Friday, October 24, 2014

Rose City Digest - Shotokan

The reality of moving South has broken a lot of expectations I didn't realize I had.  I've been here since March and it's only now that I'm getting out of the house to search for a new school.  The Rose City has so many schools to chose from that I had to develop a criteria list to help me winnow it down.  Before I created the checklist I visited what I presume is the nicest Martial Arts school I have ever seen.  

Like any burgeoning metropolis, the Rose City has sprawled enough that it has consumed the neighboring small towns and they have become enclaves and districts.  The school I went to took 40 minutes so by the time I arrived class had already started their warm-ups.   My class was an unaffiliated Tang Soo Do school running from a previous club model.  At $55 a month it was a relative bargain at four hours a week.  

The place I visited was located in the most affluent suburban area in the region and it showed.  They had their own standalone building which appeared to be brand new (later found out, only four or five years old) with floor size of about 3 competition fighting areas.  $165 dollars would get me 2 hours a week, but the Teacher was willing to work on that for me.  I would say that the worth was built into the instruction.  I'm used to waaaayyy different pacing.  For an hour worth of exercise there was no down time and he managed the class professionally for all sorts of skill levels.  Their version of Moo Duk Kwan was Soo Bahk Do.  Very similar to what I know.  

After visiting I realized that it exceeded my budget by two times, but the real killer was the time commitment.  Being new to driving in traffic like this made the 40 minutes to get there seem like a drive across the state.  So pulling roughly 3 hours out of my day wasn't going to fly.  I almost wept when I came to terms with that.  

More likely than not, my commitment to my new old house and the responsibilities it required precluded me from searching for a place to take a beating for a lot of months.  As of late we are down on our savings from all the projects and therefore can't move forward, so our time has opened up.  

Fast forward to endless web searches and I selected a school down the street to try out for a month.  Shotokan Karate.  Nothing like what I'm used to, but it's in Japanese (which we did our class in instead of traditional Korean).   

Here's my criteria:
  1. geographic closeness
  2. style
  3. cost
  4. general quality
  5. student makeup  
Here's the rating:
  1. Geo - 10 minutes
  2. Style - Shotokan - hard style with similar roots (maybe?)
  3. Cost - standard, but feels high after years of more for less
  4. GC - Very good instructor who is straight to the point.  Taught a full nelson escape I'd never seen before.
  5. Students - Sigh.  Back to a very small class with every spectrum of the skill that matched ages.  Age 7 to 55?  Only 6 students.  I was hoping for a place that had like 20 folks regularly, but I don't think I can get that without a TKD McDojo.  
I start Monday and I'll report my progress for the month.  After than who knows.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Saying Goodbye

I'm wrapping up various odds and ends as I prepare to leave town next week.  My wife has done the lions share of the work packing and organizing and all of our things are in transit down to the states so the remaining things left are saying goodbyes.

Last night I stopped in the for the last hour of class and got to play the role of returning sensei.  While the younger folks worked on exercises, I would get to make comments and correct areas of issue.  I forgot how pleasant a task that was.  Although it was mostly picking up on small things I realized that I remembered all the stuff I needed to be a good teacher.  

I went to the local bar with Teacher afterwards so we could have a moment to ourselves to say goodbye in some kind of formal fashion.  It turned out to be rather informal, but we were still able to pick out the reasons our relationship was helpful to both of us.

to wit:
  • he said that he wouldn't have learned to be a teacher without me being his primary student for so many years
  • I said that he'd been a teacher, a counsellor, and a friend.
  • he said that he grew from knowing me.
  • and I said me too.  I'm better for the experience.
It left me exhausted by strangely buoyant.  I'm ready for my next martial experience; I have lots to learn and lots to share.  I can't wait. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Show And Tell

In the depths of depression it's super hard to do anything.  This deep into winter it's tough enough to get out of bed let alone get to work and take care of the basics of life.  Needless to say, going to beatings or the gym has been super difficult for me.  I've been studying for an exam and using that as an excuse for a long time to dodge beatings and the gym.  

After Thanksgiving week my wife and I got back home and I realized I need to get a hold of myself.  No drinking during the week (which means no socializing which isn't great for depression management), eating minimal calories, and working out every day.  

The first week into this project was touch and go, but I'm glad to report that this week has gone fairly well.  I've haven't touch booze all week, eaten the most minimal diet and worked out hard everyday.  As of this morning I'm 199 lbs!  

I'm also feeling very pressed to lean down for another reason.  My wife and I are headed to the Rose City in a couple of weeks and I'm terrified of the weight gain.  The last time I was there I gained 10 pounds in two weeks.  
Not me, but my diet.

So part of the process is to get back to beatings in some kind of earnest.  In my case the Tuesday/Thursday is probably more than I can handle after months of inactivity.  Fortunately, my own idiocy is somewhat moderated by Teacher; who frequently tells me to stand down when he sees me completely gassed doing the basics.  

To amplify the amount of exercise I get I went extra early to class.  This means I get to participate in the kids classes.  Teacher is literally doing four hours of class at a time.  I was completely worn out on Tuesday just doing basic drills and had to leave early being completely drained.  

I came in later last night, but still in the kids class and did the full two hours for the adult class.  So sore.

The show and tell portion came about when I found out that our newest member is a black belt in Hapkido.  He's a bit rusty, but such kicks!  At the end of the class we were doing the different Hyungs/Katas/Forms and just marveling about similarities and differences.  So much fun.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Feeling Old

For those of you who do read this blog, my repetitive theme of being old and often out of shape is once again going to be exploited to, hopefully, humorous effect.

Let's just say that I've allowed myself to get somewhat out of shape.  

I've been studying for a certification exam since September and took the test in November.  To my never-ending chagrin I did not pass.  To add insult to injury my work out schedule has been modest and my propensity to overeat and drink beer accelerated in inverse proportion.  

The problem with the holidays is that everyone is cooking and baking delicious things.  And due to our rural location the absence of families means that we tend to gather even more than usual; which means more eating and drinking.  In our case it means that every weekend night is filled with super-high caloric intake which means that half the week I can barely sleep due to a racing heart and sweat pouring out of every pore for hours at a time.  

My wife and I returned from the big city after my failed attempt heavier and my heart full of woe.  The problem being that I can retake the test two more times in the next 365 days, but it means a considerable financial investment to travel and pay for the test.  However, if I don't resume the study I'm going to forget everything fairly quick.  With that weighing on me I'll be starting up in January with another three months in mind to see how things set.  

Unfortunately, this means that I'll be missing out on beatings again.  

So I looked at myself in the mirror and said that I'm going on a diet and going to work for two weeks straight and see how that goes.   

My first night back to beatings last should be filled with excitement, but I was gasping so hard Teacher had to walk up to me take it easy.  I want you to know I was in the kids class as well.  Clearly I let myself go way more than I had anticipated.  

So it was a handful of Ibuprofen and a cold shower to reduce swelling before bed.  Hopefully, Thursday will go a bit better.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Challenge Complete

100 Days

The actually count turned out to be 102 because I missed two days in the last week due to travel.  I couldn't quite figure out where to squeeze in push-ups until after the fact.  I should have been knocking them out in airport waiting areas.  I would have looked like an ass, but it would have been nice to have all my days of the challenge contiguous.  

Running selfie in PA. Not featured - spraying vomit at mile 2.


This is what I know at this point:

  • My best run was 80 in a row
  • I'm kind of sad that I didn't make 100 hundred, but not sure it's possible without careful training
  • Trying to do 100 in a row everyday is not careful training
  • Regular change is in sequence helped me the most.  E.G. 20, 60, 20 then 50, 50 the next day.
  • The lack of rest break for recovery probably held me back the most.  I clearly needed more than 24 hours.  
I've read on Striking Thoughts that Push-ups, Squats, and sit-ups are the go to workout when you can't get to the gym and I'm going to totally agree. Being at the absolute nadir of caring about fitness, the push-ups acted as a life-buoy to keep me going.  I was so motivated following vacation that I ran in one of our late year 5Ks.  Let me be clear that I did not train for this in any shape or form, but I was able to finish in less than a half hour which is totally respectable for me.  This was completed with two moments of walking. If I didn't walk I would have had a very good time.  The race was also done in the worst weather I've ever experienced.  So all in all I did really well.

So I went back to the gym after a week or so off.  I guess I hadn't recovered form the race.  I had to drag myself through a mile on the treadmill and a few light weight-baring exercises.  Recovery in my late 40s is something to be respected I gather.  

Friday I'm going to be 47.  This will mark my 10th year in this martial journey. I am at daily work on Kata and I'm somewhat frozen at the 15th Kata, but if you asked me a decade ago if I'd ever have a Black belt I would have told you you were nuts.  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Stronger

The issues in normal life have finally come to some sort of closure that that means getting back into the harness.  In my case I finally started going back to the gym last week regularly (missed last night in favor of socializing),  but it means I've got to get back to some beatings so I don't forget everything!  

During all the time I've been up and down with life adventures I've been consistent with my regular home exercises.  Part of this was to participate in a personal challenge of 100 push ups in 100 days.  You'll see in previous entries that I've hit various plateaus, but to my own surprise I've been able to keep somewhat consistent with the amount of reps compared to the count of days.  As of today I'm at 74 days and I can do 75 push-ups with no warm up.  I'm hoping I can keep this up, but the progression curve is definitely flattened out.  It's still exciting to see the progress I have made even if I don't get to 100 in the next 25 days.

My morning routine consists of:
- 3 or 4 katas
- 100 push ups
- 30 reps hanging bars ab work 
- stretches for back and legs
- punching the brick 120x

Funny, when writing that down it seemed like a lot more in my head.  In all honesty I've become used to this level of work.  Unless I go to the gym, go to beatings and really watch my diet I notice an immediate downturn in fitness usually followed by weight gain.  Jeeze.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Modest Update

Not much to report in the land of the frost.  I haven't been able to make to it class for several weeks due to visitors.  Once we told folks that we'd be moving away in the next year we actually had a few takers make the pilgrimage to our fair spot in the North.  Usually the cost is enough to stop anyone's interest, but as soon as you dangle the "free room might be going away" in front of them everyone gets excited.  

Having visitors in our home presents a wrinkle in my life.  My morning routine is to do my Katas/Hyungs, Push-ups, and general exercise.  Our first visitor got a treat one morning as she made her way to the shower.  I was in the middle of doing a complicated kata (Kong Sang Goon) when spotted me through bleary eyes.  This caused me to freeze.  Of course I was in a rather exotic pose with one leg up, one arm up, twisting precariously with my belly slack, hanging over my underwear.  Needless to say, her expression said it all; confusion, disgust, and hopefully a little bit of appreciation, but I doubt that.

Every aspect of life is punctuated, so after that little shock and awe I kept my morning practice down to my push-ups in the bedroom.  The good news is that I achieved 65 this morning!  I think I'm at day 54 so there is a slight possibility that I'll get to that 100 before the 100 days is out.  

I've noticed that even though the progress is mild I really don't drop back as much as I thought I would.  So on a crappy day I'm still getting 50.  

Observations so far:
- I was leery about my count so I had my wife do that.  Sometimes off by four!
- I have to count out loud so I don't mess up.  
- Every time I break 50 I rejoice because the 2nd set isn't as long.  
- I don't have to do my back stabilization exercises.  The plank position of the push up is perfect and I hold it way longer due to the push ups.  
- As my body gets used to the labor I'm not working as hard as I have been i the past.  Not getting that pump is a bit of a bummer.

Hopefully I'll be getting back to class next week.