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Everything posted by sarakingdom

  1. Planning for Next Challenge My week off, I'm going to bring my calories back to maintenance and mostly do tai chi, both for a break and so I can learn the basics of the form by next challenge. One week off when I'm a little frustrated and bored is probably good for the soul, then I can come back after that and decide how I want to proceed. So I have reasons to think that high physical stress levels are part of my fitness issues, and the mental stress levels, not helping anything. This challenge helped a bit on the mental side, which is good. I'm thinking about a challenge that is more challenging, while also bringing down that stress. Some ideas: Average sleep time (8 hour goal). This is a very simple metric I can get each week, my tracker will compute my average sleep as a percentage of my goal. (One day, I want to try a 9 hour goal, but I'm struggling to get 8, so we'll start there.)Three hard strength days. I'm tempted to schedule three strength days and three cardio days, but as I make things more demanding, I want to start out with more rest days in between. I know I can do more, but I don't know how stressful my body finds recovery - I just suspect, from symptoms, that my cortisol levels are super-high on a good day, and I don't think my physical recovery is perfect as it is, so I want to ease into it a little. Three days is reported be a reasonable baseline for improving strength and for the mental benefits of hard workouts, with plenty of rest if it's needed. (I've been getting 4-5 light workouts in most of this challenge, and that's... better than a less reliable schedule, but I really do want the hard workouts. Even if that needs to be less of them, perhaps.)Active rest days. This is where I want my tai chi forms to come in. Good on the mental and physical stress reduction, a mix of gentle cardio, stretching, and strength... a pretty reasonable all-arounder for healthy movement on a rest day. I do want to make sure I'm getting a lot of movement on rest days, and that seems like the sort of thing that'd support my rest goals pretty well.Ten or twenty minutes a day on something aikido-y. To keep my head in the game. Or to keep the game in my head. It's pretty centering to spend time in aikido headspace. I might try that aikido tai-chi-style kata, but most likely this will be weapons, since they're easily practiced alone. I have some basic sword cuts, two sword kata, some basic staff moves, a couple of staff kata. (Note to self: I need a jo.) Maybe also some review of techniques. I don't have a partner to train with, but a few minutes of study and visualization is better than nothing. (I can't guarantee it'll be a good review of how my style performs techniques. But the basics are the basics, and I'll need to review when I get back on the mat anyway - especially as they change the techniques slightly as the style evolves.)A habit trigger for my meditation, so it gets done regularly and early. (I used to do it in bed before I got up, and that might actually work pretty well when I'm getting enough sleep.)Get rid of my scale for a challenge. I don't like not having the data recorded for analysis, but I think it's not great for my head right now. I'd like to stick to tape measurements and trying to keep the habits in place, without second-guessing based on the scale. Six weeks won't kill me. (I'd do a weekly scale weight, but I'm not sure that's as indicative for women as having a good monthly average.)
  2. Week 6: Day 4 30 minute workoutWeek 6: Day 6 Foam rolled before bed.Got enough rest.Meditated before bed. Meditation has... well, I've been nodding at it lately, but not quite doing it. And my sleep has not been good for the past few days, though I made up for some of it today. I've been ignoring my tracking for a couple of days as well. I think I just need a few days off, focusing on something different. I moved from maintenance to cut last week, and my weight went up. Not really happy about that. I see two options here: One, just take measurements and wait it out, because it hasn't been a full month yet, so it could just be random. Two, something outside of diet-and-exercise has been affecting my weight, and I'd be better off staying at maintenance to reduce stress and get better habits sorted out a while longer. There's a reasonable case for either one. In either case, though, I think it's time to ramp up my workout difficulty. I think that does make a difference, in my case. So while I'm trying tai chi for some meditation/flexibility benefits, I'd like to also get some hard 10-minute workouts and put a couple in the day. (30+ minute workouts are great, but I sometimes have scheduling issues, and I'd like to have other options. And I think it'd be useful mentally to get some exercise through my work day.)
  3. I saw that last night and downloaded a copy. I'm wondering if I ought to start there, since it's more inside the art. What's leaving me on the fence is that I haven't found any instruction for it, so it'd be purely a mimicry exercise. I don't object to that, but I don't know if I'd get as much out of it. (Especially with his feet obscured by his hakama, it's a little tough to follow the actual motion with no other guide.) But I would like to try it, I think the movements would be a lot more useful and natural. The difference between a personal style, an organizational style, a school, and a new martial art... they're all a little fuzzy, so far as I can tell. All the uchi-deshi, they seem to have styles that are as personal and as informed by outside arts and philosophies as, say, Ueshiba's martial arts compared to his teacher Takeda's. Aikido is, in many ways, a personal style, a school run by a man with that style, a branch of an existing aiki-jutsu school (in the early years, explicitly so), a new martial art... all those things seem fairly accurate, depending which way you squint. It's not at all clear to me how to draw those lines. And I think what I was saying last week was based on comparing Ueshiba saying that aikido could be practised by all religions, while at the same time having a great deal of his personal practice grounded in shinto ritual. So there doesn't seem to have been an actual expectation that aikidoka would take everything he did as his personal practice as part of their aikido, and a great many of his uchi-deshi didn't. So were the misogi practices part of aikido or even intended to be, who can really say... all that can be said with certainty is that they were part of his aikido. Whether or not they're a part of mine, well, I feel that's largely up to me. Not everyone would agree with me there, though. I will say this: sweats, from experience, are of limited use in an aikido class. T-shirts do not fucking stay put when you roll. Keep the gi, it works on a practical level. In many ways, aikido is one of the most old-fashioned of the fighting arts, in dress and philosophy (though some of the weapons arts are right there with it), so it's carrying a lot more of the traditional culture with it, alongside what seems to be described as a very 20th century, post-war philosophy about the role of martial arts. (Though I question whether it's actually new, so much as a choice of which traditional philosophies to take. WWII may have shifted his thinking, but a lot of the essentially defensive protection-of-the-peace was an existing role and use of the traditional martial arts.) I also think it has one of the least formal dojo etiquettes, on the whole - not universally, but on average. Aikido is a strange cultural mix to begin with, even in the context of Japanese martial arts. (Maybe they all are strange cultural mixes. Judo, as it was founded in the 1880s, is very much a merging of Japanese and western culture. When the traditional samurai classes that developed these arts were banned in the 1880s, and again when martial arts were banned after the war, perhaps all Japanese arts had a bit of an identity crisis about what to keep and how to adapt. I don't think that moving outside Japan was necessarily the precipitating incident of that conflict between traditional and modern and non-Japanese.) The etiquette is less natural outside Japan, and has a whole spectrum from more to less formal (and sometimes, not locally acceptable). Same with the teaching style. Though, actually, when you consider how incredibly open Western martial arts schools started by traditional Japanese teachers can be, to women, to minorities, to accommodating religious and medical needs - almost progressively so - it's pretty amazing. Traditional Japanese culture is not noted for its openness or egalitarian approach on things like ethnicity and gender, and the fact that a generation or two of traditionally-trained teachers across many of the arts went out and created a teaching culture that by and large was, that's pretty amazing - I think a great deal of the shift away from tradition came from within the Japanese martial arts schools, not from without. (Equally, I'm amazed at how well Western dojos propagate the bones of a traditional non-verbal instruction style that's not very easy in the West.) In fact, I suspect a large faction of Western students would preserve tradition in amber, and compete to one-up each other on how much more historically accurate their practice is. I don't think that's as big a concern for Japanese aikidoka. I don't get the sense that they feel the need to stay as traditionally accurate to Ueshiba's practices, or recreate daito-ryu, or kotodama practices. Some have those things as personal interests - or iaido, kendo, archery, zen, ikebana, grappling, etc. - but I don't think they're concerned with whether they're practicing "authentic" aikido by going their own directions. Western aikidoka are more concerned with that. And it may be in part because Japanese aikidoka, with increased exposure to other arts, can see how interrelated they are, and don't have this notion of a single or authentic aikido. (I used to train with a really nice guy from Nagoya, now I wish I had his email to ask him these things.) Personally, I like those fluid boundaries. That aikido encompasses the hard styles and the soft styles, the zen and the secular, the modern and the very traditional, the weapons styles... that you can start at basic aikido, and follow those threads out the way that you need to. Whatever style you are, once you've got those basics and start to understand what's out there, you can assemble your own theory of aikido, by and large. I suspect that it helps that the uchi-deshi are, at least the younger ones, still alive and teaching, and so it's not only Japanese masters of the art, but ones who studied under Ueshiba directly, opening up those boundaries and setting that tone. I'm not sure it'll be as smooth a process when more of the senior aikidoka are American/European. I suspect that there'll be a lot of pushing for increasingly codified traditional practices and denouncing the others for departing from "real" aikido and not valuing tradition, something no one is really going to accuse one of the uchi-deshi of doing. (Not that I haven't seen that sentiment from American aikidoka. I have. But it's not going to cause any ripples, because no one's going to question the credentials of the uchi-deshi or their right to go their own direction.) I think that senior Japanese aikidoka, the uchi-deshi especially, have a freedom to take risks with their personal practice that most senior American aikidoka won't feel when they're in those senior roles. I hope they do. I hope the diversity in the art now has created a culture with that sort of flexibility and diverse practice. Huh. Apparently I have thoughts.
  4. I think our official way is softer, though we play around with the in-the-face way. The softer way, you've already got them a little torqued from the hip check, so they're arched slightly away from their center to make room for the nage, and going around the outside of the head to move the head a little closer to the nage (who's on a diagonal from the uke, behind that shoulder a bit) torques them out further away in the same direction. (The arm can flow over their head, similar to the straight atemi in bar form rather than point form, or sometimes the head gets pulled close to the nage's chest to really arch the uke out. Sort of a flowing hands-off, or a very hands-on.) So the nage's on the center line, but really no part of the uke is anymore - instead of having two of their three tripod points under them (with the nage assuming the third behind them) when the force comes at their head, the uke is tilting out on a diagonal arc, with only one point of the tripod under them solidly, because their center of balance is not only behind them but off to the side.** The fun bit, though, is it's one of those techniques you can do in a way where it's almost an embrace as much as a throw. You can wrap your arm around their head very, very gently, and brush your arm over their head, and they come down as fast as if you did a hard atemi, because they're just spiralling away from their center of balance, and it only takes a small bit of control over the head to torque them out further - the weight of the arm or the suggestion of a pull closer to the nage are plenty. So RP says you need to be "not nice" on this one, but it can also be done... deceptively affectionately. If only you weren't trying to force them to the ground. ** Caveat: I am relatively junior and a little out of practice, and none of this might be right. But I think it is.
  5. I am now filled with terror that this exact thing never gets better.
  6. The Waterbending quest is moving forward. The first thing I've learned from previewing bits of DVDs is that a lot of the "aikido breathing exercises" I've been seeing on Youtube seem heavily tai chi influenced. The second thing I've learned is that, because tai chi has hit the popular marketplace, it's in that arena of things where it can be hard to find the right teaching style. There are loads of technicolor videos with forced smiles, 80s hair, gently lapping Hawaiian waves, soothing Asian music, and new age philosophy. That's not me. There are some extremely long videos with zero production values filmed in a field or basement in China that look exceptionally good for someone with an academic and historical interest in the forms. That's getting closer, and one day I might do those, but right now that's not me either. Then I remembered that the one martial arts conditioning DVD I really liked the teaching style of - like a good martial arts class, accessible to all levels and very practically-focused - was done by the kids of a tai chi grandmaster. I did a little research, and he's in the most popular school of tai chi, the Yang style, with a focus on using tai chi as a support for his combat arts. He's also got the advantage of being a middle ground between highly traditional tai chi and American spray-can-cheese tai chi - he's traditionally trained, but has been teaching slightly more modern-focused tai chi in New York since the 1960s. That's a training style I can get into. Sold. I looked them up, and they have a couple of badly-rated tai chi DVDs out, one by the father and one by the daughter. I've ordered them from the library to see what I make of them. I can see, from YouTube clips, why the father's was rated badly, though alternate audio tracks might fix that. The daughter's seems fine, it was knocked for the editing (which didn't bother me) and that she does her father's style rather than a more mainstream Yang style (which I get, because I suspect my aikido style looks like it uses bad or imprecise posture to some, because it has a similar fluid-but-stripped-down focus). That's probably going to be fine. Much better than the father's teaching DVD is this little piece of film ephemera I found on Youtube, of him performing his modified form as a young man in the 1970s: With a little more experience of the sorts of movements in tai chi, that might actually be enough for me to practice off of, without all the stop-start of an instructional DVD. It's surprisingly clear at depicting the weight shifts and footwork and hand motions, and the interview has enough to indicate the sensation or mindset of the movements. Aikido makes you surprisingly good at following purely visually, fucking it up for a while, and eventually getting it just from demonstration and discussion of the physical feeling. (Also, those following at home will notice that not only does he talk about moving water as a metaphor for tai chi a lot, but the first movements of the Yang form are the same as the first line on that waterbending scroll. They did their homework on that show.)
  7. That's what I secretly suspect, that there's some movement commonalities between the two, and it'd let me practice some transferable, or at least supporting, skills while I don't have a dojo nearby. And it's a type of movement I find myself gravitating towards for fun.
  8. This is the kind of shit I love. You can do it full-contact, and it's satisfyingly rough, but you can also do it so subtly it's like magic. You just flow around them and they're down. And both ways are fun. There's, like, no wrong way to have fun with that one. Also things like shomen uchi sankyo and the like, because I love just holding an uke in a ridiculously vulnerable position they can't get out of till I say so. Yeah, uke, you can stay down there for a while, we'll just hang out here with my hand on your neck.
  9. Week 6: Day 2 Regulation 30 minute workout. I was lucky, and got it in between two periods of snow.Below par on rest.Also, very poor focus. Maybe connected, but also it seems like I was coming down with something mild. I kept overrunning my calorie target - not badly, just closer to maintenance than cut - and now I'm sort of achy all over. I think maybe I caught the thing I avoided last week when everyone else got it. Or it's just a bad day. Week 6: Day 3 Enough sleep, with some effort and a break in between.[insert workout][insert meditation] I might take up some just-for-fun waterbending tai chi. It seems to hit some areas I don't feel I do enough in, like flexibility and meditation, a more martial-mindsetty fallback for easy days, and something I can do when I want to move more during the work day without changing clothes or needing another shower. Studies indicate that tai chi hits about the same activity level as a brisk walk, and has more strength benefits, so that seems like it'd be a level-up over my current fallback of taking a walk, which is basically just movement. (I don't wanna knock it, it's a good functional movement, but I don't think I'm filling any gaps in my arsenal by it or anything.) I don't know if it has all the meditation benefits I'm looking for, but it still seems like a net win to get some of them. The downside is, it's going to not be an anywhere-anytime kind of thing while I'm learning the basic form. But that shouldn't be too bad, and I'll look for some good podcasts. Ugh. My joints all ache. Today is probably not going to be a HIIT day like I'd planned. I'm doing to drink tea and watch a martial arts movie while I wait for the ibuprofen to kick in. Maybe I will HIIT things later.
  10. In theory it is, most days, though in practice sometimes you just need to concentrate through. And I've found that, while I've been better lately at getting up for a quick bit of movement every half-hour or so, it's not really enough to offset the time in a chair. Better to be out of the chair when possible.
  11. Standing desks are good for some things, but I can't do every sort of thinking while standing. And it takes some getting used to. Most people don't do full days standing, they go back and forth.
  12. That's, like, the perfect day. That's what I'll do.
  13. Drive less. Ice more. Skype your wife. Sleep.
  14. Computer stuff. Which is bad, because I'm on the computer all day, but good, because I can take the laptop down to the floor. It really is. I tend to get some nice stretches in (my laptop balances real well in a butterfly stretch), and I'm pretty limber at the end of the day. Chairs are just awful.
  15. I like this. Though I think I'm on low-impact burpees for a while, so I won't be making those sorts of numbers in three minutes.
  16. Week 5: Day 6 Pretty sure I got my workout in, but I can't remember and didn't write it down. Maybe I did nothing.Got enough rest. Week 5: Day 7 Definitely got my workout in. That's about it. I wanted to go for a longer hike, but our mud is inches deep, and I didn't have that sort of boot with me.Got enough rest. Week 6: Day 1 Meditated. Need to start hitting this one harder. I slacked last week, and I can sort of tell.Workout done.Rest was pretty adequate on paper, though not quite enough. in practice.I'm reusing this so I can get it on this page, too: Things to do this week: Work harder on primal and lower the carbs.More water.Shift the workouts to HIIT. They're getting done, but they're not satisfying. And I think HIIT would be better mentally as well as physically.Start taking body measurements again. My weight started coming down at the beginning of the week, but is up again. I'm still averaging a loss for the week, but it'd be better for both accuracy and sanity if I did this with body measurements.Move back to working on the floor. It's way better for my flexibility and general lack of stiffness and everything. I used to do it all the time, but not so much now. (I'm in a house with real furniture. I hate it. I much prefer being low to the ground.)
  17. Yay meditation! Go you! I recommend taking a belt. I've found that doing aikido in street clothes, your shirt likes to go over your head.
  18. Week 5: Day 5 Nada. Week 5: Day 6 THE MOST EXCRUCIATING FOAM ROLLING EVER. Plenty of rest. Enough rest that I think maybe I'm getting sick... nine solid hours, and not rested when the alarm went off. That's sick hours for me. Workout maybe later.
  19. You're absolutely right - I'm certain there are traditional breathing exercises that go along with aikido training, and I'm certain they were part of O-Sensei's practice. (Though there's a point where his practice becomes his personal religious devotions - intoning kotodama and some of the other forms of misogi purification he performed are probably not actually part of aikido, simply part of his aikido - but breathing exercises to train focus have a really long history in the martial arts.) My style doesn't do them, so I don't have a good way of telling those from the neologisms. (The phrase "paint the ki" raises my new-agey-addition flag.) Yoga is what they remind me of, too, a slightly more physical variation on breathing meditations. The shoulder openings may not be big on mental focus, but I really liked the physical effect of those. They're a nice stretch. The clapping strikes, especially as a closing action, me as reminiscent of Shinto practices, where clapping is part of bowing to the shrine, sort of a mental bringing things to a close. That sounds a lot like ki testing in our style, which is mostly posture and focus. We've never really done breath as a part of that. But we do a lot of that sort of training to test stability against forces in various places - shoulders are a big one, there's a test on the lower back, the arm.
  20. Thank you! It really did. That is the best gif. If nothing else, it does seem to be that slight bit of extra motivation to get to bed on time, because I know it's going to be analysed and scored, and I want to see those numbers. I ignore the alarm on my computer, but I don't ignore the one on my wristband. And that's held pretty steady over a week. (I'm averaging 7.5 hours of sleep, and about 5 hours of it is deep sleep, which is awesome. And I'm sure that's better than my average before, because it's very easy to lose a couple of hours. Last night, man, I needed ALL the sleep. I got nine hours solid, and needed more.) You are not too late for a monk party! ("Ain't no party like a Time Lord party, because Time Lord parties are not subject to temporal limitations, and thus do not stop"?) How altruistic of that dog to help him achieve enlightenment in that fashion.
  21. It's especially their job to look out for you when doing something that's potentially pretty dangerous, like chokes. The average open-hand shomen attack or whatever isn't really a big deal, but chokes are. And the advanced belts should always be careful of junior belts when training. I'm sorry it was at your expense, but it sounds like that was a lesson the nage and your sensei needed, to not get so caught up in the excitement that they lost track of the safety of the students involved. Accidents happen and sometimes you miss a tap, but it's their responsibility that it got missed. I'm really glad it was something you could let go and write off afterwards. That's really awesome. Don't feel a bit bad about your pain tolerance or whatever. Your job is just to train safely, and tap out when you hit your limit. You did it perfectly. It's not your job to take whatever pain level they dish out. And if there's someone in the class with a lower pain tolerance than everyone else, you know what, that's not really anyone's problem. It's the nage's job to match their technique to the capacity of their uke, whether that's affected by injury or disability or low pain tolerance or illness or psychological fears, and the uke's job to communicate that limit. Some nages may love playing rough when they can (some ukes, too), but you train with the person in front of you, whatever limitations there are on either side. If pain tolerance is something you want to work on, you can, but don't feel it makes you a bad uke. People walk in with hundreds of physical (or mental) issues that affect their limits, and it doesn't make them bad ukes.
  22. *ninja hugs then runs out again*
  23. Oh man, some nice quenching cactus juice would be the best! We should have a cactus juice party. Everyone 's Iroh. He is the best. And I bet he's got some good cactus juice.
  24. Monks, I think I need a little support today. My RL environment is being spectacularly discouraging and bitchy. I'm rising above it, but it's taking a lot of effort. Could I get some gifs or a small monk party over in my thread or something?
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