Monthly Archives: September 2009

Fitness Report 18Sep09

Waist – 40″ + a skosh

Weight – 214.8 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 27% / 29.1%

Overweight by – 25.8 pounds

Exercising – Yes, knee getting better, but still not up to running yet

Dieting – Yes

I feel – Confident!

Not much change since last week. Same scenario: weighing in at 213 all week, Friday morning weigh in about two pounds over. Could it be that Thursday night is game night and the one night of the week I eat sweets? Maybe, who knows, but the loss is still measurable, and I’m very happy and confident. I’ll be much more happy when my knee gets good enough to go jogging again.

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One good men…

Sometimes that’s all you get out of two or three hours of practice. Kendo is so technical that at my level of play that is enough, most days. I’ve said before that one good word from sensei can make my whole week, and it’s true, barring any crazy complications in my non-kendo life. But it can still be a very frustrating activity to engage in, because one good men isn’t guaranteed. The Four Sicknesses (fear, doubt, surprise, confusion) are harder to keep at bay when in a strange environment, and I’m not quite settled in with the KU club just yet.

I concentrate on what I’m doing instead of reacting in the moment, and I end up staring dumbly while my aite (partner/opponent) blasts me with his shinai. I get so tense that when I decide to strike, it’s slow and telegraphed, and I end up watching in frustration as my aite hits through my attack and manages not to be there when my own reaches its destination. When I grab hold of myself enough to make connections with my shinai, they’re sloppy and uncontrolled, muscles all tense with the desire to hit the aite, and I wear myself out with frustrated attacks. And when I finally relax, focus my ki effectively and maintain proper form and make good attacks… jigeiko is over, and I’ve spent the whole time forgetting what I remembered by the end of the last one. And sometimes it doesn’t matter anyway, because my aite is that much better than me. It is a goal of mine that nobody facing me take me lightly, so I try to make up for my lack of skill with a vigorous spirit and kiai.

The only sporting activity I engage in that rivals the masochism of JSA is golf. No matter how loose and comfortable I was the last time I was at the driving range, the first bucket and most of the second bucket end up nowhere near where I was able to put them at the end of the last session. Golf is very much like kendo in this respect, and in several others. Swinging a long tool at a tiny target with exquisite precision, knowing that the slightest deviation from proper technique will end up magnified into viciously crude ugliness that does nothing but frustrate and disappoint. Unlike kendo, however, the last ball I hit is often the one I remember instead of the best one. Sometimes, when my bucket is almost empty and I make a magnificent drive, I’ll just put the remaining balls in my bag and go home, just so I can take that memory with me.

But the beauty of one good men, and the solid tink! of a well placed drive, it makes the frustration worth it most days. Only in kendo I don’t get the luxury of leaning on my shinai and reveling in the glory of it, because golf balls won’t immediately retaliate…



Filed under Budo, Kendo

Fitness Report 11Sep09

Waist – 40″ + a skosh

Weight – 215.0 lbs

Body Fat Percentage – 27% / 29.7%

Overweight by – 26 pounds

Exercising – Yes, but still limited by my knee injury

Dieting – Yes, though I ate more Jimmy John’s tuna fish than I should have this week

I feel – Pretty good

New features! I’m going to be tracking my body fat percentage as well, from now on. The first number is from an online calculator that is set up to help people self-screen for Army recruitment, that uses tape measure input. The second number is from my fancy scale that uses electrical resistance measuring. I honestly don’t trust either method, so I’m providing both and reckoning the number to be generally represented in there somewhere. I’m also putting the difference between my initial target weight on here (189 pounds). I’d like to be smaller than that, but we’re doing this in stages. My next milestone is safely under 210lbs. It seems like I’m losing about a pounds a week right now, and that’s acceptable.

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Saint Louis Japan Festival

So Brian and I went yesterday to the Saint Louis Japan festival. Unfortunately when we got there we learned that the demo had been canceled due to rain. The guy who had the free passes for everyone didn’t come because of the cancellation, so Jimmy (from STL) had to drive all the way across town to pick them up, leaving Brian and me to have a fascinating conversation with Mr. Nobu, who is an interesting character with a lot of good jokes and stories. We finally got in and had lunch in the festival. The yakitori was delicious, and so was the rice ball I ate. It was also pretty expensive, but you have to expect that at what’s essentially a fund raiser, I guess. All of the food vendors seemed to be local culture clubs of some kind or another. They were selling big bottles of Kirin and Sapporo, and that’s where the plan started to go off script for me personally, but more on that later.

The STL botanical garden has an amazing Japanese garden, and I would recommend stopping at the place anytime you’re in STL just to look at it. The whole garden is very pretty, but the Japanese garden was outstanding. It circles a pond that incorporates a fifteen foot high waterfall, a stony stream with stepping stones, a traditional Japanese wooden bridge and rock displays among the bushes, flowers and trees. And ducks you can feed over by a smaller bridge. It was way cool, and I should have liked to have been there at an off-festival time by myself.

They had a very funny candy man there with his street performers cart who made candy and did magic tricks. He involved various audience members, including myself, in different jokes and tricks and was a hoot. I don’t think I did my part right in the magic trick he was doing with me, because he just shook my hand afterward and moved on to the next thing.

The cosplayers were numerous and creative. My favorite was a girl who came in a Dalek costume, just because of the sheer incongruity of her character choice. There was also a girl dressed as what could best be described as an “innocently slutty” miko, whose signature red hakama was hemmed well above the knees, and who was one of the few females cosplaying there who could have pulled such a look off. There were many, many people doing Bleach characters. Another guy was dressed as a generic ninja-samurai hybrid, and had not one, or two, or three swords stuck through his karate obi, but no less that FOUR wooden and plastic swords upon his person. There might have been a fifth, but this was not confirmed. The more I think about it, the more I’m almost positive that I’ve seen a couple of the cosplayers at the Kansas City Japan Festival. Or maybe it’s my imagination.

A big disappointment was that the sumo was canceled as well, though Brian and I could have still had our pictures taken with them, which we declined.

After, we drove to one of the STL club members homes, and there was a raucous party that went well into the evening. Or maybe I was the only one being raucous, because Brian sempai ended up driving my car back to Kansas City. They loaded us down with excellent food and everyone was very nice. There was a lot of interesting conversation, and Mr. Nobu told some funny (and long) stories about when he first came to the States back in 1975. Some gifts were given, some jokes were told, there was a toast involving sake that I think Brian got a picture of, and I think we built some good community with our friends in STL. We invited them down to the KC Japan Festival in a couple of weeks, and around 9pm Brian and I had to bounce because the Lion’s Choice closes at 10pm.

Yes, we ate delicious food non-stop, packing Lion’s Choice barbecue on top of all of it on nothing more than principle.

So my day started at 5am on Saturday, and didn’t end until after 2am on Sunday. Even though we missed the opportunity to attend their university club’s practice and the demo was canceled (and I couldn’t talk anyone into sparring with me in the backyard at the party), it was a very good time and I’m glad we went.



Filed under Budo, Event, Kendo

Fitness Report 4Sep09

Waist – 40″ + a skosh
Weight – 216.0 lbs

Exercising – Yes, but limited by my knee injury
Dieting – Yes, much better than last week
I feel – Exhausted, but settling into my new routing

Why is it that I can weigh myself every day of the week up until Friday and be 214 lbs, but then be 216 lbs Friday morning? I’ve got not one, but TWO new tape measures…

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