Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jits for Jeriatrics!

Sorry, Justin, don't mean to imply that you are. I'm actually way closer to that demographic comapred to you! :-)

This post is in response to an email that my friend sent to me about getting back into training after a really debilitating injury. And believe me, his is really bad. But I admire his incredible verve and spirit for even contemplating that. The great thing is that he is using phrases like "soul searching", the "mental game" and the like. This is a great first step

Now I know the young bucks will poo-poo all this and just believe that you should train on tank filled with 99% testosterone and 1% intelligence but I just want them to reach my age and see whether it's possible to do so without ending up on a first name basis with your Orthopaedic surgeon. (In my case, it doesn't apply - my brother is one)

When you get older, the ratio should be reversed; not because your nuts get smaller but because your body can't take at 40 what it did at 18. It's not possible. Not even with all the supplements and ginseng known to man. So, below are a few tips on how to get back into the game safely when others are saying that you should be playing golf (blech!)

1. Train more often, but less intensely

The second part sounds wrong but hear me out. It's better for you to train 20 times and progress 1 km each time then to train once and blow yourself out , and never come back. I have seen a few blue belts who have stopped training, return once to great fanfare..and drop out once again, never to be seen.

I think what you need to do is set a goal in terms of quantity of classes or sessions and reach that. At then end, you'll find that just through sheer doggedness in coming to each class - you'll achieve something. This year, my goal was to come to 20 open mat sesssions. Compared to 2007, where my attendance was sporadic and depended on whether I "felt like it"; the improvement in my game has been noticeable.

2. Don't be afraid to go back into 1st gear

As I have said before, an instructor usually concentrates on his top students and at that pace; leaving the slower ones disheartened when they can't keep up. Bugger that. He hasn't got your body, your aches and your pains. And he won't be paying for your medical bill for ibuprofen either.

If the pace is too fast and potentially damaging for you, don't be afraid to pull back and slow down.

3. Leave the memories in the Kodak box

Guys being guys, we want to believe that we will remain invincible and potent forever. It's related to a fear of death, but I'll save that for my religious blog. Consequently, we seek to relive your past glorious moments again and again. So, we kind of replay that line from Eve 6's song " Here's to the night we felt alive" ad infinitum

This sounds brutal; leave them. Save them for the occassional talk cock session when you've had a few bears at the pub. But it's over. And once over, it will never happen again. As in Ikebana, the arranged flowers are beautiful; but they are essentially dead, disconnected from their roots. Their decline is assured.

So too the past glories. Find new ones, or new vistas when you roll. Don't be punch-drunk Pauly at that rundown gym going " I coudda been a contender!". Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery, so..get drunk today! :-)

Before I go all Deepak Chopra..

4. Train with a brain

It's not a bad thing to engage your brain. It means that you have a plan, a schedule and course charted. If it fails, so what? At least you tried to go somewhere. This means asking questions like "what do i want to work on", "how long?" and "what do i want to achieve?"

Leave the romantic "mind of no mind, train like a man without a care in the world" b.s behind. Show me a guy like that , and I'll show you a guy with crippling mortgages, a neglected wife and kids and unwashed clothes

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

How's your Game been?

As the year draws to a close, one question any person training in combat sports should ask is: How has my game been this year?

It's important to ask this as like it or not, a combat sport is predicated on a few things, and one of those things is that there should be improvement seen over time if one if diligent, aware and mindful of what they are doing. It is not optional

If you are doing a non-competitive art like aikido or tai-chi, then this discussion doesn't apply to it. But the combat sports are inherently competitive and about dominance over your opponent; or at least control over your actions. So there are ways to gauge whether you are improving or not. Some may be valid in theory but not in practice. Take the example of performance gauging through winning compeitions

Say you won a gold medal this year in a Jits competition whereas last year, you got a silver. Sounds good, right? It is until the truth comes out that last year, you had to fight 5 opponents to get your silver while this year, you had a walkover all the way to the finals. The end doesn't always tell the whole story

If you were out with an injury last year and this year, you only started rolling or sparring again; there is improvement. It doesn't matter if everyone is kicking your ass. If next year, you are where you were this year, then your game hasn't imrpoved.

Some people object to this stress-testing. They whine "Why can't I just train without caring if I improve or not? I still like it."

Unfortunately, you train with a partner. And if he or she is improving, and likewise the others in your class; pretty soon, you won't enjoy it because everyone will be spanking you. And if you derive a certain pleasure out of that...well, there are other websites that cater for that.. :-)

Nuff said