Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Four Lies and One Martial Arts Fact  

The meme works as follows. You post five things about yourself. Four are untrue. One is true. All are so outlandish, implausible or ridiculous that no one would be inclined to believe that any of them are true. And despite the pleas from your readers, you never divulge which is true and which are fabrications. You then tag five other people (four seriously and one person you are pretty sure would never participate).
Ok, here goes:
  1. Once, I dove off a fast-moving bicycle into a combat roll and landed upright, sustaining only slight injuries to my phone.
  2. I failed to complete my black belt in Tae Kwon Do because Communist agents assassinated my master before he completed my training.
  3. Once, I fell off a high rock cliff face, backflipped off a lower ledge and landed upright, sustaining only slight injuries to my arm.
  4. I failed to complete my black belt in Taido because our children's class instructor broke my arm so badly it didn't heal for almost two years.
  5. I once abandoned my dad in the middle of a gunbattle because I was offended by his cussing. Fortunately, he still won.
Ok, maybe I cheated a little, but I stand by my answers. And I tag Andy Fossett, Bolot Kerimbaev, Gordon Shippey, Tom Duerig and Jackie Chan.

-the Centaur



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Danger of Slippage  

In a recent blog post I mentioned that if you miss a day of a workout, it's really easy to miss the next day. I thought it was true when I wrote it, but a week or so later I started adding the days up and realized it was far more true than I anticipated.

Aikido has classes Monday through Saturday, sometimes twice a day. My last Aikido workout was Friday the 6th, and I elected not to go to the Saturday morning workout. In my defense I haven't gone to any of the Saturday morning workouts as I'm still a beginner, but after that decision not to attend Aikido, I found that I couldn't attend Aikido on any of the following days because:
  • Monday the 9th was my 4oth birthday party, one day early because of...
  • Tuesday the 10th was my standing commitment to my writer's group (I am one of the two leaders while the primary facilitator is on maternity leave).
  • Wednesday the 11th my wife and I took a trip to San Francisco for our yearly Valentine's Day trip, dining at the Stinking Rose and dancing at Bondage-a-Go-Go.
  • Thursday the 12th the trip continued, with a day at Muir Woods and dinner at Teatro Zinzani.
  • Friday the 13th: no class for the Aikido Winter Camp, which I was not signed up for because I just joined the dojo.
  • Saturday the 14th: no class for Aikido Winter Camp.
  • Monday the 16th: no class for President's Day.
  • Tuesday the 17th: standing committment to writer's group.
  • Wednesday the 18th: out sick with a cold.
  • Thursday the 19th: recovering from being sick.
  • Friday the 20th: first day that I could have attended, but I forgot my uniform and ended taking the opportunity to surprise my wife with a romantic dinner before she left town.
  • Saturday the 21st: prior committment to hang out with my wife on the last day before her 1-month business trip.
  • Monday the 23rd: second day I could have attended, but my car ended up being in the shop for longer than I expected ... *and* I forgot my uniform again.
  • Tuesday the 24th: standing committment to writer's group.
So after that one decision to skip class, there were fourteen straight sessions that I skipped because of lame excuses, valid excuses, or outright cancellations. So I'm going to put this down as the Centaur's Fourth Law: If you choose to miss a commitment, you're much less likely to catch the next one.(1)

To combat this, I've developed an attitude that works: put the workout or the exercise or the development activity on a regular schedule and treat it like a true commitment that can't be missed. That's the only thing that worked for me for karate in Atlanta or for the writer's group out here. Treating a development activity as an unbreakable commitment sometimes can get you in trouble - I missed one of my wife's art gallery openings for a karate class before I learned when it was safe for me to relax the rule, and I still regret that to this day - but for me, if I don't, I'll end up a victim of the Centaur's Fourth Law.

So now again: let's renew the commitment and get back on the horse. And as for Wednesday the 25th? Let's just say my gym bag, with uniform in it, is placed so it blocks the front door.

-the Centaur
(1) It's the fourth law because I'm sure I can come up with at least three laws more important than that, like You're almost certainly wrong about something you're almost certain you're right about or maybe The more successful you are at staying 'on message', the more successful you'll be at alienating your audience. But I don't have a labeled list or anything at this point.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Throw your head at the ground and miss  

"I know Taido..." " me." (To the tune of Neo vs. Morpheus).

Seriously, I learned to front handspring today. A quick step forward throwing yourself down on your hands, and your body flips over you and just pops back up to a standing position, and, to my great surprise, I can actually do this. Repeatably.

I honestly didn't think it was possible for me getting a such a late start in karate at the ripe old age of 30. I mean, yes, I took karate in my early teens, and yes, I took it for about a year in college, but as far as I'm concerned I really *seriously* got started around 30. Despite that, after all this time I assumed that the young turks doing front flips and backflips and front and back handsprings were just able to do so because they were 15 years younger than me (I am now 35).

But apparently after five years of practice, you learn something.

While I'd been doing a great deal of component practice (handstands, cartwheels, a variety of tumbles, back arches, back wall hand walks, and assisted back flip practice) the first time I ever tried to put a back handspring together was tonight --- and thanks to great teachers and great encouragement from my classmates, it just frickin worked.

Don't try this at home, fanu, but it's just throwing your head at the ground and missing. No, more seriously --- lean forward on to your hands and flip forward over them, using your hands to hold yourself up while you pitch forward onto your butt. Sound easy? Ok, speed that up with a few running steps until you're comfortable flipping forward over your hands and onto your butt. Got that? Now watch the ground while you throw your body over ... your back will naturally arch while you fall on your butt. Ok, now kick your feet up like you're doing a cartwheel ... and surprise yourself when you pop back up onto your feet. Even more seriously don't try this at home --- get yourself a karate or gymnastics teacher and a big mat to practice on --- but once you get the hang of it it's amazing. By the end of the evening, I didn't even need a running start anymore --- I could practically do it in place.

I even found out, but did not get to try, *why* we're doing this insane stuff --- one of the black belts showed us how a front handspring could turn into a superfast (and devastating) ax kick.

So the moral of the story is, if you believe that you can't do something ... OR believe that something's too crazy to do ... OR don't put in the effort to learn all the pieces, you'll see people doing things that *look* amazing which you will *assume* are impossible ... but the reality is that if you assume it IS possible for you, take it on faith that it's worth doing, and put in the effort to build up all the pieces ... why, then anything's possible for you.

Next I plan to work on my hover.



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