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stamina

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. . . . . . . . (yes, that’s the title)

ee-flat-linethe blog title pretty much summed up last night’s class for me.  i got there early, stretched, went through a couple of forms and sets to help focus, and recited my sayings to further ingrain them in my mind.  you see, i’ve been preparing for a belt test … one that has been hinted at for a several weeks now.  i felt ready for whatever the class would bring.  BUT instead of a belt test, the test yesterday more resembled an electroencephalograph to which i flat-lined.

we started class with some cardio.  maybe that was my problem.  somehow i physically exhausted my brain.

then we moved on to some sparring (yea, my favorite [sarcasm freely inserted]).  i felt like i was doing pretty good.  mr jenkins made some comments that were positive and encouraging, as well as, interjecting some advice along the way.  it was a learning session, not a fight for your life (well, that’s how it looks when i do it) session.

then vince and i knocked gloves.  he said i was heavy legged.  he said i was heavy-handed.  he said i lacked control.  and on some of those accounts, i think he’s right.  in fairness though, he got in a great shot to my ribs that took my breath and landed a solid left hook to my noggin. (psst, i didn’t complain. matter of fact, i told him they were good shots.)

it’s possible that i fight him differently than i do the others in class.  either way, i do need to re-evaluate my thoughts, intents, and actions against him and every other opponent.  he even called me this morning to thank me for giving him a black eye.

eye-lashesi have this tendency to follow a fighter when they turn away.  it’s bad.  it’s dirty.  i shouldn’t do it.  and i’m going to make a conscience effort to quit doing that.  but on one of those where he turned his back and moved away, i followed and tapped him in the face when he turned towards me.  he said, “dude, i don’t know how you did it, but you pushed my eyelashes into my eye and now i have black eye.”  i blame the eyelashes, not my ridiculously bad sparring abilities.

in all seriousness, i did tell him that if i’m kicking too hard to stop the fight.  make me verbally acknowledge that i’m hearing what he’s saying.  otherwise if done while we’re still going at it my mouth may say, “ok” while brain doesn’t listen.  kinda like when you tell your kid to take out the trash while he’s in the middle of watching tv and you get the “ok, in a minute” response knowing full well it didn’t really register.

exhaustedby the time sparring was done, so was i.  between cardio to begin with and then sparring … i was physically exhausted.

then we went through some forms and sets.  all refresher stuff.  that means, in theory, i know the ones we were asked to do.  or so i thought.  brain-dead.  coördination set was the first one that i blanked on.  i’d get half way through and just forget where i was at.  my focus was gone.  i probably needed to be standing in the back sucking a gallon of gatorade.  instead, i’m out there looking like a walrus on skates and forcing my fellow purple belt to go through it over and over and over and over because my brain had checked out 20 minutes prior.  i felt so bad for him and completely embarrassed for myself.

“let’s work on some of your techniques,” mr jenkins announced.

rex-kwon-dothe technique line was fine as long as he called out which technique he wanted.  i performed them relatively well.  then he changed it up and announced a type of attack and told us we could do any techniques we wanted or improvise.  *sigh*  i can’t even begin to tell you how foolish i looked.  nothing i did looked like a complete technique, but they all ended up with the attacker on the ground.  i would start with a technique and then just grab and sling them to the ground.  not good.

i was talking to vince yesterday morning about the upcoming test that we all know is coming.  when i was about to test for purple i knew it was coming, but didn’t feel ready for it AT ALL.  i felt i needed another month or two.  i wasn’t comfortable.  i didn’t think i was ready for it, but he tested me anyway and i passed.

now for my blue belt test that is upcoming, i’ve felt ‘ready’ for the last three or four weeks.  BUT between the last two week’s classes, i’ve felt completely lost out on the mat and realize i’m not ready.  not by a long shot.  so now i’m hoping the test is at least another three or four weeks out so i can refocus on what i need to be doing.

humble

yes, please. may i have another?

it frustrates me when i deal with people who act as if they’re brain-dead.  last night, however, the EEG on me was __________________

maybe next time i’ll be a lot more understanding when others have their moments.  if not, then i hope someone reminds me of last night’s class.  i got a big, heaping dose of humility dumped over the top of my head.

time for me to get back to work.

— chunky ninja

ps … i lost 3.2 pounds during the workout … probably all to be regained today.

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all in perspective

i try to keep a balanced, accurate perspective of myself.  it doesn’t always happen.  in fact, it almost never happens.  here are some examples …

dinner-time

this is how i feel before dinner (left) and after dinner (right).

my weight.  it’s an ongoing battle of the bulge that i’ve fought my entire life. people have offered their unsolicited advice over all the decades of my life.  then because i’ve not lost weight, or at least enough to match their expectations, i’m a failure.

it’s a horrible struggle for anyone that is trying to drop pounds.  everyone is different and while some may lose weight faster, others (i include myself here) find it a lifelong labor of pain … both physically and emotionally.

on-the-mat

when i step on the mat i feel fit and good to go (left), but really more closely resemble butterbean (right).

but the truth is i have been working.  i’ve been active my whole life. over the last two years, since i started kenpo karate, my workouts have entailed six hours of kenpo training per week, walking, bicycling, hiking, and a variety of other things keeping me very active.

i’m busy doing something almost every day.  whether it’s climbing the stairs at work or bicycling 30 miles or playing disc golf, i’m busy.  i’m active.  and while the body shape is changing some, the scales just don’t respond the way i wish.  i feel i might be in the best shape of my life (if you don’t look at the outside package).  my doctor was very happy with my latest checkup.  i’ve improved my health in every area except my hairline.  its a great feeling when you leave the doctor’s office and he says, “whatever you’re doing is working great … keep it up!”

sparring-view

i should be like spartacus when sparring (left), but i fight fright and insecurity when facing an opponent (right).

all the extra work i’ve done this summer and fall has been with one true goal in mind — improve my cardio. while i can’t go out and jog five miles, i have seen positive results.

my cardio is one of the areas i have felt weakest when it comes to sparring.  not only am i not good at defending myself, i was quickly winded and my poor defense became even worse.  improving my cardio should help my sparring which will also help my confidence level.

i may never be spartacus, but i’ve never liked being afraid.  and that has always been the case when stepping on the mat to spar.  so i push myself in sparring and learning this art to change my mindset. and sparring is a good barometer of improvement or not.  i can say assuredly that i’ve vastly improved since i began this journey two years ago, but i’m just now seeing some small incremental steps in confidence.  don’t worry, i won’t let it go to my head.

kenpo-class

before class begins i feel so young (left). the next day i feel and move like the guy on the right.

kenpo class and kg sessions always have me feeling young(er) at the beginning. it doesn’t last very long.  as the workouts crank up, the wear on my body quickly feels every birthday multiplying exponentially on itself.  before long i’m having to seriously push my body.

a good example was last thursday’s when we did cardio at the end instead of the start of class. i was looking at myself in the mirror and seeing how red my face was becoming.  i remembered taking my blood pressure med that morning and decided not to pay attention to what i was seeing since it was only my lungs that were feeling the strain.  had i felt anything else, i would have shut it down, but i want/need to push myself.  so i did.

but without fail, the next morning after ANY of my workouts, has me moving slow.  i feel every ache, pain, fatigue. every muscle and joint are screaming at me that i’m 47.  they remind me how out-of-shape i am.  but i press on.

i was thinking the other day about where i want to be at my half-century mark.  that’s just 30 months away and it will arrive faster than i expect.  i’d like to be closing in on my black belt.  i’d like to be somewhere in the path of the three browns.  and of course, i’d like to be skinny.

but today, i think i’ll just be content to be moving, learning, and practicing my kenpo.

— chunky ninja

JUST a coincidence

in my last post i talked about being called VIKING FAT and how we had a belt test coming up soon. then that very night i tested for my purple belt. the minnesota vikings wear purple, but i wasn’t even thinking about that when i wrote the blog. someone else had called me viking fat and i was relaying that detail. i am not a viking’s fan. i refuse to disclose my NFL allegiance, but it isn’t the vikings.

on the tuesday night prior to my belt test, we met with our instructor. it was our whole KG group (ok, there’s only three of us, but it sounds bigger and more official when you call it a group). our instructor, Mr Jenkins, had said we were getting close to being ready to test and wanted to work with us a little bit. first he worked with john and vince (my KG cohorts) as they’re learning blue belt techniques and the appropriate forms and sets that come with it. i stood by and absorbed the knowledge being shown and taught.

then came my turn to show the techniques i’ve been working on. mr jenkins still had the blue belt techniques in mind and asked me to show him twin kimono. i smiled at john, who was going to dummy for me on the first technique, and started going through it. half way through i turned and smiled at my instructor and asked if he wanted me to finish this blue belt technique or do the purple belt ones instead. being the KG boys’ spotter (formerly called ‘dummy’) has given me immense benefits. i’m able to learn my techniques faster because i already know where the pain is being inflicted from all the months of practice with them. mr jenkins laughed and said i’d better do the purple techniques instead. so i went through them all.

mr jenkins, me, vince. my other KG bud, john, is missing from this photo.

vince told me after our session that i was rocking and rolling. “dude, you’re clicking on your kenpo. there was a time when your feet and hits weren’t always in sync. you could tell you were still learning and having to think about your moves. but tonight, something seemed to click in your brain and you were rocking through them. they all looked solid.” from vince, that’s a great comment. but he wasn’t done.

“you’re a big dude and can put a hurting on someone just because you’ve got a lot of back up mass [aka viking fat]. but when you’re kenpo started clicking it’s like …” he paused for a moment. “you used to hit like a semi-truck. but then your kenpo started clicking in your brain and now you’re rocking through them, it’s more like being hit by a freight train. you don’t even have to try for power, it’s already there.”

thursday’s class found me going through all the steps for testing. my short form 2 was a little sloppy in my opinion, but i guess it was good enough for promotion. stance set and coördination set were solid. i had my sayings and pledge down. the only thing left was the sparring.

i still hate sparring. but i have made conscious efforts to improve — and was told it showed. i’m trying not to charge in all the time. i’m working diligently on being patient and staying back. my defense still has a long way to go. i continually discuss how my reflexes seem slow, but there IS improvement. i worked combos and continued to pace myself and pick specific moments to move in or out. my wind was better and i rebounded from each sparring match quicker than i have in the past. the last fight i had was with my pastor. he made me work. i was able to land a few punches and kicks.

at the end of class i was told to kneel and was handed my purple belt. i had such a feeling of satisfaction for what i had accomplished and an awe of how much more there is still to learn. the longer i’m in this art, the more i appreciate the vastness of the knowledge and the beauty of its complexity.

PURPLE, baby!!

now on to my blue belt techniques, form, set, pledge, and sayings. i’m anxious.

special thanks to vince, john, and especially to mr jenkins of whom i can proudly call my instructor, pastor, and friend.

— chunky ninja

hello old friend

we all have those moments when someone from your past calls you.  they used to be one of your closest friends.  one that knew everything about your life and then as time passes, things change, lives move in different directions, and other things clutter and steal away the closeness you once had.

then they call you out of the blue.  you’re surprised to hear from them because it’s been months (or years).  you are happy to hear their voice and for about 45 seconds it seems like you guys haven’t skipped a beat … everything is just as it was when you were the best of buds hitting the town.  but then second number 46 hits and you suddenly realize you don’t have much in common with that person at all anymore.  what do you talk about?  you no longer have any common friends.  all of your interests have changed (and so have theirs). and you get into this arduous phone call that just ensures the next one will be even further out …

you:  hey!  how’s it going?
them: good, you?
you:  good.  staying busy.  trying to stay out of trouble.
them:  you?  you were never good at that!
you:  ha!  you’re one to talk.  so what’s new?
them: not a lot.  same ol’ same ol’.  how about you?
you: nothing.
them: yeah, a whole lot of the same here.

and then second 46 hits and you realize why you don’t bother anymore.  he’s not changed.  you’ve not changed.  but everything has completely changed.

that’s kinda where i’m at with kenpo.  it’s been a couple of weeks since i last blogged and i was feeling sorta bad that i hadn’t updated any of you here in the “new” month (now almost two weeks in).  things aren’t really changing and yet they are.

i’m still keeping up with my three-day-a-week kenpo workouts.  each of them are about two hours. so six hours a week working on my purple belt techniques.  i know them all and am in the process of tweaking them — refining them.  i still have to work on my forms.

in my spare time, i’ve taken up cycling to help build up some cardio.  i really like it and am glad i jumped back into it.  i try to get in several rides a week that are 10-30 miles long.  and while i may not be winning any distance or speed records, i can tell that there have been subtle [read: SUBTLE] changes.  nothing that others might notice, but i notice them and that’s what’s important to me.  a bit more leg strength.  a bit more stamina.  and now that i’ve been doing this for a month, a little less saddle soreness.

ed parker

but regarding my kenpo, i still love it. my kicks are still bad (though improved over the last 20 months). and there’s nothing new to report.

and that brings us to second 47 of this blog post.  so now the awkward, “i’m glad you stopped in to check” to which you’ll reply, “yeah, me, too.  i’ll have to find out how you’re doing in your next write-up.”

i fully realize this wasn’t really a good or funny post, but at least it was different.  and before you leave you read this one last line that gives you hope that my next update will be a little bit funnier and/or more informative.  but until then everything is changing even while we insist everything is the “same ol’ same ol'”.

— chunky ninja

big wheels keep on turning

my bike

there’s nothing more frustrating than to be in the middle of a sparring session, having your butt handed to you by some kid nearly thirty years younger, and then running out of steam.  unfortunately, that’s the story of my kenpo ability (or inability, as the case may be).

i’m hoping to change that.  a few weeks ago i bought a bike.  my thinking was since i hate running (read: HATE RUNNING!!!!), bicycling may be a good way for me to get my cardio up, lose some weight, and help me last longer in the sparring matches.

not me

but i used to ride bikes all the time.  they say once you learn, you never forget.  similar to kenpo where they say slow to learn, slow to forget.  well, i have not forgotten how to ride!  my rear end has forgotten how uncomfortable the seats can be, but even that is starting to pass with the miles (i’ve logged over 170 in the last three weeks).

Q. what’s funnier than watching an old, fat guy try to learn kenpo?
A. an old, fat guy riding a bike!

i like that i can stop for a break whenever i want to.  i’ll pedal for a few miles then stop. the sweat just start POURING off me and then when i start pedaling again, the breeze makes it feel like i just stepped in front of an air conditioner.  AWESOME!  well, at least for the first 3 or 4 minutes.

i started somewhat small treks … about 5 miles.  then i decided to push myself a bit.  my legs were stronger than i thought, so the problem was more with fatigue from distance or saddle sores.  i pushed myself a bit more the second week.  then i went out of town and everything got out of whack.  but as soon as the dust settled, i was back in the groove.

last friday i went out after work.  it was about 103°F … a typical july day in texas.  i loaded the bike up on the car and went to a local bike trail park.  i knew from where i was starting i could do quite a bit of mileage.  i rode from one park to another via a bike trail connection.

seriously not me

on a side note, i like the bike trails because there are no extreme hills in either direction, so i don’t have to get exhausted climbing mt everest or find myself “cheating” by coasting for five miles either.  they’re pretty level and that allows me to pedal, pedal, pedal. it’s about staying busy with the legs and trying to build some endurance. AND i don’t have idiot drivers running me off the road or screaming obscenities at me because i’m going about 30 miles under the speed limit.

anyway, last friday i hit the trails and went for 9 miles before i took my first five minute break.  from my stopping point i knew i could go to the end of the second park trail and back and it would be another 14 miles.  but could i do it without stopping?  YES.  so my second stop was at 23 miles.  the only thing left was the ride back to the car.  another 9 miles.  i was tired.  my speed (which is not fast to begin with) slowed some, but not as drastic as i thought it might.

i needed this after friday’s ride

for the most part, i stayed very consistent throughout the ride.  about 12.5 miles per hour.  i’m not trying to win any races, just build endurance.  when i pulled up to the car i dug out my iphone and took a look at my bike app … 33.68 miles!  i contemplated turning around and doing another 1.4 just so i could get to 35, but my legs were exhausted and i was desperate need of fluids.

so i walked, stretched, texted the two people who were checking to see if i was alright after being gone for two-and-a-half hours.  then went home.

saturday my legs were TIRED.  no riding.  but today i’m back on the neighborhood streets.  putting in 7-10 miles.  i’m trying to ride about 50-70 miles a week to go along with the three kenpo work outs.

six hours of kenpo a week and 50-70 miles SHOULD help my stamina.  we’ll find out in a few weeks after i’ve gotten accustomed to the routine.

—chunky ninja

Read the old posts and see how this all started!