Clint Eastwood Teaches About How to Read A Fella Kung Fu Style
Lone Watie: How did you know which one was goin’ to shoot first?
Josie Wales: Well, that one in the center: he had a flap holster and he was in no itchin’ hurry. And the one second from the left: he had scared eyes, he wasn’t gonna do nothin’. But that one on the far left: he had crazy eyes. Figured him to make the first move.
Lone Watie: How ’bout the one on the right?
From The Outlaw Josie Wales.
Wales is played by Eastwood and Watie is played by Chief Dan George. Westerns and in particular Eastwood Westerns have many overlaps with classic kung fu films.
The traits that we admire in the hero of the Eastwood Western are also traits we admire in the kung fu hero. Josie Wales is filled with instances of when the Read and a knowledge of human nature take a situation that is impossible to survive on paper and make it not only survivable, but actually make it easy to manage.
The quote above is an instance where Wales faces three armed men. If they were to fire at him fearlessly and together they could easily prevail. Wales wouldn’t stand a chance. However, they must go through the process of recognizing Wales as a threat, consider what the rest of the group is going to do, and then make a decision to shoot.
The Read, instant, allows Wales to recognize who is vulnerable and simply fire.
Decoding the Hidden Language of the Body
The moment a person has made the decision to attack you, his body makes a set of hormonal and physical changes to ready him for the attack. This is a state of preparedness that is necessary for him to physically attack you, kind of like revving up an engine before a race.
You can see it in his breathing. You can see it in the physical tension of his body. You can observe the change in the color of his skin and in the movement of his eyes. The more experienced he is with physical attack, the more smoothly his body will make that transition and the less likely he is to be alarmed by the changes that are occurring to him.
These physical changes reveal the violent motivation of the person and give you an idea of how familiar he is with attack.
The signs are part of the hidden language of the body. This one example is like developing a pre-schooler’s command of a foreign language.
It’ll get you to the bathroom, but you’re going to need more sophisticated teaching and practice to have a real conversation.
The Role of Martial Arts Wisdom
In any given situation, the person with most firepower, whether that is in weaponry or in physical power, will win.
Barring one thing: human beings are the ones using that power. In the beginning, the Read is about looking at that human being and knowing how he or she will use that power. When the Read advances, it is also about using the Read on yourself, so that you will know how you will behave in that struggle.
I’m looking forward to cracking open the tough nut of the legendary kung fu skill of the Read in this July’s 2013 Kung Fu Heart.
P.S. Check out the First Conversation on the Read Here