Ode to the Karate Kid

I just saw a  funny Facebook video of my good friend Phil leading what looks like a wedding party in a group “dance” called “Shake Your Foot.”

 

Strangely, I had started this post yesterday, having had some weird dreams about the very same dance the night before… call it coincidence, but I think it’s a deep universal connection that forms between anyone who has ever participated in this whacky ritual.

I’ve used this as an icebreaker or warm up during group leadership events and have shared it with hundreds, nay thousands of people over the years, including a large group of Microsoft executives on retreat in Alaska. More recently I even incorporated it into my “welcome” presentation on my first day at a new job (but that’s another story!).

I credit the great Joe Pounds of YMCA Storer Camps fame for introducing, and perhaps inventing Shake Your Foot. Phil and I learned it about the same time when we were working in the Adolescent Leadership program there. While delivered with the gusto that only Phil can muster, one thing missing from his recent wedding video is the portion fondly known by devotees as the Karate Kid Interlude.

As you may recall from the movie, young Daniel (played by Ralph Macchio) is schooled by martial arts master Miyagi (played by Pat Morita) in an effort to overcome bullying at school. Perhaps the most memorable moment in the movie is the “wax on, wax off” scene, but I digress. We found the “crane kick” in the penultimate fighting scene more inspiring and worthy of endless mimicry, and so it was inserted into Shake Your Foot in lieu of the finger snapping “too cool for school” interlude.

Karate Kid Crane Kick

Standing on one foot with my arms spread wide, crowing like a rooster came pretty easily to me, so I must say I really didn’t get why it was both funny and challenging to most of the people we engaged in this effort. That is until recently, when I was dealing with intense shoulder pain due to a small rotator cuff tear. Suddenly I could barely lift my arm, let alone hold it steady in the uplifted crane position.

Now, feeling a bit ashamed of my lack of empathy for those who struggled with this, I do daily stretches just to stand straight up without pain. I am happy to report that I’m nearing full motion in both arms and am starting to regain some of my former flexibility. Thus my recent re-discovery of the Karate Kid Interlude… it’s nearly impossible for me to stretch my arms up without the catchy Shake Your Foot song invading my focus. It brings a smile to an otherwise arduous exercise so I just go for it… all by myself.

Now if only someone can explain why I’m standing in my bedroom on one foot, crowing like a rooster to my kids…

  • Phil DeLong

    John, I think of you and Joe Pounds each time I lead this song. From time to time, I consider using the Karate Kid Interlude, in lieu of the snapping, but I think the strong sense of rhythm in my drummer’s brain compels me to snap. Here’s hoping that rotator cuff of yours is fully recovered soon!