Saturday, November 03, 2012

Shihan KC Lavallee

Shihan's KC & Haley with Dashi Bob Young
I admit it, I'm a total sucker for this martial arts thing. Today, our reincarnated school had its first Black Belt Promotion as Elite Force Martial Arts.  And to top that, Kim Colvin, aka Master KC, was promoted today to a sixth dan and given the title Shihan.  What do I have to say to that? How about:
Na-na-na-na, na-na, na
Na-na-na-na na-naNa-na-na-na, na-na, naNa-na-na-na na-na(yes, that's the lyrics from Pink).

It was a real celebration of achievement and determination.  Achieving a black belt is a great  challenge for so many people and the Spectacular is a celebration of their success. The celebration was performed  with skill, professionalism, and more than a few touches of humor and irony. Frankly, it was a lot of fun. And life is supposed to be a lot of fun. I was proud to be part of it.  Well done to all involved! You rock!

Dashi Bob Young, Professor Tim Barchard,
Debbie Thompson, and Teri Lee


MC Coach Boland!
Shihan KC Kim Colvin was promoted (ordained? anointed?  what's the right word) by Dashi Bob Young, 10th dan. In attendence were other martial arts elite from other schools: Professor Tim Barchard, Laura Barchard, Debbie Thompson , and Teri Lee. (And at least one other's whose name I missed!)
Dashi Bob Young  is a 10th Degree Black Belt in the art of Aiki Kempo and a black belt in Tai Chi Chuan. He has developed his own recognized system of Aiki Kenpo. His school is Eastern Dragaon karate.  He was visiting from New Hampshire. He's the guy in the  black gi in the middle. And smiling.
Teri Lee is a 7th degree with Ernie Reyes. She visited from Sunnyvale California.  She's in the white gi, brunette, and smiling.
  Professor Timothy Barchard holds the rank of 6th Degree Black Belt in Aiki Kempo, 5th Degree Black Belt in Shaolin Kempo, a Level 3 (Kru) in Muay Thai under Kru Mark DellaGrotte, and a black belt in BJJ awarded in 2011 by Master Renzo Gracie.He's the guy in the black gi on the left. Smiling.
Debbie Thompson...high level belt...Tristar  in MD? formerly? Black gi, blond lady. Smiling. Anybody help?
Not pictured:  Sensei Laura Barchard has a third degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate, a second degree black belt in Thai Kickboxing, and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I'm sure she's smiling too. 

I'd appreciate any help in getting the titles and backgrounds of the visitors recorded properly! And I apologize for the errors and omissions.

The event was hosted and MC'd by our own Coach Boland. It was held at the Westminster School.  Other high level promotions:

Sensei Craig Haley, 6th dan of Lighthouse Point, became Shihan Craig Haley.
Melissa Haley, 3rd degree, 
Lighthouse Point,became Sensei Haley. 
Mr Mike Sweeney, Chief Instructor and 3rd degree of Boca, became Sensei Mike Sweeney. Hoorah for Mike!
Chief Instructor 3rd degree Vince Pratico became Sensei Vince Pratico. More hoorahs!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

She is earning her sixth degree black belt!

Kim Colvin Struts Her Stuff
I am proud to be able to say something which historically, few people have been able to say:

My sensei, she is earning her sixth degree black belt.

And of course, Kim Colvin (aka KC) has had more than her fair share of obstacles along the way.  While it's extra cool that she's a women earning her sixth degree, she counts as an inspirational sensei and instructor in any league. And it helps that she's a recognized pioneer of women in the martial arts.

I remember a few years ago, in one of my favorite posts, I mentioned that I was one of the few people historically who could say: My sensei is pregnant!

Inline image 2
Elite Force Black Belt Spectacular
KC Lavallee Earns her 6th Degree
Mike Sweeney earns the sensei title!
Here's my question for everyone. 
How many women have earned their sixth degree?  Do you know any? If so, please comment and tell us.

And the Black Belt Spectacular is on November 3rd, 12 pm.  The venue is provided by Westiminister Academy arranged by Coach Boland, presumably.

The Black Belt Spectacular is the award show where the news black belts strut their stuff,   For years, it was in local school gyms and then for about five years, they upgraded it to the Parker Playhouse and made it into a more formal and slicker presentation.  We are now returning to the charm and intimacy of the previous era which I think is a step forward into the past.

Ouse!  So here's to our Ft Lauderdale martial arts school, Northeast Broward dojo.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Hips and backs etc

My status, athletically, is that after the last back crisis, I got myself to the orthopedist and asked, "So what's up doc?"  He did Xrays of the back and hips. The back was healthy and boring. But it keeps geting wrenched around my mh hips. My right hip is not good. The doctor's first reactions: "That looks like it hurts. And we've replaced hips that looked a lot better than that."  Durn.  So he gave me some anti-inflamatory stuff and some advice: Don't round, don't right round-house, don't keep stressing it.  Biking, swimming, boxing, front kicks are OK.  So I'm sort of an a holding pattern as I think about my options and as my back fully recovers. I try to get to class 2x a week but with some other problems (Work got very intense and Mom has had problems so I'm travelling), my own work-outs are not the highest priority.  Stay tuned... I might get serious about exploring the miracles of new hips.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Back spasm and crisis, again!

I've passed the worst of this week's BACK SPASM.

 It started Tuesday near the end of class: too many 180s and front leg round-houses.

 After 48 hours of muscle relaxants, pain killers, and chiro, I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

Next week, I'll get the hip/back Xrayed to see if there's anything structurally wrong. And with any luck, I'm onto physical therapy which means lots of aggressive back & hip treatments. Specifically, lots of painful stretching.

 Osa!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Still training but with restricted kicking

john edelson, kate edelson, david edelson
John Edelson, Kate Edelson, David Edelson
It's been a long time since I've updated this blog with martial arts info.  Here's a few headlines;

Elite Force Martial Arts
(Previously, the National Training Center
of Lavallees Black Belt Champions)
My daughter has taken her last class at the dojo for awhile (she earned her black belt this past spring). She leaves for college in Connecticut this Wednesday so Dad is having a full emotional crisis.  Sigh.  The last year represented a funny transition. For a long time, I had my son in the junior program and I was very involved in the adult program. This past year,  my daughter who is also training at the dojo, became close friends with  some younger instructors at the dojo.  So at times, my instructor at the dojo was also hanging around my  house in the evening with my daughter and her friends. At times, I would come down after midnight and have to tell my daughter, instructor, and friends: "Heh, it's after midnight. a little quiet please!"

 Looking forward, I don't know if my son will get back involved. If so, he would be in the adult program now so that would be a whole new spin on things.

A second headline is that the dojo has gone through a transition in leadership and has a new name: Elite Force Martial Arts. I may or may not ever publish my thoughts on recent events. I did write-up a post, a sort of eulogy or "Speaker for the Dead" (anybody else read Orson Scott Card?) about the recently deceased (at his own hand) Kyoshi Steve Lavallee.   In the words of the Grateful Dead, "What a long strange trip it's been."

 I'm sticking with the school and if it weren't for something that's gone wrong with my right hip, I would  be a candidate for a third level of black belt. My plan going into the summer was to work intensively on my cardio and flexibility to see if I was ready to go through another cycle. The cardio effort became a series of triathlons that I've really enjoyed. The flexibility effort was increased stretching and some hot yoga classes. This has not been successful. My hip has gone steadily more painful and less useful.  So, I've been careful to stay off pain killers but I've backed off the stretching and am going to dig out a hip specialist to give me some direction.  The last few months have resulted in some pretty bad pain whenever I try to go through a routine kicking drill so....

Oh, and I joined an online groups of old fart martial artists. No kidding, that's the name of the group.  If anyone stops by from there, leave a comment.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Triathlon Key Biscayne August 19th, 2012

I did a second tri sprint this past weekend and made progress.

First of all, I brought a cousin of my wife's who is a photographer so the quality of the pictures is greatly improved.

Secondly, my time improved but the biggest improvement was in my first transition. Basically, after the last race, a few people took pity on me and offered me some basic guidance.  I learned that you are not supposed to wear socks (takes too long to put them on!) and that with elastic laces, you don't have tie and double knot your shoes. These two insights helped me knock 1.3 minutes off my schedule.

Beyond that, I knocked 1.7 minutes off my bike time but it's still pretty slow. I added clips to by pedals so that I could both push and pull and it seemed to help.   Also, btw, it's not just about the equipment. I also trained.

My run time also improved but only by a fraction of a minute.  I'm a little disappointed here because unlike the previous tri, I actually ran the whole time this time but I guess, to get there, I must have generally dropped by pace.

And, in case anyone cares, here's the specifics of my times and the full race results:


Total Time: 01:17:53.00 

 Swim Time: 9:35

T1 Time: 3:46
Bike Time: 35:15
T2 Time: 1:12
Run Time: 28:5
Overall Place: 205 out of 410
Overall Percentile: 50
Gender Place: 150 out of 264
Gender Percentile: 43
Category Place: 13 out of 22
Category Percentile: 43
Series Points Earned: 101.5807


Swim Details: 
Time: 9:35
Pace: 38:20
Overall Place: 215
Percentile: 48
Gender Place: 157
Gender Percentile: 41
Category Place: 13
Category Percentile: 43

Transition 1 Details: 
Time: 3:46
Overall Place: 165
Percentile: 60
Gender Place: 111
john edelson
Gender Percentile: 58
Category Place: 8
Category Percentile: 67

Bike Details: 
Time: 35:15
Speed: 16.68085
Overall Place: 273
Percentile: 33
Gender Place: 199
Gender Percentile: 25
Category Place: 17
Category Percentile: 24

Transition 2 Details: 
Time: 1:12
Overall Place: 115
Percentile: 72
Gender Place: 75
Gender Percentile: 72
Category Place: 6
Category Percentile: 76

Run Details:
Time: 28:5
Pace: 9:3
Overall Place: 185
Percentile: 55
Gender Place: 130
Gender Percentile: 51
Category Place: 10
Category Percentile: 57


BTW, I finished between Paul and Tim with an even 7 minute spacing.  There's another tri coming up Sept 9th which I might enter. And a special thanks for the help with photography, have you seen my post on the Kodak Instamatic?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Ultimate Grand Master: Steve Jobs

Why do you train in the martial arts? Why do I blog?  What's the point of playing chess?  What's the point of fidelity and morality? Why strive for perfection? Why pour your heart, soul, and energy into parenting? Teaching? Working?

I've long pondered these questions and I've developed my own understanding of The Journey is the Reward.  Simply, as one who is privileged/accomplished enough to have some comfort and security in life, I find meaning and satisfaction by setting and pursuing meaningful goals.


One of the life lessons that my my Dad articulated to me was that this was how he had found happiness: finding and pursuing goals. Another lesson that he taught be was there was a technology revolution going on and that the interesting jobs and careers would be ones that focused on the pioneering opportunities to do things that had never been done before. BTW my Dad was saying this through the 60s, 70s, and 80s: decades before the popular press and public had any understanding of what was brewing.

More than anyone, Steve Jobs understood and lived the vision that life, at its best, is a relentless pursuit of meaningful goals.  In doing this, he has accumulated a $8 billion fortune and a major place in history. I can say with some certainty that neither the money nor the fame ultimately meant much to him. I'm sure that he died content in that he had lived a life relentlessly pursuing his goals.  He did it his way.

I'd like to focus on one detail of his life and how it affects us all.  Steve Jobs was the one who built  the multiple fonts into the first Macintosh. Since then, user controllable fonts has become a standard feature on all writing, email, presentation, and even drawing programs.  And it enriched every write, draw, and presentation program for the foreseeable future.Would anyone else have cared or seen why fonts would be so enriching? In fact, as features go, it was a weird idea to put that in the first Macintosh. And it was all  due, according to Steve, to his sitting in on a calligraphy class which he attended. Remember, Steve wasn't going to classes to earn a degree (which he never bothered to get), he was attending because he wanted the education. While almost everyone agrees that education is a key to the future, Steve Jobs did not confuse earning credentials with education. In the early 70s, he sat in on many college courses.

When the dot com boom of the late 90s emerged and a whole generation of entrepreneurs seemed to thrive on starting companies designed to be sell-able for cash in a few years, he expressed sadness over the smallness of their vision.

Steve Jobs was the real deal. He seems to have adopted the challenge of making technology usable and empowering as his life's challenge.

Weaned like me on the 60s ideas that we should change the world for the better, he was technically sophisticated and earned his technical stripes early on. In the mid 70s, he was an engineer off and on at Atari (think Pong, early video games, and a crazy out-of-control business, culture, and technology vision) and a member of the HomeBrew Computer Club, a deeply-nerdy group of visionaries exploring how computers could be built that would be for a single person. Steve Jobs was then a purist wanting mostly to explore Far Eastern Religion and sitting in our various courses at college, but not taking the time to get credits.  Today, so many people think of college as primarily accreditation. Lets remember that Steve Jobs attributes the multiple fonts that he built into the first Macintosh and which have become a standard feature on all writing programs, as due to his sitting in on a calligraphy class. One class he attended, he learned something.

Steve Jobs was both a jerk and and a wonderful human being.  I suggest that those of you who want to know a little about him, watch this 15 minute youtube video of his graduation speech to Stanford.  What I really recommend is that those of you who really want some deep understanding, read the Walter Isaacson biography of Jobs which is long and worth the read

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Triathlon Results

Paul S Hoffman, Dani Lawrence Dorsett, John EdelsonThis morning's Key Biscayne triathlon was great.  The rain, while we were swimming,  kept the sun from beating down on us although it did make our shoes and socks and bikes wet and soggy. And the headwinds didn't really help dry us out as much as I would have liked. The winds were odd in that no matter which way we ran, they were always headwinds!

 I met Dani and Paul there. Dani finished third in her category. Paul didn't pass me until the biking but I was basically pleased to finish.

 I was 12th out of 17th in my chosen category of males, 50-54.  However, it was chosen in the sense that I qualify for, and could have entered, as a Over 40 Clydesdale (for those of you not up on the lingo, this means kindof heavy. The cut off is 185 which I sadly easily meet. There are also 200 and 225 Clydesdale categories). As a Clydesdale over 40, my time would have placed me closer to the top!  Should I enter as a Clydesdale next time?  Or should I just bide my time until next year when, if I could get the same time, I would have also placed second. I got through my transitions fine but am not really in shape for a tri, even a sprint.  But, in three weeks (next time out), I intend to be. Watch out. 

 Here's my results (which showed up in an email when I was still having breakfast afterwards).  After analyzing them, it turns out that my biking is slow.  My swimming and running (even though I walked a little) were pretty good. And my first transition was slow but by second one (since I don't change shoes) was wicked fast. 

CONGRATULATIONS ON COMPLETING
THE 2012 Mack Cycle Key Biscayne Triathlon Trilogy #2 (.25s-10b-3.1r)

John Edelson Pretending to have won
John Edelson as if he won sometime
 Total Time: 01:22:15.99.  Overall Place: 225 out of 421
Swim Time: 10:41. 170th out of 421 in swimming
T1 Time: 5:3. 286th. What was I doing?
Bike Time: 36:57.  304th.  yick!
T2 Time: 1:7.  90th.  
Run Time: 28:28.  187th.  
Gender Place: 170 out of 280
Category Place: 12 out of 17
Category Percentile: 31
Series Points Earned: 100.0395

Swim Details: 
Time: 10:41.  Overall Place: 170
Pace: 42:44
Percentile: 60
Gender Place: 133
Gender Percentile: 53
Category Place: 8
Category Percentile: 56

Transition 1 Details: 
Time: 5:3.   Overall Place: 286
Percentile: 32
Gender Place: 198
Gender Percentile: 29
Category Place: 15
Category Percentile: 12

Bike Details: 
Time: 36:57.  Overall Place: 304
Speed: 15.9134
Percentile: 28
Gender Place: 227
Gender Percentile: 19
Category Place: 16
Category Percentile: 6

Transition 2 Details
Time: 1:7    Overall Place: 90
Percentile: 79
Gender Place: 63
Gender Percentile: 78
Category Place: 4
Category Percentile: 81

Run Details: 
Time: 28:28.  187th. 
Pace: 9:10
Overall Place: 
Percentile: 56
Gender Place: 137
Gender Percentile: 51
Category Place: 9
Category Percentile: 50

Previous Race Results for John Edelson.  BTW, the internet is amazing! I just googled my name and triathlon since I wondered what my results were last time I ran this (in Key Biscayne 2005)!.(Also here).  I seem to have run a 1:16 that day.  

The net also reveals my time in the Ft Lauderdale triathlon in September of 2005. 1:24.  

I also see that in 2004, I ran the MLK 5K in Ft Lauderdale and ended at 23:24.
42123    John Edelson  M45-23:2407:31
 Diamonds in the Park 5K, Davie, FL, September 20, 1998 (of which I have no memory):
9 JOHNEDELSON 40      FT. LAUDERDALE    24:41     7:57

 23rd ANNUAL SEVEN MILE BRIDGE RUN APRIL 24, 2004 25 223 JOHN EDELSON 46 POMPANO BEACH 54:18 8:00







These aren't all my runs in recent history. I've done Daniella's Run several times but I also run with the kids on that one so my times aren't really my own.

Well, I run with the kids that I can still run with (David is too fast for me to keep up with).

 I ran the Miami ING Half Marathon one year with Eddie Walker (2005? 2006?).

And way back when, in the mid 80s, I ran some races in DC and Boston including tagging along on the Boston Marathon in 1986 (3:20 is what I remember).

UPDATE.
More recently, there was the Independence Day Triathalon in 2014 when I finally got on a podium.

There's the Key Biscayne Triathanlon of 2012.

And the Mack 2014 July 2014 Tri which triggered a Bucket List Confession.

I was just looking online for my times and I found a site called http://www.athlinks.com/ which has a number of my times from the last decade in one place (update from 2014 Feb 2nd, day of Miami Marathon). Here it is:


John Edelson Race Resutls
John Edelson Race Results

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Time for New Beginnings. How about a Tri Sprint?

I've been back in town for two weeks now and there's a lot to blog about. One item is I'm determined to get back in shape so I signed up for a local triathlon in August (Mack Cycle and Fitness Key Biscayne Triathlon Trilogy #3 ).  Then, early this week, someone asked me why I didn't go do the one this weekend to warm up ( Mack Cycle and Fitness Key Biscayne Triathlon Trilogy #2).  So I'm going to give it a try!

I mean, how hard can it be? I'm only doing the sprint. It's Swim ¼ Mile, Bike 10 Miles, Run 3.1 Miles.  So I practiced all week and I went shopping, I  bought a new helmut,  some energy chewies and suckies, a tri belt, tri shorts, and six bottles of bright red Gatorade (G series).  

At a moment like this, I like to remind myself of some advice: " Few things are as easy or as hard as they seem!"  Right, which way am I over-estimating this time? Here's the challenges from a very personal perspective.

1.  Sleeping and eating.   I'm more worried about showing uo on time and well rested than I am about the event. I have found that I don't like eating lots of carbs. They upset my stomach.  Should I carb-load tonight (and risk having an upset stomach) or just have a small salad and steak (and not get whatever benefit one gets from pasta and bread)? And, since I have to get there early, how early can I go to bed and actually get to sleep?  What can I do to be sure that I sleep when I go to bed early rather than tossing and turning? And what do I eat for breakfast?

2. Getting out of bed. I figure I need to get up at 4:30! Eat and shower. Out the door by 5 so that I'm parked and preparing by 6. This is scary and easy to mess up.

3. Logistics. This requires lots of things: shoes, bike, pump, number, socks, belt, goggles, sun glasses, permit, towel, bike!   etc. I'm not great with logistics (as evidence by how often I show up in class without a belt). Can I get it together for a 5am departure? Can I get to someplace in Miami on time and not get lost (that would be a first for me) and then get everything from the car to wherever without losing it.

4. Swimming. OK, I don't expect to drown or to win.  Biking. Everyone always passes me on a bike. Running. I like to run but not after I've biked.

But, I look at it this way. I'm doing a sprint, how hard can it be? Anyone who is really tough is going a longer distance, right?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs

The three most popular NSAIDs:
Aspirin - Bufferin 
Ibuprofen - Motrin, Advil
Naproxen - Aleve, 


Over the counter pain killers
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). These include aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), naproxen sodium (Aleve), and ketoprofen (Orudis KT).
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol and Panadol).

 many over-the-counter NSAIDs have the same active ingredients as prescription NSAIDs. The difference is in the amount of active ingredient contained in each tablet or capsule, and in the dosing requirements (how often one has to take these per day). 


Hydrocodone is an orally active narcotic analgesic (pain reliever) and antitussive (cough suppressant). ydrocodone is a semi-synthetic opioid derived from either of two naturally occurring opiates—codeine and thebaine.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

XMA Chuck Form One

XMA Chuck Form One is new (at least to me) this year. This  video of XMA Chuck Form One is demonstrated by Mr Tenuttta, an instructor who is a second degree.  It's an XMA (Extreme Martial Arts) kata so it's more dramatic and theatric than a traditional martial arts.  I'm not sure which dojo he is in but it might be Lighthouse Point since it was posted by Craig Halley, Sensei of Lighthouse Point.


     

I don't know the origin of the kata. Was it developed at Lavallees martial art schools or did we import it from some XMA group.  I wonder the same about all the XMA forms.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Look Who is Wearing a Black Belt!

This past weekend was Showtime!

 Kate got up on stage at the Parker Playhouse and showed her stuff. For her, probably pretty easy. She is a good performer and knew her material very well.

NTSC generally appeared very strong this time.  Mike Sweeney led the group as the only 4th degree with Dani coming in for a third. Since they are both from my dojo, this was great.

Along with Kate, there was Nina, seen horsing around with Kate just below. BTW, to complete her spring, she has a big ballet show this upcoming weekend. And what does she do with her spare time!


I don't seem able to find yet the picture of everyone in their new gis.  
I S

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Board Breaking

I couldn't have been prouder this past weekend when tow big events happened. One of htem is my duaghter making it through the final big test for earning her black belt: Power Weekend.  The emotional high of the weekend of testing is the breaking of a board in front of the crowd.  There's some symbolism in it about overcoming obstacles but of course, there's also the very real immediate problem of actually breaking the board. Here's Kate breaking her board.




To give some context, here's links to one of the most popular videos from this site. It's board breaking which starts out OK but doesn't go smoothly for everyone. It also answers the question of whether those boards are easy to break.  As a side note, it turns out that there is now a family tradition of board breaking with the board held by Mr Dennis.

And when I can't actually be there, here's virtual me showing up to cheer you on.


Board Breaking at the Exam - The Agony and the Ectasy







Saturday, April 28, 2012

XMA Kama Form Two

This year, two new XMA forms with kama were introduced.  They are nearly identical to XMA form One and XMA Form Two only we do them with kamas in our hands.  Here is XMA Kama Form Two as demoed and explained by Sensei Edward Mercer.

You'll notice, unlike many of the videos on this blog, that this is done in quiet dojo and fully explained.  Better and better!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

XMA Kama Form One

In January of 2012, a new XMA using kamas was introduced:  XMA Chuck Form One. .It's performed here first  by two black belt candidates casually on a Tuesday night. One of them, BTW, is my daughter. The other is her best friend.




Sunday, February 12, 2012

Understanding Nutrition - I'm starting

You can't out-train the effects of poor nutrition is one of Kyoshi's sayings. In the long term, it's true. When I was in my teens and twenties playing lots of soccer daily, I could pretty much eat anything and still be a bone.  But long term, what we eat matters in terms of our shape and energy.

I recently admitted that I should learn more and so I've started reading and researching. A first step was attending Nicole's Health and Nutrition Seminar.  Here's my progress and thoughts so far:

1. I'm late and behind in learning about nutrition.  I'm a health nut and for the last few decades, I've focused on getting enough sleep, managing stress (not too much or too little), having a positive balanced outlook, getting lots of exercise, and eating sensibly.  The weak link in this list is the eating part. So my massive action plan (using Kyoshi's wording) is to study nutrition so that by the end of March, I understand it. Specifically, I want to be able to read food labels and fully understand their significance, have an intuitive level of understanding of how each food affects me, and have restructured my diet so that I get healthier and leaner.

2. There's no substitute for building an understanding of the basics such as the GI Index.  Nicole talked about the glycemic index which basically ranks foods in terms of how quickly they turn into sugar in the blood stream. Its central to understanding the impact of food on metabolism, energy, health, and weight control.  I've tried to research it and find a quick quide and I'm amazed at how few useful explanations can be found. Here's my effort to explain it. I've used the GI Foundation website (really technical, not useful), Wikipedia, the IdeaFit website,

The glycemic index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrates according to the extent they raise blood sugar levels after eating.  are those which are rapidly digested and absorbed and result in marked fluctuations in blood sugar levels. I think examples of this would be candy, Frosted Flakes, and orange juice.
Low-GI foods, by virtue of their slow digestion and absorption, produce gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels, and have proven benefits for health. Low GI diets have benefits for weight control because they help control appetite and delay hunger.

Rather than try to research and understand this in one seating, I'll  end this session (and blog post) by trying to create a list of questions that I would like to understand. If any of you would like to help answer them with either a comment, or better yet, a guest post on this question, I'm very receptive.  Here's my current questions:

  1. I'd like to think about GI by category of food. For instance, can I think of sugary foods as group? Fried foods?  Meats?  Vegetables?  Fruits?  I'm not sure that this is going to work. For instance in fruits, I see that an apple is low GI but watermelon is high GI. So, I'd like to get the key fruits categorized (apple banana, grapes, and tomatoes are the key ones for me). 
  2. I need to learn the specifics of foods that have extreme impacts and/or which I frequently have to decide to eat or not. For instance, I've eaten a lot of cheese burgers in my time. Since I find that carbs don't really agree with me, I frequently will order a cheese burger with no roll.  But I recently learned that the fat content in ground beef is really really high and since I"m beginning to cut back on cholesterol. it's got to go in favor of leaner meats (and low fat cheese).  What else like this is there?
  3. In addition to the GI index, what are the other metrics that I really need to understand and manage? I expect that they are:
    1. Calories
    2. Salt 
    3. Cholesterol (I'm a guy over 50. So I have  two risk factors for heart attack before anyone even measures my cholesterol or weight)
    4. Fiber
    5. Heavy metals.  The fact is that while I love fish, I'm aware that man has polluted our oceans so that there's a lot of mercury and other heavy metals out there. These accumulate in the predator  fish that are highest in the food cycle such as tuna and swordfish.  I believe that they are really bad for people and so, we need to restrict our intake of them.  You'll notice that my entire focus is on my health, I'm somewhat dismissive of the concept of natural foods so as far as I can tell, natural foods are as likely to kill you as processed ones.  And since organic and natural became mainstream marketing terms, I try to ignore it.   Arsenic is natural, many vitamins are synthetic.  I'd choose the vitamins every time.   I do value sustainability but that's a whole different question. 
  4. The timing of eating. I've heard that there are certain foods not to be eaten in the evening and that after 7pm, we shouldn't eat at all.
  5. Number of meals.   I've heard that you should eat often (5x daily) since everytime you eat, you kick your metalism into high gear. This only makes some sense to me since there are probably other ways of picking up the matabolism (coffee, excitement, exercise) and the danger of always having food around is that we over-eat.  I've heard another rationale in that smaller meals are better than big ones (since they make you feel sluggish) which does make sense to me.  
  6.  The Interaction of exercise and nutrition.  Obviously, if I work out a lot, I should make a point of getting enough calories. If I'm working out less, I should cut back.  But what about timing? I remember from my soccer and long run days that the day before an event, we would eat a lot of carbohydrates and stay away from proteins (not digestible in time) and milk products (to avoid lactic acid buildup).  However, I now hear about prework and post work out foods.
  7. Alcohol. What is the caloric content and other impacts of different drinks. I drink very little these days but it might have more impact than I think.
    BTW, on my bookshelf are thre books on nutrition:
    The South Beach Diet - Never really read.
    Atkins. I read it and followed it loosely for a few years. Really worked for me in that I shed pounds, felt great, looked great and enjoyed it.
    A calorie counting book.

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    Becoming a martial artist

    My daughter started at the dojo over four years ago. She is currently a candidate for black belt for May.  At our school, for those of you who don't know, achieving the black belt is more of a marathon than a single test.  Basically, over a cycle (4-5 months), a candidate must succeed at a number of prechecks, checks, and power weekends as well as maintain an intense level of attendance, 4 classes and 3 SWATS (assistant teaching) per week.  They must also succeed at the weekly timed running of 2 miles in under 16 minutes. Plus being able to do a good array of pushups and situps.

    My daughter goes off to college in the fall and our school recently shifted to two (from three) cycles a year so if she doesn't make it in May, she won't have another chance (previously, there was also an August cycle) so this is a make-it-or-not situation.

    Me, I'm psyched. I think finding and meeting (or not) challenges is a very maturing experience and this is a good one.  So far, she had struggled with the runs. She's had some challenges such as asthma and back etc and until this past week, her personal best was 16:08. Close but not good enough. She's now getting into the part of the cycle where they don't like to see people not meeting their run times.  I urged her this past week to leave it all on the track this time.  "Use your inhaler to prevent problems, show up loose and ready to go fast, and don't let anything distract you."  Ok, I'm not sure that I said that or if I did, that she was listening, but I sure was thinking it and saying it to myself.
    Three at Daniella's Run This Fall

    She ran a 15:10!  Fifteen minutes and ten seconds for a two mile run!  She shaved a minute off her personal best and  I'm so pleased and  proud that I can get almost teary.  I'm thrilled for her.

    Here's a question.  Am I putting too much faith in this sort of accomplishment as a character- and confidence-building exercise?  I totally believe that character and confidence and maturity are earned.  Your parents and teachers can complement your ears off and tell you how great you are until the cows come in.  At the end of the day, when faced with life's challenges, I think people rely on their own proof of their own ability to find the grit to overcome obstacles and do the right thing.  And for me, this is the heart of the value of martial arts and any other set of intense sports training.

     My kids, in this day and age, lead pretty cushy lives.  When trouble arises in school, the parents are quick with assistance and tutors. Nobody walks to school through the cold any more and life is generally pretty "soft". Other than dealing with family and friends, kids get a lot of help as they get through high school. So how are they supposed to grow up? Well, sports and other self-selected challenges are one way.  While it's an old idea that the officers of England were trained on the sports fields of Eton and at other British schools, I think it's also a modern one.  Sports challenges are intensely personal. You all stand at the starting line together but each and everyone has to make their own way to the finish line.

    The whole martial arts ethos, of respect and goal setting and seeking to live purposefully with goals properly defined and pursued rests (or falls) on a foundation of confidence in one's self.  As Kyoshi puts in, we come to the dojo to learn discipline, not to be disciplined.  While that message continues to be a mystery to me, I put great faith in watching my teenage daughter, under pressure, achieve new levels of performance.  And while I hope that she proudly puts on a blackbelt this May, I'm sure that the striving for it, and the success or failure, will stand her in good stead.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    Life goes on

    It's 2012 and the National Training Center of Lavallees, the change in years in heavily punctuated by discussions of goals. We were urged to finish 2011 strong and to celebrate our achievements. We were exhorted to start 2012 with SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-stamped) goals for 2012.

    The school itself did some readjustments so that Kyoshi himself teaches classes many times a week and there is a renewed focus on intensity and foundation details.
    Typical Street Scene in Placetas, Cuba Dec 2012

    I completely buy into this process and went through the planning steps.  I have goals for my weight, increased flexibility, building my bugo skills, and getting my endurance up to where it should be.

    Then, as happens with the best laid plans of mice and men, things went awry.  The trip to Cuba over the holidays  to visit relatives in their small town for a week was great in many ways but not for my training. My doctor finally got me to do a little procedure that men with my age and history should do (a colonoscopy) and that knocked me out for a few days.

    Saturday, I was reaching for something (I think putting a dish in the dishwasher) and my back went into spasm.  At first, I thought it would pass in a few minutes. By mid-day,  I couldn't walk.  Now I'm deep into working with a chiropractor and trying to control the pain.  The next two weeks are looking really tough since I was supposed to travel but frankly, the way I'm feeling (and moving) right now, it doesn't make much sense for me to try to go to a trade show.

    Of course, with a little luck, I might get the back straightened out and be back on the floor this week.Last year, I also had a back problem (I think it was February) that ended up costing me about a month of training.   Either way, happy new year to all and I'm looking forward to this year, whether the original plan works out or not.