Monday, March 30, 2009

operational fitness

i've always been an advocate of operational fitness or practical strength. that's probably because i've always been a smaller person, so it was undesirable to bulk up or to try to bench 200 lbs. multiple articles i've read in men's health and men's fitness have advocated strength for real life situations rather than useless gym-only muscle development (although, hypocritically, there are probably more articles on "how to get huge in shorter workouts" and ads for "extreme muscle growth powder").

decathletes are probably the closest to this type of fitness that modern organized athletes get. bryan clay, the US decathlete who is probably the most fit athlete in the world, has a 100m sprint of 10.36 sec, but also a 1500m of 4:38. as well as long and high jumps that are taller than me. but still, he is a modern, trained gym athlete, unlike people who do parcour. when you leave the stadium and the gym, you can really feel what your body is capable of. if we were freed from the constraints of modern society and desk jobs and were suddenly put in the middle of the natural world, it should be like become a child in a huge playground.

that leads to the article i read while on the stationary bike (yea it was stationary, blah) in men's health: fitness to survive in the wild. looks like those frenchmen are at it again - maybe it has something to do with always being in the middle of european wars, but the originator of La Methode Naturelle originally had true survival in mind when he came to understand the meaning of true fitness. and ever since watching jackie chan's ability to clamber up walls to avoid the mobs of mafia, or tony jaa from ong bak leaping over cars, i've always thought that fitness should lead you to be able to survive some sort of catastrophe, and not just win a gold in some preset, repetitive athletic task.

of course, to achieve that level or to pursue that purpose is not practical since we do live in a modernized world, and we do participate in a very regulated sport, taekwondo. but getting some aspect of that fitness, or at least the mindset, would still be beneficial, especially when you come up against someone who has no practical knowledge of their own body's fitness. today i thought about how some small changes in a gym workout could add practical strength and fitness to our taekwondo-trained bodies, and how that could improve our overall athleticism and still elevate our technique. and as i tried a couple of different exercises, avoiding the drone of the treadmill and the mindless lifting of the benchpress, i kept wondering if people who were watching me jumping around in the gym thought i was amazing or crazy. after two sets of weighted plyos, i thought i could almost do a flip off of a roof and hit the ground running. almost.

here is the exercise routine i did today, from a combination of many months of experimenting in the gym, being bored with men's health workout routines, looking for the ones that might enable me to hit a standing dunk, etc etc. and the ones that look the most gaudy while a bunch of elliptical bound people look on in fear.

1) medicine ball slide and squat jump
- start with a 5-10 lb medicine ball in a squat position. do a vertical jump, while propelling the medicine ball above your head and into the air.
- land standing up straight. catch the medicine ball over your head, then as you receive the ball down to your chest, fall into a squat.
- while in a medium squat position, slide twice to the side.
- at the end of the slide, go into a deep squat position and repeat routine, going in the other direction.
- do 5 reps of back and forth slides.

2) medicine ball pushup
- start in pushup position with your feet spread out. have one hand on the ground and one hand on a small round medicine ball.
- do a full pushup to the ground (not the medicine ball.)
- on the upward motion, explode off of both hands, and land with the opposite hands on the ground and ball. go into this position by moving your body to the side instead of just up and down.
- repeat for 5 reps of back and forth.

3) weighted lunge jumps
- with two light dumbbells (5-10lbs) start in a front lunge. be sure that the lunge is deep so that the back knee is almost to the ground.
- jump upwards and switch the position of the feet (do a split jump.)
- at the peak of the jump try to thrust the knee that was down up to your chest.
- land in the lunge position with the opposite foot in front.
- repeat for 5 reps, switching feet twice in each rep.

4) pull-up L's
- from a standing position grab the pullup bar. do a pull up without swinging.
- at the height of the pullup, bring your feet and legs horizontal so your body forms an L.
- slowly lower your feet again so your body is straight, still at the top of the pullup position.
- lower the pullup, again keeping the body from swinging.
- repeat for 5 reps.

Today i worked on two sets of this circuit before my quads started to fatigue. i think that after a warmup on the erg and stationary bike the quads were overworked, otherwise the pullup L's would include releasing and doing a squat jump each time.

wednesday's routine would include some more abs and lower back exercises, but i think in general all my exercises are focusing on explosive leg power (for jumping but also for taekwondo kicks) and upperbody arm strength, just in case i ever have to climb up a coconut tree.

Friday, March 27, 2009

eyeshield 21

onemanga is destroying my life and awesome at the same time.

this time, i am finding inspiration from eyeshield 21. it is about american football in japan, but the essense is exactly the same as any martial arts manga. ie, one scrub who gets picked on except has amazing powers (sena vs kenichi), and one devilish guy who is behind the scenes in all of the protagonists' tribulations, but is ultimately a friend:

Niijima vs Hiruma

but the ultimate lesson today applies to anyone who has ever strived for a goal:

"All those who play on the field will have tasted defeat. There's no player in this world who has not lost before. However, the best player will give it everything he's got to stand up again. Ordinary players take a while to get back on their feet. While losers will remain flat on the field."
- University of Texas Longhorns coach Darrell Royal

red chair, blue chair

yesterday i had a thought about object ownership. i feel like as we're older we have much less of a sense of OWNERSHIP (strangely enough, this is probably not true on a consumerism level) because we have owned so many things. there are many things that i remember feeling a strong bond toward because they were the first of something i ever owned.

i had a pair of black sneakers when i was maybe 8. they were the first athletic/nike sneakers i had, i think. i can look over the past and i can't remember any of the shoes i've gone through - running shoes, tennis shoes, black leather shoes, they're all similar and meld together, but the very first time i put on these non-Kmart brand sneakers, i could feel the difference. i distinctly remember the feeling of height and motion they gave me, with the extra padding and support under my sole.

in china, when i was maybe 4, i used to play with my cousin/di di alot, and we'd always get gifts in pairs. one vivid memory was when we got little plastic chairs, and there was one blue one and one red one. i think we fought over who got which color - in the end i got the blue one, and was satisfied that i got the "manly" one. but there was a very strong feeling that these chairs were OURS, and it would have felt weird for me to play with his red chair and vice versa.

i also used to think that once you bought something, they would be with you forever. like clothing. i'm sure i've had a coat that i thought was "my coat" and it was weird when i got a new one because the old one was just too tattered. each time i got a new coat, or new shoes, or a new backpack, it was like i became a new person the day i wore it to school, and i would have to get used to it.

it was the same with organic matter in soils. i used to think that the moment you created the perfect mix of humus, sand, clay, manure, and other organic matter, your garden was set for life. then i realized you had to buy soil every year and dig it into the soil constantly. i was saddened for a little bit...but actually now that i think about it, yearly renewal is better than having a static garden. how sad would it be if you didn't have to upgrade the soil each year?

that's the same philosophy i have come to now. in terms of gloves, winter hats, umbrellas, and clothing, because i keep losing them (>_<) i have to constantly get new ones, and there's very little sense of identity with any particular one. but it does allow you to change a little bit over time, and that keeps it interesting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

training goals

i have been itching to kick recently. don't know what it is about spring break that actually makes you have more time even though you're not on spring break. maybe it's the fact that i know other people will have more time to kick and mit/cw practice won't be full of tired and hosed people. but i have a few training goals, not all of them for me personally:

-develop an isolated sidekick, so my body doesn't have to swing to get it high
-develop an effective attacking game
-become confident in headshots
-become more explosive and develop a multiple kick game
-train ty to have better footwork
-help cchin develop a turned over turning kick

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

leg kwon do

from a different version of history's strongest disciple kenichi:

and i took one of those "which character are you tests" and the result came out exactly right:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

i am van wilder

i have an inexplicable and unsatisfiable need to stay collegiate.

i came back from ncta collegiate nationals yesterday (sunday) and alicia and i made the US team for poomse. it hasn't hit me yet (i'm not sure if it will) but i feel like a lot of little decisions and maybes have led me to this point, which is frankly pretty amazing. the sparring went not as well as i could hope but about as well as i expected. but lake washington technical college has another few medals to its name.

and today was han's 21st bday. nothing much more atypical than my usual post tournament guitar hero and cocktail parties but i never seem to get any older than 21, even though every year i have another year's worth of experience being 21 years old.

what do i get out of it? i don't know, it's just somehow very deeply enjoyable at a base, instinctual level. maybe when my hair starts turning gray, it'll start to feel different.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

residence inn - apartment away from home

i am attending a small conference of types tomorrow for work so tonight i am at a residence inn in Washington DC. It's an interesting experience being at a hotel not for a taekwondo tournament or for a job interview. I guess it's kind of like a vacation - i don't have to worry about work, per se, and i get to enjoy a nice breakfast buffet tomorrow. I just can't eat too much because it is that time of year again - taekwondo season - and i am cutting weight to feather this time, yet still kind of sucking at it.

there was one other time when i was at a hotel - was it for oracle interview? vision robotics? where it was like 1 am and i decided that i needed to cut weight for some upcoming tournament, and went running for 20 minutes at that ungodly hour. being alone in a hotel exercise room at that late is almost a magical experience. and coming back to your room and being able to enjoy the luxurious shower and sheets is really what makes cutting weight at a hotel bearable.

staying at a hotel and being in a foreign city makes me really nostalgic. i remember all the times when we'd be at hotels and not be able to enjoy the food there. it's almost become part of the experience - always having some sort of tournament hanging over you, not really being able to enjoy the continental breakfast, but that makes the bagels and muffins you can take with you all that much more valuable - knowing that you should go sleep early but kind of wanting to stay up and explore, needing to use the exercise room but more interested in whether there's a pool or a jacuzzi - looking for late night food in the nearest convenience store to possibly go with some late night alcohol.

one day i will take a real vacation and stay at a hotel or resort with no burden on my shoulders. but then, that always makes me wonder if i will enjoy the experience as much, or will everything just become less appreciated when there's no hardship to get through first?

edit - btw, if you forget toothpaste, use the face cream. it isn't that bad, and actually tastes kind of buttery and isn't harsh.

Friday, March 13, 2009

national pi day

tomorrow is 3-14, which is pi day. and recently congress just made it official: march 14 is now officially national pi day.

The senators responsible were thanked for introducing the bill: "Thank you for recognizing the importance of math and science education to a knowledge-based economy", a bunch of technology groups said in a letter directed to congress.

of course, i think it's silly to make a national day in order to give teachers an excuse to teach children mathematics and make them excited about science and math. but it is cool to have an official reason to make pies. as frivilous as valentines' day is, pi day serves just as important of a purpose.

funny enough, march 14 is also steak and bj day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

herb garden

i've been growing some stuff in my room (legit stuff!) since the beginning of march. after valentines, i found a big empty hershey's chocolate box and cut holes in it, stuck some empty water bottles and made single serving terrariums for seeds. i always go through a phase where i go crazy buying herb seeds and imagine having a forest of greenery that would be delicious in any gourmet dishes i choose to create. but anyway even if that dream never comes true, there's a scent of spring in the air. my seeds started emerging out of the soil on march 4:

cilantro...really tall and spindly, maybe not enough sun

thyme. i never have enough.

sage, i've never used this before

others i'm growing are basil, rosemary, mint, as well as carrot, green bean and morning glory. the last two don't need any seeding and will grow as soon as they hit the soil outside.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

manga formulae

i've been gone for a while because i've been busy at work and taking care of stuff, ie nationals registration. and i've been addicted to spelunky, no link here because it will destroy your life. but i've also been taking manga breaks, and as i started reading fairy tail (yesterday??) i suddenly realized that all the top mangas on onemanga that i've read have the exact same formulae, or follow very closely.

i'll just talk about the character design (because there are quite different ways they do character development and plot arcs). to me, all you need for a good manga (that someone like me enjoys) are the following characters:

1) goofy spiky-haired redhead adolescent-minded boy

Fairy Tail: Natsu

One piece: straw hat luffy (same mangaka as fairy tail)

bleach: ichigo


history's strongest disciple kenichi

2) perverted old master (sometimes more of a secondary character)

ma kensei from kenichi: maybe my current favorite

jiraiya, or ero-sennin

marakov is sort of pervy too

3) female characters: one younger, more positive, innocent girl, and one older, more mature girl with a dark past. both must have big boobs.

4) small animal type

gahhh..ran out of time

Sunday, March 1, 2009

cooking to procrastinate

i've started a new blog - cooking to procrastinate. with christine's help we've created the first dish of the blog - green tea tomato soup and grilled cheese and spinach sandwiches. which, i just noticed, has the wrong date on it unless my laptop thought this was a leap year. it'll be a cooking and photography blog - hobbies of mine which i have very little talent and patience for but enjoy immensely.

i will be contributing to and tasting the content of cooking to procrastinate as often as i can, and whenever i have something more important to do.