Thursday, December 21, 2006

Aikido and The Princess of Power

One thing being a parent does is allow you to have a second childhood. You get to watch movies and tv shows with your child. I've already mentioned Dr Who as something my daughter and I did for years and years. Linda Carter's Wonder Woman was another. And then there was She-ra, Princess of Power. She was a late addition to the He-man and the Masters of the Universe line of cartoons and merchandizing.

I enjoyed the He-man cartoons. But my daughter and I both got into the She-ra series. She was introduced in a feature length, theater-released cartoon film called"The Secret of the Sword". She was in actuality Adora, the twin sister of Prince Adam, aka He-man. Kidnapped at birth she is raised in another dimension by the evil Hordak and knows nothing of her past.

Adam uses a magic sword to transform into He-man, the most powerful man in the universe. In the film he is given an almost identical sword by the Sorceress of Castle Greyskull and told he must journey to another dimensional world and pass on this other sword to another like himself with a very special destiny. There he encounters Adora, who has been brainwashed by Hordak. Through his love and through the magic of the sword Adora comes to realize who she truly is and through her sword is transformed into She-ra, princess of power. There followed a cartoon series based on Adora's world of Etheria, which He-man visited as a guest star very often.

It actually bothered my daughter that I got into the whole She-ra thing as deeply as I did. Basically, I saw the stories as modern day myths. Etheria was a very magical world. As Adora, She-ra led a group of heroes called the Great Rebellion, who resided in Whispering Woods, whose magic protected them from Hordak's troops, also called collectively the Horde. In a twist, the Horde used science and technology to enslave the inhabitants of Etheria, while the rebellion and She-ra used magical forces and energies to try to liberate their planet. It is interesting that we have reached a point where technology has contributed to a grave ecological imbalance. We are now facing a time when we must join with the forces and energies of our planet to restore the natural harmony of life.

I found it fascinating that in the series the swords of both He-man and She-ra were not so much weapons as instruments of transformation. She-ra, in particular, could with her intent transform her sword into other forms. And, of course, the sword was Adora-s conduit to becoming She-ra. At one point I remember studying some of the more subtle points of energy and the sword with Koichi Barrish. It was some profound and very fun stuff. At one point we were working channeling various energy shapes through the sword and he asked me where I got a certain move and concept. I replied that I learned it in principle from watching She-ra. I saw him a couple of months later, and after a sword move, he told me,"See, I've been watching She-ra, too."
So she's had an influence on at least a couple of aikido instructors.

Whereas He-man is available on dvd, I'm not sure of the current status of the She-ra series. I know that there is at least a She-ra/He-man Christmas Special available on dvd. It has a music video from the movie about She-ra's origin that is quite good. My favorite episode is "The Unicorn King", where She-ra must earn the trust of the Unicorn King in order to save the unicorns from being made slaves of the Horde. Power alone can never win trust, so, even though it is a cartoon for children, there were some very deep moments.

Thanks to the magic of youtube, here is the introduction to the She-ra cartoons!


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