Saturday, 18 February 2012

Seienchin Kata

Kata is the Japanese term for a form of shadow-fighting wherein a number of techniques are applied in a series of memorized patterns. In the layman's terms, it can be called a fight pattern without there being the presence of another opponent. Almost like a dance, but a martial dance in which you display and apply full power as if you would had you been in a fight. For now, this is probably all I can use to explain katas.

The kata "Seienchin" has fascinated me a lot, and I've always wanted to learn it. This kata is fascinating particularly because of the immense amount of patience and perseverance that is required to perform all the steps and techniques perfectly. The kata was practised by the Japanese Samurai when they used to go to war far away from their homelands. Staying in isolation away from family and loved ones would dampen the strength and spirit of the warrior. Under such circumstances, Seienchin served as the reliever. The term Seienchin means "the calm before the storm" or "the storm within the calm". Executing this kata for hours and hours helped build up the strength and spirit before war. Maybe that's why Seienchin was also referred to as "conquering or subduing the enemy over a distance".

I love this kata because it helps me be calm and patient, and also because I feel good about the fact that my legs get pumped up and strengthened due to staying in kiba dachi (the horse-stance) for a long time. A good conditioning exercise and a very excellent means of meditation!

So long for now! Osu!

Solitaire-y Reaper : Playing the cards well

The game of Solitaire has an amazing charm, or maybe it's just me. I'm not much of a card-game enthusiast, because they often remind me of a lot of complicated things. But Solitaire stands apart from the rest; as a companion and a teacher.

I don't have many games on my laptop, so Solitaire is just about the only game I play. Anybody would say, "damn dude, you got a laptop with all the configurations needed to play a 3-D shooter game like Crysis, Battlefield 3 and the like", but I simply don't have the time to indulge in them. Besides, the addiction to these games is can never leave the game till after you have spent 5 hrs on it. I have spent 2 hrs at a stretch playing one of these on the PS3, and though it satiates your desire and fantasy of being in possession of an army to command and a weapon to fire, your mind craves for more once the game is over or when you sense you can't afford an hour more (cuz you have spent about 200 bucks). Your fixation for the element of fantasy takes a heavy toll on your mind. I know it because I have experienced it, and it's not good.

So, coming back to Solitaire, this game has some struggles. You can't expect to command an army or fire a weapon, but to sort the cards out properly is quite a task. Most of the times, I am stuck up in the middle of the game without any means to proceed, and I'm forced to quit. And that's the difficult part. You know that this arrangement has a solution, but you're forced to quit because you have exhausted all yours as well as the computer's logic in trying to find a way out.

You badly want to solve the case, but you can't. And then, like a flash of lightning, it strikes you that you can do some tweaking. You might need to pull down a few cards from the deck and then bring down the set of cards that are covering the hidden cards, because most often, the cards that you need in the heat of the moment are the ones that are hidden and covered by a pile of cards that you can't seem to fit in anywhere. A typical roadblock! I badly wanted a Jack of Diamonds, and that smartass was happily nestled among one of the hidden cards, unaware of the struggle that I was going through in order to find him and of the anger that might have caused me to kill him had he been of flesh and blood. What pisses you off even further is the smile on this Jack-ass's face when you reveal him.

Solitaire does test your patience and persistence. There are so many moves and so many permutations and combinations that you need to decide when and where to make a move (not that you are gonna be blown up by a booby trap if you fail to do so). If you play it as seriously as I do, you'd wanna restart that particular game rather than start a new game altogether, because that is what I do. I just know that victory lies ahead, and I'm not gonna leave any stone or card unturned till I see the last four kings happily rested on the deck. You do lose a lot on your statistics, but hey, what matters more is that you finished the job despite the odds! That's what we call attaining inner peace.

The same thing applies to relationships as well. Very often, people involved in one are unable to move ahead (and I'm not talking about the relationship of lovers only), and they are unable to make head or tail of where it's leading them to. Relate this to a game of Solitaire, and you'll understand that sometimes it is required to just sit down, keep a strong head and start making changes here and there to fine-tune the relationship, all the time determined "never to give up"! Your mind has to breathe, otherwise it ceases to think. It is a difficult thing to breathe in times of stress, but if you just breathe, you will understand more, and you won't suffocate others too, especially the ones whom you love and care about. It's just like swimming: if you panic and beat around frantically, you will grow exhausted and ultimately drown. You know it, yet the fear of drowning compels you to drown. In a relationship, fear makes you do what is not apt or just for the moment. It makes you spoil what has taken years of effort to create.

Fear has destroyed many a mind, broken many a bond, cost many their loved ones. The only way to battle it is peace and the will to overcome fear. Big talk from someone like me who has played Solitaire to correlate the facts of life to a mere game, but on a serious note, it does click somewhere, whether in a small way or large.

Friday, 17 February 2012

My tryst with "Karate"

God bless Torrents, and the people who upload a gazillion videos and documents via these torrents. Thanks to them, I am now the owner (though not the sole owner) of a plethora of Martial Arts videos and PDFs that I could get my hands on.

Before I start ranting about Martial Arts and using jargons that all except a 6-month old baby would find incongruous, lemme introduce myself. For those who know me already, bear with the introduction please :P , and then you can probably tell the rest of the world how crazy I might be actually. LOL! All comments/compliments/oohs-and-aahs are welcome! J

My name's Abhishek Jee, and I am a die-hard Martial Arts fan. Not that I would remember the tiniest detail of a fight between two contenders battling it out in UFC (first jargon ;) is an acronym for Ultimate Fighting Championship), but I study Martial Arts as a way of enlightenment and self-realization, and I am enthralled by its history: how it evolved and came to be what it is now.

I have trained in Shito-Ryu karate for 5 years in the prime of my teenage (11-15 yrs of age), and hold a brown belt 4th kyu in this style. Though I left Karate because I could not balance Tennis, my newfound love, alongwith my Karate classes, I never stopped practicing, though it was never the same without a partner to practice with.

After 10 years of having left Karate, I decided I need to learn again, and I began doing quite some research on the best styles available. I hailed from a semi-contact style (wherein the bouts involve minimal contact between two sparring opponents), and then I came across a full-contact style (heavy standup sparring in which you knock down your opponent to the ground if you want the round and the nightmare to end J; in a way, no-holds-barred fighting), and I found the style to be Kyokushin. What worried me was that this style is not practiced in many places in India, and I thought I might have to give up on this, till one day, I saw a guy speeding away on his bike wearing the Kyokushin gi (karate uniform) and a green belt, and I chased him till the first signal I saw. He acknowledged my presence, and we talked about Kyokushin in a secluded spot, and I just signed in. Thanks a lot, Vaibhav. Osu! My persistence paid off well!

My training started off with heavy conditioning and sparring. But the very thought of coming back to training after years of absence enticed me to endure more. 3 days a week, an hour and a quarter of training, and loads of exercises. The dojo (Japanese for gymnasium or school) is small in size, but heck, who cares as long as there is a heavy sandbag to work out your punches and kicks on J

Sensei Morteza Oghbaei, 3 times World Champion, was our teacher (still is, though he has gone back to Iran), and training under him was fun. Not the frolicsome kind of fun, but real endurance (I don’t do kiddy fun!). Though he would tell you not to strain yourself too much if you can't handle it, looking at him do more pushups would make you wanna stretch further. Osu, sensei!

People here have a misplaced conception about Martial Arts, defining it in their own way as a brutal form of sport. I say bollocks, so are football, rugby and cricket. And that too, coming out of the mouths of people who are the very descendants of Aryans and Dravidians who were known to be warlike. I'm glad that my mother never thought so, and what's more inspiring about her is that she used to switch to Star Movies every Saturday night when I returned from my Karate classes (this was during my childhood days), and there would be a martial arts film playing (under only one condition that I take off my gi and have a good shower to drive the stink of my sweat away, followed by quickly shovelling my dinner down my throat so as not to miss the action :P)

Karate teaches you to fight, but never to be hostile. It teaches you patience, and it teaches you virtue, too. It teaches you to realise that there is no situation whose outcome you cannot handle, and you do not need to be hostile to determine the outcome. Though these might sound as far-fetched to you all, I would suggest that you come down and take a few classes, and watch how these sessions can change your outlook on life. The lessons will take time to ingrain themselves in you, but the patience is well worth it. It has been for me! As a saying in Japanese goes, "From white belt to black belt you shape the tool, at black belt you start to learn how to use it." A black-belt is only the beginning J

So long then! Shall be posting a lot more! Osu!