Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My martial arts reading list

A Photo of the Martial Arts Book on a Corner of my Bookshelf
As my readers know, I was sidelined from working out this fall. This left me with time for reading. And being a man of limited interests, a number of the books that I read were about the martial arts. (Also, I watched some martial arts films but that is a different post.) Here's my thoughts.

One, life goes even without nightly workouts. I like going to the dojo and I missed it. I also like staying home and reading. All things in their season.

I read two books that focused on Mohammed Ali, American history, and boxing. King of the World and What's my Name, Fool?. What's my Name, Fool? by David Zirin is a highly political (radical left perspective), amateurishly written, and only for those who want to know about sports and political and social history in America. I read it cover to cover and enjoyed it. The idea of sports stars as rich role-models, which we take for granted today, is less than a hundred years old. One of his views is that sports gives the poor a chance at stardom either directly or vicariously which conceals how exploitative and destructive the system is to the masses. An extreme view. In contrast, King of the World by David Remnick is great and is my pick of the group. If you are only going to read one book, you should read Remnicks. It covers both Ali's amazing history and our own amazing national history as the two unfold together. Note that some of it is the same history covered by Zirin but Remnick is a better more-balanced writer. Rrankly, the truth is so strange, there's no need to exaggerate.

Rope Burns is a collection of short stories by F. X. Toole, one of which is the basis of the hit Clint Eastwood film: Million Dollar Baby. The stories show the sordid side of boxing; the corruption, the has-beens and never-weres, the trainers, and the overall sad pattern of exploitation, disappointed dreams, scams, cheats, fixed matches, and life-wrecking injuries. It's very well-written and painful to read. I think I finished it but reluctently.

On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates. She is considered a great literary writer and the book is considered the classic book on boxing. If she wasn't, I'd be tempted to say that the book was written with an excess of the romantic and metaphoric and psychological. It's a series of essays by someone in love with boxing both for it's own sake and for what it represents. Much talk of the "primal nature of two near naked men fighting before a chearing crowd"; the fact that boxers ultimately are fighting against a mirror image of themselves (ie all struggles are internal); that writers and boxers train in private but ultimately, display their finished product in public for either humiliation or vindication; and that fighters, like all men, strive to be viral potent men but that in the end, we all fail and die and are forgotten.

A Fighter's Heart by Sam Sheridan is "One Man's Journey through the World of Fighting." Sam joined the marines after high school then went to Harvard, graduating in 1998. He trains in the muay thai camps in Thailand, works on his BJJ in Rio, and trains MMA in the US. He's an extremist who even spends time checking out illegal dog fighting in the US to see if their concept of heart is the same as for human fighters.

Becoming the Natural by Randy Couture, I haven't read yet.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Two weeks of Good Health

I'm a pretty happy camper. When I first came back in January, my bak immediately started spasming. So, I started searching for just the right professional. But, my back got worse and somewhat randomly, I went to the most local chiropractor and told him I was in pain.

Well, he turned on the electricity, the ultrasound, and did some manipulations. He also gave me some specific stretches and has me on a roller table. And by week 2, I was feeling much better. I just finished week3 which included four days in a row of working out:
Saturday - Bugo - I got pathetically tired but that's another question.
Sunday - A mile and a half run
Monday - 5pm class
Tuesday - 7:30 class
And I'm feeling fine. I'm a happy camper. Thank you Dr Eric Zecca (is is possible that there's no website for him? - i can't find one. He's on Commercial at 2746 near Bayview)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

News from Lavallees, BBat50, LHP

While I have been nursing by back over the last few months, the world has been moving forward. Here's a quick overview.

At Lavallees, Kyoshi Steve Lavallee earned his eighth degree. This is historic. Below is the video. I really want to get a copy of the picture of Kyoshi Steve Lavallee with Fred Degerberg, Shihan Moti, and any other martial art illuminaries iinvolved in awarding it to him. But the news continues. This month, Kyoshi went to get his hip replaced. Word is that after just two days, he was doing the therapy and working on the comeback.

Meanwhile Sensei KC Lavallee is pregnant! I can't help but think that just as much as ahip replacement, a little Lavallee will be very disruptive to training schedules. LOL.

Left Hook Productions is producing another amateur MMA show in Ft Lauderdale January 24th. As far as I know, there's no one on the card from Lavallees. I will miss this one since I have a major other event that night. I did get an email from them about a competition for new ring girls. And I noticed that they have started posting on their blog again.

Other news, I got married. (This is called in journalistic circles, "burying the lead".) I'm a very lucky fellow, more on this later. Including some pictures.

I made it to Friday night happy hour and made it through class going about 90%. But I didn't feel great afterways. I did feel great that we started working again on Kama Set Two and several people asked me if I could get it up on the blog. Smile. It is up. There's a video but no write-up. But seriously, has the write-ups ever helped anyone? Even I usually find them unreadable. I think the detail tips are good. Thoughts?

And after starting to study my back treatment options, I ran across a local chiropractor and have been seeing him this week. He looked at xrays and has a good understanding of the obvious problems. We're using:
- a little electrical current to get the muscles to contract and relax to eliminate lactic acid buildup and some other products
- a little ultrasound with heating goo
- some stretching, a few manipulations
- a roller table (a massaging roller while I lie on back)
- suggested weekly massage.
Unless my problems go promptly away, I'll probably also go the medical route and get a full set of Xrays and MRIs. Expensive and time-consuming but it doesn't get more serious than the back. Thanks to all of you for your suggestions.

Last note in todays tidbits, KC told me that there was a group that I might want to follow on Facebook called Lavallees alumni. I've googled, trolled, and searched, I can't find it. Any ideas?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Back troubles redux

I felt pretty good after a week of working out at the gym. Specifically, I felt creeky but healthy enough to have done five days of cardio, stretched two to three times daily during the week, and worked some weights and abs. So on Saturday, I showed up at the dojo, wished everyone a happy new year, and went thru a bugo class. I held up fine through the class including four small sparring sessions. Cardio was my biggest problem but I left the dojo convinced that I was back and ready to train.

That night, my back started really aching. Specifically, my hips felt out of whack and one shoulder felt like it was pushed way forward, almost out of its socket. Sunday morning, I went off for a therapeutic massage which made me feel better but also convinced me that I have some serious problems.

The therapist pointed out that my neck was at a funny angle as were several other parts of my anatomy. She couldn't really figure out why. I concluded that as soon as my muscles got tired or contracted, parts either fall or getting pulled out of whack. Ouch.

So, who should I go to? There are a number of closely related specialists
which I find confusing.

Physiatrists - A physician who specializes in the use of physical therapy for treatment or rehabilitation following disease, trauma, or surgery
Chiropractor - A system of therapy which involves manipulation of the spinal column and other body structures.
Orthopedists - Medical doctors
Osteopaths -
- a therapist who manipulates the skeleton and muscles
Physical therapists - They usually work in conjunction with a doctor in building up or stretching out.
Massage therapy -

Stay tuned as I wonder my way through this labyrinth.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Training for training

Do I need to get back in shape before I go back to class? Or, should I go back to class to get back in shape?

As I think about it, I realize that there's a fair amount of nonsense in my thinking. Having heard for years about being a black belt and setting an example and blah blah blah blah, I feel like when I'm in class, I want to be in good shape.

I'm going to set aside these questions of appearances since I probably make a lot less difference to anybody else than I do to myself and also, it's too wrapped up in appearances and ego to take seriously. Instead, I'll focus on what makes sense for my own health and fitness.

As background, I'm coming back from being out of class for two months. And it's been many months longer since I last felt that I was in good shape. Last Sunday (I'm writing this on a Saturday morning), I had my first work out in months, a tentative circuit around the LA Fitness gym.

Since then, I've been at LA Fitness daily doing a 20 minute circuit of weights and abs, working from 10 minutes of cardio at the start of the week to 20 minutes yesterday, and working in around 20 minutes of stretching. I've done a few kata, some kicking, and I've also been stretching in the evenings.

Yesterday, I realized that the dojo had opened and I could have made it to the Friday Night Happy Hour class. But, since I had worked out in the morning and was stiff, it was a bad time to come back. Being stiff is more likely to create problems and injuries. Today, Saturday, there's a class around noon. But Saturday classes are sparring (bugo), do I want my welcome back class to be bugo? Is it wise? Will I over do it? Will I be a punching bag?

Otherwise, I can keep going to the gym this weekend. Maybe attend their cardio kickboxing class Saturday morning to see how I hold up in a forty minute session. And then I start back in class on Monday which will be drills and kata. This had been my plan when I thought the dojo was closed until Monday.

Decisions, decisions....