Monday, October 30, 2006

"And" Martial Arts

We had a roda yesterday at the Berkeley Flea Market that lasted until sundown. What was most notable for me was that for the first time the lights came on.

Generally when playing in rodas or in class I'll do the basic movements and apply what I've learned in capoeira and in other arts in order to know when to attack and defend. Until yesterday, that was all my playing was about. Attack/defend, in/out, on/off, 0/1.

Although I haven't quite put my finger on it, I felt myself managing the transitions much more gracefully. I think this discovery process started with my kicks being countered with sweeps at a roda a few weeks ago. I've since changed my game so that doesn't happen anymore. To my surprise, that little adjustment was exactly what I needed to keep my game flowing.

For me, finishing every kick with an escape of some kind was the "and" that I needed to make a compound sentence with my movements. A bananeira, aú, or role to the side or backwards as I finished a kick (before my kicking foot touched the ground) was all I needed. I realized I could do this AND that AND this AND so on, ad infinitum. I was now able to move without losing speed and momentum. Man, that felt good. Someone even came over to me and said "I didn't know you had game like that". The truth is, neither did I.

Just like when brazilian jiujitsu finally clicked for me, this was a real turning point. With jiujitsu the "Aha!" came when I figured out how to use my legs to do kali-like arm bars and chokes.

In the larger scheme of things I'm still trying to figure out what this means. In jiujitsu it took me 3 months to figure out avoiding arm locks and creating arm locks well enough to keep up with more experienced students. This same type of discovery in Capoeira took about 11 months. In kali, discoveries like this come on a regular basis. The frustrating part of kali for me now is remembering to apply them all when fighting.

Is kali easier, or harder to learn than capoeira? Where does jiujitsu and judo fit? Does karate still offer advantages. Hmmm. Of all these styles, capoeira has the most difficult and demanding mechanics. Kali, by design, has the least demanding mechanics in terms of energy output, but requires far more precise muscle movement than the other arts. Both styles are very fluid and share the philosophies of managing the three elements of distance, timing, and speed, more so than the others, to gain an advantage. They both generally frown on force against force unless it's for a decisive strike.

My capoeira enlightenment, or with any of the other arts I've studied, is like realizing I can speak another language fluently enough to get by. There are still a lot of far more demanding movements to learn and master, but I finally feel like my body understands the game.

Friday, October 27, 2006

In The Works

Got a lot of stuff going on. No time to write, but here's what'll be coming soon.

  • Hate the Game Not the Player Bellydance Show and Workshops. - It's just a Wordpress blog right now, but the full site should be up within the next few days.

  • Marriage and Honeymoon Photos. - Everyone's been asking for the photos of me and Shab's wedding. They're coming.

  • Rebuttal to Dave Pollard's "How To Save The World" post. - A super smart guy, and a great blog. I do think his argument is deficient in a couple of areas though.

  • Youtube/Google Videos About the Bush Administration. - There are a few informational clips that you can't miss.

There you go. That's what's coming up. In the meantime, go buy some Moluv T-Shirts at Cafepress.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yahoo Email Beta

It's awesome!! I thought Gmail was impressive (even though they don't allow feeds from other email accounts), but Yahoo's new email browser client is great. You can use keyboard commands to delete, compose, and reply to emails. CTRL-clicking is now allowed so I can delete or move emails to a folder in groups without having to click a bunch of checkboxes.

The interface is now more like Thunderbird and Outlook, so it's now comparable (and nearly as fast) as desktop email clients. There are also similar message views, with an additional benefit of tabs. Meaning, you can toggle between messages being composed, replied to, and between your inbox, and folder views because they appear as tabs that don't require page refreshes to switch to.

Check out the help utility. Hats off to the developers. Yahoo isn't taking second fiddle to anyone.

Friday, October 06, 2006

For the past 6 months I've been working on the launch of My initial role was to assemble the players and provide the roadmap for how the site should evolve over the next few years. Our first step was to bring the look and the client-side code structure of the site up to standards. I think the team did a pretty nice job. Of course, you can judge for yourself.

After everything settled down a little, the part I played involved making sure that the appropriate people would be able to receive and respond to the web form in a day. In a company as big and complex as First Data that's not such an easy thing to do.

We put a a little video on the site that'll give you a quick idea of what the company does.

Now that this site's out of the way (for now) we have some other work to do in the internet marketing department. We're still taking baby-steps, but the biggest of those might just be the collection of payment card industry links I've begun to gather in my Delicious bookmarks. If you know of a blog, or industry rag that's worthwhile to add, send it on over.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

An Injured Fall

Just like the beginning of last Fall, I've spent a good part of late summer and early autumn recovering from injuries. Practicing backbends for Capoeira apparently puts a lot of stress on my knees. For those beginners out there, watch those fingers when doing your bananeiras (handstands). After two months, my ring finger still hasn't healed enough for me to make a fist. Which brings me to the latest lessons in Kali and Capoeira.

Kali & Capoeira
In class yesterday we went over some basics. Parry-check, defense and countering with sticks and open-hand technique, and footwork.

It was relatively easy on my hand and my knee (although my knee is close to 100% again), which is why I'll be studying Kali for a very long time to come. No matter how hobbled I become, there's still something to learn, and I can still participate.

The overarching lesson from yesterday ended up being blending to your opponent. I guess that concept never goes away. As we practiced it became apparent to me that I was becoming frustrated because my opponent wasn't moving in the prescribed way for the exercise we were doing. As the more senior student, it was my job to make the adjustments. I eventually made the realization, and the adjustment, but I wasn't so successful in doing so in a Capoeira roda two days before.

On Sunday, when it was my turn to play in the roda, I tried throwing in some spinning kicks. To my dismay, the person I played with was the first person I've ever played who could execute a counter to a spinning kick. When I asked him how he knew when to counter, he said I was telegraphing with my upper body. I already knew this, because I do it intentionally, but even so I've never met anyone astute enough to counter--EVERY TIME! On the left and right side!

He was obviously blending to me a lot more effectively than I was to him. To refer to this guy as the senior student would be an understatement. I eventually adjusted by faking the first kick and doubling up the spins, but that was a real eye-opener.

So, what have I learned. First, if someone sweeps you on the same kick twice, change the program. Second, blending applies in both Kali and Capoeira. Next, my Kali is becoming a little rusty as a result of my busy schedule, and having a badly sprained finger helps emphasize my lack of smoothness.

As long as no new injuries get added to the list, I think I'll be able to get my act back together.