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Daryl of Barbaria - The Barbarian Returns to the Monastery


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Unfortunately it seems I will fall short of 10k steps today. I'll probably get there tomorrow.

 

10k is not easy to get if you're a desk worker.  It's maybe 100 minutes on your feet.  Does your fitbit give you idle-time reminders?  That can make it easier, if you can find an excuse to get up for five minutes every half-hour.

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I'm playing a little catch-up from the last few days. On Wednesday I failed to get my 10k steps, but I did get to karate practice. And it was a good one, as always. On Thursday I managed my 10k steps thanks to the walking I did with my daughter. It's probably also worth noting that I haven't slipped at all on my daily meditation. In fact, I hit 70 consecutive days this morning on my insight timer app. It's a good reminder that with persistent effort I can get to a point where any desired activity is just part of the daily routine and becomes almost effortless.

 

An interesting proposition came up at the end of karate practice on Wednesday. Sensei gathered us together to discuss a few things, such as an upcoming tournament, a change in monthly rates (very modest increase), and then a possible shodan and nidan exam in May. I did not raise my hand as someone planning to test. I figured I'm kind of new again at this, and need more time. As the discussion went on, sensei looked in my direction and said something to the effect of:

 

"You should think about it too, you're not getting any younger."

 

"Ossu!" was my reply. Yes, we are a dojo that profusely uses ossu. All the time. I know it's not proper, according to polite Japanese culture. We are not Japanese. But we are polite, in our own strange way. Deal with it.  :playful:

 

So there is now that. I guess it really doesn't change anything, as far as my plan. I already expected to increase my dojo attendance to twice per week in April, for my own, non-exam-related reasons. I'll just keep training as I always have and then test in May at see what happens.

 

In the past I took the recommendation to test for shodan as a serious obligation, one that required as much training time in the dojo and at home as humanely possible. In the process I flaked out, wrecked my body, and totally lost sense of my priorities. My wife was not pleased with me, and I don't blame her.

 

But that was four years ago. Now I recognize that in reality, the commitment to test for shodan is just that, a commitment to test. A single, one-day (or evening) event. Not a radical departure from my normal training and everyday life. I feel what I am doing now is working for me very well. My priorities are in order, my family is happy, my body and mind are healthy, and my karate is good, and slowly getting better. If this does not result in my advancing to shodan as a result of the test, then so be it. I'll just come back and do it again at the next opportunity.

 

The real victory is going to be in sticking to my plan and showing up for the test, regardless of the result. I recognize that I suffer from a fear of failure. I have all my life. The notion of actually trying hard at something and failing at it scares the hell out of me. I believe this fear got the better of me last time I was recommended to test. Simply showing up to the test means I will have dealt this demon a significant defeat. That's good enough for me, shodan or not.

 

So yeah, if afforded the opportunity, I'm going to test.

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Ossu is the proper word. It's our word. It's what you say. It's a way of life.

 

I even use it in day to day conversation, and almost nobody knows what I'm saying. It's glorious.

 

Anyway, yeah, man, testing tends to bring on that Impostor Syndrome something fierce. You feel like you aren't ready, so you double and redouble your training, and then after you test, if you make it, you try to do even more than that. It's not practical or sustainable, but it is a thing that happens, and if your life supports the burst then cool.

 

But if it doesn't? No big. Reality is, any test is ultimately a culmination of a process, and cramming for the test like that is like studying for an exam at the last second - it might get you past the test, but it doesn't mean you actually learned anything, which is the whole point.

 

So, you know. Good luck, man. :)

 

Also, I don't think you broke the site. Although, maybe you did? Your karate is so strong you strike through the keys on accident. :D

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Still getting used to the new NF Rebellion format. Does anyone know if this was a planned change?

 

I got outside today and did some modest kata practice. Started with Heian Shodan and worked my way up to the more advanced ones. I'll probably be sticking with Bassai Dai as my primary kata for testing and tournaments. It's a pretty solid brown belt kata, and one that I think suits my taller frame (even if it does tend to be the "default" brown belt kata). It also challenges me to be quick and light on my feet during the rapid changes of direction, which doesn't come naturally (except through practice).

 

While I do try to be precise and technically correct with my kata, I am slowly letting go with the perfectionism that I think hindered me in the past. Overall I think it lends to a much better kata performance. Switching my avatar to the cheetah in some ways matches the current state of my karate: quick, light on my feet (except where I must be solid), very intense bursts of energy, but much to be desired in terms of endurance.

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Double posts appear to be gone. Well done IT. I never doubted you. :applouse:

 

I'm only about halfway to 10k steps today. Just had a rather leisurely walk through the neighborhood, in the hope that it would shake the sudden bout of sleepiness. It seems to have put a dent in it, as I am more alert now. A little movement and fresh is always good for the body and mind.

 

I'll have to go out for another walk later this evening if I am to hit 10k. Maybe some more kata practice too, just focusing on the Heians. 

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3 hours ago, Daryl of Barbaria said:

While I do try to be precise and technically correct with my kata, I am slowly letting go with the perfectionism that I think hindered me in the past. Overall I think it lends to a much better kata performance. Switching my avatar to the cheetah in some ways matches the current state of my karate: quick, light on my feet (except where I must be solid), very intense bursts of energy, but much to be desired in terms of endurance.

My Sensei shared something with me that has stuck in my mind for many years.  Kata is perfectly made to make you fail perfectly.  With that said, your kata needs to be your kata. It has to work for you, not anyone else. It should be poetry without voice which means, it will talk to you and you will know it is good by how you feel.  Chances are, if it talks to you, it will talk to others and even though they won't know what is being said, they will feel how good it is when they see it.

 

I have been judging kata at tournaments for over eight years now and I can tell when someone is faking it by being too perfect and others who you would not want to be in front of when they throw a technique.  Those people who are in the fight when doing their kata are the ones who can back that up not only on the tatami but on the street too. 

 

If you have a chance, look up Naka Sensei and Hotton Sensei on Youtube.  Watching those two has helped improve my kata a great deal.  Hotton Sensei is all about connection and body awareness and Naka Sensei is about perfect posture in everything he does.  

 

Bassai Dai is one of my favorite katas and it has been very good to me.  If I am feeling a little off, doing Bassai Dai puts my mind and body back on track.  Even though it's considered a brown belt kata, I have used it successfully, as a black belt, at many tournaments and it was a requirement for my Shodan test.  The only thing I recommend is to make sure that you keep your posture.  I have found that you need to keep your abs engaged throughout most of the kata otherwise you will tend to lean forward and use too much chest which gets worse the taller you are. Keeping the abs engaged makes your body move as a unit and allows your center to move your arms which keeps you from doing the technique with only the arms.  Think of drum technique from the Karate Kid part 2 movie. Move from the lower body, connect the upper and lower with the core, keep the neck and shoulders loose and the arms will flow much like the little balls on the strong that connect to the drum.  Also, if you have a chance, look for Kagawa Sesnei on Youtube and try to find his video of Bassai Dai.  When he did Bassai Dai is looked effortless but so powerful, I am sure he would seriously hurt someone if they walked in front of him while he was doing it.  

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1 hour ago, Shotokan said:

Bassai Dai is one of my favorite katas and it has been very good to me.  If I am feeling a little off, doing Bassai Dai puts my mind and body back on track.  Even though it's considered a brown belt kata, I have used it successfully, as a black belt, at many tournaments and it was a requirement for my Shodan test.  The only thing I recommend is to make sure that you keep your posture.  I have found that you need to keep your abs engaged throughout most of the kata otherwise you will tend to lean forward and use too much chest which gets worse the taller you are. Keeping the abs engaged makes your body move as a unit and allows your center to move your arms which keeps you from doing the technique with only the arms.  Think of drum technique from the Karate Kid part 2 movie. Move from the lower body, connect the upper and lower with the core, keep the neck and shoulders loose and the arms will flow much like the little balls on the strong that connect to the drum.  Also, if you have a chance, look for Kagawa Sesnei on Youtube and try to find his video of Bassai Dai.  When he did Bassai Dai is looked effortless but so powerful, I am sure he would seriously hurt someone if they walked in front of him while he was doing it.  

 

Awareness of posture is what enabled me to come back to karate in the first place. Otherwise I'd still be tearing up my lower back with this kata. Bassai Dai has been a great gauge of where my posture is at, and puts me back on track, as you say. If the opening sequence of moves leaves me feeling horribly unbalanced, I know I need to fix my posture.

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We use Ossu in our dojo a lot as well - now that I've started doing pilates I've caught myself almost using it there a few times! It's automatic. 

 

I really agree with Kishi and Shotokan here, you should listen to them. I hear the same stuff from my sensei all the time. It's your karate, your kata, no one else's. 

 

PS: I also hate the new format :(

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4 hours ago, Cephalopod_Dreams said:

We use Ossu in our dojo a lot as well - now that I've started doing pilates I've caught myself almost using it there a few times! It's automatic. 

 

I really agree with Kishi and Shotokan here, you should listen to them. I hear the same stuff from my sensei all the time. It's your karate, your kata, no one else's. 

 

PS: I also hate the new format :(

 

It IS my karate. :) 

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It's been a ridiculous workday. The kind that you prepare for, so as to be super efficient and accomplish a lot, yet somehow within the first 15 minutes of getting in the door it completely pulls the floor out from under you, leaving you unable to get your bearings.

 

But on the plus side, I finished my day having complete 9k of my 10k goal for steps (according to Fitbit). I might add some light kata practice this evening as well. And emphasize "light" as I have regular practice tomorrow.

 

As much as I try to focus on my current challenge and current set of goals, in the last week of any challenge I often find myself thinking about the next. One thing I would like to accomplish is to become a person who reads more than plays video games or watches TV/movies. Not sure if that will make it into the next challenge, but it's a thought.

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Alright, time for a brief challenge summary:

 

First the bad. Part II pretty much fell apart completely. Towards the end the need for additional sleep took over, and I was no longer getting up early to do any kind of fitness routine. I still kept up with walking on most days, even if I didn't get it in during the morning, but still this means I was losing out on the pre-work mental health benefit of exercising in the morning. This is something to be rebuilt in the next challenge.

 

Part I, III and IV held up pretty well. Daily meditation went off without a hitch. The fact this has become a solid part of my routine, even when some of the other goals are flagging, is a good reminder to me to keep persisting, that through all the trial-and-error processes, a solid result can be the outcome. I now use this to keep from getting down on myself when a goal doesn't turn out as planned. Just keep trying, keep making adjustments, and the solution will be found.

 

Karate attendance and practice has gone well. I am now going to start attending the dojo twice per week. I also may step up the home practice as well, possibly making it a part of my daily routine. At one time I though daily karate might be dangerous to my back, but the last month has encouraged me to try it. Karate done right is NOT bad for my back, it is in fact very good for it. So perhaps a daily karate routine, even if only 5 - 10 minutes at a time, might be a good compromise. I've noticed I am more successful with things if they are a daily habit, versus something I do 2 - 3 times per week. So 5 - 10 minutes daily of karate will be more successful than 30 or more minutes a couple times a week.

 

The 10:30 bedtime routine has not gone perfectly, but it is improving. Overall, making this a part of the challenge has been beneficial. I plan to stick with it. It also encourages me to engage in more worthwhile things in my evening in order to get to bed on time. Reading, for example, proves to be much easier to disengage from than a video game or TV/movies, therefore a much better late night pursuit. I have it in mind to become a person who reads more than watches TV/movies or plays video games anyway, so these goals may go hand-in-hand.

 

So overall, not too bad of an outcome for this challenge. The morning routine was temporarily lost, but it can be rebuilt.

 

I've also decided to let go of tracking levels and attribute points. Or rather, Nerd Fitness decided it for me. I was experimenting with the idea, but had my attributes saved on my forum profile before the crash/change. They were lost with the change. So that's that. I am now just as I am. No levels. No points.

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I would argue that sleep is one of the foundational things, based on its power as a reset for us. That particular choice was between two things that were meant to invigorate you, and I think that a morning routine, though useful, is often a crutch that we use to make up for the poor sleep choices that we make. I think you did the right thing with choosing to sleep, and I hope you got the benefit you were looking for.

 

As to Karate and practice, well, any training can be bad for various parts of oneself if conducted poorly, which can mean either too much work or poor quality work, or both. Lord knows I've suffered the consequences of that kind of training. But fwiw, I hope that the Karate turns out to be a good daily thing for you. :)

 

Also, I don't really miss tracking stats. It's a good move, ditching it.

 

Onward, then! Osu!

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