Note to self

Try and step out of your comfort zone. You may not like it at first, but if you can become comfortable doing something new, you’re expanding your comfort zone, making it bigger, making life itself more comfortable while enjoying its rich experiences.

The spirituality of.. cooking?

In Healing With Whole Foods, food researcher Paul Pitchford
speaks of the invisible energy that is imparted to the food by the cook
and that this in turn affects anyone who then eats that food. He offers
a few suggestions for being aware of your intentions in the kitchen:

1. Food prepared in anger imparts anger.
2. If the cook is being too thrifty and not meeting everyone’s
nutritional needs there can be a feeling of deprivation and then
excessive binging (on not-so-nutritious food), leading to even more
expense.
3. When the cook is feeling rejected, the food will most likely be rejected, too.
4. Cooking in a hurried or chaotic manner can result in anxious, chaotic thoughts and actions.

So, note to self, pound the pillow rather than the chicken breast
when angry with spouse or children. Then take a moment to calm down and
let go of the anger before stepping into the kitchen.

Gee willickers, would you look at that? That would be at least one theory to explain why the ‘meals’ my brother and I cooked when we were 8/10 were the best we’ve ever eaten..

This week

A number of things have happened in the past week or so.

While placement is challenging (in that it’s an 8 hour day every day, plus a 9 hour day on Saturdays), it’s been educational. I’m grateful for the experience, though I’d be much moreso if I got paid for it.

I’ve been seeing Bethwyn as frequently as I can. Usually this means sleeping over on weekends and returning to work on Monmorns. It’s not nearly as much as we were used to, and not nearly as much as we would like, but I think we’re adapting over time. It’d be a lot easier if we lived together and I could come home and see her every night (and vice versa), but that will have to wait for now.

I got my licence! Very exciting stuff. I’m still a little unsteady at times- I admit that my driving can be reckless as often as it is safe. But in this week since I got my licence, I’ve improved a tremendous deal- I’ve learned more of the unspoken rules of the road and am generally more prepared for dangers now that I have to find them on my own (rather than having Dad point them out to me). I drove to Morley today and got horribly lost (because map books don’t include things like "No right turn" signs), so I learned a little about finding alternate routes to a destination without a mapbook. It’s a skill I hope to become proficient in, though I do plan to invest in a GPS eventually, no matter my father’s opinion.

I won a Guitar Hero tournament on the weekend. That was a definite highlight. It was only the Hard category, rather than the expert, simply because I had a much better chance of winning rather than being floored by this guitar legend who shredded the competition (pun intended). In short, the battles were close- I had to win three times in a row, and through better use of Star Power, and just a slightly higher skill level (hitting more notes consecutively) I pulled off a win. Very pleased with that.

That’s about it in my life. Oh! And I’m doing the 40 Hour Famine. I’ll be giving up speech and technology rather than food, because Mum forbids it. When I no longer live under her roof, I will find some time to fast for 40 hours, just for kicks. Until then, speech and technology, whatever that means. Not too late to donate if you’re interested, you’ve got a week or two yet.

Now it’s time for a late dinner (9:30) and to see if Bethwyn’s awake for a quick phone call. Ja, everyone. Thanks for reading my exceptionally unexceptional blog.

~X

My First Kumite

I had my first kumite tonight. I’m not sure what it literally translates to, but I believe it’s something along the lines of “fight ring” or “tournament”, where two fighters and a referee are enclosed and trying to score points against each other.I have been keen to fight against a skilled karateka ever since I joined. I believe that battle is the best way of knowing someone. As the Last of the Handmaidens once said, it is a pure form of expression: heart and discipline reduced to movement and motion. Through it you can intimately understand a person’s nature, beliefs and character, as well as their power, speed and skill. I have been keen to understand the true nature of karate through battle, and tonight, after much anticipation, part of my wish was granted.

In Taekwondo, I learned how to spar tournament-style. Moving backwards and forwards (rarely to the sides) because of the limited space in the dojan, guard down or open to avoid hurting your opponent should they kick your arms, no striking or blocking… Unfortunately, I also trained to make light contact until it became a habit- when I kicked tonight, it was to connect or touch, not to strike or hit. I became, over a year and a half or so, reasonably proficient at learning to read kicks. Turning kicks, instep kicks and back kicks, at least. Front kicks were discouraged because of the side-on stance, minimising the target. The stance in karate is 45 degrees to the side, halfway in between. Finally, Taekwondo taught me to be light on my feet, to bounce on the balls and kick with speed and control.

Most of this proved useless against a karateka. Firstly, my kicks (while fast) were blocked by a strong guard and one or two gloved hands. They weren’t caught, they were blocked, unbalancing me and opening me long enough for a counter. While evasion (dodging, stepping back) has proved successful in the past, it was not enough to simply step back, step forward, counter. The karateka’s stance was light enough to move but firm enough to hold. The one kick I did land (a very satisfying hit to the ribs) did not have any power in it, because I’ve trained to make light contact rather than medium or heavy as necessary, so I didn’t score. As I continued to adjust my fighting style to try and meet him more evenly he kept adjusting his to stay one step ahead. When I finally stopped kicking and prepared to face him with the speed and accuracy of my hands alone, he grabbed my glove and pulled me in close enough to strike. I’m not sure how legitimate it was, or more importantly, how to counter it if I ever find myself in that situation again. The fight ended with roughly 5 points to him, 0 to me, with a punch to the jaw on top.

It’s not all negative though. I learned to keep a good guard up. I learned that kicks are a whole lot less effective when a person can move their hands rather than their body. I learned a little about moving to the side rather than backwards and forwards. I learned about the importance of a strong, yet mobile base. I learned a little of how to block. And I learned that I still have much to learn, which I will take up over time. Although disheartening, it is not reason enough to continue kicking myself (excuse the pun) over my inability. I am grateful for the experience, and am eager to continue training to understand the nature of karate.

The other highlight of my evening was being partnered with sensei for one of the drills. It was a warm up for the kumite– simply attack and the other person would counter when s/he was ready. Sensei and I were exchanging kicks. Or more accurately, I was being kicked from every angle imaginable and every time I tried to kick I would find myself off balance with a fist in my face. I was surprised I could not anticipate his attacks better- I have seen the path of much faster strikes. I eventually realised that it was because the techniques were different- turning kicks (roundhouse) don’t come from around, they come from the front in karate. Hook kicks don’t start as side kicks, they start as front kicks, and they don’t just snap at the head, they go around the guard to reach the target. Side kicks, my goodness, they come out of nowhere straight at you. And of course I couldn’t hope to touch sensei- he could see all my techniques coming, no matter how fast. My guess is that he’s just good at reading a person.

So while I was utterly defeated, I don’t think it was all such a bad thing. I’d certainly like to wear better gloves next time, and see if there’s any way I can continue to improve.

Oh! And the one other realisation I made. No matter how good your technique is, it’s useless if it can’t hit. So while I’ve learned how to focus my energy to penetrate through muscle and into organ, and while I’ve learned how to unbalance a person by shifting my own weight, and while I’ve learned to have a strong core and a graceful stance, none of it will count a bit in a fight unless it can be landed. And I just can’t see how techniques that take time to prepare for against a stationary opponent can be used when they are moving as quickly as you are.

Well, that’s it for karate, onto another post.

EDIT:

Fights are always messier than training. When the aim is to defend yourself or harm your opponent at all costs, technique and accuracy are forfeited in favour of power and speed. This is inefficient, and the urge to do so must be resisted. It’s easy to set up targets and strike them with power in training, while your partner is cooperative or at least not resisting. It is difficult to land the same strike if your opponent is trying to hit you or moving in such a way as to make setting up good technique difficult.

The Art of Listening

“You listen not only for what someone knows, but for what he or she is.
Ears operate at the speed of sound, which is far slower than the speed
of light, which the eyes take in. Generative listening is the art of
developing deeper silences in yourself, so you can slow your mind’s
hearing to your ears’ natural speed and hear beneath the words to their
meaning.”

To listen is not to hear, but to strive to understand.

Or so I like to believe.

Work

I’m giving way too much of my life to work. And I don’t like it.
8 hours a day, six days a week. So much work I want to take it home and finish it then.

Quotes

Battle is a pure form of expression. It is heart and discipline, reduced to movement and motion.


We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.


Do not let what the future holds be a source of anxiety for you. Let go of the regrets of the past. This is the present moment, where all things can happen. This is where you exist, never sooner nor later. It is here you must be if you are to live at all.