Posts Tagged ‘martial arts’

the beginning of motivational mondays

07/11/2011

Mondays suck, huh? It’s the beginning of the work week and most people would rather be doing things other than sitting in an office or just working on someone else’s agenda for 8-9 hours.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed Mondays – even before breaking free of the 9-5 lifestyle. Here’s why:

mental preparation

Every Monday I wake up intent on setting a few short-term goals to complete before the day was over. By setting just a few short-term goals, I could see immediate progress, thus motivating myself further. I then set a loose schedule for the rest of the week and adhere to that as I could, given emergencies and issues that need an immediate response. Operate in the short-term, plan for the long-term.

By doing this, I made Monday the most productive day of the week. My best work and my most intense periods of concentration naturally occurred on Mondays as a result of adopting this mental attitude.

make monday night your bitch

My motivational Monday philosophy really started in high school. I ran a martial arts class every Monday night after some of our other instructors backed out. I had been at the mercy of boring, banal senior instructors who could have been making the class more fun and challenging. Now it was my turn to take the reins.

I was young and full of vigor, and upped the intensity of the workouts tenfold. I integrated different approaches into the teaching and learning process, making those two hours much more exciting and interesting for the students. I would then stay after class for upwards of an hour, giving private instruction to those who wanted it. It was liberating and it was my drug.

In college, my Monday nights transformed into meeting three buddies at The Pub in Athens for $1 draft night. After a couple months of that, we started to get a bit of a following. Many of the kids in my major started to attend, and before we knew what happened we had 15-20 people in regular attendance. Little did I know what that would do to my reputation among my friends in the PR crowd, though haha. A little change of pace from the martial arts Mondays, but the end result was still the same (in a manner of speaking): Monday was still my favorite day of the week.

By making a point to plan something fun or stimulating every Monday night, you have something to look forward to during the day. It’s the reason you keep pounding the keyboard and picking up the phone. It’s the reason you go to class and work your ass off until the evening, knowing you’ll be rewarded later that night. It’s rewarding yourself for a job well done. Whether you do this thing for 10 minutes or 4 hours, you’ve earned that time for yourself.

Pat yourself on the back, friend, and do what you love every Monday night.

motivational mondays

Motivational Mondays will now become a staple of this blog. Every Monday you’ll get a juicy nugget of goodness from either me or someone way smarter than me (although that doesn’t really make for slim pickings).

Please feel free to comment below with your ideas and suggestions for what you do to motivate yourself on Mondays. Whether it’s mental, physical, spiritual, relaxing, or just plain idiotic and crazy, I want to hear about it. This blog is about interaction – so interact!

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embrace the chaos

08/10/2010

Life is suffering. Life is chaos.

If you don’t believe me, check the local headlines. Watch CNN. Drive through the bad part of town. Read a history book. Take a look at your 401k. You may currently be “happy” with your nuclear family, your pampered lifestyle or your 9-5 paycheck, but all it takes is one car accident, one phone call, one house fire or one person saying “I just want to be friends” to ruin all your best laid plans. And it all boils down to control.

just…let…go…

Everybody wants to control their environments. We feel this burning need to have a direct impact on all of our immediate surroundings. We feel that control of our lives equals a measure of success, of esteem, of prestige. We get comfortable when we control things, when things work out as planned.

This is a flawed line of thinking.

Attempting to control our environment is the source of much of what is wrong with we humans as a species, with us as a civilization. We just can’t let go – and I mean really let go – of what we want to control, which is everything. We’re obsessed with status, with perception, with titles, with money, with politics, with the acquisition of knowledge, with Biggest Loser, with Ryan Seacrest, with our own selfish dreams. We’ve gravitated away from the natural order of things and created our own superficial reality that is anything but reality.

Why do you think we’ve had so many counter-cultural movements since the 50’s? A great starting point could be the Beat Generation, moving forward with the Hippies and now it’s moved onto us, the Gen X-ers and Y-ers. I often hear older folks saying “It’s a different generation” about us 20-somethings. (this quote normally takes place after commiserating over the supposed degradation of our morals and inhibitions in direct regard to sex, drugs and living with our parents long after our welcome has worn out). We don’t have any term or symbol to wholly personify our counter-culture and disillusion, except maybe Fight Club and a wide variety of contraceptives.

A big part of this disillusionment is education. As more and more people acquire a quality education from kindergarten through college, and as the world population continues to increase, AND as more conveniences and amenities arise to make our lives easier and us lazier, more people will begin to question the status quo. More people will realize that the way things are aren’t the way they should be.

As much as we may try, controlling our environments will never fully work, and people are slowly beginning to understand this. And so long as we try to wrestle control from unforeseen circumstances and various inevitabilities, we will never be truly happy. Control creates a false sense of security and blinds us to the world beyond that control. By letting go of what we expect to be there every day, we get a nice wide angle perspective on our surroundings. We’ll see things we’ve never seen. Experience things we’ve never experienced.

the first law of motion

The best martial artists will teach that you should never try to muscle your opponent, but rather use their movements against them. If they push, you pull, always using their own momentum against them. You never try to control your opponent, you let them defeat themselves by taking advantage of their inertia. Same goes for life. Don’t try to muscle it to your will. Roll with it 🙂

I feel as if Western civilization is rising toward a crescendo in its evolutionary process. We’ve become so materialistic, so disillusioned, so obsessed with the white-wedding concept of Western culture that we’ve lost our way, and we’re finally starting to realize it. A new counter-culture is starting to emerge, and I’m very excited to see what form it will take as it evolves and gains momentum.

So for now, live wild, live free, and stay imperfect.

And embrace the beautiful chaos that is life.

act with intent

02/16/2010

Why do we take action? Why do we:

  • go to work
  • plant a garden
  • play video games
  • drink a beer
  • work out
  • chat with a friend

An underlying reason exists with every action we take, whether subconscious or conscious. The trick is to make yourself aware of each underlying reason, to make each action and reaction a conscious effort. This requires us to be more self-aware than we may be used to. Intentions may not always matter based on the outcome of an action, but they definitely count for something.

I think of this specifically in regard to the martial arts, as an appropriate comparison. When I’m sparring with an opponent, why do I move in on them? When I do line drills, moving up and down the floor performing the same moves over and over, why am I doing this? From a microcosmic perspective, I throw the punch to strike my imaginary target in the chin, solar plexus or other appropriate weak point. From a macrocosmic point-of-view, I throw that punch to train my body to be able to react appropriately in a situation that would require such an action. I throw that punch to better myself as a martial artist and, in turn, as a person.

Just in case you’re not a martial artist, apply this to more everyday situations. Think about your daily actions that you are probably doing for rote and examine how they reflect your intent:

  • go to work – save up for retirement? pay your child support? buy a ring?
  • plant a garden – to feed you and yours? aesthetics?
  • play video games – take your mind off life for a while? relax?
  • drink a beer – see above bullet reasons + socialize?
  • work out – marathon training? feel better about yourself? iron man training?
  • chat with a friend – catch up? the need for conversation/social interaction?

So don’t throw your punches just to throw your punches. Throw that punch at a target and with intent. Intent(ion) in itself is passive, though. So when you have intent, don’t forget to act on it.

Note that I did not label this post “live with intent.”

time for a change

02/10/2010

I’m hitting a quarter-life crisis. And it’s a good thing.

I take private martial arts lessons with a 9th degree black belt every other week (there are 10 degrees). He is the best martial arts instructor I’ve ever had and helps me to realize the truths about how the body moves and its incredible capacity for speed, strength and fluidity. During these lessons, he tends to insert the occasional life lesson, which tends to put me in a quandary of sorts. This last one was a doozy.

investing in loss

My instructor referenced a Tai Chi master who once told him that he had to “invest in loss before you can invest in winning.” Humorously enough, my first thought went to Fight Club when Tyler Durden gave everyone a homework assignment to go and lose a fight. This phrase, “invest in loss,” clicked immediately with me, as I regard humility as the highest quality that man can demonstrate. If we can be humble, we can be anything.

Very rarely will anybody willingly lose. Everybody wants to win. Pride – the original sin from which all others arise. We need to invest in this loss that many of our lives are lacking. Fail at something. Fail miserably. And admit that failure – feel it to your core. Only then can we truly succeed. Yin and yang. In every hardness there is softness. In order for there to be shadows there must be light. If the pendulum swings too far one way, it will inevitably swing back just as far the other way. Balance.

time for a change

Bottom line: I need to evolve, both internally and externally. An ancient Japanese belief – and one that still resonates with their culture today – is that in order for you to change who you are inside, you must first begin with your actions. It contradicts a romantic western belief that who you are inside is what really counts.

Bullshit. You’re defined by your actions whether you want to admit it or not. I WANT to be a great writer. I have the DESIRE and the POTENTIAL to be an amazing martial artist. But these words do not translate into deeds. I must apply force.

So, for me and the crappy upkeep of my other blog (on the blogger platform), it’s time for a change. The beginning of this new blog and my renewed dedication to its consistent upkeep is the beginning of my change. This may take me places I fear to go, so we’ll just have to see if I have the courage to live life the way I want to live it.

me…

If you’ve never read my other blog before, let me preface the beginning of this with a few minor facts:

A few things I believe in:

  • Freedom
  • Karma
  • Chi
  • The inevitability of human stupidity
  • Enlightenment is the ultimate end-all
  • Your gut, or instinct, is right 98% of the time
  • You must accept the fact that one day you will die – only in this way can you truly live

Things I will be blogging about:

  • Philosophy (90% of the make-up)
  • Death
  • The Martial Arts
  • (Im)Morality
  • Sustainability
  • Politics (note the ‘inevitability of human stupidity’ reference above)

This will be similar to my last blog, but also different in that I’ll be bringing more contemporary topics to the table and throwing in a few political jabs here and there (with most probably directed at the almost-vice-president-of-the-2008-election).

So here we go, a new beginning. As this blog progresses, please…interact with it. Let the comments section be a living, breathing conversation. Our best philosophy and realizations come from interaction and debate. That’s what I want to happen here.