Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Big Smile

This was a good weekend.

Four of my students tested for black belt over Thurs, Fri & Sat. They did us proud. I mean, really proud. Sharp motion, deep understanding. Put on a good show. Simply put a smile on my face and a mist in my eyes.

Cheyenne Alexander, age 11, never let another candidate present a thing without being sure to congratulate them and give a high five the second they left the deck.

Dawna Graham (a grownup) broke a finger during the grappling and finished the test. This wasn't a macho thing...she'd broken fingers before, intelligently assessed the situation, and decided she could continue.

Paul Catanzaro (another grownup) has struggled all year with memorizing the >150 techniques in our system. When time came, though....flawless victory.

Jamie Rivers (grownup) moved with power and grace rare in a 1st degree black belt. She even kicked a 200 pound athletic man several feet backwards (and, incidentally, into her mother in law).

I'm proud to have had the privilege of working with these fine athletes, warriors and human beings. Thank you Chey, Dawna, Jamie & Mr. Catanzaro.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Grind

So here's where the UBBT is greatly pushing my personal growth.

I'm athletic, smart, reasonably good looking, well educated and pretty good socially. Most things in life have come to me pretty easily. Even my black belt, of which I am very proud, was more a matter of doing the time and checking things off a list than of pushing myself hard.

One thing that's stood in the way of my success is a phenomenon I've noticed in lots of people with pretty solid raw talent. When it gets hard, we move on. Most things come so easily, when a challenge rears its ugly head we're just not used to it. This is especially true when the challenge is long-term and unglamorous. Not only is it hard, but it's uninteresting.

I often fail in The Grind.

So here I am, in the middle of a hard summer. Most of my staff has other jobs (see previous entry about closing up shop), so I'm here 7am to close most days. I'm playing catch-up on some of my accumulation goals. I've got a dozen events planned for the summer...zero weekends off through September.

I'm in the middle of The Grind. Five weeks in of 1800 pushups a week, dawn to dusk work hours, and family when I get home. Historically, right about now is when I'd find a video game to beat or a stack of novels to re-read. But life, and the UBBT are keeping me on task.

Now if I can just find somebody to help staff my school so I can do a weekday blind....

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ego Has its Good Moments, Too

Some day I'll be risen enough that this won't mean much to me.

The UBBT physical requirements are bordering on insane. But we keep plugging, partially because it's the sort of thing we're used to after years of training. Partially because it's some of the easiest stuff to mark progress on -- can't argue with 500 pushups in a day, or a marathon worth of running in a week.

So anyway, this morning I'm jogging to work. It's a little under 4 miles and if I do it to and from 3 times a week I'm in good shape for the requirements.

You know that guy? The one you always hate when you drive by him while he's jogging? The one with the solid muscle tone, the good arms, the one cruising along like running's no big deal at all? That smug SOB?

This morning, running by the tinted windows of Intel, I realized...holy crap! I'm that guy!

Some day I'll be risen enough that this won't mean much to me.

But today is not that day.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What Exactly Are We Doing Wrong?

Wednesday I received a near-fatal overdose of rock & roll. The Mayhem Festival in Seattle Washington was a 12-hour onslaught of metal. Featured bands like Disturbed, Airborne, Dragonforce. Great show. Good pit. I went with my brother, an added bonus.

Much as I love my heavy metal, I have to say it got me thinking.

The festival drew at least 10,000 people. My tickets (in the cheap seats) were $40. Expensive floor admission was much higher. That right there is half a million dollars. Ad concessions (including $8 beers), tshirts, etc and that's gotta be a million dollars in one day. And the tour has 30 dates. Even assuming the Seattle gig was average (and it's probably low), you're looking at 30 million dollars and 300,000 people.

That's for a freakin' rock & roll concert. A good time (a great time -- good concerts were my first and still my favorite experience with satori). But still, 30 million bucks and 300,000 people to watch some guys in leather play their guitars and sing about angst for a few hours?

Meanwhile, karate schools are experiencing a brutal year and poor coach Tom is having kittens over how hard it is to get martial artists motivated.

Our message is more affirming. Our product is better for you. And yet nobody's gonna drop $50 and wait in line for an hour to come play with us. What exactly are we doing wrong?

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Scholar Warrior Citizen Day 4

Today we learned about poverty. About the three rules for avoiding poverty. About the difference between involuntary poverty and poverty that results from poor choices. About organizations and safety nets that exist to help people get up out of poverty.

In particular, we learned about Goodwill Industries. Over the course of the week, we gathered literally 200 cubic feet of donations. Today we piled them into the van and drove out to regional headquarters for a tour.

Goodwill is a great operation. They buy things cheap (free) and sell them at a good value, then use the profit to employ people who have trouble getting employment elsewhere. What I hadn't realized was how extensive their job training program was, or how quickly they work to transition the unemployable (whether due to disability, language barriers or lack of skills) into the work force.

I have to say I was impressed. This is how capitalism is supposed to work.