One Man's Fitness Fitness Adventures and Musings

Thursday, April 30, 2009


I have not posted in some time, I am sorry for that I have been quite busy for work and my running has been ... erratic at best. Time demands are what they are. Last night I put work off and went for a run, I needed it. It was a good 3.4 mile loop and I was surprised when the result was a 9:45 average time.

It seems that I am getting much faster when I run these days. I am not sure if it is that I am fresher when I get out because I am running less or if I am just getting more experienced. But what ever it is I am happy with it. I can now cruise at around the 10:00 range for the whole run and manage to pick up some good half miles here and there to sink the entire run in the sub-10:00 range. It is a nice feeling.

I will do my best to get out there a couple more times this week.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sometimes you have to Take one...

Martial Arts schools can be a funny thing. You really can find a school that suits almost anyone's needs. There are schools that will work you out hard and teach you nothing practical and schools that are incredibly realistic. I will say that you can always find what you want given a little search. Personally, I like a little contact. Well why mince words, I like a good deal of contact. I don't feel like a class is a good one unless I have taken some decent shots to the body, arms and legs and been violently taken down a half dozen times. Beyond waking you up, I think it is necessary.

I had a conversation with the "theory of the clash." Well I call it the "theory of the clash" I have run this by folks in other arts as well, notably a good friend who will be testing for his black belt in Danzan Ryu Ju Jitsu. In martial arts you have to be used to being hit. If your art is a grappling art, I am sure that being slammed and thrown is equivalent in my mind. Realistically speaking you cant take strikes to vitals but taking some body shots and other non vital strikes is necessary for development. My "theory of the clash" is simply this, if you are in a confrontation and you can take the initial assault you will most likely survive the encounter. I will qualify this to exclude confrontations with deadly weapons.

Some people will shy away from the largest men at their schools as being too dangerous to spar with. I say forget that notion. If you can work with the largest man at the school you will gain great benefit in your skills. I like to work with the hardest hitting men at my school. It is simple they make me a better fighter. Last week I was fortunate to work with a man who really is a stone wall cleverly disguised as a human being. He hits like a piston and you feel it. After that class was over, I knew that I had genuinely worked my techniques and that they worked. I feel you won't know the answer to the effectiveness of techniques until you start doing them with conviction. Not a conviction to injure but no one is doing much of value unless you are taking some shots. If you don't how will know you can when you are actually in a situation.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Test You Say

On the 28th of March, it was raining. So I decided that my daughter's tee-ball class could be put off for the day. But that said, I thought that it would be a perfect day for a private lesson at my Kenpo school. I gave my instructor a call a little before 9:00 am and was lucky to catch him. When I asked him about the lesson he said, but you have a test today. My reaction was "I do?" I knew I was getting ready for a test but I did not know I was testing this month. "Uh, OK I will be there". He must have thought I was some sort of dimwit that morning.

Kenpo tests can be grueling affairs that can last many hours and have a bit of a rite of passage feel to them. I will let you know that this one was not too terrible. I arrived at about 11:00 and the test started at 12:00. This was a very large test. We started with random attacks. This is probably what makes Kenpo what it is. Respond to a random attack and counter attack. We spend the next 20+ minutes on these basics along with more set techniques. We have very strange names for our techniques that will remind people of bad kungfu movies. These are things like "Gathering Clouds" and "Dance of Darkness" and "Bowing to Buddha". Mmmm, it looked like Kuan would win until Qian bested him with his secret Bowing to Buddha technique. I digress. The point of the techniques during the test is to guage your execution at as close to full speed as possible without seriously injuring your partner. There is generally contact in Kenpo, it isn't a knitting class after all, you just have to keep an eye on the level of contact. My partners were both seasoned and I thought they did quite well in their own right.

I have a tendency to sweat up a storm once I get going. I think this has a good deal to do with the effort I like to put into martial arts. The test was no different. Once we finished with our techniques it was on to sticks and knives. American Kenpo has an affinity for the Filipino stick arts and we train with them in conjunction with our open handed techniques. There is a good deal of compliment to the slashing hand techniques of Kenpo and the machete based Escrima arts. It can be quite beautiful to watch people who have practiced a good deal use the sticks. I thought the level of skill at this part of the test was excellent. The thing about sticks is you need some room so I did get to watch a bit. But I also had to help some folks who didn't have partners so I was able to not only be evaluated but was able to practice a good deal.

The test concluded with Kata. Kata is the traditional part of martial arts and is a dance like set of movements simulating a fight. Some of the more modern MMA arts are critical of Kata is not preparing one for an actual fight. There are responses to this but I will save them for another time. Suffice it to say that Kata has been practiced for hundreds of years and has been used to hide techniques of particular arts. At its heart Kata is a demonstration of grace, power, coordination, execution and determination, it is all of these things simultaneously. I am sure the average person on hearing this might have a bit of an incredulous look ... but that is the goal. I have to say that my kata was a bit off, I have been starting my own business over the past month and my practice has been off. I think I did well but my focus was about 15% off the norm and my ideal of perfection was not close in my mind. We are our own worst critics, my instructor was fine with my performance.

This concluded the test. I felt fairly spent but fairly positive about the whole thing. I passed and as I try to reach black belt again, I am one step closer. I am now a green belt in American Kenpo. Life is about the journey not the destination. In my mind the rank is not nearly as important as the experiences necessary to pass these guide posts.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


It seems that I have discovered some speed. I didn't run at all last week due to my schedule being crazy, I was covering for another attorney on a few cases and it cut into my day quite a bit. Then I went out on Monday and did well as I mentioned, I had a couple of miles sub 10:00 and finished just a bit over 10:00.

Tonight after work I hit the roads in my favorite running weather: light rain. Light rain is the best. I always feel great in the rain. It keeps me cool and feels fresh. I went out for "The Loop". The Loop is a 3.65 mile stretch that circles my house. Tonight it was excellent, I felt like I could just push it and push it. So I did, the first mile was 9:55, the second was about 10:20, the third was 9:47 and the last part was about the same pace. The total 36:22 minutes or a 9:58 pace. Wow!!!. I have not run so fast in about a year and it is nice to know that I can the dump truck, i.e. me, up to speed.

Yes, it is going to be a good spring for running.