In the Mulan movie, there's a song called "Be a Man", sung by Donny Osmond as Shang.

At one point, different trainees say an individual line (1:35 in the above video):

I'm never gonna catch my breath
Say goodbye to those who knew me
Boy, was I a fool in school for cutting gym
This guy's got 'em scared to death
Hope he doesn't see right through me
Now I really wish that I knew how to swim

What does "Boy, was I a fool in school for cutting gym" mean? This doesn't seem to make any sense.

  • 2
    The trainee says he skipped gym classes in school, and thus he is now not in good enough shape. What about this doesn't make sense?
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 9:26
  • 1
    Well, "cutting" gym, as in 'not attending the class' is a US term which may not be understood by even other native English speakers.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 10:05
  • @BCdotWEB - because I've never heard the term 'cutting' used that way.
    – Mithical
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 10:06
  • 1
    I'm not American, and English was the fourth language I learned. I probably know what "cutting" means in this context due to watching a ton of movies and TV shows, so to me it is a fairly common term.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 12:19
  • 2
    They had gym class in ancient China?
    – rtaft
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


They are doing physical training in preparation of war. He is regretting cutting gym as it would have helped him to be more prepared for the intense training he is now going through.

EDIT: The term cutting is slang in the UK and the US for not attending something you are supposed to, generally in reference to school. aka "I'm cutting class this afternoon" or "I'm going to cut gym tomorrow"

  • US only, not UK [unless it's been adopted here since I left school ;) but ty for the edit.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 10:35
  • @Tetsujin I'm from the UK, I'm 26 now so it has been a while since I was in school. We didn't use the slang directly but we knew of it. I'm fairly certain I had a friend go "oh my god, you're cutting class" at some point.
    – Maltanis
    Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 10:38
  • We use it here in Canada as well! "Cutting class", "Blowing off class", "Skipping class", etc... Commented Jan 27, 2018 at 0:42

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