Tag Archives: martial arts

Reluctantly, for the Time Being

“Raf, we have a problem…”  So began my senpai’s (all you non-Japanese out there, read that as dojo senior) sentence last Wednesday.  But let’s backtrack first to several months before, when I informed everyone in the Aikido dojo that I was taking a year’s time off from Aikido to focus on my FMA practice.  That meant I would neither practice nor handle any classes.  That shouldn’t have been a problem given that there are several black belts in our organization, myself included.  But for reasons that I’m too lazy to elaborate here (let’s just say that we now have two dojos, effectively dividing the number of qualified instructors in half – but it gets WAY more complicated than that), there is a current shortage of available instructors in the new dojo.

And so once again I find myself reluctantly stepping up to teach.  I say ‘reluctantly’ but dammit I really do miss being on the mats, and I am looking forward to this Thursday evening.  It’s just that…

…you know the feeling that maybe you’ve bitten off way more than you can possibly masticate and swallow?

Thursday evening is when I go to my FMA class in the local YMCA.  Make that Thursday 7:30 to 9:00 in the evening.  Aikido class is from 6:00 to 7:30 in the evening – that’s assuming people will come on time.  Good thing both classes are located relatively close to each other in the downtown area.  That would mean that by the time I arrive at the YMCA they will probably be at least halfway through the basic methods and drills (assuming they start on time).  That would also mean that I will be coming to FMA practice at least a little tired.  That concerns me.

I can only allot one evening a week for martial arts training.  Let me rephrase that: given my current life situation, I am only willing to budget one evening a week for martial arts training in a formal class.  I can train on my own any time – it’s the evening classes that I’m referring to here.  Squeezing in two martial arts in one evening then going to work the next morning may be too much for my body – and maybe even my mind – to take.  I don’t think it’s healthy and sustainable in the long term.

People in their twenties will probably not appreciate this yet, but when you get to a certain age you will feel the aftermath of any physical activity you practice like you’ve never felt them before.  Your recovery time will not be as fast.  I know because when I try to do too much in terms of training – whether it’s martial arts, parkour, or whatever physical activity that floats your boat – I either start getting cranky, or sick, or injured.  Heck, having a hangover from drinking one too many beers the night before feels worse and seems to last longer than before.  So if in the past you worked out, had sore muscles the next day then the day after you felt fine, now it might take you two days to recover.  Add to that your daily responsibilities, your job, the chores, the kids, the other things you also want to do…

Anyway, that’s the reason I wanted to take time off from Aikido in the first place.  Given my life situation, both in terms of what I need to do and what I WANT to do, it just made sense to focus on just one martial art for a year.  That way I could also squeeze in some parkour training, plus music, plus writing, plus spending time with my family IN THE EVENINGS (because, DUH, I have a freaking day job)…. blah blah blah… yadda yadda yadda… I’ll stop here.

Now you have an idea why I am reluctant to go back to the dojo.  So why go back at all?

The simple answer is: I am needed there.  Of course I could have said no.  That’s a very basic discipline, by the way: the act of saying no.  No, I will not do X.  No, I will not commit to A at this point because I am already committed to B.  No, no, no.  And I’ve been very good at saying no this past several months.  But I will not say no just for the sake of saying no.  Right now, somebody has to handle the Thursday Aikido classes.

Right now, that person is me.

Reluctantly, for the time being.

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Day 2 of Going Back to Ninja Training – Err… Parkour/Freerunning and Martial Arts

I feel sore.

In places I didn’t expect, though in hindsight I should have expected.  After all, going back into tumbling after a few weeks of not tumbling is bound to make one sore in the core.  It’s just that I expected to feel it more on my abs and sides, and I’m feeling the soreness on the sides of my lower back.  Must be all those cartwheels.  Yup, definitely all those cartwheels.

After a long period of relative physical inactivity due to suffering and recovering from sinusitis (hey, remember when I said my week-long headache may have been caused by my dental issues? Yeah, turns out it was acute sinusitis.  Go figure.), traveling out of town twice – first for a wedding and then for a live audition (more on that on the next blog post), and then recovering from said travels and THEN recovering from having my wisdom tooth removed, I finally officially returned to my regular physical training routine.  It helped that yesterday was a holiday, which meant I didn’t have to worry about getting things done by 7 so I could leave for work by 8.

So before breakfast I worked on:

  1. Cartwheels – both regular (2 arms) and single-arm cartwheels for my right side, which is my stronger side; and regular cartwheels for my left side.  I intend to work up to doing single-arms on my left as well, but all in good time.  I have noticed a significant improvement on my left: I’m more stable and I travel in a straighter line than I used to.  So it’s just a matter of time.
  2. Parkour rolls – on a yoga mat over a tiled surface.  No, I’m not bragging.  Okay, maybe a little.  But only because I used to stack said yoga mat over some thin kiddie puzzle mats.  No more.  If I’m gonna train in Parkour and Freerunning, I’m gonna have to get used to rolling on hard surfaces.
  3. Jump rope intervals – this is a new one for me.  I’ve never used a jump rope as part of a regular routine before.  I patterned my intervals after the Tabata protocol – 20 seconds work, 10 seconds rest x 4 + 60 seconds cool down – but I rested 20 seconds instead of 10, and I didn’t go all out like you’re supposed to in Tabata.  Hey, I’m jump rope virgin!  It’s okay to take things slowly.

After breakfast I still had some time to kill before a 10:00 meeting, so after I felt reasonably settled in my stomach, I proceeded to practice the 13 basic strikes of Kali.  I would have finished it with a minute of Carenza (free play) but my son borrowed my stick and we ended up playing sword-fighting.

In the afternoon, I was still feeling okay so I decided to practice some Aikido sword movements then finished with the 24 forms of Taichichuan.  I learned the 24 forms a few years ago when I was in graduate school.  I only took a few lessons though, just enough to learn the forms.

So that’s what I did yesterday that left me feeling sore.  This morning I worked on my straddle press to handstand and freestanding handstand.  For straddle press, I worked on doing the against-the-wall progression where my head and back are supposed to press tightly against the wall as I stand in a straddle and roll up into a leaning handstand and slowly roll back down.  I still can’t quite do it – and I’m pretty sure it is more psychological than physical – so I placed two chairs behind my legs, placed one foot on each chair, then rolled from there.  After a couple of reps, I kicked up to a handstand against the wall, then worked on pulling away both feet and holding that freestanding position as long as I could.  To date, I have never gone past 4 seconds.  It’s pretty frustrating, but it is what it is.  Sometimes all you can do is just train your ass off.  It is comforting to know that even though I can’t still pull off a 10-second freestanding handstand, I can tell that I have gotten better in the past year or so.  This time last year I was still struggling to kick up to a handstand (again, it was more of a mind thing than any actual physical shortcoming).  And as I’ve mentioned earlier my cartwheels have improved, which can probably be attributed at least partially to my handstand training.

Well, there you have it.  Two days of ninja training.  The original plan was to also include pull up training this afternoon, but I ran out of time.  Oh well.  Next time.  Tomorrow is recovery day, and I’m looking forward to a massage in the evening.  Yippeee!


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