Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mind 2: Ma

I was fighting today, giving pointers.  My mokuso for today was eyes - gan - and I tried to see holistically and peripherally.  I tried to feel what was coming, but the thrill of battle - it's so easy to get swept up in it and give in to old (and bad) habits.  Watching someone's fists...it's sounds stupid to even say...but so many of us do it.  We did it when we were white belts and we do it now.  The only difference is: I know better.  Something to work on.

I was in front of this kid, a green belt, maybe 10 or 12 years old.  He should have been in the kids class.  Except for one thing.  This kid had an amazing, instinctive, preternatural sense of the combative distance.  He could sense ma-ai to within a half-step...perhaps even more precise than that.  I'd circle and shift feet, I'd shift stance and step back.  But the moment the distance shortened, even a little, he sensed it.  Even when he had no frame of reference, even when I was circling trying to sneak up on him, he'd know.  I've never seen anything like it.

You see people who can sense danger, and people who move back by instinct.  But this kid only moved back hard the moment I was entering ma-ai.  I told him how great it was and that when he feels that distance rather than move back he should strike.  I came in hard thinking I had him.  His fist came up into my jaw.  I wasn't sure if I was ashamed or proud.  It was surreal.

I could keep him off of me with range - or just overpower him in close.  But between Toma and Chikama, this little kid was owning me.  I couldn't tell him - I didn't want it to go to his head.  But he could be something.  This fat, goofy little kid.  I love it.

I have so far to go.  The only thing that gives me hope is that I'm learning from everyone.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Body 1: 45 d 8 h 33 m

My brother went to Montreal and saw Cirque du Soleil.  He was amazed by the feats of strength displayed by the men and went on and on about this one guy who was supporting his whole body with one arm.  I shook my head and smiled – it was always such a strange thing to hear Kareem offer praise, so when he did it couldn’t help but be impressive.  I had looked into bodyweight training and balance and static holds a few years back and pursued it with enthusiasm.  But distractions and injury reared their twin heads and my training on that front waned.

It strange to hear someone say something like ‘I’m working out’ or ‘I’m going to the gym’ when what they mean to say is that they’re training.  It’s important to understand that we are always learning, always in training.  We are in training sitting down and standing.  We are in training lying in bed.  Our minds and bodies are never static – it is ever-changing, always in flux.  Every moment that we are alive we are internalizing our behavior and the world around us.  People who smoke become expert smokers.  Persistent couch potatoes become world-class obese couch potatoes.  When you say you’re working out, you mean to say that you are going to exercise to become stronger.  But without commitment and dedication working out is still training, but not to be stronger.  You are just training in mediocrity.  Training in half-measures.

I was watching Kareem going on the gymnastic rings set and I showed him some of the people training in commitment and dedication on Youtube, and some of the skills their training has brought them.  Kareem was amazed.  And I was…blasé.  There was no fire in me, to push myself, to reach for excellence.  Maybe it was fear…of disappointing myself again.  Fear of giving up.

I’ve been training in letting go a long time.  Now I have to train in holding on.  I have to train in commitment and dedication, train in discipline.  And I needed an example – something, anything – that I could point to and say ‘Look, I did that!’  I put the time in and look at where I’ve gotten.

And then I was looking at my playing time on Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer.

45 d 8 h 33 m.  45 days’ worth of sitting and staring at a screen.  Of shooting and being shot.  Of killing and dying.  Of winning and losing.  Winstreaks, losestreak, deathstreaks, killstreaks – I kept coming back.  10 minute games at a time…for 45 days. A month and a half of non-stop training in Modern Warfare 2.  Wow.

And it’s not to say that I’m not good.  I can hold my own.  But imagine what my body would be capable of if I spent that time, 1088 hours, not sitting, but working out.  Would I be able to do some of those things that Kareem swears to do one day?

Modern Warfare 3 is coming out November 8th.  I’m going to match play time with gymnastic time 1 for 1 until I get back to that 1000 hour threshold.  And then I’m going to see which 1000 hours paid off the most.