Health Update

Well, on Monday when I went for my run, I had this bizarre tingling sensation that went up and down both arms. When I stopped running, the same sensation moved up to my jawline. Later that night I had a bad cough; I had the same feeling that I do when I am getting toward the end of a cold, and my cough is starting to break up all the mucous in my chest.

Yesterday (Wednesday as of this writing) I had a sharp pain on the left side of my chest that came and went for an hour or so. Given what had happened to me on Monday, I decided to leave work and go to urgent care for help. They did an EKG and took a chest x-ray. There was also some bloodwork done.

Their determination was that it was musculoskeletal, NOT cardiac in nature. (Thank God for small favors.) Unfortunately, it is one of those pains that could be caused by so many things that it is easier to say what it’s NOT than what it actually is. They discharged me and told me to follow up with my doctor today, which I will be doing shortly. And not to state the obvious, but running is on hold until I get a stress test done.

So I left, went out to my car, and guess what? The pain came back!

I have a feeling I may be in the hospital before long.

Posted in chest, exercise, fitness, health, pain, running | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Need to Rethink My Running Training

The other day was supposed to be day 1 of month 3 of my running training. For this month, I am supposed to run at a faster pace for 2 minutes, then drop down to my “normal” pace for 1 minute. This is the flip of last month, where I did slow for 2 minutes, fast for 1.

Well, things started out good. I tore off and ran faster than ever until about the 1 minute 30 second mark. Then something odd happened. I got a tingling sensation going up and down BOTH arms. When I slowed down, the feeling vanished from my arms but then seemed to travel (for lack of a better term) up to my jawline, where I had the same sensation running along my jawline from ear to ear.

Instead of doing a slow run, I dropped to a walk. I got my breathing under control. The sensation vanished, so I decided to test the waters and return to the slow run. Since the sensation did not return, I picked up the pace a little…until I felt it come back.

Needless to say, I followed the old advice that can be summed up in one sentence: “Listen to your body.” I cut the run short at 5 minutes. By the time I stopped, I had run 0.52 miles. (Let’s assume I could maintain that same pace for my entire run. If you multiply both the time and distance by 3, then that means in 15 minutes I would have done 1.56 miles. In other words, I would hit 1.5 somewhere BEFORE 15 minutes, which means I would still be closing that gap and getting my time down to 13.)

That sensation has me nervous. I can’t wait until my insurance kicks in at my new job so I can go to the doctor and see what might possibly be going on. The worst part about it is that I just started noticing that I am actually starting to lose weight. Now my old body is going to betray me and keep me fat?

Bull. I am not going to let age keep me from getting healthier. Maybe this running routine isn’t meant for me, but then again I don’t see how the weight can drop off unless I am in fact doing something that pushes my limits.

Maybe it’s just a matter of learning what those limits are and not pushing TOO far past them.

Posted in adversity, endurance, exercise, fitness, health, health insurance, running, training, workout | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Modifying Wing Chun Training to Accommodate the Rest of Life

As anyone who has been reading this blog knows, I have been really pushing myself with my Wing Chun training. Every day, I aim to do my forms at least 10 times per day and 1000 punches per day. I have been doing them on my breaks at work. However, the problem is that leaves me with little to no time to do anything else. Therefore, today I decided to cut both those numbers in half. I did my forms 5 times and did 500 punches.

Why the sudden cut? What is so pressing? Well, aside from being a martial artist, I am also a writer. Many years ago I completed an epic comic book, for which I have finally found an artist. I told him that while he is busy drawing it, I will be busy coming up with a plan to get as much traffic to this thing as possible so we can hit the ground running. (NOTE: This comic will be on the web…because printing is just too expensive, not to mention risky.)

So today I used my extra time to read through 82 pages of notes that I took on how to succeed with a webcomic. (By “succeed,” I don’t mean “get filthy rich.” At this point I would just like to get the story out there!) To my surprise, I wound up being able to condense the notes to 4-6 pages. Needless to say, this is much more manageable.

The work isn’t done, so I will be reducing the Wing Chun training for a while, but the good news about that is I will be attending the advanced level class, which is held every Sunday on the Skidmore College campus. So it all balances out!

Posted in comic book, form, martial arts, web comic, wing chun, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Further Wing Chun Training

I got curious as to what my Sifu thought would elevate my Wing Chun to the next level, so I asked him via Facebook. This is the laundry list of what he said to me:

1) Reflex practice in drills
2) Chi Sao for better flowing
3) Leg practice and drills
4) Mook jong (aka wooden dummy)
5) Knives for wrist connection
6) Pole for core development

I was already aware of number 1 and 2. To this day when I practice drills or Chi Sao, I will flinch when something comes at me. I need to fight against that, to develop confidence that my techniques will land when I want them to.

When it comes to number 3, he had already told me about how I should practice various kicks. He had also told me about a bench jumping exercise, which is just what it sounds like: get a bench and jump from the floor up to the bench and then back down to develop leg strength. I have not done this yet because I have been doing my 1.5 mile run.

When it comes to number 4, I have something in place for that. After the rush of holidays has passed, I plan on taking a day off and going to visit a friend who can help me finally put my Mook Jong together. Needless to say, I am super excited about that.

The most interesting part of the list appears in items 5 and 6. Why? Because that is where my Wing Chun training stalled out before. I was shown maybe one third of the pole form, and I never learned a single section (or move, for that matter) from the knife form.

So what does this mean?

If he is telling me to practice those things, then he must think I am ready for them…which, pardon my French, is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AWESOME.

I’d been dying to learn the entire system at my old school, but he would never let me. Why? Because he held all the power in terms of certifying me as an instructor. He also knew I would never leave the Albany-Troy area because of my family. In other words, if I were a Sifu, then he would have competition. Couldn’t allow that, could we? So my training got stalled out with the excuse that he thought I “Wasn’t ready to learn it.”

Well, here is a Sifu who is every bit as good as the other guy, and HE thinks I’m ready, so what does that tell you?

Having said all this, it is time to modify my training once again. I don’t have a Mook Jong, pole or knives, so I can’t incorporate those into my training as of yet. However, there IS something that I have been neglecting to include, and that would be practicing the third empty hand form known as Biu Jee. So, going forward, I believe this should be my daily routine:

*Sil Lum Tao twice per day, 100 punches at the end
*Biu Jee twice per day, 100 punches at the end
*Chum Kiu six times per day, 100 punches at the end

This still gives me 1000 punches per day. Plus they are all different kinds (chest height, head height, and punching with a pivot). Last but not least, arranging it this way still lets me focus mainly on Chum Kiu, which is when a Wing Chun student begins to learn how to use both hands simultaneously, how to pivot, how to step, and how to kick. It is the part of the system where the body mechanics are really developed, and you realize how you can generate an amazing amount of power with short movements.

Oh and last but not least, I talked it over with my girlfriend, and I will be going to EVERY SUNDAY CLASS instead of just every other Wednesday. That’s because Sundays are when there are more senior students in class. That means more chance to play Chi Sao. (As for why I had to work it out with her…it’s out of respect. When you are in a relationship, your time is no longer your own. You can’t just go rampantly doing what you want, unless you don’t care if your relationship works out. It just so happens I DO care, hence why she and I had a talk.) The Sunday classes are much closer to my house than Wednesday nights (Saratoga Springs versus Broadalbin), so even though it seems like going four times a month means I will be away from her more, it actually equals out to about the same because there is less travel time involved.


Posted in advancement, analysis, biu jee, body mechanics, chi sao, chum kiu, equipment, fighting, fitness, kung fu, Larry London, martial arts, mook jong, pivot, pole form, punches, Sifu, sil lum tao, train, wing chun, wooden dummy | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Modified Wing Chun Training

All right, I said that I had changed my Wing Chun training a while back. Now I am finally getting around to explaining how.

A few months ago, I had a lot of different things I was doing for Wing Chun training at home. Some of this will mean nothing to the non-martial artist…or, even if you are a martial artist, to the non-Wing Chun practitioner. Anyway, for the sake of showing how my training has changed, I am going to write it down.

1) Sil Lum Tao (first form) 3 times per day, with 100 punches at the end
2) Chum Kiu (second form) 3 times per day, with 100 punches at the end
3) Biu Jee (third form) 3 times per day, with 100 punches at the end
4) 100 extra punches so I did 1000 per day
5) 500 kicks per day (straight, side, groin height, knee height)
6) Bong/jut gerk (“gerk” means leg, so again these were more leg exercises)
7) 2-handed techniques with a pivot (by 2-handed I mean one hand attacks, the other defends, simultaneously)
8) Stand in my basic stance, then pivot so I am facing left, then pivot all the way so I am facing right (this was in my curriculum because I was having trouble keeping my balance when I pivoted)
9) Shadow boxing
10) One minute of burpees

I dropped #8 because, over time, I figured out ways to correct the balance issue during the pivoting in the Chum Kiu form. (Sometimes I still have issues, but they are few and far between.) Then I dropped #5, #6 and #10 because, on the days opposite Wing Chun training, I was doing a 1.5 mile run, but the kicks and burpees were making my legs ache too much so I dropped them. For a while I hung on to item #7, but then I cut it from my routine because of time constraints. I came to the realization that I needed to focus on those things that would get my skill to the next level.

In order to do that, I decided to focus ONLY on Sil Lum Tao and Chum Kiu. Even within that narrow focus, I decided to do Sil Lum Tao only twice a day and Chum Kiu a whopping EIGHT TIMES. Why? Because even after all these years, I am still stuck at the Chum Kiu “level.” Therefore it makes sense to me that the only way to move on would be to improve my Chum Kiu. Then my Sifu would realize I was ready for Biu Jee.

One more thing: I shied away from doing any shadow boxing because I worried about getting bored. I mean, I can imagine only so many ways of being attacked. How useful of a training tool would that be? Before I did any shadow boxing, I looked up videos online on how to shadow box. It might seem silly, but it really helped me out.

Now, moving on, there was a further change in how I did the forms. Even though I am only at Chum Kiu level, I do know Biu Jee and the Wooden Dummy (Mook Jong) form in their entirety. (I learned them back in the day when my dedication level hadn’t slipped.) So the next shift in training was to do Sil Lum Tao and Chum Kiu 4 times each (with 100 punches each), Biu Jee once (with 100 punches aimed at head height), and the Mook Jong form (doing 100 punches at the end with a step, which I was able to do because I do not own a wooden dummy and was doing the form in the air).

Then I went to class one night, and I was there ahead of everyone. It was just Sifu London and I. He told me that Sil Lum Tao was not only meant to help Wing Chun students learn how to sink into their roots, but it was also meant to help you learn how to remain calm in the face of the chaos that is a fight.

That was amazing to me because to this day I still have a problem with spazzing out and flinching whenever someone is about to hit me during Chi Sao (Wing Chun’s version of sparring…sort of). What he said completely changed the way I thought about training. So now, here is the Wing Chun training I am following today:

*Sil Lum Tao 5 times, with 100 punches at the end
*Chum Kiu 5 times, with 100 punches at the end
*Five 3-minute rounds of shadow boxing, for a total of 15 minutes

The only variable here is the shadow boxing. I don’t do that on Sunday-Tuesday-Thursday. On those days I do the training for the University Police Officer exam. As some of you may know from my previous post, training for that is a moot point. However, I want to see my running routine through to the end just to see if I CAN do the mile and a half in 12 minutes 58 seconds.

When I am done with the running routine, I will probably jump into Tony Horton’s 22 Minutes Hard Corps program. Honestly, I am not sure it will help me shape up much. I think that the only way my physique starts to transform is with the longer, more punishing workouts like P90X and Insanity. However, I went to the trouble to plunk down the money for 22 Minutes, so I am going to do it.

Happy training, everyone!!!


Posted in 22 Minute Hard Corps, biu jee, burpees, cardio, chum kiu, exercise, fitness, front kick, health, insanity, kicks, kung fu, Larry London, lesson, martial arts, mook jong, P90X, punches, routine, running, shadow boxing, shaun t, side kick, Sifu, sil lum tao, tony horton, train, training, university police officer, wing chun, wooden dummy, workout | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Still Training Still Running Still Improving

Yesterday I did the first two Wing Chun forms (Sil Lum Tao and Chum Kiu) five times each, with 100 punches at the end, for a total of 1000 punches. Business as usual. I also did 40 push-ups and 40 sit-ups. Again, not much has changed there.

The BIGGEST development was when I went for my run. Toward the end of the day at work, I started to feel drowsy and out of it. The thought of running even a single step made me groan. Fortunately, once I was on my way home, I got my second wind. I thought to myself, “I can do this.”

I am currently running my way through month 2, week 3 of my training routine. For this month I am supposed to run 2 minutes at a regular pace, and then 1 minute at a speed that is 25-50% faster than regular. The goal was to come up with a pace where I could remain running for the entire 1.5 miles without dropping down to a walk. Well, I have some good and bad news to report about that.

BAD NEWS: So far this month, I have failed to find that sweet spot where I can move my speed up and down WITHOUT dropping down to a walk. I would say that out of the entire time I was on the track, 2-3 minutes of that was spent walking.

GOOD NEWS: Despite the bad news, I was able to complete my run in 15 minutes 44 seconds. The last time I ran the full distance (excluding Sunday, when I had to call it quits after 0.92 miles), I did it in 16 minutes 10 seconds. Therefore that is a reduction in running time of nearly HALF A MINUTE (26 seconds, to be exact).

So there is a balance here, and the good has to be considered with the bad. I may not have done the entire distance at a run, but I DID complete it in faster time. Now if I could just find the right pace where I never slow down to a walk, I bet you would REALLY see some time reduction!


Posted in chum kiu, fitness, kung fu, martial arts, push-ups, running, sil lum tao, sit-ups, training, wing chun | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to Training Despite Some Bad News

I went for my 1.5 mile run today. Sadly, the humidity got the better of me and I was able to do only 0.92 miles. Oh well. Maybe I went too long without training? Who’s to say? At any rate, I am back into it, even though (as my subject line says) I got some bad news.

In New York, they passed a law in December 2015 that you could not be older than 35 when you took the written exam for University Police Officer 1. For the record, I was 37 when I took the test in November 2013. Yes, they passed the law a full TWO YEARS after I took the damn test, but I do not have the right to get “grandfathered” in.

Could I bitch and moan about it? Of course I could. I could go on and on about how much Governor Cuomo sucks for it. Unfortunately, none of this will change the law. Instead I have chosen to focus on the positive side of this.

“What is the positive side???” you might ask. “Cuomo’s rule just screwed you out of a job that pays $50,000 a year!”

This is true. However, here is the positive side.

I just got a copy of 22 Minutes Hard Corps, the latest workout by Tony Horton of P90X fame. To avoid overtraining, I had to either do what is on the Police Officer agility test or 22 Minutes; I could not do both. I decided to go with what was on the agility test because, after all, the best way to train for it would be to do EXACTLY what is on the test. Now that I don’t have the test looming over my head, I can dive into 22 Minutes Hard Corps. So there is no more looking forlornly at the DVD set as it sits unused on my bookshelf every night.

I should follow that up by saying my personal trainer friend gave me a 3 month running routine to follow. I am going to do one full round of it, and THEN I will get into 22 Minutes.

Aside from that, I just realized I have YET to describe my new Wing Chun routine and the way I managed to reach this new arrangement. That will come in good time. However, that is all the news I have for you today.


Posted in 22 Minute Hard Corps, fitness, kung fu, martial arts, P90X, running, tony horton, university police officer, wing chun | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment