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And so it Begins.

 

The countdown to Shodan, that I have probably been trying to avoid for the better part of a year now.  I didn't want to test in April (I had other fitness goals/baselines I'm trying to return to before the exam), but with Sensei apparently being okay with me teaching without a blackbelt and many, many, many people ganging up on me to test, I pretty much have no choice outside of a massive injury.

 

And so here we are.  My approach to my beginning degree.

 

And as is typical, my body is still kind of a mess, so this challenge is all about preparing for the exam and the strain I'm about to take over the next 5 weeks.

 

1) Shodan Prep - 8 hours of class a week, plus yoga and November Project

 

It's been a long, long time since I've been this active.  I suspect it's going to suck, but I need it to polish things on my test, plus help with my flexibility, and up my endurance.  I initially put myself as having 9 hours, but it's been so long since I've done more than 5 hours in a week, I don't want to burn myself out.  Saturdays I have the ability to train for 4 hours in classes, and will probably do so as all of those classes involve people who I really like having eyes on me for Shodan prep.  I figure I can make 4 additional hours otherwise pretty easily during the week, even if I take it light.

 

2) Physical and Mental Selfcare - Thursday night intensive selfcare.

 

So I figure with all this activity, I'm going to be exhausted, mentally and physically.  Mentally, I'm blocking off all Thursdays until the exam as hermit-time.  I love the dojo, but it also means I'll be dealing with people for longer hours than I'm used to, even if the people involved tax me less than the general public.  I also will take the time to do whatever stretching, foamrolling, and sleeping I need that the other days haven't covered.

 

3) Better Fuel - Paleo-centric Intermitent Fasting (16-8ish), Food purge

 

I liked the 16-8ish window I had going on last challenge.  Company being here screwed that up, but it works well for me otherwise.  What doesn't work well is that Company shows her love in gifts, and in this instance a lot of the gifts were junk food.  So I need to find everything she left behind and either store it out of sight or just straight up toss it.  I feel bad, but when we started dating had told her after a while that would happen.  Otherwise, mostly-paleo is the plan.  I might try to figure out some easily prepped lunch plans, too.

 

4) Big Events: Major tasks and events for the upcoming challenge

  • March 16th: Dojo cleaning and St Patrick's day gathering
  • March 28th: Kanai memorial class at dojo
  • March 30th: Kanai memorial seminar at NEA
  • April 5th: Final Fantasty Distant World's Concert
  • April 6th: Friend's shodan exam
  • April 12: Shodan Exam
  • April 13th: Sioux memorial seminar at Harvard Aikikai
  • Figure out hakama size, order that and belt
  • Schedule windshield tank repair
    • March 25
  • Schedule 2 massages before exam
    • March 20
    • April 10
  • Get haircut before FF Concert
  • Final Jamaica vacation logistics

 

 

So very busy the next several weeks.  Plus side is that work is going smoothly (or at least as smoothly as science allows), so I can focus on all this stuff rather than having a split attention and panic.

 

Onwards and upwards and to the Start.

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Empathizing a bit on the testing prep right about now lol (testing tomorrow night acksually....). Sounds like you have a solid strategy to me!

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Excellent goals. I am glad that you have dedicated self-care time during the week because you have events every weekend.

 

You can always take extra junk food to work. Some of your coworkers will appreciate it. Everyone understands "I brought this to share so I wouldn't eat all of it".

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5 hours ago, Tanktimus the Encourager said:

Here to watch you pass the shodan test. When you do, I'll be expecting a picture of you in the fancy pants.

 

Fun fact: tonight I was trying my friend’s pair of silly pants to see how I felt about them in terms of height and weight and material. There is now a video of me taking a few rolls and maybe dancing about in silly pants. 

 

2 hours ago, Urgan said:

Empathizing a bit on the testing prep right about now lol (testing tomorrow night acksually....). Sounds like you have a solid strategy to me!

 

Good luck tomorrow night!

 

I kind of hate test prep. The only bonus this time is I’ve essentially been prepping since August of 2017 and I’m senior enough that when I wave off certain things as super low priority I’m actually believed. So thankfully I’m not stuck doing five-plus techniques out of attacks because that’s not helpful for me right now. I have a lot of techniques in my brain. Other crap is higher priority. 

 

2 hours ago, Mistr said:

Excellent goals. I am glad that you have dedicated self-care time during the week because you have events every weekend.

 

You can always take extra junk food to work. Some of your coworkers will appreciate it. Everyone understands "I brought this to share so I wouldn't eat all of it".

 

I did not realize that I have craziness every weekend. Bugger. No wonder I felt like things were insane. That doesn’t even include the visit to my grandmother I have penciled in for the Sunday before my vacation.  Ugh. Really gonna need to hermit hard. 

 

A lot of the jubk food is stuff that I think is hard to pawn off on coworkers. Lots of random Japanese snacks, half opened bags of gummy things. I took tonight to hide the tastier things I actually would eat (Mochi, Japanese sweet buns, sweet tart hearts) and chucked the rest. Most of the junk now is “clean” food I can easily over eat, but when that’s gone it’s gone and not getting replaced. 

 

45 minutes ago, Kishi said:

You can also send it to me if you want. I volunteer my waistline as tribute!

 

You know you’re always welcome, though we may have to perform mental gymnastics as it’s not an even Year this year. I don’t know if our habits and brains can handle that. 

 

 

 

 

Ahem. 

 

Anyway, as mentioned above, I tried on a hakama tonight. Mainly to get the length I need to order. Probably going with a 26.5 size, since my friend’s 26 was a hair short. Would rather err on slightly longer than shorter, especially since washes will shrink it. But tomorrow therefore I’ll get my hakama ordered, plus my black belt, plus my friend’s black belt. That way we have them on hand for the day after the exam. 

 

But yea. Rolling around on it felt shockingly good, since I’ve heard people say movement in it the first time feels strange. Definitely didn’t feel totally bizarre. No techniques, though, so my opinion may be revised soon. Definitely understand why it makes you focus on your center more, too, with all the extra straps. 

 

Anyway. My blackmail video might be shown at some point if my friend sends it to me. Then I’ll see if people get to watch. 

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I love how newbies are all like "When will I get my black belt???!!!" and senior students are more like "Can I get out of this?  Am I *really* ready?"

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3 hours ago, Kishi said:

You can also send it to me if you want. I volunteer my waistline as tribute!

 

I forbid this on grounds of God knows what you'll do to yourself afterward.

 

2 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

Good luck tomorrow night!

 

I kind of hate test prep. The only bonus this time is I’ve essentially been prepping since August of 2017 and I’m senior enough that when I wave off certain things as super low priority I’m actually believed. So thankfully I’m not stuck doing five-plus techniques out of attacks because that’s not helpful for me right now. I have a lot of techniques in my brain. Other crap is higher priority. 

 

Thanks! Yeah, getting to a point where you can pick the review during mat time is cool, but can lead to mind games sometimes. Like, I didn't review X technique mebbe that was a mistake.....lol. You have had a bit more time to arrive at your priorities so surely you do know these things with more confidence. 

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15 hours ago, Teirin said:

I love how newbies are all like "When will I get my black belt???!!!" and senior students are more like "Can I get out of this?  Am I *really* ready?"

 

So, so true.  There's been a minor argument between my friend and I who has to test first.  She's my sempai, so I argue I couldn't test before her.  She disagreed.  Then the former chief instructor said she was testing on the 6th.  So there went my excuse.

 

15 hours ago, Urgan said:

I forbid this on grounds of God knows what you'll do to yourself afterward.

 

 

Thanks! Yeah, getting to a point where you can pick the review during mat time is cool, but can lead to mind games sometimes. Like, I didn't review X technique mebbe that was a mistake.....lol. You have had a bit more time to arrive at your priorities so surely you do know these things with more confidence. 

 

Seconding the not-allowing of flagellation over food. (LOLz, like I have room to talk.)

 

Yea, I am well aware I'm hyper critical of my ability.  But also I try to make it so that the people who work with me give a dialogue about what they think I need to improve to help cover my blind spots.  At least in theory it works...

 

 

Anyway, one biggish purchase later, and I now have an incoming hakama and black belt from tozando.  It'll give me time to maybe wash the hakama before actual wear (though it's polyester, so no need to worry as much about color bleeding and shrinking), and maybe unkink the belt so it's less likely to impale people the first day I wear it.  Then all I need to do is really figure out how to tie the hakama.  We did a quick and dirty version last night, just to figure sizing, but I need to learn how to make some pretty bows and knots.  And then I need to hope the hakama is well behaved so folding it isn't a nightmare. (Are they ever well behaved, though?)

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1 hour ago, RisenPhoenix said:

Anyway, one biggish purchase later, and I now have an incoming hakama and black belt from tozando.  It'll give me time to maybe wash the hakama before actual wear (though it's polyester, so no need to worry as much about color bleeding and shrinking), and maybe unkink the belt so it's less likely to impale people the first day I wear it.  Then all I need to do is really figure out how to tie the hakama.  We did a quick and dirty version last night, just to figure sizing, but I need to learn how to make some pretty bows and knots.  And then I need to hope the hakama is well behaved so folding it isn't a nightmare. (Are they ever well behaved, though?)

 

Exciting!

 

Sensei told us a story about how he always shakes his hakama out before putting it on because spiders happen.

 

giphy.gif

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19 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

You know you’re always welcome, though we may have to perform mental gymnastics as it’s not an even Year this year. I don’t know if our habits and brains can handle that.

 

Indeed, it would be rather... odd.

 

:D:D:D

 

17 hours ago, Urgan said:

I forbid this on grounds of God knows what you'll do to yourself afterward.

 

Probably rest or walk it off. I'm working hard to be a good boy and not overtain again. :P

 

2 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

 

Anyway, one biggish purchase later, and I now have an incoming hakama and black belt from tozando.  It'll give me time to maybe wash the hakama before actual wear (though it's polyester, so no need to worry as much about color bleeding and shrinking), and maybe unkink the belt so it's less likely to impale people the first day I wear it.  Then all I need to do is really figure out how to tie the hakama.  We did a quick and dirty version last night, just to figure sizing, but I need to learn how to make some pretty bows and knots.  And then I need to hope the hakama is well behaved so folding it isn't a nightmare. (Are they ever well behaved, though?)

 

Guess that means you're committed now. Hoo buddy.

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The emphasis on self-care to compensate for the other awesome goal seems a good idea.  Hope it all goes well mate!

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On 3/13/2019 at 1:16 PM, RisenPhoenix said:

Anyway, one biggish purchase later, and I now have an incoming hakama and black belt from tozando.  It'll give me time to maybe wash the hakama before actual wear (though it's polyester, so no need to worry as much about color bleeding and shrinking), and maybe unkink the belt so it's less likely to impale people the first day I wear it.  Then all I need to do is really figure out how to tie the hakama.  We did a quick and dirty version last night, just to figure sizing, but I need to learn how to make some pretty bows and knots.  And then I need to hope the hakama is well behaved so folding it isn't a nightmare. (Are they ever well behaved, though?)

 

Hakama become better behaved over time. I also find that I can tell what kind of day I've had by how easily my hakama folds. Polyester tends to hold creases, so you might want to let it hang or iron it to get rid of the packaging fold lines.

 

You don't need to worry about the belt, it will be covered by your hakama. :P  It will soften up quickly as you wear it.

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On 3/13/2019 at 4:22 PM, Kishi said:

Indeed, it would be rather... odd.

 

Well played.  Well, well played.  I turn in my pun card to you, sir.

 

On 3/13/2019 at 4:22 PM, Kishi said:

Guess that means you're committed now. Hoo buddy.

 

I think I was committed before, hakama/belt order or no.  I mean, THREE years ago one of my instructors told me I should have purchased a hakama when I went on the Japan trip, since I'd use it eventually.  But yea.  It's incoming.

 

On 3/13/2019 at 4:24 PM, Big_Show said:

The emphasis on self-care to compensate for the other awesome goal seems a good idea.  Hope it all goes well mate!

 

DAMMIT BIGSHOW.  GOOD TO SEE YOU.

 

15 hours ago, Mistr said:

Hakama become better behaved over time. I also find that I can tell what kind of day I've had by how easily my hakama folds. Polyester tends to hold creases, so you might want to let it hang or iron it to get rid of the packaging fold lines.

 

You don't need to worry about the belt, it will be covered by your hakama. :P  It will soften up quickly as you wear it.

 

Good to know.  I know enough that some are more stubborn than others, and they all have their special personalities.  But also good to know I should pre-hang/iron it. :P 

 

And yea, belt I'm less concerned with.  I just will feel odd moving from a very bendy belt to something that's probably cardboard.

 

 

 

 

Uh, lesse.

 

November Project Wednesday plus yoga happened.  Yesterday I just collapsed into a pile of mush when I got home.  I didn't really stretch though.  I used my TENS unit a bit, and that felt good, and it seemed to help loosen up my neck a bit, but really I was just enjoying it in a silent apartment.  My fasting window has been pretty terrible the last few days, though.  Wednesday we had what seemed to be home-made quiche in the kitchen, and I had fully intended to grab a slice and hold onto it until I broke the fast, but ended up talking to coworkers about how amazing they were.  That plus having done Stairs and expecting I was going to have a late lunch because of yoga meant I broke early.  Yesterday there was really no good excuse, I just had free food at 10:30 because I was starving.  Ah well.  The quality of food at work has been... meh.  But when home I'm eating better, and my body is definitely pleased it's getting more veggie intake than the last week and a half.  Also going to try my hand at making a batch-ish sized fritatta tonight, I think.  I have some potatoes leftover from a previous meal, plus peppers and onions and spinach I can toss in.  Give it a shot and also see how long it lasts, and investigate if it's a viable batch-lunch option.

 

I set up two massages for the near future:  One on the 20th, and another the 10th, just before my exam.  I'm also going to try and get my windshield fluid tank repair done next week, just so it is out of the way. (I once again had to explain to my mother, slowly, that No, I don't have the option of just dropping the car off whenever, and no I can't wait to fix it until the end of April.  My family definitely forgets that I'm more or less on my own for tasks like this, because all of them have been paired off for ages.)

 

Tonight I'm training for 2 hours with Harvard, then tomorrow I'll do another hour or two, plus the dojo cleaning, plus a drive to my cousin's for a St. Paddy's day thing.  Sunday I'm playing by ear, because I don't know if I'll crash at my cousin's Saturday night or if I'll feel like dealing with humans even if I do make it home.  Then we ACTUALLY start the challenge.

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Just scheduled the car fix, too!  March 25th.  I was hoping for early next week, but the appointment times suck then.  But Monday morning I can swing easily enough.

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Amazing how 8-9 hours of sleep where you aren’t constantly waking up makes you feel fantastic. 

 

Two-ish hours of practice last night with the Harvard group. Second class was supposed to be weapons, but turned into a general test prep. My friend and I ended up doing the Jiyuwaza part of the exam, stopping just before the koshinages, and then critiquing one another. I could fit in a few more Kanai specials, but I was more focused on getting the basics in before the fancy things. Given enough throws I’ll start pulling out the techniques, but 6 throws just barely covers the basics. Koshis were not included to prevent repeat breakfalls, but we still tossed some into the jiyuwaza. Mainly me. I kept finding koshis. Whoops? 

 

I got enough sleep that when i woke up this morning I made a 9-egg frittata. Nothing super fancy, some pepper, onion, green onion, roasted potato leftovers from last week, and some feta cheese I pilfered from my roommate’s massive store. Haven’t tasted it yet, but looks tasty. It’ll be my post-aikido meal after the dojo cleaning. 

 

Then off to Worcester to visit my cousin’s brewery and st Patrick’s day things. Probably crashing there tonight, so packing some things and a sleeping bag. Also bringing my introvert fair to the brewery: Books and my switch. If nothing else I’ll drink and read, and keep myself pleasantly entertained. 

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Well that was more fun than anticipated.

 

 

Fritatta was tasty, and stores decently well.  It was my post-aikido, pre-beer snack Saturday (though also the dojo provided pizza during the cleaning that I snacked on).  It's my lunch today, too, and will probably make a repeat appearance in the future.  Left home at a little after 3 ish, made it to my cousin's house a little around 4:30 ish, and then walked the mile to the brewery.  Arrived at 5ish with my bag o' introverting, grabbed a beer, and then saw several friends who had taken up residence on one of the couch/table section.  And so my bag of introverting was stored in my cousin's office, and I proceeded to drink and play Uno.  And Exploding kittens.  And meet the Brewery Cat, who's supposed to be a mouser but I Really saw him do nothing by sit on empty grain bags.  Stayed until after the bar closed, helped a tiiiiiny bit with clean up (because I got yelled at to drink more by my cousin), and then collapsed at their house.  Yesterday I just grabbed some coffee at the brewery (they make really good coffee in addition to really good beer) and a brunch grilled cheese.  By which I mean I just had a grilled cheese for late/on time lunch and it was the first thing I ate.  Drank coffee, watched some Irish step dancers, and then headed home.

 

Groceries were (mostly) paleo.  I bought two things of corned beef since they were on sale, some cabbage, veggies.  Worst thing I bought were a new flavor of Halo top and a seasonal falvor (peaches and cream and Strawberry cheesecake, respectively).  No regrets.  Then went home to nibble on some left overs and veggies and read quietly because SO MUCH EXTROVERTING.

 

Went to bed early, so I was feeling decent this morning.  Going to aikido tonight, so that movement will feel good I suspect.  I also submitted the final logistics to the hotel for my Jamaica trip.  So now I finally have everything 100% done.  We have a room, we have flights, we have VIP-get-us-through-customs-fast service, we have transport to and from the hotel from the airport.... I can 100% relax now.  It's done.  I'm going on vacation!  Everything is done being planned, and I don't need to do crap.  Huzzah!

 

I need this trip.

 

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Wow, you did all the adulting. Congratulations on taking care of your car repairs and vacation plans.

 

The weekend at the brewery sounds amazing. Lucky you to have a cousin with a great business!

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25 minutes ago, RisenPhoenix said:

...and I don't need to do crap. 

 

The best feeling in the whole world.

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On 3/18/2019 at 11:05 AM, Mistr said:

Wow, you did all the adulting. Congratulations on taking care of your car repairs and vacation plans.

 

The weekend at the brewery sounds amazing. Lucky you to have a cousin with a great business!

 

It kinda was all the adulting.  I definitely skipped some things, though.  Like my laundry pile is rather large at the moment.  But that's what tonight and tomorrow night are for.

 

And yea, it was a great time.  If you get out here at some point we'll take a drive out! :)

 

On 3/18/2019 at 11:10 AM, Urgan said:

The best feeling in the whole world.

 

Yes.  I am so excited now that I can just relax.  It's great.

 

On 3/18/2019 at 5:31 PM, Big_Show said:

When's the holiday?

 

April 20th to the 27th.  I cannot waaaaaaait.

 

 

Lesse, challenge stuffs.

 

Went to class on Monday, and two hours last night.  After Monday I practiced for about 20 minutes extra on my koshis.  Honestly, the exam is 3.5 weeks out, and I'm already tired of test practice.  There's only so much jiyuwaza you can do, and I'm currently at the point where I care about technique, not number of techniques.  My variation has never been a huge issue, and I have other things I'd rather put time in on during a prep class to stretch me before the exam.  Hamni hadatchi/shiko movement is my large issue, partially because my toes just do not bend well for easy movement during techniques.  That's something I might be able to fix before the exam time, but also if I don't, I'm not super concerned about it.  There's time to fix everything eventually.  Also the hakama and belt are supposed to arrive today, though apparently they need a signature.  So I'll end up getting them tomorrow.

 

Fasting was fine on Monday, but I Went to a conference Tuesday morning and ended up having the (super fancy) breakfast food they provided.  I figured it was mostly a pitch-conference for a company's products, so I deserved to eat what they provided.  Today I should be able to do a solid 16 hour fast, even though I've been up since 5:30.  With NP and yoga today, I also don't feel terrible if I miss that.  I did, however, make the semi-unwise choice of noticing dark chocolate cadbury mini eggs were on sale the other day.  I got those, and had more than a few last night after aikido.  Not feeling too terrible about it, since they are a seasonal thing (for the most part) and I'll not open the second bag for a while.

 

Anyway, busy-ish day at work for me, but I also have a massage schedule this afternoon, which is very much needed.  And then selfcare and relaxation tomorrow night.  All is good and right with the world.  It's weird.

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On 3/16/2019 at 8:42 AM, RisenPhoenix said:

Amazing how 8-9 hours of sleep where you aren’t constantly waking up makes you feel fantastic.  

 

Um, how did you do that?

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2 hours ago, sarakingdom said:

Um, how did you do that?

 

Absolute exhaustion to the point where my body literally had no choice in the matter. 

 

I might have had some melatonin or something, too, but exhaustion was more certainly the how. 

 

 

Hakama came in, guys! Looks pretty nice and the name embroidery looks solid. Belt also looks nice. Now they just sit on my dining room table for the next month-ish before the exam. 

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16 hours ago, RisenPhoenix said:

Hakama came in, guys! Looks pretty nice and the name embroidery looks solid. Belt also looks nice. Now they just sit on my dining room table for the next month-ish before the exam. 

 

Sweet. It doesn't hurt to have the Incentive to Do the Thing staring at you every day.

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On 3/20/2019 at 6:06 PM, RisenPhoenix said:

Absolute exhaustion to the point where my body literally had no choice in the matter.  

 

I wish that even worked for me this week. Maybe I should try harder...

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