Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm Back! And I Have Some Stories to Tell!

Hello everybody!

I'm back. Yeah, it's been a while. I've got a lot of catc
hing up to do, so let's get this started.

After a summer of health issues, between my stomach, a cold and a stubborn case of strep throat, I knew I had to get back into shape. Taking my mother's advice and her generosity, I let her pay for a trial membership for me at the local Gold's Gym.

I needed to restore myself to some semblance of decent condition. I also hate being at the mercy of the weather. I love working out outdoors. In fact, I generally prefer it. But as Jimmy Buffett once said, "You can't reason with hurricane season."

Sometimes, the weather just won't cooperate. Thunder, lightning and rain drive me into the small section of my carport where I keep my wooden dummy. It really limits my workouts. There's very few forms or weapons I can practice in that small space.

So after shopping around and getting jerked around by the local health clubs, I settled on Golds.
I'll give them a lot of credit. They certainly were conve
nient and well-equipped. I enjoyed doing maki komis using the weight stacks on a Universal-type machine. Even more, I enjoyed watching some other gym rats attempt the same exercise and get slammed against the machine because they have a poor root.

But beyond indulging my sadistic sense of humor, after three weeks, I got bored with it. Pure bodybuilding in and of itself has gotten boring. Don't get me wrong. I like weight lifting and I think it should be a part of any athlete's workout. But just going up and down with a barbell or weight stack without some direct martial applications doesn't do it for me anymore.

I opted not to join full-time. I'll probably go with the YMCA since they have some good activities for the wife and kid.

I did have a good introductory Baguazhang practice with Bret Bumgarner. He's starting to teach his art openly and I'm helping him with some of the administrative work and marketing.

The workout was tough. Bagua is a lot more than walking around in a circle. Bret's style, which is Gao family style, is very combat-oriented. It also has a strong Xinyi flavor to it through its use of the San-Ti (Trinity) posture.

By the next morning, my legs were killing me, but my back was looser than it has been in weeks.

After recovering on Friday, I had a good session with Don. He helped me get back up to speed on the Mung Fu Chuit Lum (Tiger Charges from the Forest) set. We also did some chi sao, t'ui shou and t'ui kirk practice. Don's approach to sensitivity exercises is very unconventional to say the least. He likes to mix it up with moves not normally associated with such practices. In a previous chi sao session, he bit me in the arm.

I think such a move would get you disqualified from competition. But then, during his career in the Navy, I think Don was a lot less worried about being called out by a referree than he was with avoiding a stint in a POW camp.

Those sessions with Don and Bret did snap me out of my funk. With hurricane season drawing to a close and dryer weather on the way, I can look forward to some nice sessions along the river.

One other thing - Check out the November 2009 issue of Black Belt: The World's Leading Magazine of Self Defense for my article on "Five Urban Legends that Refuse to Die" in the martial arts. It includes my all-time favorite, the notion that a black belt holder must register his hands as deadly weapons.

Available at your local newstand, Bounders, Buns & Noodles, Crooks-a-Zillion or other megalithic chain bookstore.

P.S. In the past, I have used this blog to comment on a number of things only tangentially related to martial arts, fitness or self defense. In the future, I'll be putting such things on my other blog, Sean C. Ledig - Writer / Editor / Photojournalist.

While there will be some crossover between the two blogs, I'll be using this one to discuss martial arts, fitness and related topics. The other blog will be a chance to keep my friends, family and fans informed of my latest projects, as well as my musings on politics, pop culture and philosophy.

When you get a chance, check it out.


  1. Thanks. Now my secret is out.....

  2. Oh, and I love the song - one of my favorites.

  3. Yeah, you can't go wrong with Jimmy. A few years ago, a friend at work asked me what my favorite Jimmy Buffet song was. I couldn't narrow it down to one. I had to give her a list of my top 10 with two honorable mentions - Jimmy's covers of "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Uncle John's Band."