Weapons play

I’ve been spending more time on empty hand Kuntao Silat training and practice and have stepped back my weapons practice.  This day I added a few minutes with our toys.

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Back to training, sometimes life gets in the way.

Well we’re back to training.

I’ve been working for Habitat so I’ve been inconsistent.  Some of you have been away or occupied with life events and duties, but looks like we’re all settling in so we can start training together again.  I’ll be regular at Black Lightning unless I post differently on Facebook, and we have a Sunday morning group meeting in Campbell Park with Guru Aldon leading.

Let’s do our thing and have some fun.

Role Models!

Children are often asked who their role models are.  In elementary and middle schools many children have to write an essay of who their role model is and most children will say it’s a parent.  I think my son wrote one once about me!

I believe they say that because it’s an  easy answer, and they know it’s an expected answer.  Can’t loose with that one.  I don’t doubt that in some cases it is true.  Parents who heroically provide for their families, and the children who see the struggle and accomplishments will hold on to that for inspiration.  Parents who are accomplished and obviously have a higher quality of life than others around them have,and values that tend to live on in their children.

But for average households, or for unaccomplished households it’s honestly not the case.  It’s a false equivalency to link admiration and love, as often happens.  Like it’s obligatory to have your parent as a role model or else it means you don’t love them.  Often children admire a friends parent’s more than their own, due to the other’s character, lifestyle, or accomplishments.  That doesn’t mean  they love their parents less, it just means that the ladder they need to climb for personal development is elsewhere.  Off the top Robert Ryosaki comes to mind.

I can’t think of another way to say this but I’ve come from communities where “white people” things were often envied and derided at the same time.  I still see that today  in a lot of those same communities.  That perspective puts up a box around the child to insure that he will maintain a particular culture; foods they eat, music they listen to, etc.  That box which maintains and perpetuates a particular culture comes with unnecessary baggage and a lock.  Fear.  Fear of the different, fear of success. Fear of failure.  Fear of admiring a different role model.

James Bond was my role model.

As a young child I saw a James Bond movie.  He was fearless, heroic, educated, skilled, and worldly.  I was living in Puerto Rico at the time and was 8 or 9 years old.  In James Bond I saw what I wanted to be, to  aspire to.  It was not the being a Secret Agent part.  It was everything else I saw.  He was smooth, poised, spoke well, was charming, loved by women, respected by men, spoke other languages, was comfortable in other cultures and countries, could fly a plane, knew fine art and science, could do karate, dressed sharply.

I knew that didn’t come easily.  I knew that to be that way you had to learn, study, practice.  You had to, in what NLP today calls “modeling” start with the example before you, and build on it.  My karma was not to be afraid of stepping outside the box.  I pursued the sophistication that lay outside my box.

But those things didn’t exist in my community.  My community was largely unsophisticated.  Good hearted, hard working people that didn’t  know fine art, didn’t speak other languages, had no interest in martial arts, many didn’t even drive, and were very content in their box.  In a young child like myself at the time, those aspirations were considered quaint.  In an older child they are considered a distraction, or worse yet, a rejection of your culture, your box, your community.  That often brings alienation.

I’m sad to say the paradigm of the cultural box is alive and well in a lot of the same communities.  And more young people than not are buying into it.  Sometimes celebrating sometimes resenting their narrow constraints, and deriding the greater life around them, which they would enjoy having as well.  It just seems that they would like for it to come into their box rather than go out for it.

They don’t want to learn language and communication skills. They “ax” a question and “conversate.”  Heaven forbid learning Cantonese or French.  Music, only “reggeaton and bachata in our house” classical? folk? No way!  Food, “Ugh. How can those people eat that curry stuff?”  Job/career, auto mechanic or grocery clerk.  Spirituality, “all I know is Jesus is God nigga!”  Love, “I can’t date white people, they can’t dance salsa.”  Stray beyond these confines, try to expand your consciousness and experience and, well there’s a nonsensical term I’ve heard applied; you’re a “come mierda” you eat shit.  I know, it doesn’t make sense.

I loved my parents and family.  But they alone could not direct me to living my life to the fullest.  I found a picture of what I considered a greater quality of life outside of our box.  I would wish for the young people in our communities to become more sophisticated, more worldly, to experience more of what life has to offer, without fear of rejection and derision from their communities.  Otherwise the world and life will pass them by, and they will continue to envy and mock what they envy, when all it takes is realizing that the box doesn’t exist, it’s self created and can be self erased.

James Bond was my role model.

Even they way he introduced himself was distinct. Your name?  “Bond, James Bond!”

No matter where you are, there is a role model expressing a greater quality of life available to you.  It’s not for everybody.  But if it is for you, don’t be afraid of your community, your box.  Be brave, go beyond where those around are.  You will not be alone.  You won’t be the first on the journey, and you will have one less regret in life; you won’t regret not having stepped out of the box.

 

What is the good life?

What is the good life?

It can be scary to think about this.  Fear and worry often creep into the answers.

Ever hear; “As long as you’ve got your health…health is everything!”  Some other answers include “enough to eat,”  ‘a roof over your head,” “family.”

Those are all ok but I consider them basic.  Birth into this world should include the basics: adequate nourishment, shelter, physical and mental capabilities to function, some material comforts.

Unfortunately, for reasons often beyond our control, that is not the case for the entire world. Hence why our answers to what is the good life are often tinged with fear, or false modesty and worry.

There are those who have less than us, less than the basics.  We fear that if we long for greater than what we currently have, it may be considered a sin and “The Lord Giveth And The Lord Taketh Away.”  So, many of us downplay or hide what we think of as the good life.

I mentioned the basics – adequate nourishment, shelter, physical and mental capabilities to function, with some material comforts.

What if I were to say that the good life is having lavishness to all of these? Plenty of delicious food to eat, knowing you have a stock of good and luxurious food and the ability to get more as wanted.  Or, a great and secure home, with lots ofimages space and amenities, paid for.  Optimal health, beyond your biological years, A creative mind with an expanding consciousness, and luxuries of learning, travel, experience and circles of interesting people as friends and family.

Would call me sinful for declaring this?  Would you consider it greed even if in having this I didn’t take anything from anyone else?

Well, that’s how I feel about it.  I have more than some, and I feel bad for them and often try to help from within my means.  But I’m not afraid of having more and having better.

But you should be content with what you have.  Really?  You should be content with ill health, shabby clothing, a cardboard box for a roof, and enough food to keep you hungry?  I disagree.

I just did a search for contentment and got this from Wikipedia, interesting insights that I agree with “Contentment may be considered as synonymous with happiness but is more basic or prior to happiness that can be derived from outer achievement or self-improvement…” I can dig that.  Although it does also speak of contentment as an attitude, but as an attitude it’s often applied to negative situations, and passive acceptance of the less than or even the worst possible.

It is attachment to materiality that is the sin or suffering, not possession of it.

I don’t begrudge those that have better than I, I celebrate that they have a better life than I, or one I would enjoy as well.  I’ve never been a material or spiritual threat to those who are enjoying a lavish life.  I look forward to it as well.

I’ve had slumps in my life, and peaks.  I really like the peaks, and when I find myself in a slump and get over the subsequent pity party we all throw, I start looking for the way back to the peak.  I’m not ashamed of that.  An old Zen saying goes “Seven times down eight times up!”

You can live at the peak, make your home there, or you can contentedly accept the slump and decide the gully is where you should stay.

I’ll tell you another really important element to living the good life: choice.

I choose the peak.  I live the peak already, just in process of making my home there, that’s all.

How?  Enterprise.  I have made my own way and will continue to do so.

There are many opportunities out here to prosper, to live the good life, to live at the peak.  Some are better suited to you than others, but you have to try, to explore, to at least be in the game.

You can’t win if you’re not in the game.  They say the chances of winning a mega lottery may be 347,000,000,000,000 to 1, but people do play and win, a greater truth is your chances of winning one absolutely zero if you haven’t bought a ticket.

I’m not asking any supernatural being to “give” it to me, to “bless” me over anyone else, I would think that conceited.  It’s no secret I’m not a “believer” in one of those.  But, there is a story in one of those books called “the parable of the talents,” a talent being a form of money or coin.

In it, it’s the guy who’s content with what he has and doesn’t do anything to improve the situation that is called “wicked.”  Then there’s this interesting comment:

“But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”  If you’re content with an less than ideal situation, it can be made worse.

That’s from the bible.  I know you can take anything from the bible and find oodles of support pro and con, I’m not saying that’s an absolute interpretation, but it’s pretty good.

So buy that lottery ticket, change your job, try a new business.  Screw contentment with the gully.  You have knowledge skills and power that are going to waste down there.

I’m in the middle of something to help me live better, and I’ll be sharing what it is in case any of you are looking for choice in your life and want to give it a try.

Be Well.

 

No Church For Me On Sunday, And It’s Great

I can sleep late, or not, watch the morning news shows, go to any sort of gathering I want, or have sex.  I can do it all happily, with no guilt, or shame.

I’m an Atheist.

Not a “He must be angry at god cause he didn’t get something” atheist, though most of us probably start out like that.

No, I’m an “I really started to study without fear, and think and analyze, and came to a different and satisfying conclusion” atheist. Atheism Symbol

I’ve read many of the world’s sacred writings, including those said to be from god himself, heard the thoughts and counsels of many devout people, contemplated, listened, probed as deeply as I could for the answer to my questions;  Is there a supreme creator being, who is it, does it care, and does it matter?  On all counts, the answer for me was; No!

You can be a deeply devout person to something you call god, without there being such a thing on the other end of your devotion.  I’ve known deeply devout people of various followings, and don’t doubt their sincerity of devotion.  I have been a deeply devout person.  So much so, that it pains me to see Christians, for example, who are satisfied parroting biblical sound bites, acting the part on the public stage with gestures and props, and claiming a higher standing in life over those who don’t do the same.  At least the devout person is not pretending that they’re deluded.

If they were sincere, these followers who pretend to be devout would acknowledge the emptiness of their claims (that there’s no really verifiable god), but also live strong, righteously, and honestly on the merits of their act: devotion.  That could be called faith, faith in devotion.  “Faith without works is dead” the first work in spirituality is being honest and sincere with yourself and others.

Some non-theistic Asian religions accept the fact that there are several different acceptable paths to the personal fulfillment and salvation that practice of a religion offers.  The path of devotion is one path.  However, not everyone is of a devotional character, so studiousness is another path.  You may not be of devotional character, and perhaps not studious, or even illiterate, then the path of works, or, just being nice to people is another.  You may be introverted; therefore, the contemplative path may be yours, and so on.  The god religions, theisms, only acknowledge one path, devotion, regardless of your innate type or characteristics.

Then there’s the matter of belief.  While some espouse the idea of just belief “saving” you, it stands in opposition to the easily verifiable fact that belief will not save you in anything else in our existence.  You can honestly and devoutly believe you can float and fly in mid air, but any who try plummet to the earth in unsatisfactory ways.  Carry that over to anything else, even to scriptural assurances that if you drink poison, handle snakes, etc; and it’s easily apparent that belief doesn’t work enough to bet your life on.

Some religions claim that belief in a particular personality is the requirement for communion with god or a salvation, but that concept is usually tied to obedience, and obedience is usually connected to a spokesman for the religion.  That’s a sticky situation because several spokesmen for the same god often disagree on some essential added particulars.  With all that come the edicts of exclusivity.  Someone put it best by saying (my paraphrase):  “Many teachers will invite you to come, they will show you the light, and when you come they pluck out your eyes of reason.”

These are the god believing religions that demand you put blinders on and not look to the left or the right, upon any other possible source of knowledge, wisdom, or salvation, but to put your stock in what they tell you is there that you cannot see, though that’s all you’re looking for.

These religions will also claim to make you “better.”  That runs the gamut from making you healthier, wealthier, and wise, because you are one of them, to making you morally superior.  Some claim you cannot be moral at all, or that your morality has no value, unless you are one of them.  They suggest that all of your righteous acts are “like filthy rags” according to one of their scripts.  Yet few live any higher a morality than the average Joe.

They have the talk, but can’t walk the walk any better than anyone else.  Ah, but wait, there’s an out for that.  Christians say “I’m not perfect, just forgiven” as if that were a really good god authorized excuse for being selfish, inconsiderate, or harmful to others.  Or they’ll say “I’m a work in progress” with a “ha, ha, I get away with it and you don’t” attitude for being indistinguishable from any jerk anywhere.  So much for being religious or “in a relationship” with god making you a better person.

But, that’s for another post.

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Training Damages and Injuries

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ...

Left knee-joint from behind, showing interior ligaments. (Lateral meniscus and medial meniscus are cartilage.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I skipped training for the last couple of days. 

Sometimes I’m lazy.  Sometimes I forget that rest and recuperation are part of a smart training regimen.

Sometimes I don’t want to do 25 repetitions of slow 4 count slow sidekicks and much less 6 count reps, then move on to the other kicks.    Sometimes my muscles ache from having done them the day before.  It’s a little damage for a good cause.  But I’ll take a break from that and be back to it in little time.  Exercise does do a little bit of damage to the body, but there’s a mechanism whereby that physical damage done intelligently, is a prelude to an improved regeneration.  We know this because others have successfully used the process before.

Bodybuilders strain their muscles in order to tear certain fibers that with proper nurturing will cause them to become bigger and stronger.  Other athletes stretch their muscles and ligaments in order to exceed average performance.  Those repetitions I strain through make my kicking skills and abilities better than the average, and maybe better than some others who do it less. That’s their value.

These are limited damages and injuries.  But we can’t be ignorant about extended damages and permanent injuries.  Bill Wallace a famed Karate superstar known for his extreme flexibility and kicking prowess once said something like “everyone wants to get into a split, that’s no problem, I can put you in a split, you just may not be able to walk for six months.”

Done unintelligently in our training we can do lasting damage and even irreversible injury to ourselves, in pursuit of our martial arts skills and abilities.  Worse yet, someone else can do it to us, like the novice instructor who insists that you do a bridge exercise without knowing if you have spinal or back issues just cause he can, or wants you to do hard lock out roundhouse kicks without knowing the particulars of the knee joint, or about your particular knee issues.

I’d argue that pursuit of a 180 degree split in order to do a skyscraper side kick, is not worth being out of work for six months because you’re bedridden from a severe hamstring tear.  Old school karateka, would do damage to their hands in order to have desensitized, deformed calcified, rock hard fists.  Practically none of these were brain surgeons or concert pianists.

With youth, you can recover more quickly from limited damages and injuries, especially if done in an intelligent, progressive sort of manner.  With aging and maturity you do not recover as quickly, even with intense mind over matter hoodoo.  That means that the degree of limited damage you are subjected to, or subject yourself to, should be a lot more gradual and progressive.

 Another thing is that the extent to which you want to improve performance may not be obtainable.  You may have severe arthritis, which hinders the use of your joints, or you may have scar tissue that cannot regenerate, going from zero to 180 degree split in a short time may be done, but at the greater cost of irreparable damage.  Do you want to have to use a cane for no other reason that going for a split?

For professional athletes, the rise in performance equals greater income, even if shortened careers, and extended damages and injuries are a trade off they are willing to make.  For military and law enforcement personnel the difference in performance can mean the difference between life and death.  For average martial arts practitioners with aspirations beyond sports specific goals, like growing in professional careers or keeping a job, raising a family, or serving the public, extended damage and injuries become a life setback.

I skipped training for the last couple of days.  I’ve been training reasonably hard: strength, cardio, bagwork, sparring, kata, stickwork, hitting the tires, and flexibility.  Yes, I’ve been putting in the time and work, not many men my age go as fast and hard as I do in all these areas.  But, I have longstanding damage to a body part, and know there’s a point of irreversible damage to it.  I have to be mindful of stopping short of that, in spite of my own “I CAN DO ANYTIHNG” mindset.  “OOPS!” does not heal anything. 

So, I took a couple of days off, and when I do I feel bad about it.  I read, I study, I write, work around the house and do other things, I’m not idle.  But, I feel guilty, like all the work I’ve put in my whole life will have gone to waste if I miss a day of training.  But that’s not true, and my goals are different.  I don’t train and exercise for sports specific, or military goals.  I do it as a part of my holistic personal development, and no part of that development should damage any other.

I’ll get back to it all tomorrow, and within a week expect to be back at my chosen level, possibly exceed it.  These days I try to be guided by knowledge and wisdom, rather than by testosterone and bravery, though there’s times for that too 🙂