5km everyday for November (Part 2)

5km everyday for November (Part 2)

Dear Boys,

Running everyday for the past 1 month has taught me a few lessons. As common as the saying goes, ‘life is a marathon’, it is actually more than that, life isn’t just 42.195km, to me, it is 5km spread over a month or more, interspaced with interruption, suprises, determination, positivity, mechanism, injuries and a lot more. But I guess it is about going on, and not stopping, well, at least not that often.

Fatigue

The fatigue is not just about exhaustion immediately after a run, I am talking about a longer expereince of tiredness, knowing that the next day is another 5km to complete. And while there is a finite number of 30days, it seems to be never-ending when you’re at it.

Another fatigue is the risk of injury, putting so much physical activity in 30 days, runs into the risk of getting hurt, even in normal day to day stuff. The body is taking a beating from the increased activity and I really need to pay attention to what I do.

The other issue with fatigue is the lacking of rest between runs. Sometimes, I have to do a late night run, followed by an early morning run the next day, due to Aikido class in the evening, this means that the body is being put through a high tempo with less rest, a recipe for injury, and thankfully, none of that happened, although, it did feel like it is going to happen a couple of times.

Safety

November was in a way tumultuous times in Singapore, as there was a uproar of anti-PMD(Personal Mobility Devices) sentiments due to the rising number of PMD and pedestrain related accidents and incdients. Your dad became one of the victims, on the 4th of November, and the government annouced the ban on the 5th.

Since some of my jogs are night runs, I already have a good sense to buy small bicycle blinkers to put on myself, for the sake for visibility, I have one and it is always on my back, but that accident with the PMD was a head on collision. So I bought another one to on my chest, so that I can be seen front and back.

Safety also means that I don’t jog with headphones on, which will reduce my situational awareness, but having music on means that I can have a fast rythmn and tempo, dependent on the song of my choosing.

Blister

From my previous running experience, I know that blisters will develop, along with trauma to the toe nails, I have one on each foot. This is quite normal and it is part of the pain package for sustained running.

 

To save me from this ordeal, I was very fortunate to come across a fantastic anti-blister tape from Decathlon. It was cheap and it was good. The stickiness was just right and it did it’s job protecting my toes from pain and excessive rubbing. You see, despite of that, I’m still going to lose my toenails, but it could be worse.

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Blister management is very important to make sure the run is enjoyable and sustain able, and if you miss out this important minor details, your painful little toes can derail your plan.

Shoes

I’m not a big fan of expensive running shoes. Sure they look good, and comes with a high level of comfort, and some can cost $200 and up. For my run, I did it with this pair, Asics Torrence, a cheap, discontinued basic running shoe that cost me about RM$100… which is about S$30.

It served me well, although it took me a while to get my stride right, but it did the job, gave me good cushioning and there was no major protest from my feet. 

This goes to prove the as long as you can run, any decent pair of running shoes will do, and spending more than necessary will not make you a better runner. Unless, you are a performance running athelete, then a pair of high end running shoes will help put that extra speed into your gait. If not, just get a pair and hit the road.

One very important thing though, socks. Invest in a good pair of running socks, which will help brings confidence in your stride.

ekiden-running-socks-3-pack-black.jpgFit to keep fit

One last thing, boys, a minimum level of fitness is important, so you need to have a baseline level of fitness before you start on this endeavour. If you are morbidly unhealthy, never start on this. Always start slow and go low, as in a low mileage, and build it up from there. Always be kind to your body and listen to your body’s reaction to your efforts, if you really feel unwell, stop. You can always recover and try again, it is fruitless, and also stupid to push this just for the sake of your ego.

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

5km Everyday for November (Part 1)

Dear Boys,

Your dad challenged himself to a 5 km run everyday for the month of November, and this is how he did it.

Planning

It is not as simple as just pick up the shoes and run, well it is actually that simple but there is some planning to do. You need to run through a couple of things in your head before you actually put the foot on the ground. It is the simple Franklin Covey’s ‘measure twice, cut once.’ mindset, as he as mentioned in his highly acclaimed 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Route planning

I need to know where to jog, that is to measure the distance and not do more than 5km, there is a discipline to it that you don’t over-run which is unnecessary, and will do more harm than good, there must be a good pace to contain fatigue (more on that later…)

To know where I am jogging, I use Mapometer. This website helps me plot my route and work out the areas I can jog to get my mileage. It is quite intuitive although in some places the routes are not updated, so you still need to have some ‘on the ground’ knowledge to make this work better.

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Planned Routes

After working out Mapometer, I will list out a few routes, so that I don’t get bored running the same route for 30 days. For where we stay, I’ve listed 5-8 routes which is in the range of 5km.

The 5 primary routes are:

  1. Punggol Central =5.47km
  2. LRT = 5.19km
  3. Kelong Bridge = 5.17km
  4. Triple Bridge = 5.06km
  5. FGS (Fo Guang Shan) = 5.18km

Once these are identified, I’ll work out a day to day plan:

october planning

This is to help me visualise what I need to do, and prepare the night before. I will usually have my ‘run package’ ready, which is top, shorts, socks, blister tape (more on that later as well…) running pouch and blinkers (talk about that, safety aspect too…)

Look, the plan is the plan, when it comes to execution, it often don’t go as planned, but without a framework, it will be no problem to start, but difficult to be consistent.

Having the map routed, and days sort of planned, it is time for the run! After every run, I will record it down in the journal:

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While I use a running app to keep track of my running, nothing beats, old school writing it down. It helps me collect my thought and look at my efforts so far, there is a minor satisfaction writing down the accomplishment, and it does help me move day to day, with some level of motivation.

Hit the road!

Once all the planning is done, it boils down to the execution of the plan. If planning is strategic, the execution is tactical. In order to be successful, you need both, and with all the planning done, without proper execution, you will fizzle.

I know I can run, the issue is running consistently, and finding the time to do it. The running itself will take typically 30 odd minutes, the warming down, taking a shower and settling down at my journal, takes up another 20 odd minutes, so it’ll take me about an hour to end the whole exercise. Once you get the timing the first few times, you’ll know how much time you need to get it done.

While it is all about putting on the shoes to run, your mind will play tricks on you to drag it out, during the weekends, where you have the entire day to do your stuff and you will tend to procrastinate the run till almost the end of the day. This is even more acute during the weekdays, where a huge chunk of the time is taken up by work and commute. which left my running fighting for time with sleeping.

On top of that I have Aikido lessons in some weekday evenings, so in the most ideal situation, I’d like to jog in the morning, so that I have time for Aikido in the evening, but in reality, I’d ended up doing Aikido and jogging after class, which totally exhausts me.

I’ll talk more about fatigue, blisters, safety blinkers and other more nitty gritty details in the part 2.

What is Aikido?

This conversation will never cease, and probably I’m just adding to the fray.

I’ve asked myself such questions from time to time to make sure that my knowledge and understanding stays relevant. It is important for me to do that so I don;t begin to assume things, and become dogmatic in thinking, at the same time I need to see how the art can evolve or become ‘bastardized’ into something else, not Aikido, yet called Aikido.

So what is Aikido?

There are plenty of explanation out there, for me I prefer the more traditional one. As long as you practice a style with a specific lineage, and belongs to some major school of Aikido style then, yes, you are practicing Aikido.

Most of the Aikido practitioners have a sensei and their sensei has a sensei, so on and so forth. You can basically trace a source back a couple of down lines to where your Aikido style comes from.

It is getting more difficult these days, when dojos are sprouting out faster than a 7-Eleven can, so tracing a linage can be a problem.

What is NOT Aikido

This is a huge grey area, as Aikido is such an open art with a very open interpretations. There are many variations of the art, as many of the masters tends to explain the mysterious ‘ki’ in their own way according to their own experience and interpretations. Many of these so called masters trained narrowly and the only training partners they faced are those limited in their dojo.

Some others might like to hijack ‘Aikido’ as a brand name and use it to define their own arts, there could be some vague resemblance to the traditional mainstream Aikido style, but these folks try to differentiate themselves by wearing an all black Gi, or have some fancy, aggressive, and dynamic looking logo, of a skull, fist or something else.

Since there is no copyright doe ‘Aikido’ as a brand, there is no way to control it. what I’m saying isn’t about control, it is about the ability to discern ‘not Aikido’ style from ‘Aikido’ style. And it is not a problem unique to Aikido. As of today, there are many Shaolin schools that teaches ‘authentic’ Shaolin kungfu, where there is actually only one place to learn Shaolin Kungfu, which is the one and only Shaolin Temple.

Me-Too Marital Arts

This points to the popularity of these martial arts so much so people what to copy it, so that they can get something out of it, be it money, or fame. These me-too martial arts while cashing in by attaching themselves to these arts, can mislead students and the general public about what these arts are.

While I welcome the evolution of Aikido, with newer understandings and emerging variations, hijacking the name Aikido, just because someone knows an Ikkyo or two, or have taken a brief class in Aikido, mixed in with Systema, and some other arts, and for a lack of a better name, decides to call it ‘Aikido’. That is something not so welcomed.

 

 

 

 

 

二教 nikyō in MMA

二教 nikyō in MMA

I did MMA many years back with a very good school Fight G. I think it was for 3 months, once or twice a week.

It was in one of those training sessions that I realised Aikido has a value in MMA, although more often than not, using Aikido specifically to win an MMA bout would be next to impossible, well that is my opinion.

I was on the ground with this guy, or rather, he was on the ground and I was up. In terms of MMA, we were both kind of a novice. In terms of martial arts, I can tell, he has little or no prior martial arts experience.

He was a fit guy, but while we sparred, I got the better part of it, and started my ‘ground and pound’, and out of instinct, he grabbed my wrist. It was more like a ‘Gyaku Hanmi’, opposite hand grab.

That sets it up nicely for a nikyō, The MMA gloves was thick, but I knew I got the lock, and began to apply pressure. The poor guy, probably pumped up with adrenaline, has no idea what is his predicament, with his free hand, he tried to make something out of it, but it was in vain.

I applied pressure, the lock was there, but I decided to let it go. I would have severely injure him, had I continue.

That incident never left my mind.

The martial arts world is wide, there are many many moves out there that we have never heard of, or even think was possible.

Catching that guy in a nikyō, in an MMA training taught me that anything can happen in a fight. Aikido locks are almost never taught in MMA, and when someone in MMA encounters such a lock, or pin, they usually have no response or reaction to it. Which is a dangerous indication that the training has gone past the learning stage, right into dogmatism.

Letting it go

I let the lock go partly also because we are all kind of a recreational MMA students, we are not fighting for keeps. The guy was like me, just going there for ‘fun’, imagine, going home with a broken wrist, or worse, a wrist that is permanently  broken. That would have been on my conscience for the rest of my life. It was just practice, so let’s not injure each other with malice.

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Observe, Observe and Observe

The greatest thing you can do in a dojo, any dojo, is to observe, observe and observe.

It is not just observing the sensei, which is the obvious thing to do, we, as students have to observe one another, and if your dojo happens to have a full length, and breath worth of mirrors, good for you. But you cannot be looking at the mirror, while you do your waza, right?

So the next best thing is to observe each other, other than the sensei.

There are many good and not so good things we can learn from observing one another. After all, we are all humans and are endowed with the same bunch of tools, hands, legs, hips, spine and all, so geometrically most of us move in the same way, most of us do irimi nage the same way, and if we observe carefully, we will notice we all makes the same mistakes, the same way.

Same same but different

Well, other than observing the similarities, right and wrong way of doing things, we have to look out for some of the different ways we do things. Some of us while trying to follow sensei faithfully, but we always have our own interpretation of what we see and our actions is never 100% accurate. We are not machines.

So we need to see with our own eyes, how our training partners move, and why they move the way they move.

Recently, I’ve been kind of obsessed with observing my fellow Aikidokas in the dojo, I will stare and stare at how my partners move, and try to understand their physical interpretation of sensei’s techniques.

I want to observe until the observer melts away and while that is not always successful as there is a critical part of me remains while I looked at my partner’s techniques. Why is he/she moving like that? And why is he not able to see his own mistakes? Why is his/her circle smaller than necessary, so much so the uke can stop him/her?

Call it nit-picking but that is what we need to do for each other when we are on the mat. We have to help each other be our own worst or best critic, depends on how you look at it, and in doing so, helps us correct what we cannot see.

Unlearn

It is also perhaps my own personal way of getting back to basics. Remember when we were all white belts and coming to the dojo is a matter of monkey see, monkey do? We as beginners, will not be able to understand the intricate whys, hows, or the rights and the wrongs.

By observing intensely how my fellow Aikidokas work, I am trying to deplete myself of the self, and understand Aikido at a fundamental level. While we all want to critic, and point out what is wrong with who’s technique, it really takes an open mind and heart to drop all that opinion and just observe.

Sometimes I succeed in that, often I don’t. It’s a habit of mind, to make distinction so as to justify our ‘self’. It is a wonderful feeling in those rare times where my monkey mind can silence itself and just move with what I’ve observed.

A List of Aikido Dojos in Singapore

Aikido in Singapore has evolved since the first day I joined more than 20 years ago.

For the most part, it has made the Aikido ecosystem very vibrant and multi-faceted. As there is no one fixed way to climb the Aikido mountain, these schools gives Aikido students a plethora of ways to experience the art and find the teacher that most suit their personality and timing.

The list is in no way exhaustive as there are Aikidokas giving lessons on a free-lance basis. These listed organisations has their own stable dojo, training facilities and followed a structured martial arts curriculum.

Disclaimer: These information was complied off a Google, a public domain; based on the information on the school’s respective website. Please inform me of any errors and clarifications, and I’ll correct them soonest.

Shoshin Aikikai Singapore

Aikido Shinju-Kai            

Ueishiba Aikido              

Aikido Kenshinkai          

Aikido Shudokan            

Singapore Aikido Federation    

Mumei Shudan

Makoto Aikido 

Zhen-Qi Shu Aikido       

Aikikai Singapore           

Club Aikido       

Impact Aikido   

Hitoshinkan

Living Impact Aikido      

Aikido Taishinkai            

Tendoryu Aikido (Singapore)    

Kidou Academy               

Ki-Aikido            

Renshin Budokai Singapore       

 

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

SuperPark-An Expansive Been-There-Done-That

Dear Boys,

I promised you guys a visit to the fabled SuperPark since late last year when it first opened November 2018, so we decided to visit it for the March holidays.

First of all, the park has an EXPANSIVE array of activities all in one roof, which is great because we can get to try out many types of sports, all in air-con comforts. And this come at an EXPENSIVE price tag.

superpark prices

As we could only make it on a Sunday afternoon about 1-nish, we were deciding on the Middle Session which was priced at S$40 or should we go for a S$48 still, despite of only being able to enjoy the later half of the day. Your mother, the better economist, argued that the One Day Ticket is still a better deal, because if we were to purchase the Middle Session Tickets; we have to exit the park by 5.30pm , and for another S$8 more, we can use all the way to 9pm, park closure.

That comes up to $195 in total for the 4 of us, inclusive of a Grip socks for Wayne.

Ouch.

Yeah talking about the Grip Socks, Super Park only allows a specific type of grip socks.

 

Both Grip sock was from a Tramopline park we went to before and we got these socks, Wayne’s sock was the one on the left, and this wasn’t allowed, perhaps the grip surface wasn’t big enough. So we have to get one pair for Wayne, that’s S$3.

Then off we go!

We were thankful for your mum’s foresight. We played from 2pm all the way to closure, and it was worth the S$48, in a specific way, as we really make sure we played all the stuff within Superpark. And there was more than enough time for us to go through everything twice or 3 times over.

And the spoiler alert was for us One Day Ticket folks, we get to enjoy a lull, between 5pm to 6pm, as there was a ‘shift change’ for those Middle Session Tickets players leaving at 5.30pm, and those After 6pm crowds coming in only at 6pm.

So if you pay a One Day Ticket and goes in the morning when the park opens at 9am, you’ll enjoy 2 lull time one when the Morning Mayhem crowd leaves at 1pm and the Middle Session Tickets crowds comes in at 1.30pm, and the afternoon lull.

Making a fool of ourselves

Personally I enjoyed SuperPark, as it was a place for me to make a fool of myself, without being self-critical or self-judgmental. I confessed I’m not a good ball guy, but I played basketball, soccer and ‘dodgeball’ just for the sake of having fun. Oh, not forgetting baseball and I managed to hit 2 out of 5 balls.

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It’s basically a big activity buffet place. There is a skate park where you boys tried skateboarding ( you boys didn’t liked it) then there was skate scootering, which was good fun. You can also try rock wall climbing just round the corner, after you are bored being a skater, and then you can head off to play the slides!

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So technically you can have never-ending fun, running crazy all over the place, from balls to carts to slides to more balls, trampolines, rock walls, and more balls.

Injuries

With activities like these, there is bound to be injuries, as one girl had her nose broken when a baseball hit her. Thankfully nothing major of that sorts happened, but Wayne was hit by the ball a few times on the lips, and it caused some slight bleeding. I was hit in the face by a ball, and thankfully my glasses didn’t break.

But what the heck, if you want to play sports, injuries are bound to happen, just hope it wasn’t a serious one.

Little or no wait

One thing they did right was to time the activities, and most activities have a one-minute timer which the anyone playing must exit when time is up. There was a few times some folks playing ahead of us didn’t activate the timer, and continued to play (of course the system isn’t counting the points, since the timer didn’t start.) but people are usually civil and they realised that and promptly exited after their pressed the timer, and played till their time is up.

The long wait

The long wait was for the rock wall, at the Super-Climb, this one no choice as it is really up to the climber’s finesse and climbing skills. The walls are relatively easy to climb, but it still takes different people different amount of time to climb it.

Besides, the safety aspect of it cannot be speed up; everyone has to be harnessed well and hooked up properly.

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safety, safety, safety

Overall verdict is…Been there, done that. 

Your mum and I thought through the whole thing and it was a park that we came, saw, did, and we can move on. While the park was a good mix of activities, each of these individual activities alone isn’t novel to us. We have been to a trampoline park, we have climbed rock walls before, skate scooted, played soccer (downstairs, on the field), basketball at our HDB court. Baseball? Well, yeah, hadn’t done that before. Go-cart? Not really a novelty, since the circuit was a tad too small.

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Robo Keeper

But I can understand where the Finns’ argument for such a park. I guess it is cold most of the days there in Finland, and there are times it’s too cold to play basketball outside, heck it’s too cold to play anything, so you need an indoor park like such to have everything under one roof.

Here in sunny Singapore, we don’t face such cold weather, and whenever we want it, we can take our basketballs out, play to our heart’s content, changed to roller-blades and go skate till the cow come home. If there’s a sport we would like to try out, we can always go to shop at Decathlon for these games and their products are cheap and good.

Call me a stingy Singaporean, pinching every penny, I had to agree with your mum’s
Cost Benefit Analysis, comparing a SuperPark day with an Adventure Cove  day, with an adult tickets costing S$38 and kiddo price at S$30, the latter would have been a better day spent. We would get the sun, sand and sea, as well as the thrills and spills too.

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No-it isn’t that scary. Really.