Many people asked me recently why on 9dragons forum avatars are call ‘grasshoppers’, have grasshopper rank, and what that means. From where The Hermit took it? Is the connotation of the word positive or negative?Well, it depends… but he didn’t invented the term applied to kung fu.
1. In kung fu movies world, the term came from 1970s television series call “Kung Fu” where David Carradine’s character, Caine (as a child) was called ‘ young grasshopper’ by Master Po and the shaolin monks who trained him. So, calling someone “grasshopper” implies that he’s young, inexperienced, and somewhat impulsive. Grasshoppers can’t jump backwards, they must always move forward. So, a grasshopper is good way to describe a student with potential.From here we also have some expressions like “Wise choice, Grasshopper” and “Patience, Grasshopper.”
From that TV show we have a famous dialog.In some flashbacks, Master Po calls his young student “Grasshopper” in reference to a scene in the pilot episode:
Master Po: Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Po: Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?
Caine: Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?
From this moment on, the blind master befriends Caine and becomes a mentor to him. He gives Caine the nickname of “Grasshopper” in an affectionate reference to this first encounter.
From Grasshopper to Caine – Creating Kung Fu part 1
From Grasshopper to Caine – Creating Kung Fu part 2
2. In another sens, the term connotation can be negative. Remember Aesop and La fontaine’s fable “The Ant and the Grasshopper” ?The morale suggests that the lazy grasshopper is the bad guy, so calling someone a grasshopper in this way could be negative. Grasshoper is the ‘drone’, doing nothing, while ant spends all her life working to accumulate possessions.
3. Also, in dictionary a grasshopper is an insect famous for its ability to jump. So, someone called a grasshopper could be someone who often “jumps” from one thing to another, from one girl to another 😛 … a person that is not stable.
4. In urban dictionary we see as a adding : ‘A term for someone learning from a wiser master. Often used in mockery when something is ‘common knowledge’ that is easily forgotten. This word is similar to padwan.’ …’Term that refers to one who is a novice, a greenhorn, a student/disciple, a subordinate, or just simply ignorant. ‘
In the end, as someone said, “Grasshopper” is just another roll-your-eyes cliche from pop culture. “More training, Grasshopper” !