The first time I picked up anything resembling a rope dart it was a Gforce predator switchblade kama with a long piece of cord tied to the end. I was 13 and wanted to see if I could stick it into a tree. After 45 minutes of aimlessly swinging it around in the air I got tired and stopped caring.
The next day I went outside and swung it around some more. I did this almost daily for a week or so. After a while I just sort of forgot about it and moved onto the next thing. About 3 years later, after I started wushu training, one of the other students in the school was messing around with something after classâ€¦ it was a tennis ball full of pennies on a rope. All he taught me how to do was a foot shot, and that was enough for me to keep asking him to mess around with it every time I saw him.
One day while in ChinaTown, Manhattan, I was in a martial arts supply store with some friends. As I was leaving I noticed a rope dart on the wall and exclaimed, â€œoh my God, I really want to learn how to use a rope dart. What I didnâ€™t notice was a surly old Asian man arguing with the the guy whose blog about rope darts I had read the entirety of a week earlier. Said blogger turned to me, and says â€œWowâ€¦ you have no idea how lucky you are right now brotherâ€. He sold me on his custom made â€œDragons Tooth Rope Dartâ€, with the offer of a free lesson in the park. â€œSee! I told you people want these!â€ the blogger said to the same store clerk as we leave. I began to realize who he was after he gave me his card, and I began to regurgitate the information I had read on his blog just to be sure it was Frank Hatsis and not some other guy I saw in another video.
After the lesson, my friends joked that I was never going to touch the rope dart again. About 3 days later I called Frank and we set up another lesson. Even when I spent a summer up in Canada I brought my rope dart with me â€“ I simply couldnâ€™t go 6 weeks without learning anything new. Through Frank, I met Philippe Poissant. Simultaneously one of the best rope darters and most jovial men I’ve ever met, Phil stepped my game up quite a bit. After every lesson with Phil I practiced for hours by myself in the park during the following days. It became an addiction. I would continue going until the point where the index finger on my lead hand would blister. To this day I have a thick scar on that spot.
After a good while I started involving my friends to some avail. I would teach them in the same order of techniques I was taught, which proved efficient.
So, now I’m in the â€œRope Dart Academyâ€. A motley crew made up of easily some of the most eccentric, enigmatic, and eclectic individuals I’ve met to date. The only thing any of them seem to have in common is that they all have a God like dominion over the most difficult weapon in the whole of Chinese martial arts. All the while, I keep asking myself, â€œisnâ€™t this just some obscure thing?â€. I meanâ€¦. isnâ€™t it?
Yes, it is. But heres the thing, it’s MY obscure thing.
And IÂ haveÂ a feeling that its about to become a lot of other people’s obscure thing as well.