2016 Martial Arts Year in Review

Alright folks! Time to reflect on everything that has happened this year, share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned (or reaffirmed) and set some goals in this year’s 

Martial Arts 

YEAR! IN! REVIEW!!!

This year, as we all know, sucked. Lots of craziness going on around the world, we lost a number of wonderful people and saw some life changing events that will or have altered life as we know it. I like to concentrate on the positive things, though. Martial arts has definitely been one of the most positive for me (second only to meeting and being with the lovely and amazing Cait. Cuz I love her. Yes, even more than Karate, babe…Lol) so let’s go over some of the better moments:

Finding a new family: coming to All Canadian Martial Arts lead to finding some great friends and having some great memories. From my boys in the Lean Mean Green Machine, to some of the folks who just make things that much more…Interesting? Yeah we’ll call it that lol everyone at the dojo works hard every night and pushes their own personal boundaries. I can truly appreciate that and the friendships I’ve made over the course of the year. 

Progress: getting to green belt in a year took a lot of hard work and dedication but it was very well worth it. Not only did having a fantastic group of instructors help, but also finding time and space at home to practice by myself. Practice makes perfect!

Black Belt Extravaganza: this was a ridiculously awesome night and one I can’t wait for next year!

Here are some of the things I learned personally over the year. 

Learning takes time. You can’t learn everything over night. It takes years to master the arts and it cannot be rushed along. Even if you think your skills are flawless, there is always something to improve upon. 

Listen to your body. There were several times I couldn’t go to class because of injury or illness. It’s not the end of the world. Fix yourself before going out there and breaking yourself again!

Kata are like every day life. Everything in them, regardless of how big or small, whether you understand it or not, has a very distinct purpose. It’s up to you to figure out each bunkai and put it to good use. Figure out what masters before you have thought, and come up with your own interpretations! 

My instructors all taught me something as well. 

Vito-sama Sensei taught me that no amount of hard work, dedication, honour and discipline is complete without a hilarious, often inappropriate joke. 

Kim-sama Sensei taught me that I really should believe in myself more and that I have the ability to go as far as I can in Karate. 

Amanda-sama Sensei taught me that there is always a right time and a wrong time for everything. Especially joking and fooling around. 

Chen-sama Sensei taught me that the traditional ways of Karate are still alive and well and that even the most obscure of lessons has a deep seeded meaning. 

Professor Fariba-sama taught me that even though something appears difficult and foreign that if you practice enough, study enough and believe in yourself, you can accomplish it. 

Finally my goals for the upcoming year!

– train hard and learn as much as possible, progressing to not only the highest belt, but highest standard I can 

– make even more friends and promote a friendly, hard working environment in my own way at the dojo

– pass on whatever knowledge I have to those of junior belt and be the best example of Karateka I can be. 

– improve cardio. Cuz it sucks. 

That’s it for now, folks! Don’t forget that hard work beats out natural talent when talent is lazy; a short workout is better than no workout; between hajime and kume, there are no friends and only YOU set limits on yourself. Get out there and train!!!

Til next year,

OSU!!!!!

Doug

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2016.12.13 Quote of the Day

Jeeze. Haven’t posted here in a while. A quick update. 

Work is insane, as is par for the course. I’m getting ready to move in a few weeks. That’s always fun. Yay new furniture!! This weekend Cait and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary. Somehow this angel of a woman found a way to stay with me for a year. Bless her heart lol she made me a scrap book of our first year, a present she’s been working on for months. Easily the single most meaningful, most beautiful gift I have ever received. I don’t know which Emperor’s child I saved in a previous life to have the gods send me this amazing woman, but I’m sure glad for it. 

Quote! Of! The Friggin’ Day!!

It is not by me, or some famous dead person.  No, today’s QOTD was spoken directly to me and surprisingly about me. Tonight was the final night before grading. Sweet. A chance to give er my all, maybe earn a couple stripes and kick ass in grading!! Yeah. That was a short lived dream lol after class I asked Shihan how I could improve myself. Not only for the purpose of grading but just in general. I am always striving to be a better Karateka. Turns out that belt is more than a symbol of skill and accomplishment, but also of time invested in training the art. I am missing some time, which I blame on surgery, illness and an awkward work schedule. She also reaffirmed what I already believed. Just keep training and showing up and giving it my all. 

Then she said something that I never expected to hear. Something that made my soul smile. 

“You inspire everyone here to train harder. You inspire me to teach.”

And that there….far surpasses any belt. Any grading. Any stripe. Any possible accomplishment. Not even a black belt would mean as much as that. 

A Karateka is a warrior, but is also a peace maker. To me, at its very core, the purpose of Karate, the reason we train, is not to learn to fight. Not to get a fancy belt or award. The greatest reward one can have is changing yourself and changing the world for the better. It is a goal we all should have. 

If you have the chance to make someone’s life better, you need to take it. You need to reach out and help someone. The measure of a master is not by their grade, nor their accomplishments, but in the successes of their students and those around them!

Til next time, train hard, sweat hard and remember…we all have the same ending in life. The journey is what makes us special. 

Osu!!

Doug

Being Sick Sucks

So. FOR THE SECOND DAMN TIME THIS YEAR…

I have been forced out of the gym and out of the dojo for reasons beyond my control. Well I….suppose dressing warmer and not smoking….you know what? Screw you, common damn sense! I’m hopped up on cough syrup and I’ll say whatever the hell I want!

So I haven’t been to the gym since Friday. Haven’t been to the dojo since Thursday. Dojo is my doing. As much as I love Karate and I love Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, I couldn’t stand to go there and not be able to give 100%. On top of that, the martial arts are steeped very heavily in respect. I have the respect for my school, my Instructors and my fellow students to not show up and spread this bullshit around.

Gym…well, as Cait suggested, having a coughing fit when you’ve got a heavily weighted barbell above your face….not such a good plan.

I was scheduled to have my yearly physical on Monday, which turned into “We’re not completing the physical until you’re better. Oh but take this down to the lab. We can still take blood from you.” Sweet? So a bottle of piss, 5 vials of blood and some antibiotics later I’m on my way home. What do we know for sure? Acute Bronchitis. Yes, you assholes, also known as the common cold but Acute Bronchitis sounds more…you’re gonna die-ish. And with the frequent and often violent coughing? It feels like Satan himself deep throated me with a bayonet covered in friggin’ barbed wire. Haven’t slept much in the past week because every time I try to get more than a couple hours shut eye, I’m jerked back awake by the often quite painful cough. It sucks.

I’ve made it a theme before, and I’ll do it again. If your body needs rest? GIVE IT the rest it needs. Don’t go all stupid and try to lift weights when you can’t, or try to focus on kata when you can’t…have some respect for yourself and your body. Heal up.

Just as important as that? Have some respect for your training partners. I wouldn’t wish this upon any of the students I train with, both Karate and BJJ. It sucks, interrupts training and hurts from time to time. Don’t actively try and get people sick.

On the plus side? I had on Friday made the conscious decision to quit smoking (again, yes…) and having this? Has definitely helped. I can’t bare to screw up my throat some more. In fact, smoking likely caused this. Haven’t had a butt since Friday afternoon. I’ve had a few cravings, but then I coughed and lost them. Real fast.

*COUGH!!!*
*CHOKE!!!!*
*WHEEZE!!!*
*CHOKE!!!!*
…….osu…….

Doug

2016.11.07 Quote of the Day

Coming at ya with a little more homegrown knowledge and wisdom!

“Karate is like a plant. If you ignore it, it does not grow. If you give it an excess of water once a week, it will not grow. Love and Karate, you must water every day. You must give it the little things. The big things are important but without daily care, it will not grow. It will die.”

– Doug

I liken Karate to love. The big things every once in a while are nice, but it requires daily attention. It is through the little things that they both flourish. 

I tell Cait I love her every day. I try to go out of my way to show her how much I care each day. And it doesn’t take a whole lot. Ask her how her day was. Tell a joke. Make her smile. Remind her that she is beautiful, and awesome, and thought of, and loved. She does the same to me. It doesn’t mean something over the top extravagant. That’s not what is important. What’s important is the cuddling. Holding her hand. Looking into her eyes, the window of the soul, and showing her just how much better she makes my life. 

The same approach I take with Karate. My kicks improve because I practice them every day. The kata become second nature because I practice them every day. My Bo staff skills improve because I practice them every day. My conditioning improves because I work out and train every day. It is not enough to go to the dojo once or twice a week. 

Karate, as is with love, is a lifelong commitment to the little things. To not giving up and to working on it every single day of your life. 

Now get the hell out there and train. And tell someone that you love them!

Osu!!

Doug

Oishi!! November 1, 2016

I like spice. 
No, I should change that. 

I love spice. 

So I decided to add a little of the random spices I have in my kitchen to my chicken tonight. Below is what I threw in. 

Doug’s Sorta KAPOW!! Chicken

1 chicken breast
Montreal seasoning
Paprika
Curry
Cayenne pepper
Veggies

Warm up your heating source. I like to use the single greatest invention of our time.

The George Foreman Grill, suckas!!!

Next, go ahead and add your spices.

KAPOW!!

Since I am not Gordon Ramsey, it looks a little like this:

It is more important to judge by the inside, afterall!

Cook up some veggies, put er elegantly on a plate:

Not a big helping as I ain’t all that hungry. Also pictured is a glass of Phytoberry multivitamin and a ridiculously good book, The Last Colony by John Scalzi. I highly recommend the series, called Old Man’s War. 

And then eat!

So y’all got a two for one today. Spicy chicken and a book recommendation. Oh lucky you 😉

Osu!!

Doug

Top 5 List: October 28, 2016

Here we go with another Top 5! 

Today’s rambling is in relation to trying to be more positive about things and looking at the world in a brighter light. It’s stuff I’m legit trying to believe myself so…bare with me lol

Top 5 Four Letter Words You Should Never Say In Martial Arts (Or In Life, Really)

5. Suck

We have all had those moments. Man I suck at this. I suck at Jiu Jitsu. I suck at this pattern. I suck at drawing. I suck at public speaking. I suck at talking about my feelings. Whatever the case may be. Most of the time the things people say they suck at are things that they tried maybe once, maybe twice and figured Hey. I’m no pro at this. I just suck. 

You don’t suck. You’ve practiced what…3 hours? How can you suck at something when you haven’t put in the time to get good at it? For the past few months I figured my BJJ game sucked. I can’t grasp things. I can sometimes defend myself but have no offence. I put in some serious mat hours this week and can already see an improvement. You need to actually give something a fair shot before saying you suck at it. If you practice something religiously for 10 years and aren’t good…well….but til that point, you don’t suck. You just haven’t worked hard enough yet. 

4. Can’t 

A lot of people shy away from trying new things. That goal is too far away. The skill is too difficult. Why bother trying? I clearly can’t do it. 

Stop doubting your damn self. How do you know you can’t do something if you’ve never tried? Just like suck, don’t say you can’t do something when you haven’t put in the time. Try it. You may just surprise yourself. 

3. Lose

A wise person once said “I never lose. I win, and I learn.” There is always something to learn in every attempt. If you win, hey good on ya. If you lose, why did you lose? What did you do or not do that you could’ve done or not done better? Improve yourself and don’t let the bad times hold you down. Every experience, be it good or bad, teaches us a little more about ourselves. 

2. Fail

Fail is a rather permanent word. To fail in something is to screw up so damn bad that there is just no recovery from it. Now I ain’t gonna lie. Sometimes that happens. I have failed in plenty of things. The difference is the way you look at it. You may have failed in the short term, but if you learn from your mistakes and try try again? In the long run you may just surprise yourself!

1. Quit

This is the ultimate no no in martial arts and in life, really. You can do whatever you want. You can drop the other 4 words all you like but THIS one….you better bloody well not. Quitting is not an option. Quitting is not an end result. I can suck at something, think I can’t do it, think I’ve lost without learning and may even think I’ve failed, but I will not quit. The age old adage goes like this: Quitters never win and Winners never quit. No matter how hard something is, no matter how much pain you’re in, how bleak the situation, I would rather lose than quit. You’re already in pain. Get something out of it. Be it a win or a lesson, you will always gain something. If you quit, that’s it. There’s no going back. All of your efforts have been in vain. Don’t quit. Push through the pain. Push through the hard times. Push through to the other side. The night is darkest right before dawn. 

And thats that! Tune in next time for some more inspiration crap from yours truly. Maintain that positive attitude and practice practice practice!!

Osu!!

Doug 

October 21, 2016 – The Weigh In

So. As we know, I’m overweight. Back in May I spoke with one of the trainers at the gym, was looking to get some tips or at least a weigh in with their fancy body fat reading scale. It…wasn’t pretty lol I weighed in at 253lbs at 35% body fat. That second number is what hit me hard. 

Speaking with the trainer last week he says come in for a weigh in. I can’t afford the $10,000 a year for PT sessions. No can do. But he is willing to sit down with me once a month, do a weigh in and help me track my progress. Sweet. So today I go in, step on the fancy scale…

244lbs. 30% body fat. 

I’ve dropped 9lbs of fat, gained 3lbs of muscle and my body fat is down 5%. That is actually rather damn impressive (considering how lax I was with my diet at times lol)

So now, for the next weigh in for November, it’s time to work my ass off, increase the cardio, dial in the diet and stick to it. Healthy choices all the way. My goal is to push myself to 15% or less by July 1, 2017. I hope. Or at least be within shooting distance of it. But that is the goal. Time to make it happen!

207lbs or bust. I will hopefully be able to make weight and compete in the BJJ Heavyweight class next year. Rather than the Ultra Heavyweight I’m at now. 

Let’s get er done!!!

Osu!!!

Doug

2016.10.16 Quote of the Day

Another lil tidbit I figured I would share. Sometimes random quotes come into my head that really don’t fit with any other blog post. So I figured I would post a QotD section so I can at least share what’s going on in my head. 

“A Kyu knows when to fight. A Dan knows when the fight is over. A Master knows to respect the difference.”

– Doug

Training through the Kyu grades, you learn the basics and the advanced techniques. You learn how to fight and when to apply those techniques. When you get to the Dan level, you learn to control not only the fight but your own emotions. Never go to the excess. Defend yourself but do not use your knowledge with impure intent. To master Karate is to master the fight and that means knowing when it is best to walk away. Not only for your safety but for the safety of others. Reminds me of another quote: “I will not start a fight but I will sure as hell end one!”

Osu!!

Doug

Oishi!! October 14, 2016

Here we go! Doug being all weird in the kitchen again!!

So I busted out the old single shot Magic Bullet again. Been using it again for a week or so. Today I was making a shake and decided to add some extra protein. Cuz protein. That’s why. So here is my recipe for an awesome pre Karate protein shake!

Doug’s Pre Karate Shake

1 handful frozen fruit
1 scoop whey protein
1 scoop PhytoBerry Multi
2 egg whites
Fill er up with milk

Mix that up (shake it up?) 

Wonder why you’re drinking egg whites lol

Enjoy!!

Actually quite delicious. And healthy as hell. Lots of protein and more vitamins and minerals than you can shake a stick at. 

Osu!!

Doug 

The AHA!!

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. It can be difficult to get a hang of. I’ve studied Tae Know Do, Muay Thai, now Shotokan Karate…arts which typically involve smashing people. BJJ is something completely different. It requires a much greater and in depth knowledge of the human body, it’s mechanics and the scientific principles of balance and leverage. In English, Karate is an art. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a science. 

It’s been an interesting ride so far. Every week, I go home wondering, am I ever going to get this? Will my game ever get better? Will I ever get the hang of this? My principle instructor, Professor Fariba, works hard with me and encourages me every step of the way. Our BJJ crew is a family of people from all walks of life with one thing in common: a love for the science of BJJ. Every time I roll, though… I get smashed. Constantly. When doing the drills I often don’t get the point. The game never seems to get any easier. 

Until now. 

I know that in the beginning of anything, that’s when it’s the most difficult. When it makes legit no damn sense at all. I watched a video on YouTube today that was this BJJ black belt talking about white belts and holding on and just keep trying because God damn you’re gonna get there. It may take a week, a month, a year but you will have moments of “aha!” Moments where everything comes together and you put everything into place. Tonight I had one of those moments. 

I was training with a guy named Albert. Good guy. So we’re working on triangle chokes from the spider guard. I move to execute the choke, completely lose his arm and pushed him over rather than getting my leg in position. So as he’s knocked over and I’m cursing myself, he says “what else do you have right now?” And that’s when it happened. Aha! I have him in position for an arm bar. I lock it in. It’s effective. He taps. 

I was finally able to see something that I hadn’t before. A move in the human chess game. Before tonight I was wondering if I would ever going to see myself as a blue belt. Now, I think with more time, practice and dedication, it will totally happen. My faith in myself is restored and my love of Jiu Jitsu rages on. 

Never give up!!! Search for your aha!!!

Osu!!!

Doug