Worn Out: Fashion Happenings at Seattle Martial Arts Supplies
The International District's Seattle Martial Arts Supplies (658 S King St, 624-3838) is a shrinking maze, stuffed to the ceiling with so many racks and shelves of garments tucked into plastic bags, piled snugly together. Nothing overly fancy outfits the space, just peg-boards, fluorescent lights, worn tiles, and beige plaster walls. There are brocades and gewgaws and VHS tapes and herbs in bottles, and uniforms everywhere
of every variety: judo, aikido, tae kwon do, karate. Master John Leong founded the business nearly 50 years ago—the anniversary occurs in June—and he also runs the tai chi and kung fu classes upstairs. (Marc Singer trained here before hitting his big-time role as Dar, the feathery-haired hunkorama and ferret-whispering warrior
from 1982's sci-fi odyssey The Beastmaster
Touring the store, you'll encounter a vast and alarmingly inexpensive collection of instruments to promote bodily injury: throwing stars ($2.99), throwing knives ($9.95). A poster ($7.99) charts popular tai chi moves: Mopping the Mirror, Parting Wild Horse's Mane, Step Back and Repulse Monkey. And there's loads of apparel, but not every selection translates into our modern fashion landscape: padded boob guards ($24.95); karate belts ($9.95); hakama fighting pants ($39) with their thick pleats and gobs of excess fabric to obscure legs and feet, all the better to mislead an opponent with; and traditional ninja suits ($51.95–$79.95) that come with a two-piece head wrap. "It gets really hot," Paula the clerk says.
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