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  1. Okay, so in addition to having a thing for dragons I'm a fan of Star Wars and the Jedi. With my first two challenges I earned my name as a padawan and began to remember the path I was starting to follow years ago that began to lead to health and increased ability. Now, it is time to get serious. It is time to become a master of the force. The teachings of the force masters have left us three codes to follow: Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me. There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force. Flowing through all, there is balance There is no peace without a passion to create There is no passion without peace to guide Knowledge stagnates without the strength to act Power blinds without the serenity to see There is freedom in life There is purpose in death The Force is all things and I am the Force In the book The Jedi PATH it is written that there are three pillars of training: The Force Knowledge Self-discipline Therefore, the structure of this challenge is going be around these pillars of training. Now, to the substance of this challenge. This is about passion, rediscovering what truly drives and empowers me. This is the first lesson of the Sith: We are not emotionless beings. Our passions are an intrinsic part of our identities. Therefore, I need to get in better touch with my own passions. The aspects of my life and practice that drive me to do do the things I do. For Week 0 the only thing I will be focusing on is reconnecting with those passions. So this is a time for meditation, reflection, and thought. Starting with week 1 the tasks shall be as follows: The Force Task 1: Continue with the Black Ribbon (not scored) Task 2: Meditation, min 10 minutes daily Knowledge Read a verse from the Tao Te Ching daily and reflect on how to apply the teaching to my life. Self-Discipline Task 1: The Diet -- M-F Breakfast is a protein shake with an optional freggie. Lunch is a protein bar with an optional freggie. Dinner is a regular meal NO ALCOHOL!!! Up to two snacks can be allowed as long as they are freggie or lean meat. -- Sat, Sun Eat normally but try to keep alcohol and sugar to minimum Task 2: Training Like a Jedi Tai Chi twice a day, morning and evening Yoga prior to bed (the custom routine that was written for me last challenge) Office Yoga whenever possible When time allows practice this routine: http://darebee.com/workouts/ronin-workout.html modified for single handed saber. Grading will be as previous challenges. 20 points each day 1 point for task or subtask M-F for each of the 3 pillars of the Jedi converted to a percentage of total possible points. Mon 31 Oct is not going to be counted as part of the challenge as it's both a personal and religious holiday for me. Grading Scale 100-92% = A 91-84% = B 83-76% = C 75-70% = D Below 70% = F So I didn't bother to score week 0 and yesterday was not counted (Holiday, Wedding Anniversary, Religious Holiday) therefore no weekly summary quite yet.
  2. There is neither darkness, nor light; there is only the Force. Zane Kahn did not know if he had been fighting for three hours or for three days. Once, long ago, it had mattered to him. Back when he had been young, nothing more than a Genin with something to prove, he would have secretly stolen glances at the clock to see how long was left. Time, however, had revealed itself to him - a mirage in the face of the eternal reality of the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. He met the gaze of his opponents - five other Gray Jedi. Their faces were unreadable behind their masks. They were masters, all in their own ways, one from each of the fighting orders and a fifth to speak for the Grays as a whole. Zane brought his lightsaber up to neutral guard. He wanted to laugh. He wanted His breath was slow, steady, even. His awareness floated in the Cloud, in the gray nothing between darkness and light. The fatigue of his muscles was contrasted with the Force stinging in his veins. He wanted to laugh, and he wanted to roar his defiance, and he wanted nothing at all. And then, he felt it. It was time. Chaos, yet order. He was one with the Force, and though there was a distance between he and they, Zane was on them in a single step. It would have been suicide to approach it that way for anyone else. Any advantage in coordination he would have had as a lone operator against multiple opponents was negated by the Force. The same thing that let him feel the incoming blows before they happened was telling them much the same thing. But to hell with it. So there wasn't a weak link in the chain. So any link was as good to hit as any other. He channeled the aggression into heavy, hammering blows against the smaller master of Wind. She tried to flow away, to take the flying leap backward. Zane had overextended himself, and there was no way to recover back in time to form a proper defense. So he didn't even bother. Instead, he gathered all his joyous fury into the palm of his off hand and pushed with the Force. It caught her square and sent her flying a good deal further than she'd meant to go. In the space of an instant, he reversed the push, cutting the roar of energy down to a single thread. He looped it around her lightsaber and yanked. It worked - the lightsaber released from her hand and landed in his. It would have been a waste of time to try to catch four different sabers at once, so he didn't bother. Instead, as he flicked the new one to life, Zane whirled like a dervish, catching their strikes in the patterns of his blades. He spun away. Four. They stayed on him, though, a wall of heat and light. Playing this game would end poorly, but the flash of fear happened on the outside. It did not pierce the Cloud. So Zane didn't miss feeling the opening in the defense, a slowness on the part of the Fire master. Zane could see the space in the down swing, and flicked his saber up and into the guard, catching his opponent's blade at the hilt and severing it in a flash of heat. The Fire master disengaged. Wise man. Three. The Earth master must have sensed the shift in the momentum. She stretched out her hand, and Zane felt a heaviness in his limbs. As if great chains had been looped about his wrists and his ankles. Deep breath in, and he roared this time, pushing his will out through his arms. The chains were still there, still heavy, but he could fight through them. He slashed at her head and she pulled back. He spun to catch the other two combatants before lifting his leg and stomping backward. The Force flowed through him and he felt his heel catch her square in the ribs. She flew and flew, and he knew that she wouldn't get back up again when the weight lifted off his limbs. The last two - Water and the Gray - paused in their assault. Zane stopped. He could feel it like an oncoming wave, something, something... and then they raised their arms. He could smell the burning in the air and cleared his mind. Lightning crackled in the air toward him. Zane let his blades fall to the ground and raised his hands. He felt the electricity slam into him, a hammer against his palms that tried to worm its way into him, to cripple him in agony as it lit up his nerves. But Zane had learned the truth of the lightning - that it wasn't just electricity, but intention. A last attempt to dominate him. He held the lightning, held the gaze, held the raw purposeful aggression. Time ceased. And then, it was over. They lowered their arms. Zane drew the electricity down, down, down into a ball that he clenched in each fist, down into nothing. He let his arms hang loose and permitted a half grin. The moment stretched. And then the other Masters extinguished their lightsabers and clipped them to their belts. The cloud parted, and it all came crashing in. It hadn't been three days, only most of one. And it had been enough. But even as he let the Force go, Zane found himself wrapped in a blanket of pure sound. By the Shadow, he thought, staring at the students cheering around him. The whole damned academy must have come out to watch. That's right. He remembered that sense of nervous excitement before his world had shrank to the arena and the five people trying to sort-of kill him. And it was over. It was blessedly over. He heaved one breath, and then another, and then another. He was Kage now. He was a shadow unto himself. He knew it would be regarded as a tacky, hamfisted thing to do, but to hell with it. Sometimes, you just had to live it up. Zane felt his lips curling into a wide smile as he lifted his hands wide. He gathered the Force into his belly, letting it roar up and out of him, his voice booming deeper than anything he would have managed alone. "I am the shadow cast by the sun! I am the candle burning in the night! AND THE FORCE ALONE SHALL GUIDE ME!"
  3. There is neither darkness, nor light; There is only the Force. There is passion, yet peace. Serenity, yet emotion. Chaos, yet order. I am the shadow cast by the sun, I am the candle burning in the night, And the Force alone shall guide me. Well, the first challenge saw a lot of good things happen. I'm meditating on the regular now, and I read my Bible just about every day now. I'm even writing more now. Yeah, my room isn't very clean, but nothing's perfect. In any case, this is as good a time of the year as any to have a mentality-based challenge. We are entering into the Lenten season, or if I may be permitted some Gray poetry, the Time of Ashes. If ever there was a time to be disciplined, this would be it. As I have begun to court discipline in earnest, I'm finding that there are undisciplined places in my mind. And sure, fine, it's okay to not be perfect. Nevertheless, there are bits and pieces of myself that are holding me back from being my best self. I spent last challenge stoking the Light into a fire. Now it's time to take that fire and walk into the Dark of paranoia and bitterness and self-loathing. But these things can't be beaten in six weeks alone. That's an on-going thing. So I must work in my body to transcend my limits, in my mind to learn a new story, in my soul as a man of love. If this all sounds vague and ranty as you read it, well, it feels vague and ranty to write it. I don't have a good way to take the concrete physical things and apply them to the abstract. It's all too big, and even if I succeed, new challenges will arise. I know that. But maybe that's the whole point of being a Gray Jedi - to be comfortable on that razor's edge of succor and struggle, to fall to neither side but refine oneself endlessly. Sure, I may not have any clue what I'm doing, but I'll be honest with you about it. Process 1: AthleanXero Well, we got six weeks of challenge. The Xero program is six weeks. I figure, me coming off a deload and having done well with it, it's as good a time as any to get back into it. So, I'mma grapple with that for the next six weeks. We'll see how she goes. Process 2: Pull Up Xero is a no-equipment program (no bench, no bar, no band, no bull!). The thing is, I want to get better at pull ups. 7FG challenged me to get to a one-arm-pullup by the year's end, so I'm progressing toward it. Currently, I'm practicing by doing pull ups in sets and reps rather than doing the banded method just yet. I'm adding one rep daily, basically. Goal is to miss no days. I can grease the groove for my reps, or I can do them as their own workout, or whatever. The idea's just to not miss a day. Process 3: Cleaning Okay, so. This failed nastily last challenge. We need to change the approach on this if we want to make this work. Basically, I let myself get overwhelmed with the idea of all the stuff being gone. The big boxes are what need to be gone, but really, everything needs to be gone. So, we start with low bar. Clean up the tiniest box I can find. Once per week. No excuses. Process 4: Lent This thing. I've decided to address a particularly negative habit for the season. And the thing is, I don't mind talking about it. I'm actually fairly comfortable talking about it. But I seem to be alone in my comfort with addressing it, and I don't know how to talk about it in a way that edifies anyone. So, in a rare move, this is something I'm going to keep on the downlow here. So why bring it up? Because I want/need some accountability. And if you ask me, I have no problem talking to you about it, but understand it's probably going to be something that needs to be kept to PMs. * And so it begins. I'm sure I've used this before, but to hell with it. Let's rock.
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