“I seek not to know the answers but to understand the questions”
--Kwai Chang Caine
I remember watching “Kung Fu” when I was a kid. I don’t know if I saw every episode, but I’m pretty sure I got to see most of them. At the time, I didn’t care about the dialogue, the story, or what was hidden underneath; all I wanted to see were the scenes where he would kick butt.
Over the years since, I have developed a true appreciation for much of the philosophy that originated from our Oriental neighbors. I did study martial arts for a bit (I studied Uechi-Ryu years ago on Okinawa and the Parker system of Kenpo more recently, and I was lucky I didn’t hurt myself either time), and I’m somewhat familiar with the Tao. I found Confucianism to be, in many ways, similar to the Old Testament book of Proverbs, and I’m really not into short, squat statues of a guy with a big belly, although rubbing said belly is supposed to be lucky. If you go into a Chinese restaurant that has a Buddha near the exit, rub it and let me know what happens.
Levity aside, my interest in all of that went back to “Kung Fu”, strangely enough. At some level I figured there had to be more than just throws, punches, and kicks, and as I got older I discovered this to be true. And, oddly enough, David Carradine was indirectly responsible for this through his portrayal of Caine, the Shaolin monk. The humility, as well as the compassion he gave this character was either extremely well acted out, or it was genuine and the drama was an outlet for it to show through.
While I will never truly know, I would like to think it was the latter.
As strange as he was, David Carradine was both actor and martial artist. For him to have taken his own life (if indeed this is what happened, and from reports I’ve read it does look that way) shows me that he had some interior struggles that he couldn’t get past. To do so at the age of 72, however, is even more mystifying. He was still acting, and apparently he was on location for a project he was involved in. And this makes things that much more strange.
Nonetheless, I hope he has found the peace that eluded him while he lived.