33 days – not quite the gentle breeze but better than a month ago

So 33 days ago:

“Whatever actions I do over the next few days, weeks, months, the theme will be that of a gentle wind as opposed to tearing through as a tornado. I am more at peace these days, happier with a quieter life and see the 30 days challenge as a good way to learn more about focusing energy in relationships with others so that they are positive, think they are intricately tied.”

Erm, not entirely gentle then, definitely some tornado elements flying in from time to time. Again it feels like something I have just begun, not something I have finished.  The last two weeks have been exhausting but some of the most incredibly beautiful confusion I have ever experienced – looking at the brain, mind, energy.  A massive thank you to Neil, Urban Samurai for the inspiration and encouragement:

33days

I am deeply grateful to members and the instructors of my club who have put up with many questions and offered so much encouragement – I didn’t tell them what I was doing, but as mentioned in the original challenge, about instructors responding to a new level of commitment – I really noticed this to be true. Also online, so much advice and help, thanks especially to Cindy, Perpetual Beginner for some wonderful training advice, the martial arts blogging community are totally wonderful, you can find magazines, learning advice, advice about Tao, Chi – as well as the many people who are kind enough to explain techniques in detail. I am eternally grateful to every single martial arts blogger, I read your posts and they mean a great deal to me.

Progress then,

Fitness

One of the hardest, but a big improvement on a month ago – I have only increased pressups to 25 overall (it took me a year to get to 10 and if I try and do more, then I simply don’t do them properly, so would rather stick to 25 and breathe properly). Other situps, crunches I have increased up to 40 at the moment, based on instructor advice have added in more stretches and Cindy’s advice too – now have at least one set of lunges and one set of squats too. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in terms of distance or feeling a lot fitter, but I get out and run more easily than I have ever done before – it used to be much more of a fight to just get out of the house / office. I am still also continuing with the 10 flights of stairs including 2nd time after a run (well, you just feel dumb getting in a lift with your running stuff on) whenever I can. A lot more still to do with anaerobic fitness but at least I have elements in my regular routine now.

I am not doing the fight tomorrow – have come down with a cold so feel less guilty for missing it. If I get my act together I will get registered in time for the fight at the end of October and aiming to do a grading next Saturday because that’s the last chance before next year. I also feel with this challenge that I’ve put in the time – I am not perfect but I have improved, so

Practice

Stances – at the moment an improvement on back leg stances which I have worked quite a lot on during my practice outside the regular training. Horse-riding stance – knees are still not pointing out well enough but will continue with this one. Another area to continue working on – is positioning when turning – I still tend to lapse into a half long-stance – its a habit that having got into, will need to keep working on. Overall stances – better.

Blocks – improvements in these too – I discovered during the Korean training session, that I had, I think after Scotland started this kind of weird inner arm block with my arm positioning by my ear at the beginning was just – wrong ! So I’ve now begun to undo that one as well.

Kicks – still working on side-kicks but they have slightly improved in terms of pace and height. Round house is still proving slightly challenging on one leg especially – I swung round yesterday at home and flew up in the air and landed on a open toolbox (don’t recommend trying this) which amazingly I escaped with very little damage. Other kicks are better than before. Kicks are where I’ve noticed the most different.

Still – and this relates to a reaction on the connectivism course this week where according to a comment, someone was surprised by a couple of comments from an instructor in one of the live session. I had exactly the same thing on Wednesday night training. We were doing free sparring and for some reason I was backing off instead of moving to the side.  Yeah, I know, how dumb is that ! My instructor again told me calmly and patiently – move to the side and then finally I think after watching me back off again several times more – raised his voice in the tiniest bit of frustration – and said whatever it was. I don’t even remember – I got a little embarrassed at the tone and volume for all of about one second but was too busy being frustrated with myself.

Moving to the side when someone attacks is a core concept and I have been learning this for over a year, so was making a basic mistake that I didn’t need to make. I felt doubly embarrassed afterwards when my instructor came and calmly spoke to me, explaining why it was important – I have heard him and my other instructor / senior Dan members explain this loads of times.  I was quite simply – tired, but that is no excuse if I had been attacked on the street, I can’t tell my attacker, sorry I’m not up for this ! If we hadn’t been free-sparring I’m sure it would at least have been 20 pressups or worse. Maybe our connectivism instructors should issue the same punishments for failing to grasp core concepts in spite of multiple explanations over extended periods of time too. If you have trust and confidence with both instructors, other students and the environment then these are great learning experiences, with positive psychological benefits.

Overall though, this extended practice time has made a difference in training sessions, techniques, balance, control and stamina will continue to work on, but the extra practice makes you walk into a session with increased confidence, which is a great way to start.

Diet

Not much to say on this but my self-discipline overall in the month has improved, still need to fit in more vegetables where possible but balance is a lot better. On the brainpower Wordle, I was surprised that fish, nuts, spinach did not feature as these are all really good, I need to add more of these in too where possible.

Mind Management

Have really worked on this in terms of visualization, meditation and this has made a difference overall. Even when I am feeling weak (quite a bit of that in last week or so), I can still focus better and find some time to just – breathe, move calmly and I have achieved some still meditation too – kind of.

I have increased the amount of reading – I still have a huge amount to do, reading pile is currently enormous but includes Tao of Philosophy, Magic of Conflict, lots of online magazines and many blogposts, articles. I have begun to explore Chi and Tao further especially over the last week, incidentally helped a great deal by Sui Fai John Mak from the connectivism course, also my tkd instructor. I never expected to see myself having a philosophy tag on my blog but as of this week, I have one and I’m really inspired by comments and posts – can’t wait to explore further. I am completely fascinated by these concepts and will continue to explore further in future blogposts.

So I’m sure I must be physically and mentally stronger now. Its not like I was really weak before and now a superwoman, the encouraging thing – especially with trying to improve self-discipline is being able to continue, to not give up in the face of lapses or setbacks. I have often in been going up the 10 flights of stairs – thinking to myself ‘perseverance, self control, indomitable spirit’  a thousand times and willing myself upwards – and it helps.

So where next – continue to improve with all of the above, continue to build in as much time as possible and continue to review progress.

For tomorrow though – a rest. I was listening to the rehab on KissFM and this amazing track came on. Afterwards when Justin Wilkes said what it was, I scampered across the web to find a copy, can’t embed but here it is:

Dervish: Celt Islam

I’m off to dance around the room.

Riv-002

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http://learn4kicks.wordpress.com, http://www/teazlewood.org.uk, http://mv2k.wordpress.com and several others

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