Friday, 20 April 2012

Take The Shot

With some people, there is always an initial reservation against sparring. No matter how much shadow fighting you do (shadow fighting is nothing but mock sparring or jiyu-kumite, which you do alone in front of the mirror or on the heavy-bag so as to improve your fighting technique for an actual sparring session), sparring with a live partner makes the difference. Your image in the mirror simply reflects what you do, but it doesn't hit back with force. What one needs is the feel of a real fight.

My Senpai is one tough chap who hits with a force enough to knock the air out of your lungs and impair your thighs with his shin kicks. But if you can last a 3-minute round with him, you know you have the condition and spirit to go for tournament fights.

I spend my after-class time conditioning my thighs and my abs, so that I can take it and still stand up for the rest of the fight. It's never easy, but if you want to make a difference, you have to take that step and walk that extra mile. It's grueling but rewarding.

Injuries in karate are a common thing altogether. The pain teaches you that getting something is not as easy as it looks. Seeing videos of Kyokushin fighters knocking down each other is one thing, and actually being able to knock down one on your own is another. Heck, I haven't even managed to kick someone in the head or the thighs enough to inflict a good crushing pain. It takes years of practice to master the art, but as I had said earlier in one of my blogs, there is never an end to the journey.

Getting injured in every class does dampen one's spirits sometimes. A few days back, I hurt my toeballs while trying to block my opponent's kicks, and the pain was so bad that I came home wanting to smash everything in my way, feeling frustrated that I was too weak to take anything. But then, it takes a short while to subdue your anger and return to normal again. And the next day, I'm back on the jogging track and then at the gym, pulling weights and stretching away and foreseeing a better-built person than the one I already am.

I am shedding my inhibitions against sparring, and I engage in sparring sessions with a classmate who happens to be well-built, being a gym-instructor that he is. We look at each-other's mistakes and learn from them. We hit hard, though I get hit back harder than he does :P

It always pays to walk that extra mile against your body's reaction. Karate, as I had said before, is more of training your mind than your body, because the body follows the mind wherever the latter leads it. Take the shot, and keep no regrets for not having done so. That's bushido, the way of the warrior!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Fuel Up!

I am known to be an individual who has an obsession for something once in a while (really? I mean how many people actually know this?), and I at least know myself to pursue it feverishly.

My takeaway from my Kyokushin Karate classes is this: Buddy, you have a frail body (and this is no understatement); no matter how strong you look, you CANNOT take a punch to your chest or torso unless you drag your arse out of bed everyday and exercise (and though I am unable to do that, I at least make sure I go back to bed dog-tired). And this is not me who says that, it's my Senpai who does.

Thus, this became the starting point for my feverish fixation of developing a healthy and strong body. And these are the things I do everyday:

1. Steal time off my work-schedule to find a secluded spot where I can do some stretching exercises, because sitting in front of the god-forsaken terminal has done me no good all these years save filling my pockets, which paves way for further goodness. :)

2. Eat regularly (in other words, though I miss breakfast, I make it a point to have a good lunch) and not skip meals. It's tough when you don't find good people or the right people to have lunch with, but in view of the greater good, eating alone doesn't feel bad either.

3. Watch my diet. And this, my dear people, is one thing that I haven't had much luck with. You see, when you work out and train hard, your body uses up all reserves of energy locked within you. And my metabolism is way too high, so whatever I eat burns up just as fast. Imagine having a never-dormant engine for a stomach. I have midnight snacks too when I'm studying, so I guess my Mom would know that her son is back to the mischievous brat that he was during his teenage and pre-teen days.

4. Coconut water is a manna from heaven, and the fruit too has no parallel. So before attending class, I down 2 coconuts and dash off. It often feels like every drought of coconut water breathes life into me.

5. I have pouches of glucose and Gatorade in my office drawer and 2 cans of Protein supplements, not to mention there's a big can at home too. So everytime I come back from class or the gym, I feel good about feeding my worn-and-torn muscles with a rich protein shake.

6. Running 800 metres in 4 minutes and then breaking into a 100 metre sprint immediately afterward (in my last sprint, I clocked 15 seconds, much to my surprise). This is anaerobic exercising, and it's importance lies in the fact that in a fight, you do not get time to breathe when you exchange blows and kicks. So, it's essential that you train to fight in a condition that challenges you to breathe. Besides, another advantage of anaerobic exercising is that the body uses up the available glucose and fat in your body, instead of oxygen in case of aerobic exercises, to produce energy. Now I appreciate my father for often telling me that the best way to lose fat is to run for all you are worth. Hats off, Bapa! Swimming and gymming are part of the regimen too.

7. Mental attitude counts a lot to be able to fight well. No matter how good you are on the punching-bag (it's a mean one, I must say), you can never know what it is to fight unless you fight a live human being, because a punching-bag never hits back. Whatever exercises you do, do not do it just for the heck of doing it. Ask your opponent to kick you and punch you harder, and take it well. Run the gauntlet, fall short of breath, let your muscles ache and yet, all this while, always listen to your mind telling you to go on and on. Punish yourself for a greater reward.

All things said and done, yet more needs to be said here. These are only the tangible things that I have talked about. Above all else, there has to be inspiration, too, alongside perspiration. Having a source of inspiration matters most to a fighter. My mother and father have been such sources of mine, and I'm sure yours are, too, for you. Bringing children up and making them life-ready in such difficult and corrupted times is a challenge beyond imagination, and no one knows that better than the parents themselves.

Besides, you never limit yourself to a few people. Life is full of examples just waiting to be seen and taken inspiration from. You might draw inspiration from a man of frail stature but immense courage to never back down despite the outcome, or from a girl who lives her life to the fullest not knowing whether she has cancer or how much time she has left to live, or from a female dog (I have reservations against the word "bitch") who would protect her offspring from a horde of angry male canines waiting to rip up the latter. These are people who are fighters, and they know that since their opponents wouldn't give them a quarter, why the fuck should they lose out on what they have! Having something or someone to love dearly and fiercely is reason enough in itself to fight for that something or someone. That is the FIXATION, the OBSESSION that drives an individual. Everything else is auxiliary. My obsession : to fight harder, live stronger and love better.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

My First Promotion

Dear White Belt,

You have been a great companion of mine. I have had you since I started learning Kyokushin. And you have held up my spirit to do more and more, besides giving me the feeling of a firm and fervent grip around my waist while I learnt and swot and persevered to no end. You have made me feel that there's a lot more to a fighter than just the colour of his belt, and indeed, the depth of the dirt on you is a measure of how much I have learnt and imbibed.

I shall never wash you, for two reasons: firstly, you contain my spirit with which I have trained hard, both inside and outside of the dojo, and secondly, I must never wash you, for you are the keeper of my experiences. Thanks for being a very good friend of mine and a constant supporter.

Now, the time has come when you shall take up a special place in my hall of fame which, though small, is accommodating enough for the relics of my life. I hereby take you off my gi and place you among my other artifacts as I don the symbol of my next level of learning: the orange belt.

Though my belt examination was not as I had expected it to be, but nevertheless Senpai Syed considered me worth it, and though I have a lot to prove as a Kyokushin karateka, I shall not leave any stone unturned in my path towards perfection.

There is no adieu, my friend, for whenever I open the doors to the hall of fame, I shall chance upon you and remember the times we have been together, sweating and toiling away. Now it's time for you to rest and watch me progress ahead.

To my shiro-obi, OSU!