“Mania: an excessively intense enthusiasm, interest or desire.”

It seems that every now and then I like to write a blog entry about how stressed I am having spent the last 7056 hours working on some assignment or another.

Well, not today, no sir! I’m not so much stressed as manic. I’m in this strange state flooded by autonomic hormones where everything I come up with seems hilarious and I’m talking not only to myself, but to the textbooks I am drawing information from. I cannot seem to calm down at all. It’s not unpleasant, just curious. I wonder how long this state will last. At any rate, I’m going to Taekwondo in ~40 minutes (which I may or may not continue- I’ve found new reason to train in the form of a new sparring partner who pushes me to keep on my toes) so I should burn off most of the adrenaline then.

Well, pip pip friends! It’s back to emancipatory practice to encourage every man and woman’s right to self-determinism via the strengths perspective. Tally ho!

PS: I don’t even remember how self-determinism fits in to the assignment. My memory seems to span only a few seconds, but my concentration can last up to a minute or two.

Dawn

I think I’m beginning to understand now…

I’m not right because everyone is right. Foucault writes about truth as being created as a product of social interaction (that is to say, every person makes their own ‘version’ of the truth by interacting with other people), and so there are many truths that exist simultaneously, or conversely, no such thing as truth at all. So no Liz, I don’t believe that if x punched y in the face, that would be the truth. I believe x might have considered it a wave of his hand and y considered it an attempt on her life. Each member of the jury, depending on their personal histories and current social contexts, will have different interpretations of what is "true".

So I am right, but only to me or anyone who thinks exactly along the same lines as I do (which I believe is impossible).
I concede, also, that you are right too, and you always will be.

This postmodernism stuff really does your head in.

Death Makes Life Possible

When you are a grandparent, you will no longer be a baby, a
teenager, or a young adult. So when it comes time to go to heaven,
which of these people is going to show up?

The person you are today isn’t the same person you were when you
were 10 years old. Certainly your body has changed completely from that
of the 10-year-old. None of the molecules in your cells is the same,
and neither is your mind. You certainly don’t think like a child.

In essence, the 10-year-old you once were is dead. From a
10-year-old’s perspective, the 2-year-old you once were is also dead.
The reason that life seems so continuous is that you have memories and
desires that tie you to the past, but these too are ever shifting.

Just as your body comes and goes, so does the mind with its fleeting
thoughts and emotions. When you are aware of being yourself without
being attached to any particular age, you’ve found the mysterious
observer within who doesn’t come and go.

Only witnessing awareness qualifies as that observer–it remains the
same while everything else changes. It would be futile to hold on to
who you are at this moment in terms of body and mind.

You are dying at every moment so that you can keep creating yourself.

You are not in the world; the world is in you. This, the main tenet
of the one reality, also means that you are not in your body; your body
is in you. You are not in your mind; your mind is in you. There is no
place in the brain where a person can be found.

So when we say that the soul leaves a person’s body at the moment of
death, it would be more correct to say that the body leaves the soul.
The body is already coming and going; now it leaves without coming back.

Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).

Scorn

I have been repulsed by Taekwondo for the first time since… well, ever, I think. Perhaps repulsed is too harsh a word. Maybe "put off" or "disinclined to return" will suffice. All the same it’s a shocking first for me.

Last night I attended the competition class. It’s where the members of the club who want to enter competitions and tournament gear up and practice whooping each other. It’s much more intensive because it doesn’t concern itself with basics (out of the 17 attending, 15 of them were black belts so all the exercises were on the top end of the scale) and focuses entirely on scoring (and preventing being scored on) in a tournament. Aside from being physically draining (my knees gave way after forty minutes- I’m just not used to the intensity of the exercises), I found for the first time that I was not amongst the best when I walked into a room of martial artists. In fact, I was the worst (save for the 14-year-olds and unders). By quite a margin, too. You know how I was talking about the millimeters which divide a hit from a miss? In TKD competitions, opportunities are marked by milliseconds. Your opponent tenses, s/he’s either feinting or about to attack. You read into the smallest signs your opponents sends and you use those microexpressions to find an opportunity where you might just be able to get one in before your opponent recovers. All the battles are decided on those milliseconds.

While about 35% of the class were good people (Patrick, for example, was patient with me as I tried to keep up, and Jason was trying to teach Victor to take advantage of openings), the remaining 65% (as far as I could see) were completely up themselves. Even the trainers, Master Ross and Master Graeme (though I’ll never,
ever call him that) were arrogant. They made fun of those who were not
on the state team, basically. Those who had less skill, the weaklings
of the group. Graeme told Jessica not to smile or else he’d kick her
teeth out. Ross told everyone to go easy on me because I was crazy.
Instructors who breed that kind of malice within their own ranks
disgust and hurt me. Furthermore, Oh Do Kwan is the most successful Taekwondo club in Western Australia, and most of the champions train at the Maddington branch. So essentially, we had most of the state champions training in the room, and they were all out to beat everyone else. I’m probably generalising, but they were impatient, arrogant and focused solely on dominating worthy opponents (i.e. each other).

And who wants to be that kind of person? Not me. So while I amongst the best in a normal Taekwondo class, when it comes to competition, the bar is raised well and truly above my head. And to meet it, I’ll need to train for months or years to develop reflexes slightly faster than the ones I have now so I might attack that split second earlier and get away with it. But to do so, I’ll need to devote myself to beating or matching the champions of Western Australia. And it’s just not worth it. I don’t want to spend the next few years of my life striving to become like them so I might be the tiniest bit faster at kicking.

No, my friends, it’s time I leave Taekwondo. I’ll finish this month’s membership and continues tournament training to see if my initial impression is wrong (which, as psychology taught me, it usually isn’t). After that I’ll settle into Curtin’s Karate club for a while and see how it suits me. I’m strongly put off dominating others, but Sensei Ho is a great man and I have much to learn from him. However, I do not believe Karate is all there is for me. It has weaknesses that I want to cover. But rather than learning a bunch of martial arts to cover the others’ weaknesses, I’d rather learn one good one. As far as I can tell, there are only three which are nigh on flawless if practiced well. Firstly there is Cobra Martial Arts Club in Cannington. The instructor there learned Muay Thai, Karate, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Kickboxing and combined the best of each to make a great self-defence course. It sounds good, although I am wary of any club which has a picture of a smiling family wearing uniforms on the front of the building. Secondly, there is Jeet Kune Do (although I don’t know enough about it to pursue it at the moment). Bruce Lee would have covered all the angles, I’m sure, and of course if anyone could ever fight like him, they’d be unbeatable. Thirdly there is ninjukai taijutsu, the ninja’s art of hand-to-hand combat. Lethal and very intense, a practitioner of ninjukai might never come up against an opponent of equal skill within his or her lifetime. But I’m not sure I want to become Musashi just yet.

So that’s an update on the martial arts side of my life. Which, admittedly, is huge. I realised last night that pretty much everything I love (besides Bethwyn) is based on some form of fighting. I can’t imagine that’s going to end well for me…

Musings

I have come to another nother realisation about martial arts.

With my current skill I would be able to defend myself from a large chunk of the populace. Why then do I continue to train?
1. To maintain my skill and to improve on it minutely over time. Why do I continue to try and improve?
2. Health, discipline, fun etc. Personal development. Oh, and…
3. The possibility of meeting someone with greater skill than me who threatens what I love.

Meeting such a person outside the club is unlikely, but not impossible. My scuffle with Mew taught me never to challenge a ninja to mortal combat.

When it comes to elitism, it is the minute difference in skill that tip the battle. Yes, it helps to be better with a sword than the other guy if you’re in a duel, but microseconds ultimately decide whether you can deliver the blow or not. Millimeters (or less) decide whether you get hit. And it is those millimeters you must be extra wary of- all you need to do is maintain the distance and you remain unscathed. But then, someone with the slightest trace of greater skill might be able to cover those millimeters and strike you. And that is what really wins the battle.

So, while I am only scarcely behind the others in my club, it is that tiny, tiny distance that means I will almost certainly never win a fight against them. And of course, anyone of much greater skill than me (the actors in Bruce Lee’s movies were all talented martial artists, but let’s face it, they would have gotten whooped whether it was scripted or not) would just floor me.

That’s why Nameless studied the Broken Sword’s scroll.
That’s why Shishio Makoto never took his eyes off Kenshin.
That’s why Ocelot couldn’t land a shot on the Big Boss.
That tiny millimeter which would have tipped the scale of the battle.

I still have so much to learn. But I am learning.

Raaar.

I am very, very tired. Stephen, Dylan, Eugene and I watched all three Lord of the Rings films last night, roughly 12 hours long from 8:30pm to 8:30am. We dozed for parts of it, waking up only to catch snippets of Saruman yelling or bright lights on the screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though I was loathe to miss certain war scenes, so methinks (while I can say I’ve watched all three of them consecutively) I’ll have to go back to rewatch about half of the second and third movies.

Anyway, the point is I’m tired so I might not be thinking completely straight at the moment. I just wanted to write awhile.

I was doing my readings for Practice Models, and it occurred to me that in family counselling, a man might look at to me to take his side when he’s arguing with his wife. And if I try and calm him and get in touch with his and his wife’s feelings rather than the principles of manhood, he might consider me less than a man. And that’s a fairly unsettling thought. I don’t want to be seen as effeminate or emasculate, but at the same time principle (and over a year of being exposed to feminist literature simply by being enrolled in a humanitarian course run mostly by females since the 1600’s) tells me there’s nothing wrong with being, as some would call it, feminine. However, that would deny me notions of being a man, which is what I am. I compared it to the idea of a Kenyan woman being denied the right to be and to celebrate being an African woman. And while I would not beat my wife and children to show my manliness, the sense of desolation in the imaginary look of the imaginary client (the incredulous look that says, My God man, what have you become?) stings a little.

I guess I want to be able to feel like a man without being a brute about it. Pro-masculine femininty, Pease called it… Maybe it’s worth a look into.

Mr Right

I just wanted to post about something I realised in Statutory Social Work today. We were talking about difficulties we might be confronted with in future practice and I admitted it would be hard for me to accept an opinion contrary to my own. And that made me realise that I believe I’m always right. Through logic and observation, I arrive at a conclusion which I believe to be the "most correct" one. I might alter this conclusion based on what someone else believes (because I always try hard to hear other’s opinions and beliefs, even if they don’t match with my own) but ultimately I will always be right. And the notion that "right" does not exist.. It’s just unfathomable. Not to say I’m wrong, but just to say I’m not right… Every part of my rejects this idea as ludicrous, as an impossibility not worth entertaining. And I’m not sure how to get around this, because while I believe it’s not a particularly healthy mental attitude to have I can’t think of a way of functioning without it.

Any ideas anyone? :)
I’ll probably listen to them, see what works with me and possibly adopt some of them before discarding the rest as "other opinion". I can’t help but feel I’m being a bit of a prick…

Karate, by the way, was enjoyable. It’s very different to Taekwondo in philosophy and style, although the techniques are almost all the same. I feel a little sore from some of the exercises (especially in my big toes- how did I manage that?) but it was fantastic using hands to block and counter rather than to guard. I believe I’ll continue with Taekwondo for a few months, compete in a tournament or two, maybe go for my second dan, but eventually I plan to switch to Shito-Ryu Karate entirely. I met a girl there who is in the state karate team- it is one of my heart’s great desires to challenge her in combat. Can my shield of kicks hold a lightning fast hand striker at bay? Not to mention she actually blocks kicks rather than avoids them. It should be interesting, but some day I’m going to challenge that lass. Can’t imagine I’d win, but it would be an education experience.

Well, cheerio!

Internet chop

Okay, so my internet went from being slower than dial-up to non-existent when we switched providers to iinet. Hopefully I’ll get dial-up again in a few days, and in a few weeks back to broadband. Sigh.
 
Just a quick note. I rocked up to Curtin’s Karate club yesterday afternoon at the Dome. Training was supposed to start at 6:30 but I arrived early to get ready. there was no one there except two of my friends who were also trying out. We waited there (in the correct place at the correct time), trying to call the sensei and his assistant, but after forty-five minutes we went home karate-less. I was disappointed beyond measure, but have sent an email to the club in the hopes of receiving some kind of explanation.
 
Very much looking forward to future potential classes.
 
 
 
EDIT: Nevermind. To my chagrin I found an email sent three days prior to training saying that the Dome hadn’t finished construction so training was continuing in the old venue. Pssht. Stupid lack of internet. Ultimately, though, it’s still my fault. sent a rather abashed email to the club, not sure if I have the face to go again tomorrow. Probably will. Ciao.
 
PS: Work in 35 minutes, takes 20 minutes to get home and 10 minutes to get there. Stupid want for moneys.