall of fame, USA and Europe.
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