Tuesday, November 27, 2007

blogging for the sake of blogging

Sorry to all 2 of my readers out there that I've been slacking on the blog project this month. I've been doing some work that is both interesting and boring at the same time. Interesting because of the possibilities and future direction, but boring because of all the behind the scenes work. I've been playing with 2 internet mediums at work, and have been trying to simultaneously apply them to my studio as well.

I'm sure most of you have either seen or used a Wiki - Wikipedia being the most famous example -- by now. The obvious appeal (or detraction) is the collaborative nature of the software. Users can add, remove and update content as needed. The audience is the contributor, which takes an amazing strain off of one webmaster who no longer has to tinker with content. For this reason, wikis are replacing corporate intranets and file repositories as the new way to keep track of policies and procedures and communicate across groups.

Right away, I saw the potential for using a wiki in my studio. As the club is largely run by student officers, each year we have to pass info on to the new officer. Years ago, my instructor created binders for each student with the expectation that we would store info in them and hand them off to the next officer so that they wouldn't be starting off completely green. Obviously, no one really enjoys documenting what they do, and more often than not, incomplete and outdated info was being passed on. Occasionally, notebooks would even be lost. Then there was the question of passing excel spreadsheets, pdfs, graphics and all the other things our officers began using.

The Wiki allows for a more convenient method of sharing this information. Files can be uploaded and stored centrally, versions of pages are saved and controlled, and the wide-open format allows everyone to keep up with the content. If the Marketing director gets hit by a bus, we don't lose all of our advertising contacts, source files, etc.

The other "hot" thing we've been toying with is Facebook. As a college club, Facebook seemed like a natural space for exploring. Currently, the club only has a group, which is enough for now. On this group, we can host pictures and video, create events (and invite the student body) put up announcements and more. A lot of this is somewhat repetitive what we already have on the website, but it is also taking the information to the students where they are instead of pulling them to us. Club members are encouraged to join the group which in turn generates interest amongst their friends.

Well, the members who have friends, at least.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Happy 25th Anniversary, WTSDA!

25 years ago, The World Tang Soo Do Association held its Charter Convention. On this date, Masters and Black belts from across the US and World decided to form this new Association with Grandmaster Jae Chul Shin as their leader. They also established a new belt system, added 3 new hyung, and set the tone for the future progress of the art.

I have only been a part of the Association for just under 10 years, so I'm always fascinated to learn about the history and development of our art and Association. I think it would have been a very interesting and exciting time to be present for that weekend.

That's why I was extremely happy to receive in the mail a copy of the 25th anniversary DVD produced by the WTSDA. The DVD contains a great deal of history, archival footage, interviews with Charter members and gives a great summation of what the Association has done over the last 25 years.

Just in my brief time, I've seen a number of successful programs created: Ki Gong curriculum, Children's programs, Humanitarian Efforts, and a good deal of effort to introduce a sword curriculum, which is still in progress. When I look at the different directions some of our Master's are taking the art, I look forward what will be created and passed on over the next 25 years.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on push-ups

Today was #43. It's been a glum weekend here in Columbus, with my Buckeyes losing and dealing with a cold. It was the perfect weekend to let the goal go by the wayside, actually. This morning I was still feeling pretty weak, and after doing my workout, my arms were just limp and jellylike.

This morning, I read an interesting article by Charles Linster that was very inspirational. Linster set a record in the 1960s for the most non-stop pushups, when he performed 6,006. You can read his story here.

Most interesting to me is how on "good" days he could manage to add well over 100 to his previous attempt. That's within the course of a week or two. It makes me stop and think about how 2 things.

1. Pushups aren't necessarily a function of strength, but endurance. In a way, it's a lot like running. There were days in cross country where I could run 15 miles and days where just a quick 3 mile loop felt unattainable. A lot of it is just setting a mental goal and working towards it, moving beyond fatigue and testing your limits.

2. A goal is nothing more than a base. Once you reach your goal, there is always a higher summit in the distance. 6000 pushups is mind boggling to me. Here I am, 43% of the way to my goal, only to see that I'm not even at 1% of this man's output! It is humbling and inspiring at the same time. At the same time, I can already look forward to being able to do handstand pushups, or even planches.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Jhoon Rhee and the quest for 100 pushups.

For years, I've wanted to be able to do 100 consecutive, good pushups. Once in awhile, I would actually strive towards it, never making much progress. I suppose it's because I "wanted" to do it in the same way I "wanted" to be a seven foot tall billionaire who lived on a tropical island. Wanting it doesn't necessarily make it so.

It all goes back to Jhoon Rhee.

Back in 1999 or so, there was a Masters of Martial Arts special on TNT, hosted by the illustrious Wesley Snipes. (On a personal note, I can't stand Wesley Snipes after he made walking around the Arnold Classic a living hell. How much security does one second rate star need??) Anyhoo, midway this special Jhoon Rhee, then in his late 60s, entered the stage and cranked out 100 pushups. Incidentally, he performed these pushups in 60 seconds. I was quite impressed.

Doing some research on the man, I have come to think of him as the Korean Jack LaLanne, minus the juicer endorsement.

In the basement of his stately McLean home, 70-year-old Jhoon Rhee begins his workout as he has done every day for years, among pictures of some of his heroes: George Washington, his Korean ancestors, an ancient Korean king. Midway through an hour of aerobic exercises, he drops into a split that would make a gymnast envious, bends forward until his face touches the floor, looks up and smiles.

"I couldn't do this 15 years ago," Rhee said.

Rhee's daily workout doesn't end there. He does at least 1,000 push - ups and a few hundred sit-ups every day. He even does push-ups during long overnight plane trips - when the flight crew allows. He hasn't missed a day of working out in more than 17 years.

"Who else can say they've been working out like me?" Rhee asked.

I promise not to make a habit of posting pictures of semi-disrobed elderly men in my blog, but this man is flexing at age 70, you have to give him his due.

In the past, I've started doing pushup workouts and getting far too sore in the first week, not wanting to continue. So I started modestly. I decided I would do pushups everyday, but I would start with one. One, pathetic solitary pushup. Everyday, I'd add one more. I do my best to make each one a good pushup, so no rapid-fire pushups are allowed to count, and I make the last 5 even slower.

Results? Today I did #38, which is still nowhere near my previous maximum. But I'm doing it everyday, and feeling my endurance improve greatly. I even have a little definition in my arms as a bonus. But that may be from all the extra sword work. My recently sprained wrist is also feeling a lot better and the range of motion is slowly improving.

My goal is 100, and I'm getting a little closer everyday. At this rate, I will be at 60 at the end of the month, 90 by 12/30 and at my goal on 1/9... 3 days after my birthday.

I'm sure there are more efficient systems to reach my goal, but I like this as it gives me something to look forward to everyday, and I can see my progress slowly add up. In a lot of ways, its just like the martial arts. No shortcuts, just lots of practice.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Master's Extravaganza

The nice picture
Originally uploaded by tommrkr
The other weekend, our club went to a regional WTSDA event: the Master's Grand Extravaganza in Valparaiso, Indiana. I know, it's a kinda funny name. In reality, it is an action packed weekend, featuring schools from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. The weekend begins Friday night with the Fall Black Belt testing, a tournament on Saturday, and a Black belt clinic on Sunday morning.

Here's the interesting part. When the tournament ends, there is an evening show which highlights some of the events from earlier in the day. The Men's and Women's winning forms are demonstrated for the crowd, Breaking demonstrations, and the winning demo team performs again.

My favorite part, however, is from where the tournament gets its name: Master Demos. You get to see what all those folks with fancy belts can really do. Sometimes it is a skill they are known for (Master Inoshita and sword/fan, Master Ochs and Breaking) and every once in awhile, you get a neat surprise; something you may not have associated someone with. I'm one of those people who can watch Master's demonstrate their specialty all day and never get tired. I like to see how someone has put their own personal spin on a form, their own tempo and attitude. It is a rare treat for me, as the closest Master in my Association is 3 hours away! :)

Of course, I love a good show, but I also appreciate the time and effort that goes into demonstrating the craft. When I demand that my black belts start working on demos to show "their thing" this is the end goal I have for them. One day, that could be me up there, or one of my students. It has to be, or eventually we'll run out of Masters to provide demos.

I'm not a big competitor. I do reasonably well, especially in forms competition, but I don't train to win. I go to have fun and meet new people. Sometimes at open tournaments the emphasis is less on winning and more on "beating the other person." Yes, I think there is a huge difference.

That's why I like our Association events. I see the same folks several times a year. We establish a kinship when we compete with each other. We'll even give each other tips for improvement. No one is hording secrets. If we get better, our organization improves because of it.