How long have you been training?

I’ve often been asked, ‘How long have you been training in Aikido?’ Sometimes I would reveal the actual chronological investment I’ve made. More often than not, my response was ‘Long enough.’ The period of time often does not accurately indicate the amount of skill a person has. Especially in martial arts.

I understand that now with the ubiquitous ranking system, being a Kyu or Dan actually meant something to some folks. Generally it should indicate a level of proficiency, But its a nice concept for the more logical mind to grasp. as it gives people a sense of progress. In our go getter, result oriented world, visual progress is important. in businesses, we always have metrics and indexes to measure result against the goals we set. KPIs, or Key Performance Index is one of them. Many folks migrate this kind of quantitative measurements over when they take up martial arts. How many medals taken. For boxing, how many wins, KOs, loss. So in Aikido, do you set a goal to attain a dan grade by…?

For modern Aikido, we have our own KPIs too, ‘Ki’ Performance Index? Upon getting a dan grade, you’ll get this Yudansha booklet, a passport size book where you can get Shihan to stamp and endorse your participation in his training. So theoretically speaking the more stamps and ‘autographs’ you got, the better you are? So does it helps to measure a Aikidoka ‘KPI’ when you have the entire book filled? Pardon my ignorance as I’m still figuring out how does having the whole book filled measures a practitioner’s competency. I mothballed by Yudansha the moment I got it, and it will stay that way for as long as I live.

I’ve followed Harry sensei from the time I started until now, and I probably would do so until one of us dies first. There is so much that he has to teach that I cannot absorb fully for me to learn from another sensei. My learning from him is never complete, neither his teaching. It’s always work in progress. Sometimes he still finds difficulty transmitting his idea and experience to us, because at our level we do not comprehend what he sees at his level. So what does that says about him as a 6th dan? And what does it says about us? Does it mean that being a more senior belt, we display more competency to absorb his transmission? So what if I’ve practised for such a long time and yet I’m still as ignorant and clumsy as ever?

Why have Children?

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Dear Boys,

In case you are wondering, why should you be having children in the future, please read this.

In Singapore, you don’t need to have kids.

the boys with the toys
The boys with their toys

Kids adds no value to our society, regardless of what the government says.

Farmers needs kids, Cosmopolitans do not

It has been my long held beliefs, that in our urban, concrete society, there is no need to have kids. What do you need the extra ‘headcount’ for? You need to spend a long amount of time, energy to raise little humans, and despite of all that, as parents you might not get to reap the benefits. There is no economic benefits having kids.

But in an agricultural landscape, farmers, need kids, that additional manpower, when properly invested can help to till the fields, feed the livestock, and do other farming stuff. it will be ‘cheaper’ to have 6 to 8 kids and these additional hands will help around the household.

In modern Singapore, apartments are getting smaller, and it is made for couples in mind. Despite of what the government says to encourage making babies after marriage, houses these days are simply not big enough to have more people living together. Kitchen is getting smaller, because people are cooking less now. Everyone is out working, husbands and wives, who has time for cooking, much less taking care of babies???

Gender equality

Speaking of which, I am not a chauvinist. Women and men has equal rights, but vastly different biological responsibilities. Everyone has earning power these days, and some women earns more than men, why would these women give up their monetary superiority to become a mother? What’s the cost benefits analysis for that? Women these days spend better days getting branded bags, going for Pilates, and yoga, than to stay at home, nursing unreasonable babies, sucking off their sore nipples, looking all unglam and so uncool.

Again, I would like to say I am not a chauvinist. To have kids, sacrifices has to be made, men are not reliable, so women has to earn for themselves, and make themselves independent. That’s fine, but becoming a full -time mum doesn’t mean that you are not independent. In fact I see your mum, not earning, living off my salary, a very independent and strong willed woman in her own right.

We have biologically different responsibilities

Feminism is good, but when feminism goes Amazonian way, then it is bad. For child bearing, it takes 2, male and female. Until science comes along to change that, it will be like that, most animals are like that.

Humans want to be different. Women wants to think that they can be equal to men, better than men. When women starts to think like that, then that is the end of our race. Women can never be equal or superior to men, because women are different from men. Men need women to be women so that there can be a balance.

Things loses equilibrium when women fights for a zero sum game of gender equality. We are never made to be gender equal nor neutral. But our society and workplace demands that we do, for the sake of equal employment, and avoiding politically sensitive gender discrimination. We refrain from calling female ‘manageress’ and stick with manager, to represent both genders, because we do not want to discriminate the sex.

But we have to.

Because both men and women are different. until we can learn to accept that difference and let women be women, then there is a chance that there will be balance in a marriage.

Money talks

It is all not that bad. Like I said it, a society like Singapore, you don’t need kids. You just need money. You have money, you can buy things that makes you comfortable. Your mum and I agreed all the money we spend raising the both of you, could have helped us traveled the world. We could have car(s) and nice houses.

When we are old, can we depend on the both of you to take care of us? Not quite, but as childless couples,  we can employ maids, or check ourselves into retirement homes. Or if we keep ourselves fit enough, we might live a longer healthier lives. Anyway, our demise, if we do not have the both of you, will be the State’s problem. The government will make sure we die properly and our bodies disposed off. Who needs kids? Our personal effects? That’s the government’s problem.

Just have enough money to pay for that to be settled, even when our heart stops beating.

So why?

Since there is much more pros to not having children why did we end up having not one but two?

The Kiss

One recent afternoon, I was lazying, half slumber on the couch, my eldest son, came over and gave me a peck on the cheek. I’m one satisfied dad.

Wayne on my chest
Wayne on my chest, 9 years ago

Aikido vs MMA…again???

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Well, we all have our fair share of arguments, pros and cons, yadah, yadah, blah,blah, blah.

So why am I adding more noise to the already noisy?

It is just to share my experience, period.

To begin with, MMA is a much superior fighting system, period. If you want to fight, learn MMA. Let me quote a lady who was trying to ‘sell’ MMA to me, a few months back, when I just did a casual walk-in to a locally famous MMA school, she asked me if I want to learn MMA, ‘To beat someone up?’ Yes, that was how she said it.

Fight G

Anyway, I took 3 months worth of MMA years back in this very good MMA school known as Fight G. Well, it is probably very biased for me to say that, as I hadn’t been to any other MMA schools. Well, Fight G have nice guys, they gave me a good experience, so they are good, in my opinion.

So why did I took up MMA since I am already so deep into Aikido? Back in those years, I was kind of in and out of Aikido, and since I’m not so full on, why not try to switch? Perhaps MMA?

So I went to Fight G, one day with Steven, see how they train and I decided to give it a try. And after 3 months, why did I decided to stick with Aikido?

The more important answer I got out from that 3 months was I know I can most likely handle myself well enough on the ground, in a tight physically testing fight.

Oxygenate!

You can’t fight if you cannot breath. I was out of breath during one of their 3 minutes 5 rounds, round robin training. there were 10 of us, we faced each other, goes for a 3-minute round, the switch partners, so we will have 5 different partners for each 3-minute round. I called for a timeout on the third round to catch my breath, the joined back the 4th and the last round.

So before we can pin a person, throw a person, or lock a person, we need to be able to breath, and not get too excited, and fill our minds with drama, and our bodies with adrenaline. Excitement is good, too much, robs us of a grounded perspective. Getting knocked around in MMA helps teach me to take a few punches, before I justify putting my assailants to the ground.

Confidence

Unless you are in a real fight, you will never know how you perform in a real fight; and no, I do not want to find a real fight, just to find out how well I’d fair in a real fight.

MMA helps me train hard for the real thing, while it is still not the real thing, it gives me enough confidence to know I can handle it when the real shit hits the fan.

On top of that, MMA also helps me become better rounded, since Aikido does little tutelage in kicking, or punching, nor ground work, it is not a limitation of Aikido, but a design in Aikido.

My little training in MMA helps me kick, punch relatively well, and I know enough ground work to get me off and on my feet, where I have a better chance in a fight. So I use my lesson in MMA ground work, not to pin nor arm-bar a person on the ground, but to help be disengage in a ground fight and get back up.

A more confident Aikidoka

The reality is, a typical Aikidoka seldom gets hit, punched nor kicked. To receive one for the first time, can be quite a showstopper, and a showstopper in a real fight can means injury, maiming or death. MMA helps me bring that mental confidence to receive punches in form of a tsuki (突き). from my fellow Aikidoka. I’ve often told my junior belts to punch me, harder, like they mean it, since projection of that tsuki is very important for the understanding of leading and redirecting. The common fault is to punch too lightly, literally holding back the punches, and the Aikido technique will fail, if the punch is not projected properly.

Aikido in MMA

In a close struggle, there will be wrist grabs in MMA. and I was partnering this guy and he was relatively new to MMA like me; we were in a full guard, he was on the ground and he grabbed my wrist. It was a perfect position for me to apply Nikkyo on him, I did. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t recognize it as a lock, and while I continue to apply pressure, he resisted it, not sure if his adrenaline filled brain is registering pain or not. He didn’t tap, most likely didn’t recognize the kind of damage he will be getting.

I let him go, anymore more turning and the results will be predictable, a badly damaged wrist, heck, I might have broken it, but I don’t want to be the person in his memory as the one who broke his wrist. What is the point? It was training, not life and death.

There is no conclusion

This debate will go on, but as an Aikidoka, I have a deep appreciation of what a well trained MMA chap can do. But there are some tricks in Aikido that can be effective especially when your opponents don’t know about, never trained for it, and never see it coming.

So it is always good to keep an open mind, in reality, Aikido taught me that there is never really a “this Vs that” thing. If we do that, we did not escape the duality we are trapped in. Aikido trains me to free myself from that, and look at things, issues as it is. Aikido is neither better nor is MMA superior, let the singer decides how well the song ought to be sang and the proof is, in the singing, not the song.