Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Better than the A-ver-age workout...

I had my second massage last night and it was better than the first one. I am learning how to relax. Doesn't that sound strange? I was pretty tensed up during the first massage, but I knew a lot of what was to come in this one so wasn't nervous or surprised at some of the immense amounts of pain that I was put through. Well, not immense amounts - but some spots on my body are just plain messed up from all the banging. Especially my legs.

I asked for a little more time on my upper shoulders and neck and that was MONEY. That is a must from now on.

This break from Muay Thai has served me well. Many of my bruises are healed up already, and with another week off I should be tip-top for the next round of strength conditioning and MT.

My first massage was right after my last MT test, which was a fairly brutal affair (the test, not the massage). Lots of padwork and sparring in that last MT test. I was pretty beat up. As the second massage went along my masseuse commented that I was basically "beat to hell" during that first massage, but she didn't want to say anything. I laughed and said "I told you so". Anyway, I have three left in this five pack that I received for my birthday and I am very much looking forward to them. The masseuse is a nice woman, and we seem to get along well. Everything is very professional, clean and I think I am getting benefits. The best part is that my masseuse does work primarily on athletes so there isn't any stupid aroma therapy, rocks on the back, or other nonsense like that going on. I will probably make massage part of my fitness routine, probably getting one every couple of weeks or so.

The place where I get my massages is actually a yoga studio. Last time I was there it was empty, but this time there was a class going on. I had never seen a yoga class, and I have to admit I was chuckling to myself. It looks rather silly to me, a yoga outsider. But after thinking about it for a while, it looked rather strenuous. All of the people doing it were breathing somewhat heavily, and some of them were sweating. I really didn't care for all of the spiritual things that the instructor was bringing into the class, but whatever. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. The bottom line is that at least these people were in class getting exercise and stretching, which is more than 95% of the population can say, as they sit on the couch pounding chips and booze.

During the class they concentrated a LOT on breathing, and lining up their spine to something or other, and listening to the YOGI. That was the instructor, who referred to herself as the YOGI. What is the first thing that pops into my head when I hear the word YOGI?

Oh well, simple man, simple mind. I honestly couldn't stop chuckling at this whole scene. When my masseuse showed up we entered the massage room and she asked me why I was smiling. I told her that this scene was soooo different from the one that I usually immerse myself into.

Yoga class:
  • quiet
  • mellow atmosphere
  • spiritual
  • concentrate on breathing
  • instructor very soft spoken
  • people drinking herbal tea and eating fruit (honestly)
  • soft lighting

Muay Thai class:

  • loud, heavy metal music blasting at all times
  • stark, industrial fluorescent lighting
  • gasping for air in intense workouts
  • instructor yelling and shouting at you if you are dogging it
  • water if you are lucky
  • gigantic first aid kit at the ready for cuts and bloody noses
  • attempting to disable opponent by projecting as much force into their body as you can while trying to stop them from doing the same to you

I am not bashing yoga here, as it is something that I could probably never do or even think of doing very well - if it weren't for Carl, I would be the least flexible person on the face of the planet. And I would bet that some advanced yoga classes would be pretty tough. But it just isn't for me.


Annie said...

I do yoga. Not the spiritual stuff...the stretching and holding stuff. I have to. It's the only thing that's kept me from having to go under the knife for a back surgery that I refuse to have because I'm a weenie about thinking how close sharps are going to get to my spinal cord. No thanks.
Oh, and if you ever have to go to an orthopedic care place for a back injury and they give you a pamphlet of about 20 or so exercises for "back care"...guess what those are! ;)
Me: Hey doc, these are yoga poses!
Doc: Well, we can't call them that because nobody would take them seriously enough to do them.
HA! The world is full of Dans! :p

Dan from Madison said...

I figured it was good for you, interesting that the back exercises are essentially yoga. Some of the poses looked pretty tough, and as I said, some of the people were sweating through it.

jmac said...

I do Power Vinyasa yoga, which is a version of 'hot' yoga (they heat the room to about 100 degrees). We do some similar and some different yoga poses, but the vinyasa part refers to the constant motion in the practice. You get your heart rate up as well as the strength conditioning from the different stretching poses.


I've thought about doing a post on it...but somehow I couldn't see it on 'my' blog...

Dan from Madison said...

That sounds like actual exercise. Do a post on it, I would be interested to read about it.

jonathan said...

I tried a yoga class once. It wasn't for me but it seems to work for a lot of people. There are many types of yoga, and from what I hear some of them are very intense and workout-like.

James R. Rummel said...

Good post.

RE the spiritual stuff...

Even in the hard martial arts, you hear people going on about their chi or whatnot. This has always struck me as being nothing more than bullshit hocus pocus for the weak mind, and it certainly can be if the believer decides to lighten up on their training schedule because this illusionary energy field will take up the slack when they stop working out.

But a lot of people seem to think of it as a way to get motivated. They know they can't physically lift 200 pounds by themselves, or spar at full energy for 40 minutes, or whatever, and their belief means that they're never going to be able to achieve that goal. They always slow down, shut down, stop giving their all when that particular line in the sand is approached.

But a few people gain the confidence they need to grab for that ring through some sort of psyche out. Sometimes it is internal energy fields, sometimes it is how the furniture is arranged in the dojo lobby. Whatever they need to suck it up, stiffen their resolve, just do it.

A fair number of people like to prove that the spiritual stuff is all hot air, usually by sparring with some true believer and eating their lunch in a particularly humiliating fashion. I used to cheer that sort of stuff on, but now figure it is basically harmless.

At least it is as long as someone is using the hocus pocus strictly for their own ends. If they are trying to make money off of the weak minded, such as running classes for chi-based martial arts as a self defense system, then I say humiliation is probably too good for them.


Dan from Madison said...

I agree wrt the spiritual stuff James. I don't know much about yoga, but the spiritual stuff that they were bringing into the class seemed pretty harmless and oddly didn't seem to have much to do with the movements that they were practicing. I also suppose different types of yoga bring in more or less spirit calling. Again I don't know enough about the subject to make a knoledgable comment.

As far as bringing spirit stuff into martial arts, you are exactly right - it is bullshit. Some guy waving his hands and chanting at me is in for a rude awakening if we are actually in the ring, because I am going to take his head off, as are any number of students at my martial arts academy.

That is one of the reasons I like my gym so much - we spend ZERO time on recitation, praying or anything not related to perfecting our art, whether it is Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu, Jeet Kune Do or whatever is being taught. I absolutely hate that crap and am very happy to be where I am.

Others need that stuff though, for reasons you mentioned. Again, on the street, someone who is drunk or hopped up on crystal meth who wants your wallet doesn't give a shit how much "chi" you have.

knirirr said...

Good comments regarding the spirituality, gentlemen.
I don't like it or bother with it myself, but I have sometimes trained in places where it is heavily used. When they say that they are practicing a "mind, body, spirit" system not a "martial art" and that fighting is meant to be a small part of it then that's fine, but if they say that such things can be used to fend off a knife-armed attacker then it becomes seriously dodgy.

Dan from Madison said...

That has got to be the least realistic knife training I have ever seen.

knirirr said...

Indeed so; it is a good example of concentration on the spiritual aspects to the detriment of actually being useful for defence.

Dan from Madison said...

Perhaps they aren't really serious and are just getting some exercise - that stuff doesn't bother me, but if they think that is useful training against a knife wielding attacker, I guess I just hope they never get attacked by a guy with a knife.

knirirr said...

I'm not sure. The chap with the shorter hair used to teach in Oxford (I've met him there), and was very much into the spiritual aspects. If questioned he would admit that he wasn't practicing his system as a pure martial art and that the katas (they never did sparring) were just another means to become one with the universe (or whatever). But, he would say that it was excellent for self-defence if studied for that purpose.
I don't have a problem with this stuff if it is practiced as a form of meditation or sport, but I would not think it appropriate for self-defence.

Dan from Madison said...

ha - if he says it is excellent for self defense he is smoking crack. I would challenge him to a painted knife fight, he would be marked up quite badly, as he would against any crazed attacker.

Again, I think we agree knirirr that if they are just working out and enjoy this sort of "renaissance faire" type flow and spirituality, more power to them, but totally impractical as far as the street goes.

If nothing else they are getting a little exercise and fresh air.

BossMongo said...

For anyone looking to "man up" on yoga, I'd recommend Matt Fury's combat conditioning. I'm primarily a Judo/Jiu Jitsu guy, and around 1999 I fought a guy who was freaky strong/flexible. He turned me on to the program. Hey, works for me.
And, not to provoke any fights here, but I'm big on chi--or whatever you want to call it--development.
When it goes off for real, you better be synched mentally, physically, and spiritually or it's dirt nap time (I apologize, this sounds more childishly trite than I mean it to). That said, the dojo is for developing physical prowess, grow your chi somewhere else.

Dan from Madison said...

Boss - I believe you when you say that yoga can provide some strength conditioning and I have stated that pretty well here. And I am not bashing Yoga, it just isn't for me.

As far as the spiritual side, we obviously differ on this, and I think we can just agree to disagree on the subject.

BossMongo said...

Being in the unfamiliar territory of speaking on behalf of “spirituality,” let me offer a more discriminating definition of terms. My endorsement of developing “chi,” the spirit, whatever, comes from a strictly combat-oriented utilitarian perspective.
The case I’m making is this: when one gets into a fight which may well have a lethal outcome for either or both participants, when one realizes (commensurate with the adrenal gland going into hyperdrive) that the person on the other side of the oncoming fist (or elbow/knee, as a nod to my MT brethren), knife, or gun has every intention of accelerating one’s departure off this mortal coil, a well-developed chi (okay, spiritual side…again, whatever) will help keep the individual from compounding the limitations that the physiological reactions (adrenaline, etc) will place on combat performance.
I quite frankly don’t care if one is a Christian, atheist, Hindu, or pagan. If there is any daylight between the higher brain (hey, ma, look at me, I can balance a checkbook!) and the reptilian brain (must eat, must drink, must fight, must f…) combat performance will be attenuated. It is easy for the higher brain to develop its theory of what happens when you reach room temperature. But when your bowels are bottoming out at g-force inducing speeds, when your hands are shaking and your breathing is gone to…an irregular cadence is not the time to realize that you haven’t answered life’s great existential questions—and it’s not the time to have the higher brain interfering with performance because its busy freaking out.
I guess the best way to some up my position is not that one should be all “spiritual,” but that if one is going to enter into mortal combat, one should have considered and internalized exactly what “mortal” means, and be good with it, or one will not be fighting at peak performance.
If we're still in disagreement, then I agree to that (is that even English?)

Dan from Madison said...

An interesting take Boss, but I don't see why an athiest, or someone else who doesn't believe in anything spiritual at all can't be just as effetive in combat as the next guy. Like you said, I think we will just agree to disagree on this - but your points are interesting.

BossMongo said...

Last bit of input (don't want to be the soapbox guy): Please note that atheist is on my list in the last comment. I don't care what one's spiritual/philosophical bent is, I'm just saying that one should be really, really comfortable with it before the doo doo hits the fan. Internalizing one's philosophy, so that it's not throwing static at the worst possible moment, is my definition of developing chi.
That's it, that's all. I'm done. Swear to G...I'm done.
PS-I've taken quite a few trimmings over the years; statistically it is probable that an atheist scuffed me up somewhere along the line. And a Muslim. And a Zoroastrian, and a...