Ask Anything

Dear Ask Anything,

So I just finished watching “The Karate Kid” and I think I’ve found my calling. How do I become a ninja? Are there any programs in the United States, or do I have to move to Asia? Let me know, because I have to apply soon.

– The Next Karate Kid

Dear Karate Kid,

The first thing you need to do is find a mentor of sorts, preferably an elderly Asian man. This man will guide you on your path to becoming a mighty ninja warrior. Without him, you probably won’t ever get beyond a yellow belt.

This man will become your sensei, or teacher, and will teach you not only how to become a great fighter, but also many lessons about life, and maybe even love.

There are plenty of places in the United States where you can start your path as a ninja. To begin, you need to find the nearest dojo, or studio, where you can learn martial arts. For an example of a dojo, perhaps you have seen the episode of “The Office” when the coworkers go to the lovely Dwight Schrute’s dojo for the ultimate karate showdown between Dwight and boss, Michael Scott.

Before signing up for karate lessons, you should be sure to investigate the local dojos. Some can be rather sketchy.

When I was a young lass my dad owned a furniture store that happened to be next to a karate studio. Being the curious little girl that I was, I ventured over there numerous times. From what I remember, it smelled like sweaty mats and I couldn’t understand anything the owners said. One time when I went over to the studio, they even gave me a free kitten. I named it Rollie and we had many good times together until a stepsister came along who was “allergic” to cats.

The kids that I saw going to the karate studio looked really cool in their white outfits. So, if you are trying to up your hipness level, you’ve made a good choice in deciding to become a ninja.

All in all, the things to look for when you are searching for the best dojo are:

1. Avoid the smelly-mat-syndrome at all costs. Smelly mats are just gross. You can get ringworm and might leave smelling like a mat, which will cause people to think you are some stinky-teen-boy-wrestler kid with bad hygiene.

2. Try to find the dojo with the coolest outfits. I mean, yes, they generally all wear white outfits, but they can vary quite a bit. And be sure to stick with karate long enough to get the purple belt, because it’s the prettiest one.

3. Look for a wise, all-knowing Asian man. A cross between Mr. Miyagi and Yoda would be your best bet.

Now, once you have obtained a high enough level of karate skills, book your ticket to Asia where you will continue your path to becoming a ninja. Ninjas are most popular in Japan, so stop there first. Look for people dressed in black, a typical ninja uniform, and show off your moves.

Good luck on your ninja path. May all your dreams come true and perhaps you will even get a free kitten.

Ask Anything is a weekly question and advice column. Maja Petersen and Rob Peterson are alternating columnists.