Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year

Best wishes for the new year! Especially to all of you whom I've come to know through your writings over the last few months. I've enjoyed reading your views on training in martial arts. I've learned much and been inspired many times, so thank you. I read about people who continue to train in the face of sickness, people who live away from home and pursue training in the country of their art, people who trained in martial arts despite initial fears of being too old, and teachers who train generations of students in martial arts without thought of recompense. Remarkable!

Have a happy and healthy year.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Learning Alone

Practicing alone is hard! The novelty has worn off from repeating the same things on my own, and my mind tends to get distracted very easily. After today's session I was thinking about why I feel motivated to keep practicing when classes are on but not on my own. I mean ideally, I want to think that such strong motivation is there in my personality, but I know its not.

One thing about going to class is that I get to be in the society of other people. Other than this immersion into closeness with other people, I don't have to many other social interactions. I don't have any friends outside of work. I've always been too judgemental and harsh to have developed any long-lasting friendships. But I do want to be with other people. So strangely, I am getting this from taekwondo class. The even stranger thing is, in class I am totally quiet, always in a corner, and I never speak to anyone unless spoken to and I will probably never be friends with anybody from class. Still, going to class fulfils this need of mine, and maybe this is partly what keeps me motivated to practice.

About practicing alone, I always wonder about my teacher. How does he learn new things now. I realize one doesn't have to go to a class to learn new things in martial arts, but what drives you from inside to learn without guidance?

Thursday, December 07, 2006


* Stretching: I ditched the stretching routine I wrote about in an earlier post long ago. Instead, I've been doing dynamic stretching before class, and static stretching after class, as Kurz advises. I think its worked well for me. My goal now is to stretch every morning in addition.

* Forms: I've managed to practice my forms 5 times each everyday during my break. I want to take it up to 20 times each everyday. The only thing I'm worried about is without someone to point out my mistakes, I might just be doing things wrong many times over.

* Testing: I want to pass my next test the first time round. This is going to be the toughest...its not that the tests are impossible, but I need to be able to make it to all classes and practice a lot at home. Unfortunately, I'm travelling a lot next semester. But I will try for this goal as hard as I can.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


In India, we grow up with an almost fearful respect of our teachers. We were made to show respect whether we really felt it or not, out of habit. Now its very natural for me to feel respect for anyone who teaches me anything, whether they are officially my teacher or not. I do think one has to humble oneself to some degree before learning. When I think of people I know who were not able to learn effectively, it is always in part because they did not humble themsleves sufficiently. I felt quite awkward when I got to the US and found that it was customary to address our professors by their first names. Back home, we wouldn't even say Professor So-and-so, but only Sir or Ma'am. So I feel quite comfortable in taekwondo class where we usually refer to our teacher as Sir, or Professor and certainly never by first name, which to me feels right, and the way things should be.

My taekwondo teacher started his training in 1972, earning his black belt in 1976. He continued his training during his undergraduate studies, earning higher degree black belts. He has been teaching Taekwondo at my university for around 15 years now, and is also a member of the faculty.

I am amazed at his level of academic accomplishment along with the level of his dedication to teaching taekwondo. I've gradually come to think that perhaps its possible for me too, to devote serious time to training and fulfil my academic goals.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

To Your Health

I came across this article in Shinichi Tohei's Ki Weblog. I found it unexpectedly, and was surprised (because its rare to see this view) and moved by it because it echoes what I feel about the connection between our mental and physical health. As I've mentioned before, I've found from experience that when we suffer from a chronic condition, or are dealing with injury, we should immediately examine our emotional state; that is where the solution lies. After having realized this, unfortunately, its impossible not to try to convert everyone you see suffering to this point of view. I say unfortunately because one is mostly met with rejection or indifference. I let this affect me, and I've often thought, 'why do I bother', and so I was moved to see the article, because it offers all of us much hope.

I don't know how to "extend my ki" as the article recommends, but I think just being aware of such a possibility, that we are not doomed to ill health and injury, is the first step.

Here's wishing everyone good health and happiness.