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Want To Be A Ninja? Crow Collection Lets You Brush Up On Your Fighting Skills

If you envy the infinite power of Chuck Norris or covet the signature moves of Bruce Lee, Tuesday night at the Crow Collection should be calling your name.

North Texas’ premier Asian art museum is actually holding ninja class. Ninja Night at the Crow is equal parts self-defense and philosophy.

When you think of a ninja, most people probably picture a black-clad trained killer. But showing no mercy is the opposite of the ninja way of life, which teaches strength of spirit and character above all else.

“This goes back through history that there really was an understanding that if you’re learning this stuff, you’re learning power,” instructor Randle Charles says. “And you have to learn how to move with that in a good way.”

Charles, who works for a group called Better Humans, has studied ninja and To-Shin Do for years. He’s devoted to bringing the beauty of self-defense and higher thinking to those who want to learn.

“That way of being in the world, to believe in yourself that you have the right to endure, I think, is so powerful, to persevere over anything and everything,” he says.

The free program, which started in the fall, continues on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. through March.

Students are ninja cool

Disciples include Kathryn Westbrook, a Dallas resident in her 70s, who already fancies herself ninja cool.

“Because I always wear black, I have a Prius that doesn’t have a sound to it, it’s just that I have a way of trying to be in and out and nobody knows,” Westbrook says.

Innate ninja stealth aside, Westbrook and the rest of the class picked up the lesson pretty quickly.

Charles helped his group work on escaping wrist grabs. He taught students how to use their entire body to get away from an attacker who might be bigger and stronger.

Kent Cummings originally signed on for Ninja Night because his wife is from Japan and he wanted to learn more about the ninja culture. But he says the practical lessons surprised him.

“I didn’t know what to expect honestly coming in, but the self-defense, the quick drops, the easy things you can do to possibly avoid a bad situation or someone who’s confronting you,” Cummings says.

A grand setting

And Ninja Night isn’t held in some sweaty dojo. The Crow Collection’s light-filled Grand Gallery is adorned with lacquered wood statues of young monks, a sandstone Vishnu and a textile from 20th century Bali.

One Ninja Night doesn’t mean you’ll wake up the next day proficient at throwing stars or suddenly be able to sneak up on a security agent. But Charles, the instructor, says you will learn how to protect yourself.

“If I can learn to use my whole body, even the smallest person can be more powerful than a strong part of another person’s body,” says Charles.

In other words, potentially leveling the playing field for bullies and attackers.

Learn more about Ninja Night at the Crow.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.