Focus Necessary

There are a number of things in life where you need to focus and you should probably take a break when you are tired.  Unfortunately, I think most of us miss that point when we really need to stop but think we can continue.  I’ll admit that most of the time we can probably get away with it, like long distance driving, but unfortunately due to the lack of focus, that’s also when we are most susceptible to accidents.  And that lack of concentration can cause great harm.

I was recently reminded of that fact.  Last week during cardio boxing I was getting fatigued but decided to continue to work on some power punches with my weak hand.  I guess there’s a reason why it’s my weak hand and throwing my weight behind the punch into a heavy bag was not a wise idea when my wrist was not straight and tight.  Long story short, my left wrist is now in pain and needing a doctor.

Sometimes we need to be more aware of what our bodies are telling us.  If it needs a break, give it a break before doing something stupid.  So no matter if it’s exercise, work, driving, or whatever.  Know the signals from your body and take actions accordingly.  Because there are times when we are a whole lot more likely to do irrevocable damage due to not focusing.

Made it!

Yesterday was the magical day.  I got my black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing.  I know that I have learned a lot, but feel like though there is still so much more that I don’t know and still needs to learn.  But I guess this quote is probably what I feel like right now.  “A black belt is a white belt who never quit.”

I must say that I feel very blessed with the amazing school that I train at.  Our Master was promoted to 9th Dan during our testing, and from everything that I know, it was well deserved.  Okay, technically he should be Grand Master, but he doesn’t like to be called that.  The instructors at our school are top notch people.  It seems like it doesn’t matter where I go, someone knows Master Kim.  They are not just good martial artists, but they are great people of character.

I’m once again reminded of the movie Cars 3 with the passing of the baton to the next generation.  Master Kim’s father (who was a student and good friend of General Choi) was a great martial artist in his time who had great character.  Master Kim was a great martial artist in his prime who competed nationally and took home grand champions and is still very good.  He now trains students who are great martial artists who take home grand champions.  But more importantly, he is more interested in developing his students as people of character.  The trophies are icing on the cake.  Master Kim doesn’t make anyone go to tournaments but those who goes usually are well prepared and do very well.

So yes, I now have a black belt because I had lots of fun and enough encouragement and support to not quit somewhere along the way.  Unfortunately I think some people envision black belts as killing machines.  I can’t deny that I have learned a lot already, but certainly not enough to justify people’s opinions of a black belt.  However, I feel like I’ve just been promoted to a rank to started down this path of helping others and being part of an amazing team that would carry on the tradition of not just cranking out amazing martial artists, but helping students to become people with character.  That makes me happy and so I’m glad that I made it to black belt and hope that I will be able to give back and take part in the amazing tradition of our school.

UFC Cormier vs Jones

We got together with friends on Saturday to watch the UFC fight between Cormier and Jones.  I don’t care about the nastiness of the build up but often times that’s entertainment and you are not really sure what the person is like in real life.  I am by no means a defender of Jon Jones especially with his messed up life, in fact leading up to the fight we were wondering if he can stay out of trouble.  But several of my friends have met him in person in casual settings and each have said that he seems like a nice guy.  Unfortunately it is often difficult dealing with being in the spotlight and people often do dumb things.  Again, not excusing his actions, but honestly most us would never find out what we would have done if we were in his place.

I wasn’t really rooting for either.  It was a good and clean fight.  It did look like Cormier was rather cocky taunting Jones on several occassions.  It was a sad scene to see Cormier just walking away from the ref just before Jones was declared the winner.  If there was unsportsmanlike conduct that would have been it.  I realize that it’s hard to have such rivalry, prep for so long, feel like you are doing well and perhaps even winning and then being knocked out, but it was also sad to see that kind of attitude.  But I think what got me was what Jones said and did afterwards.  He thanked all his supporters and all his detractors and also complemented Cormier for who he is as a person.  That is class that I did not expect from most UFC fighters especially with the hype leading up to the fight.  I hope this is a new Jon Jones who’s learned his lessons and ready to move on with a better life.

I couldn’t believe that they ended up interviewing Cormier as well after talking with Jones.  Cormier was crying.  I know the fight was very disappointing to him and the loss very hard to accept but I almost sense that the tears were not just for the loss but perhaps for regret of his disdain  for Jones.  Maybe I’m just an optimist that Cormier too learned a life lesson about misjudging others.

I sure hope that Jones has won Cormier’s opinion of him, not just as a fighter, but as a person.  But it really was a reminder of doing good to those who hate you and not hating them back.  Even your arch rival that perhaps you can win their hearts over by your good attitudes towards them.

One Inch Punch

Bruce Lee was the person who first popularized the one inch punch where he literally knock a person back with a punch starting just one inch away from the person.  There are martial artists who tried to spiritualize the punch, but with analysis of Bruce Lee videos, scientist pretty much concluded that the power comes from every part of his body working together.  The weight, strength, and speed of his legs, hips, torso, shoulder, arms, and everything else worked together to generate the force as it is transferred via the fist.

I absolutely am not dismissing Bruce Lee’s natural abilities, he was an amazing martial artist.  Some times we can be awed by what a person is able to do and assign forces that’s beyond us.  I was not born with that ability or it’s supernatural.  But more often then not, if you look deeper into the person’s life you see much discipline, training, and assorted experiences which enabled them to accomplish what they do.  The reason why martial artists can punch harder than most other types of athletes is not because they are bigger or stronger, but it’s because they have learned the techniques and how to time the use of various muscles so you get the additive effect of all the muscles.

So don’t be discouraged if you are not as good as the other person.  Yes, nature might have something to do with it, but for most things, it is hard work over time that will eventually make you incredible at what you do.

Exercising partners

I’ve really been enjoying our Martial Arts training.  I think a good part of it is that there is so much camaraderie at the school.  Okay some of it is shared pain.  But we have become good friends over the years.  We learn about our friends’ celebrations and frustrations and we encourage each other to keep going.  It really is a wonderful atmosphere.

Anyway, this week I can only be there for a limited amount of time and most of it is teaching time.  I’m really lacking the motivation to do much.  I do have a heavy bag hanging in the garage and couple of grappling buddies but it’s yet to be seen if I would actually use them.

So whether it is exercise or other things in life, do surround yourself with people who will encourage you to keep going.  Who will be there when you don’t feel like it.  And be the one who would encourage those around you to keep going as well.  We all have ups and downs in our lives and it is so wonderful when we have friends who will help us to keep going.  Be an active part of your community.

Be Ready

It seems like our kids with some of their friends are often putting on martial arts demos.  They did one for the homeschool showcase and then one for the Asia Pacific Day.  Thursday they put together and practiced couple of hours for a demo for today.  Master Kim is rather an artist so he doesn’t like to do the same one over.  Also, each time the mix of the kids changes.

I’m always amazed at what Master Kim can put together last minute with these kids and make them look amazing.  The trick is that they have already honed their skill set and have a number of set forms that they can pull from.  So the demos can be just snippets taken from here and there and then some demonstrations of their skill set.

Sometimes people would comment after the demos and ask how long it took the kids to put together the demo.  I’m almost embarrassed to tell the truth, so usually just comment about yes, these kids are amazing.

But I think the thing to take away from them is that they do practice their skills and forms regularly.  They stay sharp and know the basics inside out.  They also work together regularly with other students so the whole school can more or less function as a team.  So when called on to be a team, the basics are already there.

For Christians, this is such an important lesson to learn.  We need to stay sharp and in training always.  Know our basics inside and out.  And be ready in season and out of season.  Also it’s so important to learn to work together regularly as a team so that when there’s a need in the church in our communities that we can truly respond as a body and that people would sit up and take notice.


Natural talent plus hard work

I can’t deny the fact that I love training in martial arts.  There are so much I have learned since starting.  But one of the thing that have really struck me is the thing that my instructor always like to harp on.  Basically he has seen a number of naturally talented kids come though the dojang but were not willing to put in the hard work so they never develop their talents versus students who were not nearly as gifted but were willing to put in the hard work and have become accomplished.

Yes, the ideal situation is to have both talent and diligence to apply the talent, but in the end, it is the hard work and dedication that determines the student’s success.

Having hung out at the school for four plus years, I definitely have to agree with his assessment.  We have seen students come and go.  Some started off very excited and teachable.  Some were not quite as cooperative.  But no matter what, if they work at it, they continue to get better.  And sometimes those who were slow starters begin to catch up because the others stayed stagnant due to the lack of diligence.  Yes, we have some amazing students who have both talent and dedication and I wish they have the opportunity to compete at the national level (just from watching some of the competitions on ESPN, I think a few of our students with some dedicated training would not be too far from their level), but I’ve also seen students with less talent eventually “get it” and blossom into good martial artists.

Isn’t this the lesson that we were all supposed to have learned through the story of the tortoise and the hare?  It was so obvious in the story but so hard to realize in real life.  So don’t get discouraged if some other people seem to be getting things faster than you or seem to be doing things better than you.  Put in the hard work to get better.  Seek additional help if you need it.  But stick with it and don’t give up.


Listening to advice

We were at a karate tournament yesterday. One of the kids who often wins Grand Champion was there too.  Okay he’s a bkack belt in his mid teens but guess he’s still a kid in my eyes. He performed his form and placed first place in his division. One of the judges from our school was trying to be nice to the kid and gave him advice about slowing down and have clarity in his form. This has been a common complaint I have heard from a number of black belts who have seen this kid perform.  

He ignored the advice going to the grand championship round and perhaps even sped up more even though the judge who had given him the advice was once again on the panel.  Someone later described his form as trying to read an essay as one long run-on sentence.  I’m not sure if he thought that any of the other competitors would give him any trouble, especially a little ten year old brown belt.  The little guy came out with speed but more importantly clarity. His phrases were well defined and the little guy took the grand championship.

I sure hope that this would be an opportunity for this teenager to learn something and take to heart the good advice of a knoledgeable and well meaning black belt. Even if not from this individual, perhas he can learn to seek advice from others and grow.  I know often after a tournament I really appreciate feedback from the judges to know how to improve.  Granted not all feedback are equally valuable, but I do try to objectively evaluate them.

I hope each of us would remain teachable throughout our lives instead of rejecting advice to our own detriment.

Martial Arts Tournament Practice

Some of us in the family go to a number of martial arts tournaments throughout the year.  We have never gone without at least some practice.  Even though we know the forms and attend classes regularly, the mindset is very different and it’s interesting seeing the kids dusting off their tournament forms.  It’s not that they’ve forgotten them, but just from not doing things with full power and concentration, the forms just don’t look as smooth.  It’s almost as it takes some time to get back into the groove for tournaments.

I think it’s true for life too.  There are times when we are concentrating on the pursuit of something but then our enthusiasm wanes.  It’s not that we are no longer interested, but somehow we lose the edge until we turn our total focus back on the thing of pursuit.  I think sometimes marriage can be like that.  It’s not that we are no longer interested in our spouse and family nor is it that we no longer invest time and energy, but I think sometimes it’s so easy to just coast.

I’m glad that we do do tournaments regularly throughout the year so we can resharpen and refocus.  I am now reminded that I should schedule some time to refocus and resharpen my marriage and my other relationships.  Otherwise they may begin to look as unnatural as trying to revive tournament forms.

Broken board print

I remember reading up on transferring photos to wood in posts such as this.

Wouldn’t it be cool to have this done with the broken boards from testing?  Transfer the photo of the break onto the broken board.  Once done, then secure the gap in the break and hang the board.  Hum.  I think I will give it a try.  We certainly have enough broken boards lying around the house.  Unfortunately, I don’t think any of us knows which board belongs to whom.

After thinking about it yesterday, I stopped by Hobby Lobby and bought some Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium and tried it.  Put down an even layer of the medium and carefully laid a reverse print from the laser printer right on top of the image.  Unfortunately, I’m still trying to get into the habit of taking pictures of the things that I do, so there’s no photo of the process.  After waiting overnight (I was being good), I was able to get much of the paper off by rubbing with wet fingers and yes, had to practice patience between rubbings which was not always successful.

I have not secured the gap  but I figure couple metal strips and liquid nail should work.  Nor have I put a hanger in the back.  But looking at this sample, I think next time I’ll leave the bottom blank and probably add some words on the bottom or maybe an engraved metal tag commemorating the event.

I think this will work fine.  Will definitely explore more in the future.

Crafting makes me happy…