Testing My Recovery From Injury

So I tore a hamstring.  Had a morphing black and blue on my thigh for 3 weeks.  Spent time nursing it hot and cold, anti inflamatories, wrapping it up, and absolutely NO stretching of either leg for a month.  It started to feel better and I started to work it.  It’s feeling about 90 percent!


People often ask “How do you define success?”

They ask as if there’s an absolute answer to this question.  Is it defined by money?  Only when monetary success is the question.  Is it defined by athletic achievement.  Only to an athlete attempting to achieve something.

Sometimes success is the journey, more than  the destination. Some will not understand that and miss the forest for the trees.

Every facet of our lives calls out for success.  Success in one area is really seldom enough to define a life as successful. The success of a promotion at work is overshadowed by loneliness.  Many athletes are successful in their sports.  But recently there was mention in the news of some “successful” athletes that go hungry because they can’t afford some meals.  There are the wealthy who would give up wealth for love, acceptance and understanding.

On the spiritual side it’s been asked “what will it profit a man to gain the whole world yet loose his soul?”

We need to achieve success in whatever area of life is calling out for it at the moment.  You may be poor, but money is not what you want when you long for companionship.  You may be wealthy but your body calls out for healing.  And, once success is achieved in one area, the call comes from another.  Sometimes several areas are calling out  simultaneously.  What to do then?

Prioritize.  This is your call.

Friends and family will counsel you according to their values, and some may be appropriate.  But our spirits speak to us in whispered intimacies meant only for us to know about and act on from our same spirits alone.  I know I have acted in ways that may have seemed unsuccessful to those around me, but my apparent failures were my own, and I can accept them.

These days the word choice is closely connected to my ideas of success.

On the other hand, I have mimicked others’ acts that have led to their successes and while sometimes they work, when they fail they are my greatest regrets. Regrets for having ignored the voice of my own soul and not being true to myself.  The regret of giving someone else the 5-handling-successpower to direct my mistakes.

There is wisdom in the abundance of counselors, but that wisdom must be checked, sifted and governed by your mind and intelligence.  Otherwise you are but a child needing to be obedient for you have not yet developed the resourcefulness of your soul.0e7ce98
How do I define success?  Right now, by not having anything underlined by spell check.

Health, Fitness, and Martial Arts

I don’t regularly run fitness and conditioning segments when I teach a Kali Silat martial arts session, just a light limbering up and warm up.

Not because I don’t value strength training and cardio conditioning, but because I think those are matters that supersede martial arts training.  It’s a personal issue that I expect every individual to treat as a matter of life, not as a class you take, or a pastime.  As a martial arts Instructor I have other things to cover with you, not personal nutritional diagnosis, meal planning, and fitness training.

Your personal health and fitness are not the instructor’s responsibility, it is yours. 

Fitness Motivation: No Excuses!

(Photo credit: UrbaneWomenMag)

 Rather than spend time on a martial arts classes, I’d recommend spending time learning to cook and eat nutritiously. Go to a regular gym or do it at home, but do strength and cardio daily, on your own, for yourself, not for a belt or certificate.

Also, often there may be a mix of types of student in the classes.  Yoshimi Osawa, 10th dan Judo master, believes there’s 3 types of practitioners: recreational, technical, and competitor.  Here’s how he defines the types of practitioners: Recreational – practices for enjoyment, Technical – studies, practices and teaches their whole life, Competitor – is only able to compete for a limited time.  In a general martial arts class you probably have the three types.  Therefore, it’s unfair to the recreational practitioner to have them go through the mandatory rigors the competitive practitioner must go through to achieve their goals.

Bear in mind, the glory of the competitive martial artist is short lived. Think of the lines “My candle burns at both ends, it will not last the night, but ahh, my foes and oh, my friends, it gives a lovely light!”  The lifelong practitioners may be the recreational and technical ones! I for one would prefer longevity and good functional health over momentary success.

I’ve been with a group that trained everybody as if they were a competitive athlete.  I was in my early 50’s and most other practitioners were 20-25-30 years younger than me.  I couldn’t keep up with them.  The intense strength and conditioning aimed at a 20 year old’s capabilities became an obstacle to my growth and development.  The wear and tear the younger ones could recover faster from were for me more significant injuries, and not even directly related to the art.

For myself, I do cardio and strength training on an almost daily basis not for the sake of athletic competition, but for the sake of healthy living.  I try to maintain a decent weight for myself, a higher than average level of flexibility, stamina, and relative strength for a man my age.  When I was 20 and in the Marines, I had much higher standards, but I was living as a military man ready to engage in the ultimate competition, life and death combat at a moment’s notice.

Which brings me to another point: obese, fat, Karate masters.

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

Picture of an Obese Teenager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many are obese for no good reason like injury, or medical issues, but just due to lack of health consciousness and fitness.  Being 100 lbs. overweight is unhealthy no matter how you slice it.  And “eating a lot” is not an illness, it’s just gluttony, and not a martial virtue.

Being the physically demanding, hard contact activity that it is, you can look at the very heavy martial arts master and think “if I hit you and then just ran around a little, you’d kill yourself, by having a heart attack running after me!”

Obesity signals lack of stamina and endurance, lack of flexibility, slower reflexes, limited range of movement.  Martial art training makes demands of these qualities.

For the long time student, certainly the “master,” unless he’s a Sumo practitioner, only a reasonable degree of overweight should be acceptable.

From a beginning student, lack of fitness is understandable; part of what they should get from the training is knowledge and discipline.  Discipline they can apply to a whole range of life experiences and issues, like nutrition and fitness.   Maybe I’m old fashioned, but that’s what I’d expect from extended martial arts training.

There’s a matter of credibility involved in claiming mastery of a physically demanding activity such as martial arts.   A persistently overweight person will not be able to achieve higher levels of martial arts performance.  A persistently overweight “master” cannot himself perform at peak condition.

A few pounds overweight for a non Olympic athlete is OK (my opinion, not a medical declaration). Most people that go to a martial arts place for an hour or so about 3 times a week .  That’s not enough time for serious strength and fitness training, and martial arts training.  Put in personal time for health and fitness and get martial arts knowledge and skills from your martial arts class time.

Right now, I’m off to the gym, for my personal health and fitness sake…

Visualization and performance excellence.

A  painter I met long ago told me he didn’t visualize his works beforehand.  That he couldn’t visualize.  That was helpful to me as an artist because I also felt I couldn’t conceive a visual image solidly in my head before creating it.    I could dimly construct some elements of the image, but not a totally preconceived finished work. Yet, I could produce an image that was my intention.

On the other hand I’ve know people who tell me they had the facility to absolutely visualize an image in their head and hold the image as necessary.  To me that is an incredible gift.

A woman’s eye. Esperanto: Virina okulo. França...

Can you visualize a red apple on green grass, with a bluejay standing next to it, for 10 seconds? If you can, excellent!  You may be able to apply that in many personal and professional situations in life.

A visualization exercise I know involves gazing at a candle flame for a little while, then closing your eyes, and see how long you can sustain the image of the flame clearly.  It is an  easy way to begin that sort of training, because of something called “retinal memory” that will sustain the image in your head for at least a few seconds.  Try it with a flower, a crystal, any memorable or attractive object. That is one type of visualization.

The visualization I’ll refer to is more about feelings than images.  Can you visualize happiness, danger, triumph?

English: closed-eye visualizations simulation

Closed-eye visualizations simulation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those images may not be as fixed as a two dimensional picture. And the visual part of the exercise is not as important as the feeling or emotion it generates.

Visualizing is a personal and private activity.  It is our secret tool on the way to achievement.  As athletes, when we visualize for the sake of our performance, we may start with images of ourselves performing our feats, at their best, in top form, winning, and victorious. What we want out of it is confidence and a high baseline of success.  We are trying to support our activities with feeling and drive.  We want to create a sense of success, prophecy it, re-create it, and draw it by our creation of it in our minds.

I must mention that it doesn’t work, if you are not in the process of practice and development of the performance you seek.  I’ve heard otherwise but don’t believe it.  It’s highly improbably to be great at anything you don’t invest hands on time in.  If you train competitive sports or martial arts and add regular short sessions of visualization you’ll increase the probability of performing at the level you want. 

Visualization in this manner invigorates your intention to succeed, which is already given firm root by your activity in the field.  Involving the law  of attraction, you are familiarizing yourself with excellence and success to the point of intimacy, that they not be strangers to you.  When you visualize, your breathing may undergo changes from calm and steady to deep, strong and excited. Your body may twitch in accordance with the activity you are performing. Your facial expressions may change from focused, to angry, to smiling or laughing, to peaceful, and peaceful is usually where we want to end up.  Even after the triumph, peace is the true prize.

But, if you’re a couch potato or armchair quarterback, then go out “cold” and expect to succeed because you “visualized,” you’ll probably fail.

There are many books, videos, classes, and seminars on visualization.  Honestly I don’t think it’s that complicated, we’ve probably been doing it all our lives, just that doing it consciously, on purpose, with intention, makes it a tool as opposed to an accident.  It’s free, and you can have as much of it as you want.  Add it to your life.

Be Well.


Sparring, Hitting and Getting Hit

We had some sparring in class this past Sunday.  We do it every few sessions.  I believe in regular sparring, but since I’m not training professional fighters, we don’t have to go paranoid crazy at it.

We took some hits, but I don’t think anybody was willingly giving up some hits to take any.  As an instructor, it’s one of my biases, don’t get hit. I don’t training you to get hit and get hurt.

Stylistically, as a matter of personal martial arts development I’ve always sought to be a “finesse” guy, to work smarter not harder, and to be efficient in use of my strength and energy. Not looking to impress others with how much hurt I can take.  No doubt brute force is a great quality too, and I’ve used that as well, but finesse is my tendency.  And it’s where I bias my coaching.

So we trained sparring and strategies.  Staying “in the pocket.”   Staying “in the pocket”without getting hit, is a skill that takes training, practice and intuitional development, with maybe just a couple of hits along the way.  Floyd Mayweather has that skill set.

I just watched the Mayweather-Guerrero fight.   Mayweather, at 36 years old is consideredold in boxing, but, is quoting his dad as “the less you get hit, the longer your career,” in regard to claims that he doesn’t go “toe to toe” or just stand there and trade punching.  Guess what? As I’ve gotten older, that’s become even more important to me.   Even if fighting isn’t your “career, it’s still true; the less you get hit, the longer your career, the longer you maintain good physical health, mental health, and well being.  I never cared for some martial artists philosophy of “I’m WILLING to take one to give one” when it came to sparring and fighting.   You may have to, but I don’t think willingness is the right predisposition.

English: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Juan Manuel...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yeah, I understand that sometimes it’s about taking a risk, but there’s a difference between a reckless risk and a calculated risk.  Just like there’s a difference between an “opinion,” and an “informed opinion.”

I’d rather my students be the hitter or “feeder” rather than receivers.

Today, I repeated to the class that anything I tell or teach them is only 50% true.

What?  Not that I’ll lie to them, but that life, the universe, fighting, are so fluid and wavelike, that the opposite can be true at any point.  Only they, in the moment, combining experience, intelligence, training, and sensitivity, can know the significant truth at the time.

And that brings us back to “finesse.”  My ideal “fight” is a couple of finishing blows to the opponent, without breaking a sweat or getting hit.  I’ve always wanted to be slick with movement, variety of technique, and fine tuned motor skills.  However, I’ve seen “run’em over” brute force methodologies.  You can finesse a brute, brute a brute, brute a finesse opponent, and finesse a finnesser.  But, who wants to be in a “war” or barely surviving, scarred and damaged, umm, not me. Contrast can be a significant advantage to those who know how to use it.

Finesse and brutishness are two sides of the same coin.  They should be included in that saying about there being a time for every season under heaven.  You should train both, unafraid to discover and acknowledge your preference due to experience, body particulars, or karma.

Knowing both sides will help you ride the fluid wave of a fight or self defense situation.

Contact us for more information about our Kali Silat and Self Defense Training Group in Debary, Fl.


Well Being

Mackay Beauty

Mackay Beauty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How we define living well is a first step to better living, and understanding that living is an active verb is an important part of that.  Physics gives us the understanding that everything at the atomic level is in motion, and vibrating.  By extension, all existence, all of life, is constantly in this vibrating motion, and therefore in a state of continual change.

The pace of this change may be slow or faster, and often it seems sudden, but it’s been in process all the while.  This is especially noticeable when we go from what we consider doing well, to misfortune of any kind like financial, physical, or psychological.  We generally call those things a loss, because it is related to losing our being well, loss of health, loss of money, loss of peace and calmness, loss of harmony.   That throws us out of whack because our innate desire in life is to live well, and we want to get back to that as soon as possible.

Our values and thought systems direct our actions in dealing with unpleasant changes, and how to navigate back to well being.  We are not born with a life manual or easy indexed reference guide, and our knowledge at any one time is limited, so we experiment arbitrarily, or we seek the insight and example of those who have navigated these changes successfully.  It happens on many levels.  Sometimes it’s a mechanical fix, like your car engine shut down, and all you need to do is change the oil, or a belt.  Maybe it’s an environmental fix; it’s cold outside, and putting a jacket on returns your sense of well being.

But often the necessary fix is internal, and may not be achievable to the original degree.  This is where some people compound their loss, increase pain, and fall short of returning to any semblance of well being, by kind of shooting themselves in the foot.  Rather than accept incremental steps on the way back to well being, they take an “all, or nothing at all” stance.

On the physical passing of a loved one for example, the pain of loss is extended when you cannot transcend the single thought that you “just want him back.”   Demanding that as the fix for your well being is impractical.  The emotional and psychological drives within would like that, but that’s not going to happen in a single miraculous sweep.  Being complex creatures, the answers to these situations, the path to returning to well being, is not the broad and gross singular action we’d like.

But incrementally, we can grieve freely, recognize that by our desire they’d still be enjoying life, know that we can summon their presence by memory at will, and step in the direction of our own well being one step at a time.

Well being often relies on our approach to it, turning in its direction, taking little steps towards it, not standing in the place of pain and calling well being to come to you.

Do you believe you need to participate in your own well being?  How much do you participate?  Take your vitamins, think some scenarios through beforehand, study wisdom teachings, try to help guide others to well being when they are standing in pain, change the oil in your car regularly, recognize that change is inevitable in finances, health, relationships, and machinery.  Make your values and thought systems effective guides to your well being, realizing they may need to direct many elements at once.

Be well.

Kali in the Park again, Deltona Florida, various locations

Location: We will generally meet at Campbell Park in Deltona, Sunday afternoons at 1pm.  By invitation we will meet at various locations, outdoor and indoor in and around Deltona.

Martial Arts and Personal Protection training drawn from the arts of the Philippines and Indonesia, adapted for you, today, here and now.

Fun and easy to learn.   Super Graceful. Effective.
Timeless self defense and personal protection skills.

Fluid and fast.  Not focused on athletics. Learn, train, and develop according to your capacity.  Ideal for mature men and women.  Safety conscious, ego free and “bad ass attitude” types free.

No uniforms, no belts, no certificates.
What matters to me as a coach through martial arts training is your personal development, personal knowledge and skills, and your personal best, I think anything else is token, egocentric, short lived, and even meaningless.

Men, Women, Adults of all ages encouraged! 

There is a small fee for this training,email for current location and fee, but:

INSTRUCTOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO DECLINE AN INDIVIDUALS PARTICIPATION AT ANY TIME.  The training is intended for law abiding, well mannered individuals of good character and sound mind, as determined by the instructor.  For insight into the practice and the instructor see the blog at:  https://rickva.wordpress.com/

Practicing Martial Artists Welcome.  A lot of schools say they “do a little” Kali, Arnis, Escrima.  We do the opposite, we do it a lot.  Complement your Karate, TaeKwonDo etc. with the truly wide ranging richness of this art, add diversity to your personal knowledge with this exotic skill set.

SINA TIRSIA WALI s the name of the base “style” I teach.  In addition, it is freely intermixed with elements of other styles I have trained in, and even with other martial arts and general life experience, to provide you with the best that I have, as much as I can.

Contact Information:  Coach Rick,  rickva.sr@gmail.com
Located in Deltona, Fl
Other Details
Finally, Martial Arts Training, for people who don’t want all the muss and fuss of traditional martial arts training.  Topics Covered
  • The 64 attacks
  • Sinawalis
  • Specialized Seminars
  • Many partner practices and drills
  • Empty hand combat training
  • Free Flow (better than Katas!)
  • Private Training Available
  • More! Much, much more.