Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Holistic Interpretation of Fate and Destiny

The idea of holistic reasoning is thrown around quite a bit these days as modern thinkers and scientist/theorist begin to see the world in a less dogmatic fashion and become more willing to accept a more multi-variable explanation of things. This takes into account a wider perspective. For example, up until recently, psychologist would debate on whether human behaviour is determined by genes (nature) or upbringing (nurture). This debate eventually settled in a tie of sorts with both sides seeing merit in the others argument. The result is an agreement that many different things effect the outcome of an event, which is a wholly holistic concept.

"Holistic" refers to the idea that individual events are caused by or is the result of many different and tiny events. There is a book by Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holisitic Detective Agency, wherein the protagonist solves the mystery by pulling together all the strange happenings and details in the story into a cohesive explanation. What seemed unrelated before suddenly became essential to solving the mystery.

If a person fails a class, for example, it seems obvious to blame his partying habit and tendency to skip class. However, there are people who do that and still do well in school, so we must delve further. Perhaps he had a bad sleeping habit, which caused him to lose focus during tests. Or maybe he wasn't a casual reader, which caused his writing ability to suffer. These things may not fail a person on their own, but when combined, they play an important role.

Those that believe in fate/destiny believe that they truly have no control over things that happen. They simply put things off as good or bad luck. Such a passive view of the workings of the world should be shunned in our post modernist society. Surprisingly, I have found that most people adopt the idea of fate/destiny for lack of a better alternative. Even those of an atheist following sometimes lack creativity, which hinders how they see the world and approach life.

What this means, however, is that, when presented with a better alternative, a lot of people are ready to accept and take on the concept. Not to say that they’re coerced or something, just that it makes sense. I’m not expecting everyone that reads this ramble to adopt my philosophy, but I am that people would find some things in it that they can work with and agree with. My holistic view on life allows for people to take action and take control of their life, which is much better than sitting back and passively taking what life dishes out to you.

How the holistic view works is quite simple and I’m guessing that most people have already put two and two together from my explanation of the holistic concept and their own general perception of life. In a nutshell, there is no fate or destiny, but rather just yourself affecting the things that happen to and around you. Our subconscious desires and motivation dictate our conscious decisions and actions. Just as all the tiny things in the examples before can add up to a large event, such as failing, these tiny and seemingly insignificant decisions can add up and create an important event in your life.

Here’s an example: say you wanted to meet someone new and start a relationship. You may not be entirely conscious of this desire and may be perfectly happy and content with your day to day grind in the world. However, you may find yourself interested in taking different routes to your daily hangouts or even just looking around more often at the people around you while commuting. These actions may not be entirely conscious, nor may they amount to much. Gradually, though, they can spark a change in your life and fulfill your unknown desire.

Recognizing this is vital. It can help you get out of a rut or help you achieve some of your conscious goals. The process is simple, you pick a goal and just put the odds in your favour. The difference between doing this normally and doing it with holistic on the mind is the motivation and rationalization factor. It explains how some people can naturally be motivated and succeed in life, but shows how average people can also do the same.

I'll definitely try to talk about this more, but I'm also trying to figure it out for myself. I believe, but I'm not certain, that the book The Secret speaks of something similar to this, where simply wanting something will inadvertently cause it to happen. The big difference is that, here, just wanting it is not enough, as your subconscious can still defy you. There are still internal obstacles to overcome, but it's worth it in the end.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Creative Nunchuk Kata

Midterm season! How horrible, I know. Anyways, this week's cop out is a video of my Nunchuk kata. If you have access to my facebook, I have a video of the same kata, but from a different vantage point. Anyways, enjoy and let me know what you think. I may have something fresh written up for next week, if not, I have another cop out prepared.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What it means to be a black belt

First off, a quick update on Scooter Polo. I was talking with friends and we decided that the "ball" would need to be something that did not roll easily, but could still be hit easily by the mallets. I proposed a block of wood, but I'm only half serious. The sport would look silly enough without a doorstop being the object of focus. We might as well paint it pink with glorious polka dots while we're at it.

Anyways, I will be testing for my black belt this Friday and I'm feeling a mixture of anticipation and jitteriness that everyone seems to get whenever they're put on the spot to perform. Typically this test is accompanied with an essay, but that hasn't been done for the last few tests. Still, I always liked the idea and thought that it is worthwhile to reflect on past training and lessons learned and what my accomplishment (I fully intend to pass) will mean.

The test won't be easy, that is my most sincere hope. If I breeze through it, then it will lessen the meaning behind the accomplishment. Black belt is meant to be something that not everyone can achieve. It requires massive amounts of hard work and dedication, among other things. I have been training in kickboxing since I was 15 (I'm 23 now), with a few years break in my grade 11 and 12 years. I also dabbled in BJJ for a few years, but it was all at the same school.

Black belt is kind of like a club. It is definitely not the end of a long journey, but rather a recognition that a person has achieved something. Aside from all the physical elements, it is character that is judged. When people think of martial artist, black belts especially, they see a very peaceful person who is very virtuous. Even in movies, the martial artist is typically a reluctant fighter, being forced to defend what is right. My sensei has often said that if everyone in the world were true martial artists, then the world would be a very peaceful place.

I suppose another way of saying this is that those without martial arts training are lacking confidence and security and usually suffer from some sort of inferiority complex that drives them to be aggressive and confrontational. I should clarify that this is not to say that everyone is like that. Martial arts training offers many opportunities for people to take on daunting challenges and succeed. This process of taking on difficult tasks and overcoming obstacles builds character and this process can exist in other things, such as music, sports, or studies. Those that rarely get the chance to shine in their own mind are those that eventually fall prey to deadly sins.

However, this doesn't explain things like world leaders seeking out wars or similar events occurring in recent or past history. One of the things that I feel other activities lack is a distinct opportunity to show respect and feel humility. In martial arts, which is riddled with traditions, every tiny action helps to mold the martial artist into a better person. Bowing and responding to the instructor shows respect, almost all schools have students bow to the school and their training area to show respect to inanimate things. Some even have students clean the floor of the school. In terms of humility, even now I am learning new things, sometimes from those lower ranked than myself. And, indeed, I also bow to my students when I teach. Respect and humility, in some ways, go hand in hand.

A fit body is a fit mind, usually. Martial arts is focused around the physical aspect a lot. Martial artists learn to become detailed oriented and show perseverance in long, repetitive practices. In sparring, we apply all of our technique in a very realistic fight, the only difference being the padding and the control. We learn to exercise our mind as well as our bodies, which leads to us considering other options before throwing up our fists.

There really isn't enough I can say about martial arts. In becoming a black belt, I can only reflect upon the person I was and the person I have become. Certainly, many of the changes and improvements of my person can be attributed solely to myself. But then again, that's basically martial arts as well isn't it? As we are doing the training not for others, but for ourselves. The school and the instructors are only guides, it is up to the individual to become the "black belt". This would account for the people who practice martial arts but may not be to standard on the personality scale.

Wish me luck this Friday. If you are in town, the testing is at 6pm at Cobra Kai in Burnaby.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Scooter Polo

File this one under "Crazy and/or Silly Ideas". I was hanging out with some of my girlfriend's friends and, I don't know how we got on the subject, but I suddenly developed a huge urge to conceptualize and play Scooter Polo. That is, a game similar to polo, but on manual scooters (like the Razor that was popular a few years ago, not the electric or motor ones, the ones that little kids can use). Somehow we were talking about playing a random game together and someone brought up polo. Unfortunately, none of us had horses. There is a variation involving Segways, but we didn't have any of those either. But the discussion did make me think about scooters. I didn't have a scooter myself, but a few of my friends and my girlfriend has one and I sometimes liked to have fun on them (kind of makes me think about the Mazda zoom zoom concept).

The next day, while shopping at a sports store, I noticed a croquet set and scooters on sale. I didn't buy them, but it did make me think and re-invigorated my interest in a scooter variation of polo. So, here we go:

Scooter Polo
Currently this game is designed for recreation. Thus, rules are informal and players should make sure that anything vague is clarified or modified accordingly.

Set up
4 vs. 4 or 3 vs. 3, no goalies
Played in an enclosed space, like a roller hockey rink, with boundaries boarded so that the ball doesn’t go out of bounds, but instead bounces back.
The goal is the same as a hockey net, including the crease
You may pass through the crease, but must maintain constant forward motion. Additionally, your feet cannot touch down inside the crease.
Each player should have an arm length mallet and a scooter. There are no real protective equipment, but closed toe shoes are strongly recommended. If possible, players should all use similar equipment. I recommend standard croquet mallets and average to economy standard scooters.
The goal does not need a net and can be marked by anything. The crease should be noted in some fashion.
The ball can be anything spherical, a roller hockey ball or a croquet ball would suffice.

Moving the Ball
You can only hit the ball with a full swing (starting with the mallet straight up and swinging 180 degrees to hit the ball) and when both feet are on the scooter.
Goals can only be scored by legal hits of the ball
The mallet can only touch the ball, but the ball can be touched by mallets and scooters, but not feet or other body parts.
If the ball is airborne, it may be knocked down in any manner, provided that it is knocked down immediately with the first contact.
Other rules
As this is a recreational sport, bodily contact is prohibited. It is considered good sportsmanship to be moving primarily laterally between the two goals, moving horizontally across the play area should typically be only done when changing directions. This should prevent accidental collisions.

Well, that's all I can think about currently in terms of rules. Most other things are similar to polo, or can be covered with house rules. If there is anything that you think I should address, let me know.