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PUNCHING DAY

Punching Day: Martial Dance

Chaz Wilson combined dance with fighting in a way deadlier and sexier than it sounds. His fluid, powerful movements dazzle enemies then dazzle them several more times: leg lift, elbow move, buttock flex! Congratulations, reader, you’re already at least a pink belt in Martial Dance: total fitness with martial arts aerobics.

Normally, if you were teaching students a high-energy aerobic spinkick dance routine, you’d make a video. Chaz, instead, wrote a book. A book with a shark-eyed man nudely leering at you as he forms stiff shapes. Congratulations again, reader, as you feel the shirtless rhythm of Chaz.

Like I assume most Chazzes do, Chaz fancies himself a philosopher. He opens the book not by telling you to stretch, pick your favorite music, and most of all– have fun!, but with a meandering history of how dance has always been linked with martial arts. He offers three examples: Muay Thai, Wrestling, and Capoeira. And look, I’m not history’s greatest thinker. I once wrote an article called The 8 Most Impossible Impacts from Dumb Fucks Falling Down. But it is with some expertise I can say this: if you only have two examples of fighting sports where guys sometimes dance and the one dance fighting thing everybody already knows about, you don’t have a Top Bizzare Kung Fu Dances (You Won’t Believe Can Kill You!) list. You don’t have a book intro. You don’t have a conversation starter at a cocktail party for The Institute of People Who Have Never Heard of Fucking Anything. So I started this book worried Chaz was only a pedestrian idiot and not the oiled, majestic lunatic on the cover. I was happy to be proven wrong immediately.

The first 60 pages of the book are Chaz’s thoughts on spirituality and the expressive power of dance along with every photo of himself he has ever taken. Without exaggeration, there are 17,000,000 of him on the same beach rock, putting his karate hands in slightly different directions. If the worst person you’ve ever met hit print on their Facebook profile, it would look exactly like this but with less menace. Chaz knew you wanted to start kick, kick, chopping your way to fitness, but he couldn’t live with himself if he let you do that without a full understanding of the internal arts and what the bow used by students in “Dojos” represents. And speaking of shirtless, muscled martial arts masters who write exhausting, pointless intros, hi, I should really get started showing you some of these shitty dances (You Won’t Believe Can Kill You!).

Sorry, there are 40 more pages of basic moves before we start dancing. For an example, here is the explanation for a Left Uppercut, in its entirety. If you’re a boxer, have taken most of a boxing class, or once heard boxing get described by your octopus wife who sometimes visits the surface, you might recognize Chaz’s punch as very bad. If you were teaching a blind person how to throw an uppercut, this is when they would ask for their money back. Like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chaz uses a system of fighting designed for only three things: flexing your muscles in photos, buns, and dick basket.

Whether he is coming after you on the dance floor or on the mean streets, 

there is no safer place in the world than right in the crosshairs of Chaz Wilson. It honestly seems impossible to see someone this bad at moving their body who hasn’t lost an eye in a chopsticks accident. Aside from outrageous funnymen mocking it 32 years in its future, who the fuck could this book have been for? It turns out I know.

The copy I own was first purchased by the Unification Theological Seminary Library in 1988. And if you’re wondering how a religious school’s library categorizes a book about the spiritual power of karaterobics, they considered it -and I swear I’m not kidding- “Science & Technology.”

After six years, a clergy-in-training finally checked out Martial Dance. He was the only one in the library’s history to do this, had an unusual Filipino name, and this was more than enough to find him online in five seconds. The book’s only other reader is a Tong Il Moo Do master from New York, which is a Korean martial art combining taekwondo with other things, most notably the power of Jesus Christ. So if you want to know what kind of person unironically reads books like this, their kicks are infused with God’s power, they’re quick to accept Facebook friend requests, and they do NOT respond to private messages about aerobics books they borrowed from a seminary school library in 1994.

For 100 pages Chaz sets the reader up for this to be a soul-igniting expression of your warrior spirit. And then it’s finally time to unleash your dance and he’s like, “WIGGLE WIGGLE, YEAH! Then the other side. WIGGLE WIGGLE FUCK YEAH! Now, with all your strength: WAVE: BYE BYE!” Chaz carries “dad lost in an electric slide” energy with him even when he’s alone in a studio. The man who brags about advanced martial dancers performing impossible feats of sweet, improvised moves looks confused in the two-step routine he himself invented. Chaz is a robot developed by ’90s stand-up scientists to archive how white people be dancing.

If OJ Simpson wrote a book combining couples therapy with hiding a body and called it Repairin’ & Dismemberin’, it would not be stranger or worse than Martial Dance. You are better off studying the movements of a LEGO figure being passed by a toddler. Chaz dances like a cheerleader getting kicked out of try-outs for being sarcastic and fights like a cheerleader getting kicked out of try-outs for being a pussy.

It’s almost remarkable how little explanation Chaz includes in his book. “Figure 1A: Lift your foot,” is his idea of kick instructions. “Lift your foot (see figure 1A) and compress your asshole to the sounds of Mister Mister,” might be an entire routine. If my new Facebook friend really tried to martially dance back in 1994, he would have had to make up 80 to 90% of it on his own. Chaz shows the reader a few incomplete dance numbers, then ends with 30 pages of a woman posing in a leotard. There is no text explaining what the hell she’s doing, and it’s pretty clear no one even told her what kind of book this was. Chaz set out to create a hybrid of dance, martial arts, and fitness, and after saying nothing for 60,000 words, he ended his book with a sad woman just doing non-threatening jazz movements. And speaking of shirtless, muscled martial arts masters who do shit like that, bye!

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