We left Wadi Rum in a rainstorm (our timing was perfect) and headed north to the Dead Sea. In addition to bobbing in the sea, Donette smearing mud all over herself and being pampered by hotel staff, we also went climbing on a very fun limestone slab not far above the Dead Sea (but still well below sea level; the Dead Sea is about 1,440 feet below sea level [Badwater in Death Valley is 266 feet]). While there, we ran into a group of “youth at risk” that were being taken rock climbing as part of their intervention program. We talked at length with the Jordanian climbing guides about the program and that Donette had done the same work for Outward Bound.
Steven: Yep, it’ll go free for sure. I did al l the moves up to the last 30 feet. The climb will be mega. Like really classic. And the gear is bomber.
Me: Dude, YES! Best news I’ve heard all month! I’m sofa king psyched!!! You said you did all the moves up to the last 30 feet…what’s after that?
Steven: An awesome looking headwall! Looks like it might be pretty runout but you’re high off the deck at that point. The roof section is hard and that’s before the headwall so it’ll be a toughie!
I was buzzing.
The story behind the name is that, when I was on a surf trip in Santa Cruz about a year ago my friend and I were watching the Karate Kid movie from 2010, the one with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith, on commercial TV in our hotel room, as we were getting ready to go out for an evening session. For some reason, I found one quote from the movie inspiring and applicable, and it stuck with me for months. It spoke not just to the focus and strength my climbing projects required but the focus everything in life requires.
In the film, the first step of Jaden's training is that he has to remove his jacket, hang it up on a post and then put it back on with attention to form countless times for no apparent reason at Jackie's request, while Jackie barked "Jacket on. Jacket off." (Undoubtedly a reference to the famous "wax off, wax on" scene in the original) Jaden is obviously annoyed with Jackie for making him do this for days and days, rain or shine, but when Jaden starts to slack off and go through the motions lazily, Jackie forces him to continue to do it properly with good form. Eventually Jaden tires of it so much that he tries to give up on Jackie's training and leave, but Jackie tricks him into a faux sparing match. Jaden automatically uses the motions he's been practicing to hang up his jacket to defend himself from Jackie's attacks to his utter astonishment and surprise. Afterward, the lesson Jackie bestow's upon him is, "Karate Lives in everything we do; it lives in how we put on the jacket, how we take off the jacket, how we treat people; EVERYTHING is karate." Or so I thought the quote went.
Months later in Pine Creek Canyon, I was getting close to the project. Whenever I get that close to sending a climb that is important to me, without really intending to, I start to conserve as much mental, psychical and emotional strength as I can for it. That quote from the Karate Kid that had randomly been bouncing around in my head for months surfaced frequently and reminded me that every breath, every movement, every thought, must be executed with strength and deliberation. On the day I sent, I joked with George, Andrew, and Brian that "everything is karate" while I did my little pre-attempt breathing meditation. I felt strong and focused that day more than I had in a long time. After the send, back in town at the mountain Rambler Brewery, we couldn't stop saying "Everything is Karate" and applying it to things it had nothing to do with. It seemed like that had to be the name.
A week or so later a friend sent me the link to a youtube clip of that scene in the Karate Kid, asking if that was the scene I was referencing with the name. I watched the clip and what Jackie actually says is, "Kung Fu lives in everything we do... everything is Kung Fu." Oops.
But the lesson still stands- everything requires strength and firmness, focus and deliberation; every moment, every interaction, every breath. Everything is Karate.