dal niente

Month: July, 2013

Body Drop

Emptiness or effortlessness is a strange sensation to encounter when you expect something more substantial.

 

It can be at once terrifying; the haymaker hook punch you threw from your right doesn’t land and suddenly, you realise that your opponent’s head isn’t there and that for a fraction of a second, you are fatally vulnerable.  Your own momentum, your own determination to put all your weight behind that punch and win it, because you thought you had him on the ropes– this emptiness where there should have been a hard contact, it will be the undoing.  The counterpunch will hurt physically, yes– but the mental and spiritual damage is always worse, because you were taken for a fool.

 

At judo a couple of days ago, I managed to pull the exact opposite on someone else.  Judo, from my limited experience, is all about emptiness.  I’ve head the expression before that practicing with Jigaro Kano, the founder of judo, was like trying to wrestle with an empty jacket.  The subtlety that I’m coming to appreciate from judo is in how it uses indirectness and misdirection– the single direct attack seldom works.  It is about inviting your opponent to throw him or herself.

Fundamentally, the fighting spirit and mentality of such techniques are completely different from what I’ve learned from striking arts, where results arise from you smashing your problems.  Judo, fundamentally, invites that aggression, and tries to turn it.

A couple of days ago, I had the opportunity of sparring with a couple of blue belts from judo who I hadn’t fought with in several months.  Back then, one of them provided me with a huge experience– it was the first successful throw that I had done against someone who was fighting against me in randori.  Between that time and this week, I’ve had the opportunity to train myself.  Basics, foundations, balance, that kind of thing– there was sparring in between, but not that same level of challenge because it was all educational and to do experiements.

 

Earlier this week I sparred with the same person.  He is about 30 kilograms heavier than me (more than 65 lbs), and about a foot taller than me.  Wheras last time I caught him by surprise and got lucky but managed to make a real technique work, this time, it was a chess game.  I won’t say I fought him to equality, that’s not what happened.  But what I did do was throw him several times, out leveraging him.

I used a technique on him that was, he said, perfectly executed: tai otoshi (body drop).  It is a technique that, to me, epitomises the power of emptiness in a judo techniques.  You take a forward tipping opponent, get under and to the side quickly, stick out a leg and pull them forward and down.  The result is that the opponent flips forward with little or no muscle involved– you are encouraging them to fall forward in a situation you have constructed where they have no other choice but to accept inevitability.  You know all those martial arts movies where someone barely moves and just sends the opponent flying? Tai otoshi is one of those techniques.  If you can pull it off (this was my first time) it’s fucking amazing.

The emptiness in this situation is different– it is a technique that you exert relatively little brute strength.  Usually, it’s done by fooling the opponent into leaning forward, which you normally do by pushing them– then when they react, you amplify their reaction and pull them over you.  It’s a spectacular throw because the sensation is very empty, and a moment later, if it’s done right, you just have an opponent in front of you floored.  You have dropped their body, slammed them on the ground, and it wasn’t even any more difficult than pulling on a  jacket or bending over to tie your shoes.

 

While I was sparring earlier this week against two blue belts that I hadn’t sparred with in several months, who last time had completely dominated me, I became aware that my sense of emptiness was a lot more better tuned. I was learning how to redirect force, how to feint, how to use combination attacks.  I scored several ippon throws that night.  It wasn’t as many as had been scored against me, but I was elated at it all.  I felt intoxicated by the power of these techniques that had somehow written themselves into my body mechanics and muscle memory. It felt great.

 

All this talk of emptiness relates to sensation, but more importantly, it relates to expectation.  For every action we take, we expect certain reactions.  The sublime terror of emptiness is that it is not the reaction that we expect– where we expect something firm and hard, if there is nothing, if it is anticlimactic or contrary to what we thought would happened– it wrecks havoc on our spirit because we don’t understand what happened.

The ability to fight using emptiness is profound and deals damage on so many dimensions.

Philosophically, the experience of judo has been good for training me to accept that kind of attack working on me.  Being attacked with emptiness doesn’t scare me or frustrate me as much as it used to in judo.  The sensation, or more accurately, the lack thereof as my opponent makes me throw myself, is something that I’m getting more used to, so I’m not taking the mental damage from it that I used to.

 

I believe that it is analogous to other areas of life.

Yesterday night, I got the first rejection letter from a law firm to whom I had applied for a summer clerkship.  I need a clerkship.  The rejection was just an email, thanking me for having taken the time to apply, but regretted to inform me that I wouldn’t be offered a first round interview.

I’ve been through this before, last year. I know what the rejection letters are like.  It’s emptiness.  It’s a response that is no response at all, because what you were hoping for was a connection, a hard contact, a foot in the door or something that you could grasp.  Instead? Nothing.  Characters on a cellphone screen.

 

I’m getting better at not being confused and freaked out when I get thrown in judo.  I may also be getting better at taking rejection letters in a similar way.  But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  And it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want to be in this position.  Feeling this emptiness is deeply frustrating, and it brings so much rage to me.  It is the sort of situation where, for all your fighting spirit, the target has dissapeared, and you find yourself on your back, looking at lights, wondering where you went wrong.

 

 

In any case, that’s one rejection– I still have about 9 more chances with other firms.  In reality, there’s nothing left for me to do but wait as the responses come back– this isn’t about me fighting anymore, as it is clinging to my sanity as I imagine them judging me.

Wish me luck.

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Strike one

Just got the first rejection letter from a firm. Well, that’s one down… 9 or so more chances.

Sins and Successes Absolved

I managed to import everything from Xanga, except maybe multimedia stuff, following instructions that I followed from [ConsignedHearts].  Like in her case, I got my wordpress blocked almost instantly for violation of terms of service– but a quick email to the admin, and a day later, it’s all sorted.

Pretty glad to have everything in one place!

 

As to Xanga… well, bye bye.

I’m kind of annoyed at the whole way that they went about it, with all the silent treatment in the last days.  It gives me plenty of avenues to think the worst of the admin team.

These Shoes Were Made For

While I was playing badminton a couple of weeks ago at University of Sydney, I was doing really well.  I don’t often get that feeling nowadays– badminton, somehow, has become a tertiary activity in my life in terms of fun things to do.

When I was younger, I remember that I used to think it was nuts for anyone not to give it their all at something they loved, or to continue doing anything that they didn’t want to do.  Growing up, I learned about the word “compromise.”  Even those who are living their dreams fully and truly, there is in reality a number of compromises along the way– it all comes down to where you get that energy and time, because that’s in limited supply.  And it’s unfortunate that despite the reality of things, but “compromise” has become one of those dirty words that we’re supposed to feel guilty about.

There was a really important physics formula that I’ve always used in martial arts: Force equals mass times acceleration.  The second most important one is one from investment economics for compounded interest, which is basically the idea that your total amount money is equal to the initial amount, plus the percentage interest compounded on itself.  There’s a coefficient in there and an exponential function to it (excuse my lack of finesse for math talk), so it’s a bit more of a complicated formula than F=ma, but the whole point of it is quite simple– there is a relation between the variables involved.

There’s all sorts of simple formulas like that out there that can dictate the way that you look at things simply because you understand the simple but direct relationship between a number of variables.

The ability to pursue passion depends on two ground-level variables– time and energy.  There’s only so much time in a day to divide among the things you want to do, and even if you had a lot of time, you would only have a certain amount of energy to do those things.

The reason why I don’t use just one dimension is that there has to be an account of the fact that we age– as we age, we do things like retire or take more vacations at least– but the amount of  energy we have is generally on the decline from our youth.

Money? A lot of people say they have money problems, or that they’re stuck at work, but in the end, money is one iteration of time and energy.  Money is, after all, something that takes up time and energy.

Resources?  Resources is  a lot like money– it depends a lot on your circumstances, but at the end of the day, resources are also another way of combining time and energy.  For example– suppose your passion is ice hockey.  If you live in Canada, this is likely to be easier than if you live somewhere in Egypt.  The amount of time it takes to drive to a hockey rink and the amount of energy it takes to play hockey are pretty much the bare bones of the situation in Canada.  In Egypt?  You’d need time and energy to earn the money to pay whatever mad price you’d pay for ice in a desert country.  Thus, you’d need the time and energy not just to play, but to earn the money to pay extra to play, to possibly build the damn ice rink, etc, etc etc.  My point is, with enough time and energy, you could theoretically do anything.  Unfortunately, we’re mortals, and the flesh is weak– which is why at the end of the day, there are environmental factors which may limit our ability to pursue our passions.

Which brings me back to my original point.  Badminton has fallen into third place in terms of real passions in my life. And when you think about it, most people really only have one passion to begin with– I’m quite lucky to have had the chance to live so many separate lives in the span of one lifetime, which is why I’m interested in so many things.  At present, it just so happens that law school and judo take more focus.

Regardless, there is still a soft spot in my heart for badminton, and it was a couple of weekends ago at the University of Sydney badminton club that I was reminded of this fact.  I went to the club with [CM], who has been getting much better at badminton.  She’s been playing for a year or so now, but she’s improved in the last few months, which is when she stopped playing casual badminton with med school friends and started going to competitive uni clubs instead.

I played mens doubles– and I played against some of the best of the club.  It was good for me, because I found that I was not only keeping up with the pace of most of them, but I was able to outplay a lot of them.  I’m not the quickest, strongest, or most technical at the club, but I’m definately above average in terms of results– and for me, that’s a pretty big achievement.

The elite of the club clearly have a lot more power and accuracy than I do.  Their smashes from baseline are easily as good as my smashes from 3/4 court.

The only thing I really have going for me is experience, and resolve, which tie in with an understanding of my limitations and skills.  I’ve been playing badminton on and off since the late 90s– some of these players were players were only born in the mid 90s, so yeah, you can say I have a few tricks up my sleeve.  I have the mental toughness to disengage from fighting battles in play styles  or cadences that I don’t do well in, and make the opponent play my type of game instead.

I guess you can tell from the way I talk so affectionately and brag so much that I have a lot of history with this game.  I just found out recently that a couple of players who used to play at my badminton club, RsM, recently had a baby!

Anyways.

At University of Sydney, what triggered all the nostalgia was two things.  First, pain.  I felt that my right shoulder was starting to get tired, as was my right knee.  At some point, keeping pace meant that I was getting a bit out of breath and getting a cramp on my side. It reminded me of competitive play back in the Lakeshore Badminton Association league games, where my partners and I would continue despite all the cramps and injuries; and not only that, but we’d put on poker faces so that the opponents wouldn’t be able to mentally be fueled by the damage they were causing.  This, I think, is one of the differences between the more experienced of a sport, and the less experienced– the more experienced will never show their opponents that they’re hurt.

The second was that I broke my shoes.  The nostalgia came up because these shoes, I’ve owned since around 2006– they’re that old, from an era where I was still running the badminton store.  It is a bit sad that I’m going to have to throw them out, because it’s quite dangerous to have a lose sole in a sport that requires quick, ankle-breaking changes of direction.  But at the same time, these shoes have come a long way.  They’ve circumnavigated the globe several times, from their creation in China, to my usage of them in Canada, then in South Korea, then back in Canada, and now Australia.

 

I’m a person who is both materialistic, and no materialistic, depending on how you look at it.  I don’t tend to put much importance nowadays on getting the latest cell phone or tablet, although that’s probably a function now of being in abject poverty.  However, I will attach a fair amount of love to something like a PS3 or an XBox, because I associate those devices with literally thousands of hours of storytelling.

Yes, some things come and go, but especially when it comes to things that will last, I tend to get more attached to them.  I’ve used and owned literally over a hundred different badminton rackets, of which I’ve kept a handful: the first racket I ever bought when I was just starting badminton; the first good racket I bought when getting serious about badminton; the first racket I bought when I opened up my store; and the first high grade badminton racket that I used competitively.

 

Similarly, my shoes have a lot of history to them.  Mind you, the fact that they’ve been used for so long doesn’t meant they’re actually durable– they still grip on the ground, but the cushioning is such that I feel I’m running around on the bare bones of my feet.  But these are my old war buddies– they have stepped on sweat and tears with me, they have burned and strained, literally at the very foundations of my badminton.

You would think that a badminton racket is probably the symbol of a badminton player– however, I’ve always held that it is the feet.  You can give me a 15 dollar racket, and I might not be able to smash as hard or deffend as quickly– but I guarantee that I will still be able to beat the average club player as long as I have shoes that can grip the court.  As long as I have footwork, I can mobilise my ability and play the kind of game I want to play.

 

And now these shoes are broken. They’re going to end up in a garbage can, without much of a eulogy, and they will be replaced with a newer, better pair with 10 years of shoe technology development.  However, I will miss them, at least for a little while.  Especially as I try to move around the court in the new, unfamiliar shoes, still uncertain of my footing.

 

I suppose that the reason why they’ve had such a long career to begin with is because of the fact that badminton has fallen a few ranks from a primary activity of mine, so they haven’t seen as much usage as their predecessors, which might be changed every 6 months or so.

 

I suppose this event is not a huge one– but it just reminds me of this whole ongoing process of balancing passions, which is this big game we call life.

Back in Black

I am in the first class of the new semester. Joy!

Quasi Cum Laude

A few days ago, I was asked to be a speaker at a welcoming evening for students.  I was to give a speech to all the new Juris Doctor students, being a “senior” student in the program who has completed 2/3 of the course.

I spent a lot of time thinking about just what to say– because these sorts of events are really a staple I think.  Mind you, it’s not like a valedictorian speech where you got the best grades of your class and get to say something inspiring for the future.  This is more of a university-specific promotional activity where you give them some insight as to what the program is going to be like, and any advice you might have.

I thought about it for a quite a  while. I couldn’t quite figure out what to prepare for this speech.  So in the end… I made it up on the fly.

Yes, I made up the speech while I was in the room, in front of over a hundred law hopefuls.   Aside from one other student, who was representing the PG students (as a JD, we’re slightly different), the only people speaking were faculty members, and they were talking about generic things like how to use the library resources, and what the teaching philosophy of the school was and that kind of stuff.

The PG student speaker was up first. She came prepared with about three pages of a speech written.  Honestly, I didn’t like her speech all that much– because it was all about her.

I think in other contexts it would have been great, but for a room full of first semester students, who honestly is going to care or remember about the 5 years you spent working for such and such a department of government?  Who cares what your specific hopes and dreams are?  It will appeal to some, don’t get me wrong– there’s bound to be someone in the room who will share some things in common with you.  But what about the rest?

I was reading the feel of the room, and though I could have done a much better speech if I had actually prepared for it (the organisers didn’t really tell me what they wanted, and when I arrived, everyone wanted something different), I think I actually did a pretty good job.

Everyone so far had talked about how great it was to study at our university and how there were such a wealth of experiences to be had.  You would learn new things, you would meet interesting people who had a diverse background of academic and professional backgrounds.  Flowers and roses.

They had asked me here to speak of my experiences, so I found all that stuff quite touching– but perhaps a bit misleading.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen,” I boomed.  “First of all, congratulations on being accepted at [our University].”

There was no microphone in the room, so all that experience yelling over a room full of pre-high school South Korean students came in handy.

“I am not going to sugar coat it for you.  In first semester, you guys will go to class and do introductions, and your teachers will tell you to introduce yourselves and say one thing about yourself.  People will say, ‘Hi! My name is [Jinryu]! I like judo and badminton and cycling and going out to find new places to eat and…’ yadda yadda yadda.  By the time you get to third or fourth semester, when your new teacher asks you to do the same thing, a fair percentage of you will change your answer.  You will say, ‘Hi, my name is [Jinryu], and I do law.   I don’t have time for anything else.'”

I actually got a lot more normal laughter than I did nervous laughter, so it was a start.

“I will not sugar coat this for you.  You’re smart people, that’s how you got in.  But law school is, above everything else, hard work, backup, and strategic efficiency.  I have been to exams where, before going in, people have got the shakes because it’s 9AM and they’ve already had 9 Red Bulls.  I  have been to exams where I have seen people weeping with fright.  I kid you not– stress can kill even the most passionate of eyes.

My advice to you has to do with strategies to helping you survive, and then, on your own, you can decide if you have enough energy to make a conquest out of this experience.”

After my speech, many of the faculty half-jokingly told me that I didn’t want to scare them all off– but I got a lot of positive feedback from students in the room.  I don’t think they completely understood just what the program was going to be like, but it seemed like they were getting the point of what I was saying about certain strategies.

“You can’t be just book smart.  Surviving law means being law street smart as well– that means learning to build a network of friends who can watch your back.  One day, whether it’s a coffee when you’re really looking like shit, or someone who can explain to you section 49, subection 5b of this or that act– it will come in handy to have friends.  As post graduate students, we have a lot to be proud of– but therein, there is also the danger that we think we know everything and that we’re better off independent.  I’ll tell you now– as someone who worked over 7 years in a heirarchical public health care system, I’m really good at independent work.  You can always be sure of what you’re going to get done if you don’t trust anyone and you always cover your ass.  But I can also tell you that as one man or one woman, you will be crushed by law school if you don’t learn to work in teams, because it’s not something you can take on all on your own.  The sooner you accept that you don’t know everything, that things are too complicated, and that you need help, the sooner you can actually find help and really open up the law school experience that is working with the people in this room all around you.  You’re all in this together.”

I went on to talk about the importance of teamwork and seeking support.  That included a plug in for the Counselling and Psychological Services up the hill, which has a full suite of offerings to assist with everything from weight loss advice (the mental side) to full blown anxiety disorders.

I can’t remember everything I talked about, but I concluded that, despite all that having been said, they would succeed if they wanted to.  And I wished them the best of luck.

 

 

 

It was a strange experience being at this end of the room.  I realised a few things in the process.

The first is that I’m not scared of standing up in front of over a hundred people and talking anymore. I don’t know exactly when that happened in my life, but that night, was was definately sure of it.  I guess being asked to speak kind of entered my head as a bit of a game… I wondered if I could get away with convincing myself of what I wanted to generally say, and do it all from the bottom of my heart with the first thoughts that came to mind having plugging myself into this persona of a university representative.  “Challenge accepted.”  And I delivered.  It wasn’t perfect, but it’s a skill in progress and I think I’m getting better at it.  By it, I mean, simply talking without needing to prepare– talking confidently and without stuttering, going from one thought to the next– and most importantly, projecting confidence in what I’m saying so that the audience is compelled to listen, whether or not they want to.

It was something that I realised while I was doing all these coffee meetings with lawyers the past few months– it doesn’t really matter what a lawyer has to say.  The skill of someone who really has skills in litigation is that, whatever they want to say, they can say it and convince you that they believe in it.  I tested this out one for kicks as a bit of a social experiment during one coffee, where I was talking to two lawyers at once.

“So, at your firm, naturally, there’s going to be a lot of [A] because of it’s size and position in the market,” I opened.

“Oh, yeah, of course.  [A] is great.  [A] is the best thing since sliced bread, because it yadda yadda yadda,” came the reply.  The other lawyer also went into some detail about how great [A] is.

“But the thing is,” I followed up, “there’s this rising trend that I’m really interested in…. it’s the usage of [B].  I mean, I’ve worked in situations where… yadda yadda….”

“Oh yea, we have a lot of [B] developping here as well.  [B] is all about the yadda yadda….”

Here’s the thing– [A] and [B] and both conceptually polar opposites.  I hinted that I enjoyed A, they took the bait, but then I clarified my position that I liked B better, and they completely did a 180.  That’s not the interesting part– the interesting part was that the full reverse was absolutely seamless, and they managed to explain their positions in favour of both opposing viewpoints in isolation as if it was actually their view.  It wasn’t just that they had a factual knowledge of both [A] and [B]– the frightening part was that they had the ability to convince me that they believed in both with all their hearts, which was impossible; and further that they were able to transition from one position to the other without having to slow down for the turn.

Basically, the skill that I saw in action there was the ability to use subtly use an insane amount of charisma to instantly mobilise the weight of a position that had instantly been created through self-conviction.

My comfort zone for public speaking has always been talking about things I believe in– but what that little social experiment taught me was that there are people who had not figured out just that, but also how to instantly change what they believe in.

 

The thought had occured to me that they just have really good poker faces and pretend that they believe in something though.  Either way… it’s an intriguing ability that I’d like to develop for myself.

Walk in the Park

I enjoy the fact that my workplace sends me out to run errands every now and then. It might be to do some banking, pick up the mail, or deliver some documents by hand, but whatever it is, a field trip out of the office is always enjoyable.

It’s very easy to forget that there is sunlight in the world between 8:30 and 17:30.

7 Pounds of Flesh

My judo group has been encouraging me to start competing.  The issue is that I currently weigh in at about 67-70 kilos– that puts me in the light middleweight division which is from 64 to 81 kilograms.  That’s not all that great– it means that I’m one of the lightest in my division.  If someone basically trains to be 80kilograms, they’ll be about 10kg of muscle (about 22 pounds) more than me.  That kind of sucks.

Ideally, I would cut my weight down to get into the under 64 kg division so I could be the biggest of the next weight class below me.  That’s kinda troublesome though– that involves me losing about 3kg (about 7 pounds) and that’s not easy for me.  The reason being is that my current weight is what I call my natural training weight– this means my weight when I’m eating normally and training on a fairly consistent basis.  Normally, I can swing my weight by a couple of kilos just by water loss, but anything beyond that?  It’d involve a fair amount of fat loss (which will be really hard, since my body fat percentage is already single digits).  That being said, it would mean that I’d need to shed muscle weight and do some pretty strict dieting.

I’ve been weighing it up in my head– what do I want out of judo anyways? [Zanshin] asked me this a few months back and I’ve wondered about the answer to that.  Do I want to win in competitions?  Or do I just want to get better at something?

 

Part of me wonders about getting back into the whole weight control practice to see if i can.  But on the other hand, I think at the end of the day, it’s more likely that I’ll just allow myself to enter competitions at whatever my natural training weight is.  I’m not willing enough to sacrifice quality of life, and frankly, I don’t have the time to dedicate to it because my focus right now really has to be law school.

 

Weight has never been a super sensitive issue for me. I’ve never been really overweight.  I was skinny most of my childhood, and although I started eating lots more in high school, I was always relatively lean I think.  I’m a pretty active guy I suppose, and having cycling built into my daily routine certainly makes it hard for me to stock up on too much excess weight.

From a martial arts perspective though, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a different body type.  I remember sparring with a german guy at the kickboxing club a few years ago– I was quicker than him, but he had about 3 inches longer reach and his jabs were as strong as my crosses.  Sports wise, yes, there are weight classes and they account somewhat for un-ignorable fact that larger people have a reach, height and power advantage.  But what about the real world?

My interest in martial arts has always been somewhere routed in the confidence it gives me to live my life.  It doesn’t mean that I walk around in the streets looking for fights– but it does mean that I feel a bit safer knowing that I have developed not only some ability to fight, but the mentality required to actually commit to hurting someone.  Given the right conditions, I have no doubt that I could take down someone larger than me if he’s unskilled.

 

However, the thing is, suppose someone does pick a fight.  THe people who pick fights are usually people who have a lot of confidence in their abilities.  Martial arts aren’t as mystic as they were back int he 60s or 70s– nowadays, everyone peripherally knows about the UFC, and with an increasingly international culture, especially from asian countries, there’s more and more people who are likely to have undergone mandatory military training.  My point is this– there are lot more people out there who are somewhat skilled at fighting than a decade or two ago.

So what happens when I go up against someone equally skilled, but heavier?  Chances are, I’ll lose.

 

This is all hypothetical of course.  And I’m being overly simplistic about all the variables that actually come into play in an all or nothing street fight.

 

But even after almost two decades of training– what do I think I could do, at 67 kilos, against a 100 kilo rugby player who decides to charge in and tackle me?

Breathless

Wednesday, I had a judo grading exam.  It was just for an orange belt, which is the second belt you obtain after the initial white belt starting position.  Four of us out of a class of about 20 were being tested.  Two of them, I don’t think should have passed, but they did.  Rergardless, my training partner and I did really well. [Krav] and I worked our asses off and we got near perfect performances of our required techniques.  (note: in previous entires, I used to refer to Krav as [BJJT], because I thought he did Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but it turns out he studied Krav Maga. Hence the renaming.)  The instructer called out a technique name in japanese, you would hear a couple of steps, and the sound of 60-67kgs of human flesh and bone slamming into the tatamis.

Today, the day afterwards, I’m surprised that it was just last night– somehow, it feels like so long ago. Time dilates I think, when I’m healing.  I don’t like feeling tired or injured.  Nothing serious, mind you.  I have bruises over my knees, and some over my ribs and bicep where grips went in on me hard.  My trachea was also a bit injured due to collar chokes, making it slightly painful for me to swallow.

There are some times when I come back from an event like this and  next day, I am simply exhausted.  [CM] doesn’t really believe in the idea of “ki,” and I myself have my doubts that it works in the way that Asian cultures describe it, but perhaps it’s the easiest way of describing something that I don’t really have words for.  Yes, I have injuries– but I consider those “external” in nature.  The part that I’m talking about is just feeling exhausted “internally.” 

I suppose it might just be a deep muscle fatigue, but I feel it at my very core– almost as if it’s my very cardiovascular ability that has been exhausted.  No, I don’t have fluid in my lungs or something–  my best bet is that my diaphragm and intercostal muscles are just overworked.

In part, I think it might be because of the particular nature of cardio that you need to do judo.  Like all martial arts, you don’t get to chose when your opponent attacks or leaves openings– breathing is what gives you energy, but the ability to mobilise your entire lung capacity to explode at a given moment is something that takes practice so that it can happen as a muscle memory reflex.  Breathing, a normally involuntary action that we take for granted, in a martial arts scenario is a violent process.  As an added dimension, it even becomes a privilege to be earned.  The type of cardio vascular endurance that you need, and the whole way that your maximum aerobic capcity (also known as VO2 max) is put to the test is completely different.  Unlike cardio activities where your environment is constant, contact sports, including judo, test not only your ability to maintain effective oxygen supply but your ability to protect that oxygen supply from external interruption.  Namely,  because someone is actively trying to crush your rib cage or choke you.  Perhaps then, it seems quite scientifically feasible that the very mechanics of the human body’s breathing apparatus gets tired, to the point that the next day, you just don’t feel 100%? Maybe that’s what all these old school martial arts are actually alluding to by a reference to ki, qi, chi, chakra, hei, etc.

It’s all just talking about a combination of aerobic and anerobic capacity, factoring in that fortification of the delivery system.

 

 

Some observations about the phenomenon, in general:

The same rules apply to badminton. Fast feet are essential to badminton to getting you around the court, but energy conservation is also important in maintaining your ability to stay fast and hit hard.  Oftentimes, one of the biggest mistakes I see between even people with a few years experience is that they don’t manage their energy well.  If someone clears a bird to them, they run like mad to get into position, wait, and then hit.  Why run like mad then wait, if you can just walk at a measured pace to get there?  You won’t be able to hit the bird until it comes into hitting range– why rush to get there too early when you can get there just early enough?  Similarly, efficiently managing energy has a mental aspect– you have to react sooner, but you don’t need to necessarily move quicker.  A lot of people spend so much training foot speed and agility, because the opponent hit’s the bird, they wait a moment to decide what to do, then they have to run twice as fast to get there just on time, but with so much momentum from their double-effort that they’ll often have to run past their target after hitting, or expend extra energy to apply brakes.  Ideally, perception and conscious thought, which are all facilitated by conscious muscle memory training, allow you to react sooner so that you have the extra split second to move at a measured pace and keep your energy burn at a constant rate.  Violent spikes in energy are the things that the core hates the most.

I participated in an in house judo tournament about a week ago, when I was still a yellow belt.  Two of my opponents, I beat, not because I was necessarily physically or technically more adept– I just had a better conscious management of my energy.  The first opponent, [Wiki] (so named because he has an almost encyclopeadic knowledge of judo theory) had a completely different fighting sytle to how he conducted normal sparring.  Suddenly, he was operating at 300% his normal intensity.  It is good to get serious when someone says “competition” but I don’t think it helps to deviate from your gameplan at the last minute.  In his case, it involved a sudden burst of fancy footwork and aggressiveness that was outside of his normal style.  My strategy against this was to play deffensively, because I didn’t think that his normal, more passive style of randori would support such a high energy rate of burn for very long.  I was right– in a bit under a minute, I had him on the ground in a rear naked choke, which he was too tired to fend off.

 

Aerodynamics

Every time I get a hair cut, I feel leaner and meaner. Thanks to the placebo effect, I will run harder, hit heavier, and breathe deeper.

The thing is, I don’t usually pay too much attention to my hair, unless for professional presentation. But I will admit… When I clean up and take the time to look good, my self confidence is unshakable.