David Carradine Kung-Fu Inspiration
I was a die-hard fan of the early 1970s TV series Kung-Fu, starring David Carradine. Back then I was a low ranked karate black belt in an America that barely recognized – let alone understood – the Asian martial arts.
Shaolin Temple monk Kwai Chang Caine, wandering in exile from China in the rough American West, living his Buddhist wisdom as best he could in a violent and spiritually primitive land, was surprisingly emotionally motivating to me. He did his best to remain unobtrusive, aiding others in trouble when needed, sharing his spiritual insights in a gentle way, but nonetheless drawing a clear martial line of boundary when the crude, stupid, and brutal mistook his compassion for weakness.
I was at that time in my early 20s, working sadly out of character in a corporate job ill-fitting for my spirit. The Kung-Fu show and its Kwai Chang Caine hero forced me into recognition of what I should have been doing in my life. David Carradine’s nuanced portrayal of the Buddhist monk martial artist nailed me right where I lived. What was I doing with my life? I needed a radical revision. I needed to become someone I respected. I needed to find and be spiritual wisdom. I needed to serve and build spirits full of potential in a sometimes cruel, stupid, and discouraging world. In 1972, I knew what I needed to become, but how would I do it?
Long after Kung-Fu the series disappeared, I got to know David Carradine the person and actor. Gently put, I’ll just say I did not experience much of Kwai Chang in the persona of David, who sometimes left people feeling awkwardly ill at ease meeting him (at least those times when I was around). I cannot advise patterning in how to be the best celebrity possible from David Carradine. Nonetheless, the impact of his roles on so many of us of my generation is of undeniable importance.
Thank you, David Carradine, for your inspiring role in my life, and in the lives of all who subsequently found my books, DVDs, schools, and seminars. May you now find the inner peace and illumination that your beautiful Kwai Chang demonstrated so movingly for all the rest of us.