Saturday, July 30, 2011

hamstrings & overhead

1. wife gets catalogs of women's "yogawear" & one of them has the female model on cover in a yoga pose & i look at the pose & decide to try it & i 100% can't do it. on one knee, down leg foot lifted, same side hand goes over tipped back head to touch lifted foot. instant hamstring spasm whichever side i try. a new level of inability to explore.

2. i've been wanting to work on upper body. the thing that's been missing has been arms over head work. i guess i'll be doing a lot of holding things above my head this year. keep shoulders down i'll tell myself.

3. i started moving around the house with eyes closed again. i'd discovered that a better way to do that is in martial mode with same side hand & foot go forward (or any direction) together rather than "civilian" mode which is crossed arm-leg. "scientific" cornering is found to be extremely convenient going around things with eyes closed. but i read a report in sci am about totally blind people avoiding obstacles without touching them so there is a whole other level of possibility.

4. morning outside workout in cold all with sword in hand, the stretches all with arms above & in front, then shomens against a brick wall, aim for a point. now arms are all tingly & warm, less used muscles woken up.

in bendover with sword i can't touch anything, it takes me maybe as much as a minute to get the knuckles on the ground, with sword a new point of tension outer lower front thighs becomes evident on both sides when knuckles ~1" from gtound, actually "wants" to not relax, lift torso 1/2" the tight front thighs go away

rubberized grips

i've been moving the sword around in the hands, turning blade this way or that according to the particular move like they show me how. when rotating the blade one hand holds tight & the other hand loosens to allow the blade to rotate. simple enough.

so today the job was to use a pump to put air in tires. pump stands on ground, i'm supposed to stand on flanges to keep pump steady, move plunger up & down. plunger has T-handle, the grips are rubberized for better grip. the problem that emerges in my hyper-critical state of attention is that if i utilize the rubberized quality my wrists get in wrong position through at least 50% of the movement of the plunger. the hand wants to slide in rotation around the grip, the rubber impedes/prevents that rotation, the wrists are at the wrong angle through part of the downward arc, the inbalance tries to correct up the arm, through the shoulders, torso a bit too far forward, low back catches the strain, the whole process becomes harder than it needs to be. one issue addressed another issue created.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

this is why there is the adult advisory

2 years later i am always reminded of sex every time i do bendover leg stretches. there is that anticipatory tension in the hamstrings of the coming stretch: it will burn, that is known, i still am not keeping those muscles completely relaxed through the stretch. the flinching tension & the wanting not to do it are overriden by the master, whoever that is, the one with the mask & whip, the "me." so there is the triumph of engagement. once through the "gate" the muscle goes with the flow and responds appropriately in accord with its instincts & training, driven through "pain" to pleasure.

other muscles, smaller, more in front, better known, they are easier, they just open up, "i" walk right in.

so i wanted to breath in on extension & out on flexion, so the moment of going past the barrier, where the indrawn gasp might occur if too abrupt an entry or too much anticipatory tension or too much rush of pleasure, is that an extension or a flexion? an awase moment, the two moving parts breathing together, expiring through the crisis of contact into the next thing. extasy.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

accelerants, clarifiers

when there is adequate nutrition and the body is put through a non-damaging workout that produces sweat for a period of about 45 minutes or more every day happiness develops. it is helpful if the exercizer has decided to like the activity and to call the internal subjective experience of the various changes in physical state fun, but the physical result of that exercise will be sufficient after some number of weeks or months in producing the smiley satisfied feeling all by itself.

one perhaps would prefer to get there a little faster with various tricks of gear or chemicals or mental construct.

is it true that a normal response of groups of people is to run away from violence rather than mobbing it? That is the normal response to a shooter in a crowd. does it become difficult/impossible for humans to move towards the danger? we have the story of the plane over Pennsylvania where they went against the criminals. in the manhattan planes they went along. giving in is normal, right? letting it happen is normal.

people in motion are harder to hit right? 3 gunners, 5 gunners, different calculus. 1 gunner, many people, mob the gunner a few die, everybody runs gunner gets to pull a norway, calmly walking around shooting everyone. but mobbing is rare, giving up is common. is that human nature or is it training in passivity? have to think about it more but not tonight i guess.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

visual eyes

attempts to put things into "body" memory are dependent on sensory inventories. which way is up, what is where, which way is what going. i've been working on visual stuff last 1.5 years. last night my advanced partner gave me strong motion & position experiences that had enough force that i noticed & remembered them & was able to return when it was my turn. these things can be done with amazingly little effort if the spatial relations are lined up PROPERLY.

Monday, July 25, 2011

making same mistake over & over

actually there is value in repeated mistakes. they are actually all different like bristles on a brush, there is a cumulative effect different than each one by itself.

running in the summer rain. fell on wet concrete just before aikido. now there is a standard turn method, i do it the same each time. long as i can run i got something to work with. who will forbid me to run?

big muscles

1. biggest thickest muscles, tendons, ligaments in butt & upper thighs. slowest to heal, hardest to change. in massage one finds deep hot spots, extensive limited areas, tight thicknesses and thick tightnesses that would require a Goliath sized masseut to address properly by hand, so that one imagines perhaps the careful use of a blunt tool.
experientially that makes the leg & hip stretch portion of the morning stretch sensationally intense some-would-call-it-pain. does my gleeful yearning for my morning stretch cross over into one of the desire sins? i don't think so. the anticipation feeling is the same for me as i look forward to my make-the-thighs-burn stretches as that before a potentially hot date. want want want.
2. in general this blog is going to pursue issues of awareness with plenty of physical reality, all suppositions stated hopefully as questions.
3. they are making me learn techniques for my 5-kyu test so i have to learn them with their japanese names so when sensei asks me i know what to do. every waza is a precious gem that has to be patiently cut and polished to achieve the greatest clarity of awareness. so i have to think about those kinds of things in addition to the ongoing work of learning to stand and sit straight, to open the hips, to stretch the thighs.
4. because whether i use accellerators or not i can physically dig my way out of my funk with my morning stretch-focus routine and i can sweat out the fatigue of work with my 35 minute run outside in the plain air. if i don't do that every day i just don't feel right.
5. letters i did not write to a neighbor whose dog is often barking on saturday mornings, i know because i'm out there on the deck stretching. met them on a political walk, hardscrabble Dems, cigarettes, dogs, cars getting worked on in the back:
a. you know there's an animal noise ordinance?
b. it is possible to teach a dog not to bark no matter how old they are
I thought other mean things involving violence but i am not writing them here, see other blog.
i notice most saturdays that the neighbors are doing nothing about this barking dog situation, its been going on for years. its like the dog will die some day, then there'll be another dog, that's just the way it is. getting along in this neighborhood is absolutely about leaving each other alone.
6. walking silently. at the beach i was the only one doing it. everyone else clump clump clump bumping along on their heels. i am putting my feet down at lowest possible angle, drifting along. clump clump. i am the only one who is noticing.
in the philly airport waiting for a schedule to sort itself out, getting late. a female clumps by in i guess 4" heels & a tightish dress. clump she's not comfortable clump in a hurry to the next discomfort station. i going on windowshopping the unappetizing food. on the way back to where i came from there she is again, she's got her shoes in her hands, still clumping along, frown furrowed on forehead raised by tightly pulled back hair. still not happy. but she thought the situation through to an amelioration. somebody notices, stares, she doesn't notice. hope if she did she wouldn't care. comfort first, that's what i say. let them mind their own business.

shards of me

as if the "me" in here is made up of pieces, the pieces making a lumpy and unstable pile of stuff i pretend is coherent, i call it "me." then to mistake the products & reactions of the pile for the pile itself, that became the "me": the things "i" feel, think, do. then to assign causes to those things. then to blame non-"me" aspects for those things. "you"/"it" makes "me" feel, think, do this or that. the "me" becomes a fortress, walls of fog, bricks of ideas. hard becomes impossible. "i" cannot change. "my" "faith" will not permit it.

Leon Russell spoke of learning how to write in the lack of inspiration. balance in the lack of balance. one step at a time through the ordinary. the joy a thin layer, not the ground glass stuff on top, somewhere in there, could miss it among all the other layers, the many kinds of irritating "normal."

and i know that when i do my stretches this morning its going to be intense in the hamstrings when i go into bendovers.

and it was.

layering - walking & chewing gum at same time

so today i tried doing the attention-eye-head movement exercises in coordination with a simple step forward with one foot or the other. losing it or beginning to in say the the first time i tried opposite circle eyes with that step. had to figure out how to do that without beginning to pull the trigger on the "i'm falling" panic thing.

earlier i was moving slow enough to not scare the birds away from the feeder ~8 feet away. someone will think: that happens to me all the time. any tips?

with the bird feeder as the temporary center of their universe i wide cast and found 5 birds in trees taking turns at the feeder. i can't track them with my focal center but when i keep the center wide data comes in from the edges and it becomes clear that there are 5 birds out there, and where they are. tips? i want to learn to read signs in the peripheral. i'm at those-2-blobs-i-know-they're-25. i can read upside down, can you read in the peripheral? tips?

i still think 24 hours after i thought it: hamstrings are the key to world peace. those whose hamstrings are relaxed are disinclined to make war.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


loosening the legs the ongoing theme. i look forward every morning session to the bendover to the left in which the outside of the left leg stretches and burns from little toe to upper thigh.

and i explored the darkness as the blood leaves the head in standup, find and take a stable position as the darkness flows from top to bottom. Then the eye motions, which today brought dizziness into view, the stable position taken, minor adjustments to stance, set of shoulders, set of gaze, attention here or there, to go through the dizziness and continue the exercise.

keeping the eyes still through torso rotation has been a project this summer. as always the edge is the hard stuff that i don't want to do. the constant promise is that as i get that thing under my belt something else will come up and some of it will be something i never even thought of.

like arcing the circle in tenkan. i had been doing tentan as a circular arc made by the back leg as it retreats relative to the partner. then a teacher said: basic stance toes point toward the apex of an acute triangle, very important. that relative foot position eventually allowed me to notice that i could replace that circumferential motion with a straight line movement, making the leg movement the string instead of the bow: shorter, less energy use. i did it "wrong" for 1.5 years before i was able to take in that level of detail.

those who do not want to find out those kinds of things about themselves, its just too bad.

Friday, July 22, 2011


in bendover, its hot, feel stretch move around as fingers reach across the midline toward this or that foot.

arise to
1. dark spots in the visual
2. followed by a wave feeling washing down my head just like a blush but not a blush
3. dizziness imagined as possible should my body continue to go down that path

so, find a more stable position while this stuff proceeds, the blood redistributes itself. completely reasonable to just stand there and wait for it to clear. age appropriate.

the most stable position of course would be on the ground.

i think i discovered the parts of the "me" by reflection on my colonoscopy experience, in which, they told me, i was most cooperative, but they had used a drug that had prevented memory formation so i have no memory. "i" was not there as far as i knew, but "i" was there for them. it was therefore demonstrated that "me" had parts that "i" was not aware of. having found one of them it was reasonable to assume there are more that i don't know i don't know about. what are those unknown parts about?

Thursday, July 21, 2011


explanations seem to be appropriate to level of training, so at some point maybe some detail is presented that essentially makes the whole thing that was done the old way "wrong." but not wrong, appropriate to the level. feet pointed this way or that way. even pictures are drawn of "proper" footwork that are appropriate for a newbie but are actually incorrect at a later level.

how did i not notice before?

a very interesting concept, eh wot?

balance point t12 & c4-5

the thoracic vertebrae do not have much give in them because they are tied together by the ribs. extension is typically limited to the excursion of the ribcage during inspiration but a bit more is possible. gravity can be brought into play by serious back bends of say 60 degrees or more. this because i got back from aikido class & she said: straighten up, you're all bent over with your chest collapsed. yes dear, thankyou. it was true. i was tired. i had dropped my ball. i had reverted.

2 people quit the class recently. they did not want to go through the multi-week process of finding out that that they could not indeed walk and chew gum at the same time, even just walk right. each new phyical thing demonstrated to be performed suboptimally, each finger, each joint angle, the senses not trained in any useful way.

so i felt like i found a balance point at t12-L1 that i could use to get a relaxed extended ribcage so i could carry my torso "proud" and stay relaxed. the habit is to not even try & just let that balance point collapse into flexion & i end up all bent over creeping along with my walker.

that reminded me of the other balance point, a certain feeling in the middle of the neck. the control of the head is at C1, if the back of the head is extended & the chin is tucked there is a point at which the "bow" of the cervical spine is neutrally cocked.

of course all of this specificity falls apart a soon as i depart from very slow.

Monday, July 18, 2011

why its better

it has become lately an exploration of balance with heels off the ground. this is all static balance, or rather short ranges of motion passed through slowly to end points, study of mechanical limits.

i distinctly remember thinking for a moment last fall that my legs were in pretty good shape, how about working upper body. immediately new leg elements came into the field of awareness. stuff on the outer back legs, accessible in bendover by moving torso laterally, finders reach for the little toe and that way beyond. nice burn of hitherto neglected tendons & fascia. an exquisitely intense burn at left upper outer foot just behind the 2 little toes. bend foot to um extreme supination it really screams. fascial adhesions i like to imagine them to be. so far i've been able to stretch-exercise-massage such spots away after some months. this time last year the same leg had a low level shin splint for a while.

meanwhile i saw a film of saito sensei doing a simple shomenuchi with a bokken. i really noticed the pelvic movement. not just the leg moved, the pelvis advanced in space by rotating, duh. so i put that thought into running and came up with i was perhaps putting unnecessary effort into arm movement, damped that down, voila: the pelvis rotation picks up and each step covers a bit more ground. after a couple of weeks of doing that a deep occasional achey thing develops in the right upper outer butt just above the hip joint. i think ive demonstrated to myself that it is a muscular thing.