Tag Archives: failure

A Cold, Cold Moon and WOOTW #10

Before the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week, a little tidbit.

Seeing a TV news report about last Thursday’s daring Antarctic rescue of two sick researchers from Amundsen-Scott Station re-awakened my fascination with the South Pole.  A coworker of mine some years ago had some amazing stories that I’ve never forgotten about working at McMurdo Station.  But McMurdo is at a much lower altitude than Amundsen, and not at the geographic pole.  Can you imagine a place where the temperature dips to -100º F and it’s day for half the year and night the other half — with 11 weeks of continuous, pitch black darkness?

Here’s an amazing video of an entire 14-day moon cycle as filmed at Amundsen Scott by Robert Schwarz (by the way, all of his videos are top notch– so sit down with your favorite beverage and enjoy them all).

Now for the Cabal Fang Workout of the Week:

  1. Start a repeating countdown timer for 10:00.  This workout is made up of three 10-minute sections.  Get the workout straight in your head so you can transition smoothly without having to reset/restart your timer.
  2. 10-minute Half Pyramid (created using PTDICE).  Complete 1 Prison Push-up, 1 Crunch, 1  Mountain Climber, and 1 Flutter Kick.  Then do 2 of each, 3 of each, 4 of each, etc.  See how high you can climb before the timer beeps (I almost finished set #9 but not quite).
  3. Pick Two Kicks.  Pick two kicks (I chose Stamping Kick and Roundhouse) and see how many you can get done before the 10:00 is up.  Put them in combinations, double up, experiment, have fun, and see how many total kicks you can get done before the timer beeps (I only got 170).  Walk it off slowly and cool down for 3 minutes, then move on to the meditation part below for 7 minutes.
  4. Meditation on Failure.  Spend 7 minutes imagining — or if you prefer, recalling — all of the unpleasant, annoying, disastrous, infuriating and catastrophic crap you can think of.  Really put yourself into those memories or imaginations.  Try to remain calm, not just in mind and spirit, but in body.  Keep both heart and breathing rate normal for the duration.  A master of the martial arts remains true in the face of all unpleasantness, up to and including even certain death.  A friend of mine says that martial artists need to prepare for failure and disappointment, and I agree.  We stack up so many layers of positive thinking, practice, preparedness and prevention that we can find it hard to keep it together when failure and disappointment come along.  What happens when you fail to be decisive in an emergency? When, despite all your dedicated practice, you allow some loser to intimidate you?  When your lover says “no” to your advances?  What if he or she breaks up with you and you didn’t see it coming?   How do you react when the artwork you spent a year working on turns out to be a piece of junk?  Do you beat yourself up, drink yourself to sleep, cry, throw things, lose your temper, act like an ass?  Things don’t always go your way.  Sometimes that’s because you screwed up.  Sometimes it’s because things happen that are outside your control.  Doesn’t matter.  Get ready for that shit.  

Again, Again, Begin Again

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine pointed me to a great article about how all training is not created equal.  The gist of the article is that that mindless repetitive practice without specific goals, metrics and feedback doesn’t guarantee improvement — it might even make you worse.

And then last Thursday, during martial arts practice, something…”broke.”  That may not be the right word.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I didn’t snap, but it was close.  My temper flared and fire flew into me.  I suppose I contained it well enough — nobody hurt, no harm, no foul, apologies accepted — but I was very upset and disappointed in myself.

Had I been a beginner I would say my control was good.  Had I been merely an advanced student of five or ten years, I’d say my control was mediocre.  But for a martial arts master who’s celebrating his 30-year anniversary in the martial arts this year, my performance was unacceptable.

I know that I can never achieve perfection.  But I also know that if I don’t continuously strive for perfection I won’t even get close.  I must complete as many cycles as possible of the “practice, test, and grade” cycle.  The usual sort of bad grade requires a run-of-the-mill correction.  But a catastrophic failure requires a more drastic correction, perhaps even a punishment.

In Cabal Fang we don’t wear uniforms and we are skeptical of belts, certificates, certifications, and other outward signs of achievement.  Elders like myself are forbidden from advertising unless club membership is less than 12.  We’re only at 7 active members at the moment, so technically I’m allowed to advertise.

But after my loss of control last week, I felt it necessary to drain away some ego fuel by confessing my mistake on this blog and by stripping away a badge of pride.  So I took the window decal off my truck.  For good.

Try again, again and again — and if you fail, begin again.

“Seek not to blindly follow in the footsteps of the men of old, but rather continue to seek out what they sought.” – Matsuo Bashō (1644-1694)

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