Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What are we?

Ever since attending a recent karate tournament I have been puzzled. What are we doing?  

As I watched the tournament unfold, I kept asking myself one question. What has our martial arts world become? Yeah, I understand the ideology of bushido. I understand the concept of samurai honor. But what I saw that day and at most tournaments doesn't resemble that at all. I asked one of my brother martial artist' what did he see going on? We agreed that we saw a lot of yelling and screaming and little substance. Form without substance. Then we asked ourselves "is this a martial arts tournament or a sports competition"? If it is a martial arts tournament where is the martial arts?  Kata has turned into one long kiaaaaaaaaaah. A guttural yell that has gotten so bad that it makes chi and kiah sound vulgar. I saw one kata where the competitor either screamed or growled on every single movement of the kata. Kumite hasn't faired any better. Kumite doesn't resemble kumite. Sport karate has turned kumite into a double slap match. Everything is thrown to the head. Nothing to the body. There's only three kicks used: lead leg roundhouse, lead leg hook kick, and a jabbing sidekick. 

Tournament rules have been so twisted  that the fight has become a game of tag (to the head). Or better yet, a game of who can dive across the mat first. You can't sweep. You can't grab. All you're left to do is swat at the kicks and throw the double slap. The points are awarded, not for the use of controled contact, but for anything that makes contact. 

In the under belt divisions they can't hit to the head. When they make to black belt divisions they are let loose to try and knock each others heads off. 

I was talking with an elder of the world of martial arts the other day about the state of martial arts. He said quite a few things. There were a couple that stuck in my head. 

"Sport karate has taken the art out martial arts of competition." 

While we were discussing competitions in general he posed this question: 

"If you don't do kata, and all you do is fight, what will you have when your days of fighting are over?" "Will you be just another washed up fighter with nothing but old "war stories" of days of glory gone bye?" "It is the study of kata that allows you to remain youthful and continue your training."

I am taking the step to stay as close to the traditions of old as possible. My focus is to guide kohai to be the well rounded martial artists. That all kumite come from the technique of kata. Teaching students that there can be no kumite if there is no kata. 

Where have we come from? 
Where has the martial arts gone? 
I know it's out there somewhere.
What do you think?
Leave a reply.
Do not remain silent.

"I come to you with only Karate, Empty Hands. I have no weapons, but should I be forced to defend myself, my principles, or my honor, should it be a matter of life or death, of right or wrong, then here are my weapons, Karate, my Empty Hands." 

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm joining Leo in making a personal commitment!

I am joining Leo Babauta and Zen Habits for his 

The Power of Less New Year’s Challenge

I am commited to doing yoga and meditation every morning for the next thirty days.

This commitment will help me start a great new (and positive) habit to enrich my life and training. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back on Track

After dealing with a horrible back issue, I'm back on track. I had a great workout this morning. We also had a fantastically informative class on saturday. Tracey, shard some info about an article written by Malcom Gladwell. In the article Gladwell discussed the "Rule of 10,000 hours". Here is an excerpt and the conversation Tracey and I had: 

"Or take the case of Bill Gates. Gladwell cites a body of research finding that the "magic number for true expertise" is 10,000 hours of practice. "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good Gladwell writes. "It's the thing you do that makes you good." Gladwell show how Gates accumulated his 10,000 hours while in middle and high school in Seattle thanks to a series of nine incredibly fortunate opportunities ranging from the fact that his private school had a computer club with access to (and money for) a sophisticated computer, to his childhood home's proximity to the University of Washington, where he had access to an even more sophisticated computer. "By the time Gates dropped out of Harvard after his sophomore year to try his hand at his own computer company, "Glawell writes, "he'd been programming practically nonstop for seven consecutive years. He was way past 10,000 hours." Yes, Gates is obviously brilliant, Gladwell concludes, but without the lucky breaks he had as a kid, he never could have had the opportunity to fulfill the true potential of that brilliance. How many similarly brilliant people never get that opportunity?

I think it's totally relevant for our class. To break in down into chinks the kids (and we adults) can understand you could use some of these calculations:
  • 10,000 hours of practice is the equivalent  of practicing 24 hours straight for 417 days - more than an entire year
  • If you do karate 2xweek, for 3 hours per class, that's 6 hours and week. It takes 1,667 weeks, or 32 YEARs, without even one week off, to become an "expert." 
  • The bottom line is that this is no joke. W have to have the desire to become experts at our craft and the dedication to put in the work necessary to achieve the goal.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New Day

Well, we have a new President. We should all look to a new day. 
Sorry for the lapse in postings, I've been dealing with a few set backs (my back has been a mess). But things are looking up. Should be back to full work outs by the end of this week.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Knee braces, meditation, and being better

I've lost another 3 lbs as of today. Down to 201. My knew brace arrived yesterday. It was custom fit by J-K Prosthetics in Mt. Vernon, NY. Lynn did a great job. The support it's giving is just what I needed to move without feeling like my knee was about to buckle. 

As I sit riding the lifecycle I'm thinking about what it is to workout. What is your motivation? I've already explained my motivation. But what about for you? What is yours? I know what motivates my body, but what motivates my mind is more important. I'm not motivated by anger, or depression, or vanity. I'm motivating to be the best. To be able to show my villiage that if you put your mind to something you can do it. Whatever it is.

So, starting today let's meditate each morning or evening (which ever makes you happy). Take a few minutes to sit in a quiet area. Close your eyes and listen to your heart beat. Your may only be able to concentrate on one or two beats before your mind distracts itself. But keep trying. The number of beats will get longer each time you sit. Then one day you'll realize you've been sitting for minutes within yourself. 

Life gets better everyday. 

And for everyone in my class:
"We're better because we work harder".


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Say what?

Toward the end of January 208, I went to my general practitioner for my semi annual check up. I was feeling wonderful. The doctor checked my heart. He tapped and poked, and prodded me every which way but loose. He took the requisite blood to be tested. Of course being over the age of 45 I asked about all of the standard tests for prostate and colon cancer. The only thing that had my doctor concerned was that I had gained some weight. He said I needed to eat a bit less and the weight would come down. I left his office feeling pretty good.

A few days later I check my voicemail. There is a message from the doctor. He needed me to see me right away. Panic!!!! See me right away? That can not be good. My brain went right into the worst case scenario mode. By the time I got to his office I was a nervous wreck. With the sweat beading up on my brow I at and listened. "John, you have diabetes". What? I don't have cancer? Great.

Then my doctor said the first words that made me start to worry> "Don't worry". "all you have to do is take a little pill". "It'll lower your blood sugar". "Everything will be back to normal". He went on to explain that person's propensity for diabetes is genetic. Ok.  I trusted my doctor. You know what I mean. He's the doctor. I'm the patient. He know best, right?

So like a dutiful patient I took the prescription to the pharmacy and filled. He prescribed "Glyburide". A little green pill that was going to make it all right. I took one the next morning before I went to work. Twenty minutes later I feel like hell. Unbeknownst to me the little green pill had lowered my blood glucose levels so low that I was having a hypoglycemic episode. This"hypo", as they are called, mad me feel horrible. Sweat pouring off of my head and feeling like it was sloshing around in a fishbowl. I figured this was just an early reaction. For the nest two days I felt like crap. 

Then I started to do the research. I googled the medicine. I googled diabetes. I googled anything that I could think of that may be related to diabetes. That's when I started to learn about the adverse side effects. And sure enough what do I find? All of the bg lowering meds had terrible side effects. And what's on the top of the list? Heart related problems. Screeeech!! Hod up! Time out! Heart problems! Now I'm scared again just like I was when I got the first call.

The single most important thing yo need to do to begin to combat your diabetes diagnosis is to learn as much as possible about the ailment. For years all we know was that you would have to take insulin for the rest of your life. We didn't understand or were never taught what the early stages are. If your were told that you had cancer you would attack it with gusto. You would want to know all there is to know.What would your treatment options be? What were the contributing factors?

Next time I'll talk about how I began to turn it around. See you then.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Real fight is with Diabetes

The other purpose of this blog to increase awareness about diabetes. While type 1 diabetes affects many people, overwhelmingly, it is type 2 diabetes that has had the most adverse impact. 

Diabetes has risen to epidemic proportions today. Over 40% of Americans are walking around with diabetes and don't even know it. One of the largest contributions is America's other epidemic: obesity. The funny thing is that type 2 diabetes afflicts people who are not necessarily obese. You know, "I need to lose a few pounds" type of folks. That was me. And even though I live a rather active lifestyle the contributing factors for most are:
  • Genetics- Did  your grand's, great grand's, aunts or uncles, cousins, or mom and dad have diabetes?
  • Lifestyle- How healthy are you? Do you live a sedentary lifestyle? How much exercise do you get?
  • Diet- How much or how little do you eat? What are you eating? What combinations of food do you eat? 
I'll talk about my diabetic horror (well it was horrible to me) story next time:)
Just a hint. It ain't over just because the doctor says so.

This tied for 1st place

This is a glimpse of what's to come. I tied for 1st place at the US Capitol Classic in August of 2008. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Work out Update

I started the new work out schedule on monday. Good results so far. I have 3 1/2 months to lose the 25lbs and be ready for the firs tournament in Pomona California. 

Working on a new blog layout

I've been working on a new three column blog layout all week. Thanks to Vin at betabloggerfordummies.blogspot I have finally got it done. It's important that I have more space to share my teams photos, ad's for thier work setc, etc.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

New Addition to the blog

I have added a few of the blogs that I follow. I found Zen Habits, written by Leo, about a year ago. It is a great place for learning to incorporate a "mindful" theme into your everyday life. Leo doesn't smash you over the head with one specific ideology. He Presents mindfulness in a way that can be support whatever your belief system may be.

The next is a site written by Dr. Mark Hyman. It is the UltraWellness blog. This is a great source for treating your body and mind in a more holistic way.

Read and enjoy......

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Great workout

Had a great work out yesterday. It is getting me right back on course.
I am meeting with my fundraising specialists (hi Z & T) this week. We are going to work around how to raise the the money to meet the budget for my upcoming endeavor.

As for today, I'm taking it easy. I've caught a really bad cold. I should be better in a day or two.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bad news with a great future

In February of 2008 I was diagnosed as being a type II diabetic. I must admit it came as a total surprise. The doctor immediately prescribed Glyburide. Me being the obedient patient, I went right out a bought the meds. The dosage was 5 mgs. I took the first dose and felt horrible. It dropped my blood sugar so low I had a horrible "hypo". For those who don't know, a hypo is when your blood sugar falls too low and you have a hypoglycemic reaction. If it falls too low you will go into insulin shock. That;s bad. Really bad. I felt that horrible. I bust out in a torential sweat. It was pouring off of me. The doctor tells me to break the pill in half. I did but it still made me feel sick.

I reached out to the village and was turned on to a book by Dr. Jullian Whitiker named "Reversing Diabeties". Amazing book. I have since turned to a fully natural suplement treatment.

But for everyone with type II the key is diet/weight management and excercise. I don't just mean you walking around the block a few times. No. I mean get on the floor and don't get off until you're dripping. I started the journey at 225lbs. The first few months I managed to lose 30 lbs. My goal is to get down to 175 lbs.

Karate is the other journey.