Thursday, September 23, 2010

Training Log: Day 18

Couple of sprinting sessions today and on Day 15. It is very important not to see these as warm-ups for weights. They are very strenuous on their own. And they certainly require they're share of recuperative time. After the hills sprint session on Monday, I had mild but persistent soreness in my hams. Don't look on them as prep for something else. We sprint to get faster.

Sprinting today was a task. 10 seconds hard for every minute 30 jogging. Started to feel stitches now and again. Belly breathing helps; vacuums would help more. Transitioning between jogging and sprinting and I could feel how weak my core and illiopsoas are. I have to consciously tighten them just to transfer power from my hips to my legs to the ground. Everything is flopping all over the place. It's pathetic and I can't imagine how bad it looks.

Again, important to limit the length of jogging. Above 15 continuous minutes the stress hormones start to take a toll on hypertrophy.


Went to UMAC yesterday. That sensei, Lou Milonas...I want to be him someday. Beautiful facility. He even likes mixing it up with the guys. He has skills know. Looking at the guys in the MMA they all seem to have their strengths yet they were somehow lacking. They seemed one dimensional. The guy that always goes for takedowns, the guy that always goes for the clinch. I could see the potential for injury though - some of them had no idea how strong they are. If I was to go, I'd have to get a good training partner and really start easy. And really limit how often I spar: the stress hormones of fighting are probably a lot higher than the levels during jogging or lifting - so you need more healing time. But I definitely need to experience the speed of someone coming full blast.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How not to fight, pt. II or Karate and the Attack of the Black Swans

My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves & the quality of their knowledge too seriously & those who don’t have the courage to sometimes say: I don’t know....

What I do: I am interested in a systematic program of how to live in a world we don’t understand very well –in other words, while most human thought (particularly since the enlightenment) has focused us on how to turn knowledge into decisions, I focus on how to turn lack of information, lack of understanding, and lack of “knowledge” into decisions –how not to be a “turkey”...

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

We live in an age of experts. A globalized world is a world of specialization. No point in being a good financial planner or interior decorator if the best one in the world is an email away. Seems like everyone is fighting tooth and nail to be the sole authority on something. And to ensure that you are the sole authority, that "something" has to be more and more remote, increasingly exotic and removed from our everyday experience. Which of course makes what you've master that much more irrelevant.

But we trust experts, don't we? It isn't just our daily, spoon-fed dose of intellectualism and pseudointellectualism by way of cable news punditry. Or the well-established truth that universities are bastions of knowledge and intellectual rigor. Or the fact that the captains of industry obviously made it to the top on their own merits and not through fortune or simply outlasting the competition. We want to believe that someone has the answers. Why do I love Wikipedia so much? I want to believe that its all in one place, that some expert has already answered the question before I've asked it. That the world is easy and ordered and comprehensible. It's a seductive comfort...until you discover a wiki page that is full of *gasp* INACCURACIES!!!

I've felt this strange ever-present problem with the world these last few years after university - it's like my own Matrix that I'm trying to wake up from. I suppose it really breaks down into three separate problems. First is the Authority Bias, a human trait of deferring to people based on not always rational cues of status. Second is the Hindsight Bias where the past is made to have been more predictable than it really was. And third is the Dunning–Kruger effect, where the people who don't know that they don't know are first to speak up, and the people who know what they know and know what they don't know sit patiently and swallow the shit that the first group is shoveling. Blindly trusting smart-sounding people who tell you that the world is eminently predictable when it is anything but when they should be doing more listening than talking themselves pretty much sums my attitude my world. It is a theoretical world pulled over our eyes to blind us from the truth. And it isn't their fault for talking. And we aren't wrong for listening. We just acquiesce too easily; we accept before examining the alternatives.

It isn't nihilism or an empty aphorism or a superficial solipsism to say that we underestimate greatly the significance of the unknown in general and the unexpected in particular. We really don't allow enough room for variability into our plans. There is a power there, a power in the unknown, that is formidable and to my regret has been largely abused throughout human history. Instead of inspiring and encouraging curiosity, the unknown is usually something made to fear and ignore. Instead of opening minds and setting spirits free, the unexpected closes minds and has us pointing fingers. Seems like no one is immune. But to my credit, I do distinctly remember thinking as I watched the Twin Towers come down that September 12, 2001 was going to be distinctly different from September 10th. And I remember thinking that maybe a stronger, more united world might result. I'm still waiting.

Then there's this guy Taleb and his book, The Black Swan. He seems to have put his finger right on a massive part of my Matrix that I couldn't express. It has to do with risk. And that is that the more regular and predictable and comprehensible and derivative and logical we view the world, the more vulnerable we are when the unexpected hits. The more we want to believe and the more we convince ourselves that tomorrow is accounted for, the more we open ourselves up to some serious pain when the unaccounted for arrives. He's taking aim at the cult of financial experts and economists who can use statistics and data about past performance to predict future stability right up to the moment when the global economy loses trillions of dollars in value. The best mathematical models in the world still can't imagine the unimaginable. Worse still, those that look to these models as the triumph of reason over speculation, are deceiving themselves, shareholders and the public by receiving very robust short-term compensation while the rest of us pay for their long-term lowballing of the growing risk of the next major shock to the system.

And that next shock is coming. It has to. It has to because humans are always looking for the next low-energy predictable, dependable status quo with which grand declarations like "the end of history", "they hate us because of our freedom" and "the war to end all wars" can be made. It gives a framework for us living our lives without having to think or watch our backs. But it still won't change the fact that the blow is coming from behind and it will hurt and it would probably hurt less if we acknowledged that it was coming and braced ourselves for it.

What does this have to do with Karate? Well it's an elegant analogy for martial training in general. The Black Swan is physical violence. Like the financial crisis, sure, it may only come once in a lifetime. But how significant could that one event be when set against all the years that it didn't happen - sudden, unexpected violence can literally change your life. How much then, should preparing for it be considered a hobby, even in light of the low probability? Do you consider saving for retirement a hobby? Or is it just a reasonable precaution given you might not become filthy rich? It's the ultimate low probability-high risk situation: you at gunpoint, you at knifepoint. You didn't see it coming. Did you give yourself a chance to survive it? Were you more diligent in your preparation than the experts at Bear Stearns or Lehman Brothers who were only responsible for billions of dollars and the livelihoods of thousands of families?


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Training Log: Supplemental

Been off since Wednesday. Soreness and irregularity (of the intestinal kind). Not sure what it is. Tried milk of magnesia and a fibre supplement, only provided limited results.

30 minutes stretching yesterday. I can find time to stretch 30 minutes every day. Sitting, lying down - the opportunities are abundant. In fact, I'm going to do some right now.

Didn't even hands are fucking killing me. Using the 150 lbs heavy grip and the pain is centered on the bottom two knuckles when I try to close them. Might be from the wrist flexions on Wednesday.

Also, I feel really charged for some reason. The strangest things can set it off: sunshine, exhaustion... who knows? Now all I need is an outlet. Like a good workout;-)

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Training Log: Day 5

It's so strange looking at my old training log. How long its lay fallow and unused. The written record of starts and stops, intense passion followed by waning interest. It's like a metaphor for me: so much potential, so little conviction. So much preparation, so little dedication. Such fine planning for such poor execution.

I forgot how hard Archer pushups are. Everything on rings is hard but, I just couldn't trust myself with the Archers. It's a dangerous exercise if you aren't completely steady - it could easily spell a dislocated shoulder and I can't afford to do that again. In fact we'll replace it with normal pushups until we can do at least 2:00 in support position. Can't afford to get injured - especially when working alone.

Vacuums. The missing factor in abdominal work. Have to concentrate on the end of the motion, really move your belly button to you spine.

Wear the weight vest when doing plank. Don't be afraid to make static work harder. Dynamic work can pull muscles and dislocate stuff. But static work - make them harder. PUSH YOURSELF.

Good job, though. In repeating these workouts two weeks from now, we have to have a focus on doing the same or more work in less time. Today's routine took 41 minutes. Two weeks from now it should take 37 at most.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Training Log: Day 4

My lower back was punished yesterday. Gonna have to rest today, just to be on the safe side. They felt like balloons that were going to pop. Have to be very careful with my form and the weight. I had a horrible pulled back muscle around a year ago, couldn't even bend over. When your body says no, it says it very loudly. But this has to be done, and done now. These muscles, my posture, they're so important for fighting. Bruce Lee said that if you don't have good core strength you have no business doing any serious sparring. When I feel the tension in my midsection at full exertion compared to at rest, it occurs to me how much force those muscles could generate, more that I can even imagine now. PUSH YOURSELF.

On a side note, hot cold therapy in the shower seemed to help alot with DOMs, barely feel it now. Question is: will I feel it again next time I do squats?

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Training Log: Day 3

Did some stretching last night to alleviate the soreness in my quads. Should consider stretching multiple times a day, maybe sun salutations. Only got 3 hours of sleep last night and for some reason, I feel great. I'm sure if I got 4 hours, I'd feel like crap. Sleep is funny that way. It's all about timing.

If the soreness persists for a week then I'll have to push this cycle back to the 2nd half of October. Use it or lose it. At the molecular level, your body does just enough metabolizing to keep you running. Why maintain muscle fibers or protein isoforms that you aren't using? Well, muscles, you're all on notice....I need those fast twitch fibers for kicking and punching!

Crazy idea: was doing some Shi-Ho-Hai today, just fooling around, thinking about how the postures could be used and suddenly it came to me - tori with eyes closed, uke standing in front of him. Signal. Tori opens his eyes and Uke attacks. Tori only has the split second to react, tai-sabaki and strike. Kinda like ippon kumite except less to process because by the time you see what's happening Uke is already coming. Very quickly you get a sense of angles of attack and which way to move, perceiving eyes, shifting internally, moving to open space, moving at the last moment, moving as little as possible. But more than anything you face the fear - Uke could be anywhere. And that's the most important thing to overcome, that sense of blindness. Vulnerability. You open your eyes and uke is at your you 1) sidekick to the left 2) yoko empi to the left 3) turn to your left and square up with him in a clinch or 4) drop and reverse to your right, sweeping the near leg.

The attack has to be of good quality. Punches and kicks have to be delivered properly, as if they were striking through your center axis. That gives the sense of closeness necessary. Obviously beginners would have Uke start a step or two back giving more time to react. Or conversely, beginners could have uke start with a lapel grab prior to striking.

The best part is you can't go early. You can't move before your eyes are open because you might be moving into the attack. You have to wait there, wait for that split second when he's either going to attack or not - wait and then explode. Sudden action. No right answer, just what comes spontaneously, how well you internalized the katas and can move off a spot, how empty your mind was, how instinctively you responded. Crispy, as Bruce Lee would say - a spontaneous, committed response to the unexpected. Brilliant!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Training Log: Day 2

Unbearable soreness and unbearable anticipation. Pace yourself. We're going to spend these next 6 weeks focusing on triceps, erector spinae, forearms and abdominals. Pullup hanging requires forearm strength. Can't wait to do monkey makers and hang from one arm. Triceps will make l-sit, dips and ring work easier. Abs and erector spinae are my weakest muscles, by far. Seems like a good system, working on the weakest links first. Strengthen from the bottom.

In order of patheticness, my worst muscles are:

1. Abs/erector spinae 2. Triceps 3. Forearms 4. Hamstrings 5. Abductors and Adductors 6. Shoulders 7. Glutes 8. Biceps 9. Quad 10. Calves 11. Pecs 12. Lats/Traps

Jogging has helped with my quads, pullups with my back and support position with my chest. Everything else has been neglected, and needs some quality time.

Wanted to put down some Christmas goals, some birthday goals and some lofty goals -

By Christmas:
15 pullups
75 pushups
20 static dips
10 ring dips
10 handstand pushups (hspus)

By 10 Feb 2011:
20 pullups
85 pushups
25 static dips
15 ring dips
15 hspus
1 muscle up

By Khalid's 29th Birthday (Year Two):
30 pullups
100 pushups
30 static dips
20 ring dips
20 hspus
10 muscle-ups

I will be strong when:

I can do a one handed handstand.
I can do a Planche/Bower/Erb.
I can do a Chest roll to a HSPU/Roesler.
I can do a front lever row.
I can do a one arm chin.
I can do a Galimore.
I can do a Young.
I can do side lever pulls.
I can do a Manna.
I can do a 360 pull.


Friday, September 03, 2010


I broke my ass. I pushed my limit. I'm so proud of myself. We're doing hypertrophy for the next 6 weeks. 3-4 sets, 12 to 15 reps, a minute or less rest between sets. Wanted to start at 45 minute sessions. After 30 minutes, I could tell almost every muscle felt like cramping. So much pain. So exhilarating. I always wonder whether I push myself hard enough. I want to stay injury free, and with the hip and shoulder... I never quite meet that edge. But I was doing the squats and I could barely make it up the stairs. I was doing the crunches and my entire stomach was screaming. Then I did some chins and when I went to write it down my right arm and forearm were locked. I couldn't believe it. I looked down at it for nearly 10 seconds before I had to pry it loose with my left hand. I saw the line and stepped over it yesterday. I want to do it again. I want to soon, but I have to pace myself. Don't burn out!

P.S. My thighs are killing me. I can almost feel the busted strands of muscle waiting to be replaced with the fibers that will make my kicks faster:-)