dal niente

Tag: hate

Gratitude

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Blue thing on the top left: Elastic ankle brace. Not really useful, but I use it as a liner for the 3-strap plus laced ankle brace at centre top.

Middle top: The 3-strap plus lace ankle brace. It doesn’t completely immobilise my ankle, but it helps.  Laces tighten the brace. Two of the straps crisscross over my instep, and then under the sole of my foot, attaching by velcro vertically along my leg, while the third strap wraps around my ankle.

Middle: a Shock Doctor knee brace with hinged side supports.  It’s not as serious as some badminton players I knew who had orthotic knee braces, but in Judo, you can’t have any hard surfaces on your gear (you might hurt your opponent).  As it stands, because this knee brace has metal hinges and support beams along the side, it’s theoretically illegal for competition.  I use it while trianing though because it’s sufficiently covered with material that it shouldn’t hurt anyone.

Bottom, in red: an older wraparound knee brace with hinged side supports.  I don’t use this one as much anymore, because the metal hinges could potentially hurt my partner (they’re not as well padded as with the Shock Doctor knee brace).  However, if it happens that both of my knees feel twitchy on a given tradining day, I will wear this as my second knee brace (one brace per knee).

On a typical judo day, I usually end up wearing some combination of the above.  Lately, I’ve been wearing none of it, because I’d like to work on strengthening my ankle (injured last October) and my knees (chronic pains which have been ongoing for years now).  However, there are some nights where I will be wearning all of the above, or substituting one of the knee braces for a knee pad.

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A bicycle tire, split halfway down it’s length, and tied to an old obi (belt).  I use this for rehabilitation of my right shoulder, and to strengthen my left to make sure that it doesn’t suffer the same fate as my right.  When my knees get better, I plan to use this to practice seoi nage uchikomi (shoulder throw drills).
 
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A foldaable walking stick.  If ever my knees or my ankle starts acting up, this helps me keep it from getting worse.  I got a foldable one because it’s easier to carry by bike.  Thankfully I haven’t had to use this one in several months now.
 
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I can’t remember exactly when I started doing martial arts.  I think I was perhaps 16 or 17 at the time. It has been a long journey– I started off in Jeet Kune Do.  I moved on to kickboxing.  I did some MMA.  I did taekwondo.  I logged some boxing.  Now, I do judo.
 
I have entered into tournaments, and I’ve never gotten gold at anything.  I’ve been motivated and I’ve been depressed– I’ve gone through ups and downs as my training happened at the same time as the rest of lifes’ events.
 
What have I learned along the way?  What is it that keeps me going?
 
As someone who has never been the best fighter, I have nonetheless worked hard and made it to silvers or quarter finals on more than a few occasions, including in open-weight events.  I’ve paid the price though, as you can see from the above pictures.
 
What have I learned from being a second rate martial artist?  What have I learned from working hard and never quite being the best?
 
I’m sure everyone has a way out there for them to figure out who they are, and who they want to be.  For me, martial arts have been one of those ways.  While other passions, such as badminton and music have ebbed and flowed, I keep coming back to martial arts.  I don’t know why.
 
Maybe it’s because when I was younger, I never thought I’d live to see 30.  I remember violence in elementary school that made me wonder what would be the point?  I remember racism and hate.  In high school, I remember thoughts of rebellion from my family constraints.  I made some of the greatest friends I ever had in high school, who I kept through college.  I remember getting confused and lost in college, having no clue what I wanted to do in my life.
 
These sorts of situations make you wonder, really, why bother with a future?  Is it just going to be the same shit, a different day?
 
Martial arts was an intersting scenario– because I never really could pin down just what I loved about it.  Perhaps for a while, it was some sort of sadism– a sense of empowerment.  It might even have been the masochism– there was never any logical reason to keep on fighting, it was always easier to just roll over and give up.
 
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In the past, the take away message for me from years of training has been one of anger and rage.  Martial arts to me was a way of channeling frustration– of burning negative energies.  Frustration at my lot in life.  Frustration at not being better at this or that, both in martial arts and life outside.  The rage was a fuel that pushed me forward– it helped me get better at things.  It allowed me to endure harsh training.
 
Lately?  I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with martial arts, and what I’ve learned from it.  Am I still angry?  Do I still fight for the same reasons?
 
The answer is no.  And that was to be expected, perhaps– peoples’ motivations change all the time I think.
 
But I think that this thing that I fixate on now is probably the last thing I’ll learn of martial arts.  It is the thing that I will spend the rest of my life cultivating, because it is what I think is a sustainable mantra to keep me going for the years to come.  It is the thing that, should we have children one day, I would like to pass on to them as well.
 
I’ve learned a lot of things, but one thing stands above all others:
 
Gratitude.
 
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Gratitude that I wasn’t born into a dangerous country in a dangerous time, where I would have to fight every day.  Training in martial arts teaches you all about weakness.  You realise every time you get injured how much worse it could be.  You learn to cherish health and being alive, and to make it count.
 
You can develop a grattitude for weakness. In knowing weakness, in getting hurt, in shedding tears, in being frustrated at your own inadequacy, you alternate between bouts of anger at being powerless and bouts of humility.
 
Sometimes anger can bring you closer to people, because there may be people who share in your anger.  Anger is like fear or being wiped out because you’ve reached an evolutionary dead end– anger spurs you on to change yourself, because you’re not satisfied with who you are. For a long time, I cultivated strength in myself through anger at myself and others.  It was always adversity that fueled my momentum, whether it was actual or imagined.
But what I’ve come to understand, increasingly, is that a better source than anger is humility. Without gratitude for basic survival, for being the privilege of being weak over being dead, there is no humility.  Humility is what allows you to love and be loved.  You realise you can’t do it all alone, and that you’re interconnected with those around you.  Without humility, we never learn a lot of things about how to interact with those around us. 
 
Grattitude for life arises out of humility.  For all the aches and pains that I constantly report on, the fact of the matter is that I know now how lucky I am to have survived the kind of training that I’ve done.  And not just raining– there are all these unforseen events that just popped up in life that could have, on numerous occasions, just ended me.  To be a “has been” or to be a “never was” is the privilige of living to see another day– and we can never be too grateful for that.
 
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The thing about being grateful is that it’s an admission.  People who aren’t grateful and say they owe nobody anything?  People who are super proud of themselves at the expense of others? These people are full of shit, and if they don’t figure it out sooner, they’ll figure it out later: it’s a lonely state of affairs where you owe nobody anything.  It means either that you’re the type of person who could never love others, or were never loved by others.  There are people who take and take to where they want to be, and they call themselves “self made men.”  But no man is truly self-made.
 
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Gratitude does not necessarily mean enslaving yourself to others who you owe.  It means taking the gifts which they have given you, and paying it forward.  Just as you should be gratful for your opportunities to pay things forward, those who did nice things for you should be gratfeul for the things you do with the opportunities they gave you.
 
 

Being grateful does not mean settling for what you have– it’s recognising that where you are now is a result not just of your own efforts, but of things beyond your control.  It is an understanding of interconnection between you and your environment at its most providencial and at it’s most unforgiving.

 
Gratitude is a realisation that good things have happened in the past, and that you have survived bad things.  In that way, being able to feel gratitude is a source of fighting spirit in face of future adversity– because if you can man up to feel gratitude at something, then you have enough understanding of the past to have some sense of your actual capabilities, and you can take on great things in the future.
 
Gratitude is not just words of praise for yourself, for fate, or for others.  It is the actions you use to take responsibility for what you owe.  What you owe isn’t just in terms of material things– it is in terms of the society that gave you a chance.  Gratitude is paying it forward so that maybe some day, someone else will be grateful as well.
 
And if they are grateful, then they have also learned things about anger, humility, and love as well.

Grey World

Miyazaki Hayao’s movies have something that always kind of touched on something within me.  Sure, there are the recurrent themes of heroism (especially femminism, I find) but the thing that he gets, and presents a way that I find simultaneously captivating and terrifying, is the theme of corruption.
 
In pretty much every Miyazaki film I’ve ever seen, there’s a character that somewhere makes a turn, and becomes something evil, something whose presence is just disturbing.  And it’s never a total evil– it’s the kind of evil that reflects our human nature, in that it’s flip floppy.  You have good characters who become corrupt, and corrupt characters who are redeemed.
 
I’m mostly of the opinion that in actuality it’s the greyness  of real life that’s scary, in that it’s not black and white.  Things that are black and white are easy, because they’re predictable and obvious.  But in the grey areas, there is room for surprise, there is room for betrayal.
 
Take the idea of a terrorist.  Doesn’t that sound extreme?  In reality, it’s not the extremism that bothers us– it’s the conceptual grey area that comes with our reaction to it.  Who do we hunt down to make the terrorism stop?  What methods can we use?  And in so using these methods, is it possible that we cross the line and lose the very humanity we think we’re protecting?
 
Or is the point of the whole exercise to have what Milton calls a “happy fall?”
 
Maybe it is better to live scrambling for a life and maybe a chance of dominion in the Grey World, even through all the strife and hardship, because it is only in the Grey World that we find reasons to ever protect and to love.
 
Or would you give it up to live a perfect life, Black or White?

Reactor Core

 

Ever since I caught H1N1 about 3 weeks back, I’ve been totally off of my training schedule.

There’s a number of reasons for this.

First of all, it was the flu.  Duh.  The flu sapped so much of my energy that I couldn’t do jack squat while I had it, and even 10 days after I first got it, I was still drastically weakened.

Before the flu, I did some exercise whenever I can.  It usually totalled 3 or 4 times per week for the running, and I’d do other calisthetics and isometric exercises at home whenever I had the extra energy, so that was between 4 and 7 days per week.

Before the flu,
I ran trips of 5km in under 25 minutes on hills.
I could do 40 pushups.
I could do 20 chinups.
I could do do 30 crunches.

Sometimes if I was feeling particularly energetic I might do less reps but more sets over the course of a day. That might not sound like a lot a lot to a lot to some of you people out there, but [Terminator] checked out my technique for a lot of those things and basically just corrected my form for eacho one of those exercises and it made it helluva harder.

Anyway, my point is that, 14 days after I first caught the flu,
I couldn’t run.
I could do maybe 8 pushups.
I could do 4 chinups.
I usually gave up on crunches because I was so tired from the pushups and chinups.

Now, about 21 days after I first caught the flu,
it took me more than 25 minutes to run 3km, and I’m exhausted afterwards.
Pushups are at 20.
Chinups are at 10.
Crunches are at 20.

The flu really took a lot out of me and though the first few numbers at 14 days may be especially low because I hadn’t fully purged it out of my system, I’m pretty sure that today, about 21 days after T-0, I’m clean.  It’s just that the combination of the weakness and the loss of a lot of muscle mass over the course of a 3 week hiatus from any physical activity have really taken their toll on my body.

My average weight is also 6 pounds less than what it was 21 days ago.

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I’ve got a case of eczema/dermatitis that’s really annoying the crap out of me, and it makes me less inclined to try some of my month-old training plans.  Judo, in particular– a month ago, I’d intended on joining a judo dojo somewhat near my apartment, but frankly I don’t want to get up close and personal when I’ve got skin problems.  Although eczema isn’t contagious, it is embarassing, and moreover, it can be very uncomfortable and at times even painful because the skin is so dry and brittle that close contact actions, for example, someone trying to grab you by your jacket and throw you on your back, will really hurt.

I’ve always had eczema, it usually only comes back during this time of year.  I missed out on it last time because I was in Asia, and something about the combination of the humidity and the heat kept the symptoms away completely.  Either that, or pollution trumps dermatitis.

But this year I think it’s particularly bad beause I’m biking. The most affected area is on my neck and ears, and now a bit on my eyelids and forehead– I think it’s because of the windchill that basically dries my skin right out.  It’s also on my arms, body and legs, but that’s not as bothersome. No matter how much lotion I take, it doesn’t cut it.

 [Supergirl] doesn’t seem to mind it but I do; I hate having eczema. It’s one of those things that I was simply born with and don’t really have any control over.  I haven’t been prescribed any sorta cortizone creams or anything like that since I was a kid, but I’m fed up of this. I’ve got a dermatologist appointment for tomorrow morning, which I’m going to go to after I finish work at 8am.  I need to know what my options are, because this will affect my plans to cycle through winter.

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Lastly,

one of the reasons why I don’t train as much nowadays is because of [Supergirl].

At the roots, the training was always because I had a surplus of negative energy within me.  Make no mistake– it was not positive energy.  It’s something that I needed to work out of me or it would drive me insane.

I was never much one for academics– but the easiest example I can think of as far as negative energy goes were those days back in college when I was an arcade addict.  It wasn’t that the energy made me play arcades– it was that arcades turned out to be one of the easiest ways of diffusing that energy.  I could channel that agression into some sort of dedication to pixels and joysticks as if everytime I rolled out a quarter-circle, it wasn’t just Ryu throwing the fireball out of his amassed qi– it may as well have been me.  With every opponent I challenged, I could work off more and more of this energy.

Martial arts were no different.  It was a means of self discipline that allowed me to channel the negative energy.  It sounds cliche, but I always struggled with it.  Back then, there was so much to hate.

I suppose that over the years I forgot just what all the rage and anger was all about, and then after that all that was left was the addiction to the actual acts of energy diffusion.  Thus, it came naturally that I could throw myself into things like badminton, kickboxing, taekwondo or grappling. Even playing a guitar, or writing– it was most profound when I had something that I wanted to work out.

It self perpetuates, kinda.  I guess what happens it that even when the original reason is gone, you just get into the habit of being an agressive person.  Your body, or more accurately, your sprit, automatically generates the negative energy even without a trigger, because it’s set in that way. 

I’ve always been like that, even throughout my previous relationships.

It seems that with previous girlfriends or people who I tried dating, I was always fighting for them or fighting with them fighting about them.  It’s the language I knew I guess.

But this time?

With Supergirl…

that’s just it.  With her.  We are together and that’s all there is to it.

That’s not to say that it was effortless to get where we are– it took a good amount of time for us to build our way to where we are now.  But it was never a fight, or a struggle.  It almost just felt as if the next step was just inevitable, and that it would just happen, like growth itself.

And suddenly, I find that I don’t have much energy to diffuse anymore.  It’s been months since I practiced martial arts.  It’s been longer still since I’ve picked up a badminton racket.

At first I was always itching for something else to replace it, which is why I started training independantly at home, or with the running, and the cycling.

But ever since I started going out with Supergirl, I just kind of feel that I don’t need it anymore– it feels as if all that dark, bitter stuff is gone.

I always thought that I exercised to be fit, but it’s recently that I realized that that was just a bonus.  Really, it was always because I needed to work something off.

Nowadays… I dunno. I guess I’m confused about some things, and part of it is how unlike anyone before, [Supergirl] makes my core feel at peace.

Overexposure

When you press, the shutter opens up for a moment, exposing the film to light for a moment.  How long this moment is depends on several things– you can change settings manually of course, but for the most part, it has to do with the automatic metering done by the camera.  It decides how much light to let in.  How good something looks in black in white is all about contrast.

It’s not that pessimists are better than optimists or vice versa.

But they are insufferable.

Nobody wants to squint at a photo that’s over or underexposed to the extremes.


There are a lot of beautiful things in the world, but in a world with problems that need solving, naivety and immaturity are not included on my list.

I will abstractly allow that children should be children… however, though adults can remain young at heart, they should only do so in tandem with a growing understanding of their place in the world.  We enjoy a lot of freedoms and safeties– as children, our parents tend to provide things like this for us.

But as we grow older, I feel that we owe it– not just to our parents, but to the world (specifically, outside of our families)– to do right things so that this can trickle on to the next generation.  Being a child is about finding beauty in the simplest things– but even a child knows when things are ugly.  The unavoidable, progressive act of growing older is about developing the tools to take control of those things that are beautiful and ugly in life. 

The difference between an adult and a child is the way that they deal with their situations.  A child is based on emotions and wants, and has little consideration of needs because they’re usually automatically provided by someone older.  An adult should be able to take all of the child’s wants (including the child within themselves) and be able to affect them through the use of reasoning– an adult doesn’t cry, for example, when he doesn’t get chocolate– he learns to accept that he can’t always have chocolate, or that he needs money to buy chocolate, or that he can ask someone for it, or that there are better things out there.  Being an adult is all about having options and making choices, taking into account reasoning.

It is about developing an increased understanding of one’s impact on the group.

Do we owe a group?

And if we do, how do we pay it back?

I would argue that we do owe a group.  Every little thing, even the safety we have to walk on the street, it’s not something we earned– it was just given to us (at least, as North Americans reading Xanga).  At who’s expense?

Someone always pays for the luxuries we have.  To draw a stretch, wars in the middle east existed because we want to drive cars instead of ride bicycles.  I’m not saying that you put a gun to anyone’s head– but for every choice you make on a day to day basis you set either set in motion a chain of events or subscribe to a chain that is already in motion.  The child doesn’t know these things– the adult, if he/she doesn’t, should.

And it’s not that I’m telling you to start looking up international politics.  I’m simply asking you to care, in a non-superficial way.


It is very possible to care in a superficial way.

Don’t care just because it’s fashionable.  Don’t care for just the easy things.  Don’t care just because it makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Caring has a lot to do with doing what’s right in spite of difficulty, pleasure or reward.

If you can’t understand that, then you’re just a child, looking out for his/her own pleasure.

If that’s the case, go back to Eden.   The rest of us have work to do.

Back in Anyang

I just got back home from 대천, which is a place in the west coast of Korea.  Beach area basically.  It was my first 3 day weekend in a long long time, and the first time I spend it with co-workers despite having been in Korea for such a long time.  I’ve only got about 8 possible hours of sleep before I have to wake up for monday’s routine of taekwondo and Intensives teaching, so I can’t really write so much right now and that really annoys me.  But I’m writing down a few notes here that I’ll address later and write more about when I finally have enough time, assuming that’s possible since at the end of THIS week I’m going to be heading to Hong Kong.  Somewhere during this crazy week of taekwondo, korean lessons and 13 hour work days I’m supposed to correct a month’s worth of essays and do report cards for 7 classes.  That’s just… ugh.

Anyway.  Notes to me about recent events:

  • The coworker who seemed to be trying to take advantage of me while I was “drunk”
  • Random Korean people on the beach
  • Tetris on the train
  • Roman Candle mortars
  • Tubes
  • Noraebang (노래방) and mobile noraebang
  • Asians versus Caucasians
  • The price of hot chocolate
  • freedom of speech versus freedom of thought
  • The one guy everybody hates
  • How I miss having the time to read peoples blogs seriously (which is why I haven’t been commenting in forever)
  • Jimjebangs
  • Spending habits (jimjebangs, food, Tetris and Striker 1945)
  • Sleeping in a 민박

And last but not least my plans to come back to Canada for at least a while with a stopover in Vancouver (YES IT’S FINALIZED!) as well as Calgary in the middle/end of october– some of you mentioned in comments in passing that you’re in those areas but if you’re serious drop me a message and I’ll really try to hook up and catch a coffee with you fine folks!

Yes, I hate using excessive exclamation marks as much as the next person, and I also hate using bold characters, but I’ve read a lot of fine blogs from out in Van and Calgary and if you guys want to tell me where and when, it’d be cool to meet up with the faces on the other sides of the screens even if only for a few days.

And because I haven’t listened to it in a while: