The Real Holy Trinity

Quite a while ago, I posted about the cycle of life. I tend to forget how long ago, considering I’m close to having posted everyday for almost a year at this point. But given the passage of time, sometimes it becomes acceptable to repeat some of the information I’ve shared. And here we are…

Ask yourself: what is the one thing that all living things have in common? The correct answer is MOVEMENT. All things that live tend to move. This is true of even the most basic of life forms. Plants move to adjust to the environment and some flowers will even turn with the sun.

So, what does movement create? If you answered ENERGY, you are correct. Think along the lines of a hydroelectric dam. Powerful currents of water sent through turbines that create energy. It’s a proven concept of basic physics that movement promotes energy. Almost like running on a treadmill or wind turbines… Movement creates energy, no doubt.

And guess what? Energy creates life. At the end of the day, whether your beliefs are religious or scientific, one needs to acknowledge that we are all essentially made of the same stuff: energy. Down to our atomic base, we are all composed of energy. And even basic electricity has movement contained within it… Electricity is fundamentally the movement of electrons through a conductor, creating a current.

So here’s the equation: life creates movement, movement creates energy, energy creates life and so on and so forth. It’s a cycle, and an important one. If you remove or lessen any of the three, you jeopardize your health and your life. Think of unplugging your smart device, where the current of electrons stops and it is no longer receiving energy. The device effectively loses its “life”.

Look at it this way: If you happen to be a couch potato, you don’t move much. This means that your energy turns stagnant and non existent and you reduce your ability to maintain your life. In medical terms, you gain weight, your cholesterol rises and you basically die from sitting still.

So keep moving. Keep yourself motivated and energized. Even if it sometimes feels like it’s better or easier to relax and take it easy, your body and health will thank you later. ☯

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Peace Means Having A Bigger Stick

Sure, the title is a quote from Robert Downey Jr. as he played Tony Stark. But wisdom often comes from the most unlikely sources. Today, I’d like to touch on a martial art style known as Kali.

Depending on your course, this style of martial art may be referred to as Escrima or Arnis. I have come to know it as Kali because of it’s attachment to Kempo karate, which is the style I currently study and train with.

Because RIOKK has roots in Hawaii (RIOKK means Regina Institute of Kempo Karate, by the way), there is a significant Filipino influence on the style. As such, the school tends to train with the Kali sticks a great deal.

Kali is extremely versatile and offers a number of variations unlike most weapons I’ve seen in the martial arts. It can apply to the sticks, machetes, blades and even empty hands. Just to be clear, my main focus over the past three decades has been empty-hand combat. I’ve had very little experience in weaponry with the exception of the samurai sword, which I have trained with in depth.

But since training with the RIOKK school, I’ve started training extensively with Kali sticks. It’s a whole different ball game when you start fighting with a stick in your hands as opposed to empty-handed. How much more basic can you get than fighting with a stick? Since the times of our ancient ancestors, using a stick to fight has been an expected tactic. Spears, lances and similar weapons that have evolved from the use of a basic stick all demonstrate that Kali can and should be considered as an effective weapon.

Some background information can be read through Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnis

An example of wooden rattan kali sticks

Listen, I’m still an empty-hand guy, no doubt. But if I HAVE to use a weapon, it may as well be a weapon that can be accessed anywhere, right? Any old stick will do with this fighting art. Sometimes the simplest methods are the best. ☯

How Buddha Got His Groove Back

Well, Labour Day weekend has come and gone in Canada. Kids are back in school and with the start of school comes the re-opening of the karate dojo I train with here, in Regina. We usually close for the summer as the school gymnasium we rent isn’t available during the summer break. Last night was my return to class after a couple of months without training.

For those of you who read my posts religiously (I’m assuming everyone does!), I wrote a post a week ago about how in recent months, I seem to have fallen off the rails, fitness-wise. There are a number of reasons behind this, but needless to say I’ve been hammering out a few workouts at home since I wrote that post in an effort to try and get myself back on track.

Last night’s opening adult class was the icing on the cake. The reason I specify that it was the adult class is because the other black belts had the advantage of having trained at the kids’ class last Saturday. So they were full of piss and proverbial vinegar, ready to go. Meanwhile, I suffered just a BIT more. Let’s see if my vocabulary is eloquent enough to describe the experience…

I was the second one there, preceded only by Master Harding. He was setting everything up and we chatted for a few moments about our respective summers. It was good to be back and I was anxious to see how many of the students would actually show up.

I started with some casual stretches and experienced a sound akin to several hundred mousetraps going off at once! I felt muscles pull and realized that despite the workouts I’ve performed at home recently, last night’s class would put me through the paces.

The class was small but energetic. There were two other black belts besides Master Harding and myself. We spent almost forty minutes stretching, warming up and practicing techniques as a class. I recognized how out of shape I truly was.

By the end of the class, my movements were so sloppy that it almost looked as though I was performing some sort of dance that seemed to be a combination of an Irish jig, square dancing and twerking! By the time we closed and everyone bowed out, I was spent.

Needless to say, I’m in a reasonable amount of pain this morning. But it’s a good pain. It felt good to get back at it and practice the martial arts in a class environment. Next class is Thursday and I’m looking forward, despite moaning and groaning. ☯

Good, Clean Fun…

Sometimes it gets tough to entertain young children. When one has to compete with modern technology, tablets and electronics, games and colouring can often take a back seat and are only “acceptable” when the mood hits them right. That’s why when an opportunity strikes for something simple and fun, we need to pounce on it!

My son is as restless as they come, kid-wise. He’s four years old and loves to move around, non-stop. In fact, if I could find a way to tap into his energy reserves I could likely get a week’s worth of work completed in one day. No doubt.

Like most little boys, my son loves guns. With cartoon shows like Transformers, Power Rangers and the like, it’s no surprise that weapons that shoot or “blasters”, as he calls them are an influential part of his play time. He often builds his legos or his mega blocks to form an “L” shape, followed by the comment “This is my blaster, Daddy!”

So last week when I was running an errand at my local retail outlet, I found a package of off-brand nerf guns that I thought would be a great outlet for him to play with. He could burn off some energy, and he and I could have some fun.

One of the two foam dart guns that came in the package. I would have taken a shot of Nathan using them, but he doesn’t sit still long enough to get a clear photo…

When I brought that package out and showed it to him, his excitement was in no way contained and he forget about everything else in the house. I agreed to open the package and we could play, with the following rules:

  1. Never aim or shoot at Mommy;
  2. Never aim or shoot at the Dog;
  3. When Daddy says the game is over, we stop;
  4. We never use our foam guns to shoot or hurt others.

He readily agreed, and we set up some “fortresses” in our basement. We had a blast and played for a couple of hours. We had one barricade that included a foot stool turned on its side combined with a blanket, and another that involved two stools piled one on top of the other. It was fun; we exchanged foam darts aback and forth, crawled on the floor to retrieve spent darts and sometimes switched fortresses so we could both experience the different angles. I hate to admit that his aim was pretty decent at times and I received some shots…

My point is that children always need sources of stimulation and exercise, but it doesn’t always have to cost you a second mortgage to do it. This two-gun foam dart set only cost $10, and he’ll have them for quite some time. He’s pestered me to play with them all weekend (despite how much pain my knees and back have from crawling on a concrete floor) and isn’t showing any sign of tiring from them. It allows me to engage my child as opposed to simply having him stare at a screen and it allowed us both to get some exercise, which is important whether you’re a child or an adult.

Last but not least, he pointed out that the foam dart guns were Just like your work guns we played with before, Daddy!” He’s had some similar ones introduced to him by some of my colleagues, which is why he enjoys foam darts so much. You know who you are and may be reading so thanks for that, guys! You know who you are! ☯

A Meditative Monday

It’s Labour Day in Canada today. This means that most people have the day off, enjoying the benefits of a long weekend. Labour Day was first introduced in the 1870’s and can be read about in further detail here: https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/canada/labour-day

So what does one do with an extra day off from work or school? Obviously, meditation is highly recommended. Most people think that meditation involves long hours of chanting or sitting cross-legged. That certainly is one method, but five minutes here or ten minutes there is really all you need.

Keep it simple. Make sure you’re seated comfortably and let all your muscles relax. One of the most simple forms of meditation is deep breathing. All this means is that you’re taking a deep inhalation, allowing your abdomen to distend, hold it for a moment then release the breath slowly. Train yourself to take almost full minute to release that breath. That’s it.

Sound a little too simple? Sometimes, the simple things are the best. Deep breathing calms you, allows your body to relax and keeps you rejuvenated. And focusing on the method of breathing allows you to occupy your conscious mind on that specific task, which trains you to control your thought process through the meditative process.

Proper meditation has been proven to be beneficial for one’s health, both physical and mental. It’s a cool, rainy day today. What better way to spend it than to try and find one’s balance through simple meditative exercise? Treat yourself to some peace and quiet. Your body and mind will thank you. ☯

Heal Thyself…

One of the most important aspects of one’s health is self-care. More often than not, we neglect ourselves in favour of taking care of others. There are exceptions to this rule, but it typically tends to be the norm.

I haven’t told a good story in quite a while, so here we go…

Almost twenty years ago when I was young and dumb (as opposed to old and dumb as I am now), I was involved with a young woman from back home. We started dating and eventually moved in together. As with most relationships, things were decent in the beginning. But once we moved in together, we started having a number of issues. These included the normal issues that any relationship faces; financial burdens, housing issues and how many cats she had…

Because I had a propensity to help others before taking care of myself, I endured for three years. During those three years, we faced a number of problems that involved going broke, spending days without groceries and risking being put out on the street for several months. I worked hard and tried to keep us afloat, without the benefit of my partner helping out. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to, but on some level she simply couldn’t.

Faced with a number of her emotional and mental health issues, I couldn’t help her and eventually decided to close up shop and move us back to our home town to be close to family. During this transition, we mutually decided that we weren’t suited for one another as far as being in a relationship.

Once we were no longer tethered to each other, I provided her with what I assumed at the time was some sage advice on what her next steps in life could be. And then she made a comment that has resonated with me ever since: “See, why couldn’t you provide that kind of advice and support when we were a couple?”

It dawned on me at that point that I was so busy trying to keep all the pieces of the puzzle together that I forgot who I was as a person. I was unable to guide anyone or provide advice or be helpful, because I was too busy suffering myself.

This is comparable to when you’re taking a flight and the attendants give you that safety briefing before lift off. You know, the one where they instruct you to secure your own oxygen mask before trying to secure or help someone else? Much like that scenario, I was too busy trying to secure someone else’s oxygen mask to notice that I was suffocating in the process.

we all need to protect ourselves. There’s nothing selfish about it and in fact, it’s necessary in order to help raise your family. You can’t help and support others unless you take care of yourself first. Your wants and needs are important. Critical, even. Being happy goes a long way in ensuring that you can spread that happiness to others. If you spend too much time securing someone else’s mask, you become bitter and resentful, and it becomes difficult to have the clarity necessary to do right. Some Sunday food for thought… ☯

Fool Me Once, Shame On You. Fool Me Twice…

Trust. It’s an important and valuable commodity in today’s society. We need trust, not only for professional and social reasons, but for our continued mental health. Going through one’s life without having someone to confide in and trust would cause a level of solitude that would be detrimental to deal with.

In fact some studies have shown that lacking, or being unable to trust others can cause certain long-term physiological and social problems. These problems can include isolation, depression and feelings of not belonging; all of which are important issues that need to be dealt with in order to live effectively in a modern society.

I personally believe that trust is an almost symbiotic aspect of a relationship. It’s difficult to build a relationship with others unless you’re able to have at least SOME level of trust. But then how can you trust someone unless you’ve gotten to know them in some sort of relationship? It can be a bit convoluted.

Psychology Today posted a really good article that examines some of the more physiological reasonings behind trust. The article can be read here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/tech-support/201403/the-trouble-trust

I like being able to trust. Knowing that I can speak freely and openly with another person is important. I mean, we all need someone to confide in every once and a while, right? But unfortunately, we sometimes learn the hard way that saying a little too much can be hazardous and can lead to finding out our acquaintances were not as trustworthy as we hoped they were.

Protect yourself. Above all else, we all need to learn to trust, but protect yourself. Be certain that what you share with the other person won’t have a negative and hazardous results on the harmony of your life, should they violate your trust and reveal it. ☯