David Carradine

I am sure that all of you have heard of David Carradine's death by now, and the weird circumstances surrounding it. This blog entry won't be about what may or may not have happened to him, but what he meant to me growing up.

My whole family enjoyed watching Kung Fu when I was young, the story lines were like nothing else that was on TV at the time. David played the young Shaolin priest, Kwai Chang Caine, who was half white and half Chinese. The background story of the series was that he was an orphan who was raised by Shaolin monks and fled China after killing the emperor's nephew in retaliation for the murder of his kung fu master, Po.

Pursued by revenge assassins from China, Caine wanders the American West in search of his half-brother Danny. His conscience forces him to fight injustice wherever he encounters it, fueled by flashbacks to his training in which his master famously refers to him as "Grasshopper."

The flashback scenes were the beauty of the series, always providing some sort of a lesson for the young Caine as he grew to be a man in the temple. Master Po was his teacher, who was blind, and Master Kahn was the leader of the Shaolin priests. Both were always featured in the flashbacks.

Here are some of the wonderful quotes I found with a little bit of research, I am sure that there are many, many more out there. But limited time prevents me from adaquate research.

Rest easy Mr. Carradine, you will be missed.

Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po: Young man, how is it that you do not?


Master Kan: Quickly as you can, snatch the pebble from my hand.
[Young Caine tries to do so and fails]
Master Kan: When you can take the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave.


Master Kan: Avoid, rather than check. Check, rather than hurt. Hurt, rather than maim. Maim, rather than kill. For all life is precious, nor can any be replaced.


On Love:

"Deal with evil from strength, but affirm the good in man through trust. In this way, we are prepared for evil, but we encourage good." -- Master Kahn "And is good a great reward for trusting?" -- Young Caine


"In striving for an ideal, we do not seek rewards. Yet trust does sometimes bring with it a great reward, even greater than good." -- Master Kahn
"What is greater than good?" -- Young Caine
"Love." -- Master Kahn
"And what is love?" -- Young Caine
"Love is harmony, even in discord." -- Master Kahn


On Life:

"If a man dwells on the past, then he robs the present; but if a man ignores the past, he may rob the future. The seeds of our destiny are nurtured by the roots of our past." -- Master Po

"Accept the ways of others. Respect first your own." -- Master Po

"I have three treasures which I hold and keep. The first is mercy, for from mercy comes courage. The second is frugality, from which comes generosity to others. The third is humility, for from it comes leadership." -- Master Po

"Strange treasures. How shall I hold them and keep them? Memory?" -- Caine

"No, Grasshopper, not in memory, but in your deeds." -- Master Po


"But Master, how do I not contend with a man that would contend with me?" -- Caine

"In a heart that is one with nature, though the body contends, there is no violence, and in the heart that is not one with nature, though the body be at rest, there is always violence. Be, therefore, like the prow of a boat. It cleaves water, yet it leaves in its wake water unbroken." -- Master Po


On Conflict:

"The wild boar runs from the tiger, knowing that each be well-armed by nature with deadly strength, may kill the other. Running, he saves his own life and that of the tiger. This is not cowardice. It is the love of life." -- Master Kahn


On Suicide:

Young Caine speaks with Master Kahn about Master Sung, a Master from the temple, who took his own life.

"Why did he take his own life? Yin and Yang?" -- Caine

"The Yes and the No. In him, No conquered....Instead of the beauty we observed, he saw ugliness." -- Master Kahn

"How is that possible?" -- Caine

"He looked with his eyes, and we look with ours." -- Master Kahn


  1. Really sad. He was great in Kill Bill too.

  2. All of these quotes are so beautiful and wise. Thank you so much for posting them.
    I always liked him, it's so sad that he's gone now.

  3. I've been living under a rock (as witnessed by the lack of comments on everyone's blogs) and didn't know about Mr. C's passing. I loved Kung Fu but as we only had 1 television at home and KF came on at the same time as the nightly news and my dad was a die-hard news fan, guess which won out??

    I feel a tribute, I'll buy a beer in heaven... post coming on...

  4. It's been a busy day for me (thank you!) so all I heard was that he'd died. So sad.

    All I remember are the flashbacks. Those writers were awesome, considering some of those quotes.

  5. Beautiful quotes. I do remember some of them form the show. I just can't believe he committed suicide. It HAS to be more sinister.

    Thank you for the great quotes.

  6. Very sad. Seems like the end of an era.

    I love those quotes.

  7. Anonymous2:11 PM

    Kung Fu was a huge hit in our house, too. The Asian kid next door who thought just because he was Asian he WAS Kwai Chang Caine? He was just a dick.

  8. Anonymous8:45 PM

    I also wanted to try and be able to grab the stone from his fist. Of course growing up in Philly and it being a tv show and all made that kind of impossible. Yeah, never mind.

  9. This sounds like something I would like. I remember it being on (probably reruns), but I think I was too young to appreciate it. Maybe I need to check it out on DVD.

  10. I'm with Dr Zibbs- he was fantastic in Kill Bill. RIP, David.

  11. Yeah, he was huge in our household too. I remember when I found out he wasn't Asian and was dumbfounded. That's how much I was sucked into Kung Fu.


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