Monday, July 26, 2010

Birthday Thoughts

Last week was my birthday (thanks to all wellwishers!). This birthday I continued an idea I've had for a while. With each passing year I only want to get stronger and healthier, even as people my age trend towards carrying that extra ten pounds around the gut and sacrificing a certain percentage of their health for their careers.

This year, with the Kung Fu Body program, I can honestly say that I'm stronger than ever. The thing that I'm most thrilled about though, is that I haven't gotten all pumped up and big. For someone of my body type, it's pretty easy to make a lot of muscle. Unfortunately most of it just gets in the way of functional, movement based strength.

Here's a photo I took on my birthday in my favorite Shao Lin Stance:

This is exactly where I want to be right now. There's certainly less tone than PCP will give a person, but the core strength that you can't see in that photo is off the charts. I'm also surprised by the shape of my chest. Usually my chest gets really big and bubbly but on KFB it has kind of thinned out to the sides. Must be all the punches and elbow strikes, I'm still trying to figure out how it's all working under the skin.

Anyway, what I want to leave people with is the idea that you're not destined for a slow slide into out of shape shlubiness as you enter your 30s. If anything, it's the best time to finally master your condition, as you'll probably have a lot more routine and rhythm in your life that is essential to maintaining a fitness program. No more excuses, just a little time and sweat!

Monday, July 19, 2010


Anyone else have days where your flexibility levels just plummet?

It happens to me sometimes. I'll suddenly lose 50% of my range of motion in my legs. The day before I'll have my chin down on my knee with no problem and the next day I can't touch my toes. Or when I was doing overhead crescent kicks on Tuesday and Thursday I can barely manage chest high.

I call these my "Lockdown" days. Something in my nervous system is putting the breaks on everything. I used to get really frustrated with them, but now I just roll with it and do my best with the limited movements.
I still haven't pinpointed what brings on the Lockdown. This is my list of culprits.

1. Fatigue. Usually I'll get a lockdown day 2 or 3 days after a big physical day, for example a 12 hour yoga/training day on the weekends when my private lessons all get booked up. I don't know why it's 2 or 3 days later that the lockdown happens and not the day after.

2. Poor sleep. This seems to coincide at times and other times it doesn't.

3. Stress levels. Invariably, my flexibility deceases inversely to my stress levels.

Today I had a bit of all three going on, and I was in BAAAAD shape. I felt like a total beginner. Which is good sometimes.

The interesting thing is that I bet everyone has these off flexibility days, it's just that so few people actually take their bodies to the edges of its range of motion that they don't even notice it. Come on people! You've got this awesome body, don't you want to take it for a spin around the block sometime?

Anyway, off to work on the cure for Lockdown. Legs up the wall for 30 mins!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bouncing Off the Walls!

I've got so much elastic energy these days. Walking down the street I want to jump on ledges and throw out quick punches and kicks at all the targets that present themselves... parking meters, low hanging leaves, pedestrians...

I like how all the strength we're gaining is tied directly to movement. No muscle is built just for the sake of having it. It all goes into doing something. So it makes sense that my body doesn't know to turn off that impulse when training time is over. I'm bouncing off the walls here! This is on top of 20 hours of yoga instruction a week and all the PCP stuff too.

A well nourished well rested body has almost limitless stores of energy. If you're feeling sluggish and slow and always on empty know that this feeling is NOT just a "part of life."

Start moving and the body will keep moving. It works everytime!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Best and Worst of Us.

On our journey through life it can be so easy to focus on the darker side of humanity. The wars, the greed, the backstabbing, cowardice, corruption and misery. Every news site you visit today will simply be a new mix of these old ingredients.

But there's another side to us, the one that looks at a vast sea and says, "I can sail across that", or looks to the moon and says, "Let's see what's up there." Exploration, adventure, creativity, and the willingness to do something difficult.

What amazes me is how Kung Fu brings out this quality in almost everyone it touches. When you watch a skilled martial artist or tai chi practitioner, it's hard to not hear that little voice in the back of your head that says, "I want to be able to do that."

A few weeks ago the new Karate Kid movie came out, which, as has been much discussed, is actually the "Kung Fu" Kid. It was number one at the box office. Every few years we seem to get this wave of interest in the martial arts and with each wave a few more people want to go deeper, buy a book, watch some how to videos, or go to their local dojo. Kung fu speaks to the best in us physically and mentally, and it brings me hope that all is not lost.

I'm glad to be sharing this spark with my fellow KFBers!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lean Strong Flexible Agile

This is working! I've never been functionally stronger.

And I'm getting great range of motion out of my legs. I thought I had peaked two years ago, but this new round of inner muscle is allowing for all kinds of fun.

Also getting FAST. Brain and body are working together like never before. New feats possible.

More soon!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Getting Real

I had a long week. Big corporate presentations, the usual responsibilities of running a yoga studio and keeping the lights on, massive amounts of Kung Fu Body layout work (there's a workout this week with an INSANE 34 separate photos, and... ta da... videos!

So I rewarded myself by starting a new RPG on the Xbox last night. You play this character who has to walk the vast wastelands of post-apocalyptic Washington DC. Cool game, but you literally have to walk your ass for minute after minute through this dead sad landscape to get to the small towns of survivors scattered around.

I put in a good 12 hours of work today and was going to play some more of my new game, when I thought about how ridiculous it was that after a whole day sitting in front of a computer I was going to sit in front of a game system and watch my character walk across a digital landscape.

So I grabbed Kazue and we went for an analog walk, all the way across town. Got some frozen yogurt and came back. Yokohama by night is one of the most beautiful places. This picture doesn't even come close.

Monday, May 31, 2010


There's a misconception that people who do this bodywork type stuff are always on top of their game and cruising through the day.

In reality, I'm sore almost every single day in some random part of my body. I don't mind anymore. It's a nice reminder that I really worked hard the day (or two days) before.

Today my lats are aching, and my lower back is feeling very tender around the lumbar. Not sure what exercises got me these sore spots but it's just another day in the life.

Sometimes I'll be walking around and realize, "Hey, I'm not sore anywhere in my whole body! What a great feeling!" Reminds of Thich Nhat Hanh's exhortation to enjoy all those days you get to experience "no toothache".

Off to workout. Day 18!