My workout and qigong life, 2022年6月25日

As I wrote in this post sometime ago, I decided to go a more minimalist route to fitness. In summary: twice a day I do this short qigong routine from Lam Kam Chuen’s book Step-By-Step Tai Chi, then this 3 minute North Korean workout* twice a day, and this sitting stretch workout once a day. I also started a 30 day plank and wall-sit challenge so that I have the capacity to do a workout propagated by personal trainer Pete Cerqua.

Considering that I need to workout at least 150 minutes a week and that my daily workout won’t even reach that number, I am under no delusions that I will have an athletic body fit for the Olympics, the movies, or even the military.

That being said, I am glad that I take some time out of the day to exercise as little as I do. If anything, I am surprised how much I benefit I get from doing as much as I do.

The first obvious benefit is that I limber up my body. I won’t get as flexible as a yogi or yogini, but the 3 minutes I do the North Korean workout and 5 I do for the qigong routine gets my body warmed up enough for me to move and feel better. The ease in my movements somehow makes me feel more energetic.

The next benefit, and I don’t want to get into too much detail, is that waste elimination get easier. I would like to think that this is a sign that my organ functions are also improving as well.

The one surprise in my workout has to do with my past stress-induced injury on my left shoulder blade. Years ago, two coworkers decided to lash out at me and yelled at me for 30 minutes each. As I was trying to suppress my emotions, the muscles on my left shoulder-blade knotted up. For the longest time, I had no strength on my left arm. Later on, I regained some strength so that I could drive, type, and even pick up objects. However, at times the injury still acts up so that I would lose sensation on my arm and hands. Although I can do knee push-ups, I have a lot of difficulty doing more than 3 plank push-ups. You know, the classic push-ups we were taught in physical education classes.

One of the moves in the North Korean workout involves me whipping my arm out as I rotate my trunk. Thanks to that motion, the muscles on the shoulder-blade is starting to loosen. I do get a slight pain in that area, but I think it’s because the shoulder blade is healing. Nowadays I put a heating pad under that part of the body and I even feel my blood circulating.

Another surprise is that I do get that endorphin rush just by doing that North Korean routine alone. I used to think sweating should be involved, but this is not the case. There were times I had a bad day at work. When I do the routine, though, I feel immediately better. Feeling better after work does contribute to better sleep.

On the qigong front I can’t say any remarkable is happening. At the very least I get 5 minutes of relaxation. At the same time, though, I do feel good doing qigong so much that I want to do more. Last Sunday, I was wondering if I can do more Taiji . . . although I am holding that off for now since I know might be called to work more hours or help out with family stuff. I also have to remind myself that the benefits of qigong takes time as I am moving in a slower fashion. When I was practicing a qigong set from a David Carradine book, for example, I had to wait 30 days until I felt and saw any results.

Over my adult life, especially after university, I would have this pattern of being able to workout in an athletic manner then stop for some reason and then get myself back to working out and stop again. Inevitably, whenever I get back to working out after a long period I have to start from Square 1. All the progress I made from the last period of exercising goes out the window as I never did anything to improve upon or maintain whatever fitness level I was able to achieve. In fact, I even wrote about the time I did very poorly practicing both Taekwondo and Karate kata. At this point, I still want to workout like an athlete and I am hoping that the minimal workout I am doing is going to get me to start from Square 2 instead of Square 1.

At this moment, I am thinking of ways to improve my current fitness regimen with all the obstacles and restrictions that I have been facing. I might get myself to incorporate the qigong set I got from that David Carradine book. I might even use a Japanese form of qigong taught in the Kyokushin style of Karate. I might even see if I use this 5 minute isometric routine.

*In case you are wondering, I don’t condone the North Korean government nor the actions of the Kim family. I wish for reunification in the Korean peninsula or at the least reform in the country like that China experienced from Deng Xiaoping to Hu Jintao. My heart always go to the people of North Korea. Why do I do a workout from the DPRK? It’s because I can do this in my bedroom or in an apartment, otherwise I would prefer South Korea’s version.

This is the last workout program I will do . . .

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

. . . . until I move out.

Ever since the end of the 2020 lockdown, I have been struggling with keeping up an exercise program. It’s easy enough for me to start one, but it gets harder and harder for me to continue. Any workout program, from aerobics to zumba, does help in improving one’s fitness if and only if one does so constantly as a set regimen. One can workout 2 hours a day, three times a week One can workout everyday for 20-30 minutes.

That’s the problem, I always find myself not being able to keep up with the workouts whenever I start one. My latest obstacle is my sleeping pattern. I don’t wake up in time to exercise, nor can I get to sleep early enough. Like Dracula, by the time the birds sing and the sun rises is when I pass out.

The workouts I have been doing, such as the one derived from Walter Camp and the qigong set from one of David Carradine’s book, are great. Both of them are powerful in their own ways. However, I usually need an hour, whenever I wake up, to get my body ready to do both and they make make me sweat. Good if I do them both before I take a shower, but not good at night since I would need to shower and my family makes a big fuss if I do.

Two days ago I started this new workout program. It’s really really minimal and doesn’t take too much time. Plus, there’s hardly any sweating involved. Will this program improve my health? Not as much as I would like, but I am going to stick with this one until I move out. If I can’t stick with this one, then I am not going to exercise anymore until I get a better job.

Here are three parts to my workout program:

  1. Exercising like a North Korean

While I love martial arts, I have learning and studying these various home calisthenics routines propagated by various Asian governments. One of the most famous is the Radio Taiso series from Japan. One of my favorite routines is one from South Korea known as The Citizens’ Calisthenics aka “Gukmin Chaejo”. The problem I have with many of the routines is that they all involve some hopping and jumping, which is something I cannot do in my room. I do that and I get into trouble. Recently, I came across this routine released by the North Korean government. It is basically a rip-off of its southern neighbor, but is more apartment friendly. I was able to do this workout in room without any issue. I was also able to do this workout in my office and I hardly broke a sweat. Plus the entire routine is 3 minutes long. This is something I will do twice a day, before I shower and before I leave work.

  1. Qigong

For awhile I was doing this qigong set from a David Carradine book. However, I have been having a difficult time doing this set as well. In order to “maintain” my qi fitness, I would do this one set from a Lam Kam Chuen book. Lately, though, I have been doing Master Lam’s routine so much that I am basically going to stick with that one. It’s not as powerful as Carradine’s routine, but it gets the job done I can do this routine under 5 minutes. Again, this will be a routine I will do twice a day.

  1. Airplane Workout

I also need to get more flexible. The more flexible my body, easier it is for me to move. I do have resources for yoga and general stretching, but again time is a factor. There is even a great Korean stretching video that I recommend everyone to watch. However, it takes 12 minutes of time which I don’t have. More accurately, when I have the energy to do this stretch, I am too busy at work. When I have the time, I am too tired and trying to get myself to sleep so that I have more time tomorrow. Thankfully I came across this workout in Darebee. If you click on the link, you can see it is a sitting stretch workout which can be done in an airplane or even in an office. My plan is to do this everyday at least once a day.

So this is my current workout plan in which plan to stick with this for 100 days, In’shallah. If I do stick with this for 100 days and my life gets better, I hope I can let you all know about this so that you can improve yourselves.

How it’s going 5/21/2022

I know I have been acting like a wet blanket for a couple of weeks so I want to try to change that and write about some of the good things that are going on in my life.

As I have written before, as I am studying Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman Course I must read a scroll three times a day daily for a month. At the same time, I also read Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong’s “Polishing the Diamond” as well as “The Buddha’s Words of Wisdom” edited by Ven. Shravasti Dhammika. In both cases, I also read the same passage three times a day and read a different one tomorrow.

A few years ago I made this resolution to read more books than I did the last year. This itself is an ongoing goal. However, some years I would read a good 20 books. Others no more than 10. Because of this habit of reading 3 times a day, I am actually making a point to do some reading. Because of this habit, I am guaranteed to finish at least 2 books before the end of the year. In fact, I am almost finished with Dharma Master Kim’s book and now I am thinking of replacing that one with another to study. I might replace it with “Dropping the Ashes on the Buddha” by Ven. Seung Sahn, “The Mirror of Zen” by Ven Sosan, or “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson.

I don’t read as many novels as I would like, but I am getting better on that front.

I told myself that I will not do anything more than qigong for fitness. Well I decided to change that and added the exercise routine I modified from Walter Camp’s workout. Sure I won’t get fit anytime soon since it’s a 10-15 minute workout, but I feel good when I do it.

I do want to do both the calisthenics workout and qigong twice a day, but I am not too serious about it now. If I am, I might get frustrated whenever I couldn’t put in a second calisthenics and qigong practice. In fact, most of this week that was the case. I was only able to do a second qigong practice Sunday night.

Monday night was when I was able to do a second calisthenics practice. I didn’t use the workout I posted on my blog, however, but I did practice the routines put up by a Asian governments. That night, I did a South Korean routine, a Taiwanese one, and even one from the North Koreans living in Japan. I didn’t sweat too much since the night was very cold, but I felt nice and relaxed after going through them.

It gave me this idea of maybe memorizing all the routines that are available from the Japanese Radio Taiso to the Chinese Broadcast Exercises and do them in succession for an entire workout, 3 times a week.

Also, Thursday I had a really good qigong session.

Ever since I got back from vacation, I haven’t been able to do qigong. Once I started, I resigned myself into thinking that I would have to wait 30 days until I can enjoy qigong and derive from its benefits. Yet here I am, practicing for less than a week and it felt like I was picking up from where I left off.

At this point I am focusing more on getting to Taiwan. One of the requirements is to get myself fingerprinted for an FBI background check. If I were to go my local police station, I need to bring my own set of fingerprint cards, which no one provides me. I could go, and usually went, to the state’s central police office and I could get fingerprinted there no problem. However, they require an appointment nowadays and my parents use the car during the daytime anyways. Now I found a place that opens late into the evening so I am going to call them up and set up an appointment there.

Also, last night, since almost everyone in my office wants me to work 24/7, I decided to also add in an office workout program. I don’t expect much from it, and I am going to slowly build up the habit of working out in the office, but I am hoping it will become a valuable life skill. The one I am using is one from Denise Austin.

Oh, and since I plan to work as a public school teacher in Taiwan, I found out that they institute nap periods after lunch for all students and teachers. That means either I can rest up or . . . . I get to do put in another qigong practice!

Hell yeah.

. . . then I will work on in despair

The title of the post comes from the 3rd scroll of Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman book. The full quote goes like this:

“I will never consider defeat and I will remove from my vocabulary such words and phrases as quit, cannot, unable, impossible, out of the question, improbable, failure, unworkable, hopeless, and retreat; for they are the words of fools. I will avoid despair but if this disease of the mind should infect me then I will work on in despair. I will toil and I will endure. I will ignore the obstacles at my feet and keep mine eyes on the goals above my head, for I know that where dry desert ends, green grass grows.”

For the past couple of weeks, I feel like I am being tested in that regard. Ever since I got back from my vacation, everything seemed to stop going my way. My sleeping pattern was more erratic than before. Home life is getting more chaotic. And I’ve been putting more time in the office than I would like.

Speaking of which, the weather is getting warmer and summer vacation is about to start. What makes this a bad situation for me is that most of the staff, especially with kids, will take frequent vacations which means more work for the rest of us . . . including me. I am not liking what the future may hold.

I have written before about doing more qigong, doing more conventional exercises, reading more books and so on. However, all those plans went awry as they do. Most of the time I would work, struggle with sleep, oversleep, wake up and go back to work. I almost never have time for anything else.

The only one cultivation practice I have been keeping up is the readings I do for the Greatest Salesman course. Otherwise, nothing much else.

Today, May 14, I have finally done one qigong set. At this point, I am determined to do just that for the next 100 days. That is to say I am restarting My Qigong Life, I just stick to 1 set a day. Maybe I can do a second set if I am lucky. Although today’s qigong practice wasn’t as “uplifting” as weeks before, I am grateful enough to at least get myself back to practice.

Another good news is that I am much more determined to get myself to Taiwan. For some time I was trying to work in an office there, like in a multinational company. At this point, I don’t care. I am going back to teach English as a Second Language. While it is not considered an honorable profession by many, even in East Asia, at the least I can do some good. Besides, I enjoy teaching. Sure I have to deal with that one disruptive punk in the class and there is paperwork involved, but it feels less like work than what I do now. Some of my favorite memories of Thailand and Korea are the funny interactions I had with the students even if I was the butt of their shenanigans.

Plus working set hours means I can depend on having free time to do more important things such as Zen cultivation, playing video games, and reading bad sci-fi novels. I might even write one of my own in the same vein as Edgar Rice Burroughs and L. Ron Hubbard. I dropped those two names because I do not see myself as equal to Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, or even the underrated H. Beam Piper.

I don’t really have any strong religious beliefs, except for one: A person’s life can change for the better as long as he or she changes him or herself. Because I should be able to focus more on self-cultivation and self-change, I can see my luck improve for the better. Maybe the school teaching job will be the very last one for me and that I will stay there for the rest of my life. Maybe that job would help me find better employment in Asia or in North America. Either way, though, I feel optimistic about my upcoming move.

I do have to say that the only problem that I have still yet to figure out is what happens whenever I deal with controlling individuals. As you might figure out, I always think about when I was in Korea and dealing with that Anson guy as well as the Korean-American professor. Both of them tried to micromanage my free time to a point I would face harassment for not capitulating to their demands. The last place I worked in Thailand, I dealt with this guy who I call Bosco and how he was always trying to bother me because he was too bored with his life. I never wrote about him before, but I also dealt with an American in my first time in Korea who always personally attacked me and threw temper tantrums if I did not obey his commands or even parrot his opinions.

Therein lies the question, will I deal with people like them if and when I move to Taiwan? Will I meet with a Brit or Kiwi who thinks that my sole purpose in life is to serve them? Will I meet an American or Canadian who will spend time making my life hell because I stand up for myself instead of complying to their demands? Will there be an Aussie who will manipulate me into doing things I don’t want to do and get disrespected for it?

That is a possibility. One stereotype that is enduring in East Asia is that Westerners who teach in Asia are maladjusted losers who couldn’t get a job back home. I’d hate to say this, as I met lots of awesome teachers abroad, but it is true on some level.

While I am planning for my move abroad, I also have to plan on meeting those types of individuals. The one tool at my disposal is that I have a decent indoor workout that can be done in an apartment. I can definitely use that as a way to improve my health and channel out any stress that I would incur by meeting those creeps. I can try to think of other coping methods, but the workout is a good start.

Until then, I just have to keep moving no matter how slow.

Greatest Salesman Month 3 Report

This has been the “longest” month in my Greatest Salesman study so far. As I have a rule to add in a week for every day I miss, plus my vacation to the Cascades, my 30 days of study extended to many many weeks.

I figure it’s not a bad thing. The psychological function of the Greatest Salesman course is to impress upon my subconscious mind the values to help me become a better salesman, or at the least a better worker.

This is what I like about the course thus far.

A lot of us have these morals and values that we love to espouse to be true and righteous. However, as we all know, it is easier to talk the talk rather than walk the walk. We might pontificate about the importance of being kind, honest, upright, and so on only to have past habits and our environment influence us to act otherwise.

The biggest problem with keeping up with our own sense of ethics is that we often try to do so from an extrinsic point of view, as in through our conscious thinking. The thing is, though, our subconscious mind influences our thinking and actions more than we realize.

Therefore by doing something similar to the Greatest Salesman course, such as reading an essay or a list of rules over and over again, your subconscious thinking and your outlook gradually changes to a point that you act out these ethics out of instinct rather than compulsion.

On that end, I can tell it is working. It will take time, but it works.

I looked at the central messages of each scroll in the Greatest Salesman course and what I can say that I won’t be learning anything new. I am familiar with a lot of the concepts that Mandino teaches from other books. However, the biggest question has always been how to incorporate those teachings, which is being resolved through this course.

Last month, I was reading an essay/scroll about being more loving. While I never felt more loving during that month, a couple weeks after I was done reading that essay love has started to bloom in my heart. As people who read my blog, I would ruminate over people I met in my travels who did me wrong (in my defense, it’s because I have been trying to figure how to deal with people like them). However, by thinking in love, especially silently saying “I love you” whenever I think of them, my frustration has been slowly disappearing. Do I still think of them in anger? Yes, but a lot less now and it’s only a matter of time when love will replace those negative emotions.

The same could be said for the current month. I have been getting myself to become more tenacious and persevering in my thoughts and actions. To be brutally honest, though, my life has been rough and there were times I spend half a day asleep out of hopelessness and depression. By all appearances, I am doing the opposite of what I am studying. However, I have faith that in a couple of weeks, I will find myself becoming more persistent with my efforts to succeed in life.

As it is, I am already planning on what I can do to teach English in Taiwan at the very least.

Qigong will still be a primary means of fitness for me for the time being. I still want to mediate, but I cannot see myself doing it for sometime since I don’t see my life settling down any time soon. Right now I am incorporating more of Shakti Gawain’s creative visualization techniques, both to get myself working a better job and giving out good vibrations to a workplace rival.

I am glad I took that vacation to the Cascades region, but it did throw my off in my cultivation pattern. As it is, I feel like I am starting from square 1 in qigong. The only thing for me to do is keep on practicing and be patient in doing so. I might go back to practicing only 1 qigong set a day and slowly add another set and another once my sleeping pattern stabilizes. I might even get myself back to adding more meditation to my life, again when I can sleep a lot better.

Tomorrow I am going to start Month 4.


The painting above depicts Vishnu’s 3rd incarnation, Varaha the Boar.

Traditionally Hindus believe that all the planets float upon a cosmic ocean. In fact, you might see paintings of Hindu gods floating on water and that is why.

When the universe was recreated Earth was stuck underwater in that cosmic ocean. So Vishnu turned into a boar to pick up the planet and move it above water. There was a demon who conquered heaven and wanted to kill the boar, knowing that boar was Vishnu. The two fought, Vishnu kicked the demon’s ass. The Earth is now floating on the ocean, the heavens are free, and everyone is happy.

That’s the boar’s story in a nutshell. You can watch a cartoon version here. Also, here is the an old school Bollywood depiction of the fight, with bad-but-oh-so-good special effects and all.

So far, the common theme in my writing about Vishnu’s avatars in how I have to research and rediscover all of the stories I forgot about growing up. I may not have been the most religious kid, but I loved the stories and it was probably the only thing I liked about growing up Hindu. So rereading some of the tales is quite an enjoyable thing for me.

It’s also a bit frustrating.

Usually whenever I research these stories, I start on Wikipedia. Wikipedia being Wikipedia, reading up the stories also means reading up the various retellings and inconsistencies from one text to the next. It has become quite a task for me to figure out which details in the legends are important and which aren’t.

One day, I was reading this anthology collection of Batman comics and then I had this thought: are the changes in Hindu mythologies no different than the changes in superhero comics?

If you think about it, superhero comics tend to reinvent themselves in style and story telling over and over again. The way Bruce Wayne becomes Batman gets retold in different movie and comic book versions. Batman’s personality changes over time, from a upright do-gooder* to a brooding anti-hero.

Also who is the Joker? Is he a giggling, mischievous maniac like how Caesar Romero** portrayed him? Is he a suave, sophisticated gangster like how Jack Nicholson played? Maybe he was an insane criminal in the vein of Heath Ledger? What about the crazy emo-goth incarnation of Jared Leto? How about a sad, tragic man driven to crime like that of Joaquin Phoenix’ interpretation?

The whole point is that even in modern times people take beloved tales and retell them with their own spin. Why not the same for Hindu mythology? Just like how a regular schmoe like me is trying to figure out these ancient Hindu tales, it could be possible that someone thousands of years into the future will look at a comic book heroes and get all confused with the inconsistencies that is part of the subculture.

And yes, what is considered popular, low-brow art today will be considered higher forms of literature in the future.

* Adam West is my favorite Batman. When I first watched his version of Batman as a kid, I thought it was just an action TV show. When I watched it as an adult, I realized that it was more of a comedy and it made me laugh.

** Since Adam West’s Batman is my favorite, Romero’s Joker is also a favorite of mine. You can tell Romero was having too much fun with that role. Whenever Romero gets interviewed on camera, though, he exhibited a classy personality that I aspire to become.

Change in plans, 4/23/2022

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan on Pexels.com

I have this problem of being too ambitious and swimming against the stream when it comes to cultivation.

Once I start one cultivation practice, I want to do more and more until I am satisfied that I can cover all my bases when it comes to self-improvement. In a sense I am spoiled due to my past “successes”. When I came back from my first foray in Korea I was practicing Zen for hours a day, since I was unemployed. On my second time in Korea I spend 3 weeks at a martial arts temple and of course I was doing all sorts of practices which made my time there wonderful.

But reality is reality and, I guess in my case, people need me to pull me into their problems. This is especially how I might stay late for work or deal with family issues. Also, my sleeping pattern is still erratic. It’s getting better, but it is erratic. Without a decent amount of sleep, most of my practices would be too difficult for me to do.

It also doesn’t help that some of the practices I do involves time to overcome internal resistance. My meditation practice is a perfect example. Sure it takes me 15 minutes to meditate, but I have to give myself a pep talk in order to sit down and meditate. I feel great after I am done, but I still have to push myself to do it and that takes time.

Also, and as frivolous as it sounds, I need to have fun dammit! I have a pile of books that I want to read and I hardly ever get to do so. If anything, I miss lying around and getting lost in a story. I downloaded a bunch of games to play but I never play them. The same goes for the movies I possess. If work and family doesn’t suck up my time, my cultivation does.

Last week, I did some qigong but I mainly focused on the readings. This disappointed me as I want to live a more cultivated life in which I deal with life’s problems in a more elegant fashion. Lately, though, I had to stay up late due to work and other errands. Last weekend also sucked for me since I spent most of it sleeping.

So I am going to try something new. I am going to get myself back into cultivation, but in more harmony with my current obstacles. This means working with sleep, family, and job and not against it.

First and foremost, I will still keep up with the readings. I still want to see to through to the end to find out if it helps me change my life for the better.

I am still going to do qigong three times a day. Since stress seems to come naturally to me like mud to a pig, I have to keep on “cleaning” myself from all the drama so that I won’t let the pressure get to me.

I am still going to do the creative visualization work to help make my rival’s life a lot happier. I am also going to do the same for myself; one visualization when I get up and one before I sleep.

I am also flirting with the idea of mediating five minutes a day, twice a day. The same with doing an Asian calisthenics workout, a la Japan’s radio taiso, as well. I am also thinking of doing a sitting isometrics and stretching workout. For now, though, I am going to add them one week at a time so I won’t get too overwhelmed.

Oh, I have to be brutally honest. As much as I talk about finding a new job, my efforts have been lacking. This time I am going to go for broke. That’s also part of the reason why I am doing the creative visualization exercise for myself, to motivate myself to get going and stop wasting time!

The picture I posted above to remind me to keep the dream alive.

Thoughts of a Proud McDojo Graduate

In the martial arts world, “McDojo” is a pretty derogatory term. Also known as a “black belt factory”, a McDojo is a term for a low quality martial art school where the standards are low, but the rate of black belt earners are high. The people who earn black belts from that school tend to be out of shape or have little to no fighting skills.

I got my black belt from a McDojo. I never really wanted to admit this, especially since I still love and respect my master. However, he didn’t train me as well as I would like in terms of fighting. In terms of other areas, such as courtesy and respect, he was great. I still hold an affinity for him and he even said he was proud of me for continuing on my martial arts journey which made me cry manly tears of joy.

Nevertheless, my Taekwondo school was a McDojo. The way my master taught his forms were pretty weird, I did get promoted up the belt ranks a lot, and I did realize how unskilled I was compared to my other peers once I went into university.

All that being said, I am peace with it. I am also proud that I got my black belt from a McDojo.

I shall explain.

First, let’s think about education in general.

Many of us are in school for at least 12 years, some go to school for up to 16. During those years we learn a variety of subjects such as languages and literature, the different branches of science, mathematics, foreign languages, and so on.

Now, despite all of your schooling how many of you . . .

-Understand how the system of your government works?

-Can use the quadratic formula?

-Are conversant in your nation’s history?

-Can write and analyze poems?

-Can solve chemical equations?

-Can fluently speak a foreign language like Spanish, French, German, or Bahasa Indonesia?

-Can name more than 20 countries on a map?

Chances are, you can do 2 or 3 of these things but you can’t do them all unless you are a genius. Maybe you can do chemical equations but don’t know where in the world is Tajikistan. Maybe you can analyze Shakespeare, but can’t do trigonometry to save your life.

Is this a failure of the education system? Not really. It’s just that when we are finished schooling, we remember what we use or find interesting and simply forget what we find boring or useless.

I would like to use my family to illustrate this point. My brother took four years of Japanese and I four years of Chinese. Yet, my brother forgot everything from his Japanese classes while I can still hold a conversation in Mandarin. Why? Because he doesn’t use Japanese and stopped caring about it, while I still have an interest in Chinese and even use it in my job. However, my brother can crunch numbers and analyze statistics like it’s nobody’s business while I can only do basic mathematics as he works in business administration and I don’t.

My sister can tell you every part of a cell while she is horrible about history. I am the opposite, I can expound on historical events but only know that the nucleus is the center of the cell and nothing more. That’s because my sister is into biology and works in environmental science while I have a huge interest in history. I hardly use it as a job, but it helps a lot whenever I work overseas.

This phenomena also happens in the martial arts.

Lots of Americans would take a martial arts class, especially as kids. However over time they either lose interest in the art, have other commitments such as school or career, have to deal with life’s problems, and so on. That’s when they stop and their martial art skills basically fade into obscurity. Then there are those who continue which means their skill level increases.

Many schools don’t have a weed out process, but some do. If a student can’t do enough push-ups or is not up to par in fighting, then the master might kick that student out and tell them never to come back ever again . . . which you ask me is very cultish.

That being said, though, most students tend to weed themselves out. First you have a group of students with colored belts. Overtime many quit until you have a few who obtain their black belt. Then a lot more quit until one gets their second, third, fourth, and whatever the highest degree.

I don’t subscribe to this cult attitude of people quitting because they are fakes or losers. There are some things more important than marital arts and sometimes they have to stop. However, there is a difference between one who quits and one who continues after a hiatus.

Whenever I go on social media, especially in martial art groups, I always encounter people who decry the existence of McDojo black belts like me. They decry how they had to do 1000 push-ups or fight against three people in a sparring match or break bricks with their bare hands to get a black belt while there are those who simply waltz into a school and get one in almost no time without breaking a sweat.

I do agree that quality control is a problem and that it is horrible that these low quality schools exist. Not all black belts are created equal. That being said, though, the same goes for high school and university degrees.

A high school degree from a public school in Detroit is a lot easier to obtain and has less quality than a high school degree from Choate Rosemary Hall or from Phillips Academy. A college degree from Yale opens more doors than California University of Pennsylvania. And while there are many many articles about people like Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates being successful college dropouts, they are more of the exception than the norm. It is better to have a degree than not.

That being said, what really matters is how said person uses that degree. Larry King graduated from a public high school in Brooklyn and didn’t even attend college. Steve Jobs was also a public school graduate and dropped out of Reed College. Ronald Reagan graduated from Eureka College and he became a successful actor and president of the United States!

The point I am trying to make is that it less about education and more about how one uses it to get ahead in life.

The same can be said for martial arts. Unfortunately, I don’t have any names of famous martial artists who got their black belts from McDojos and found further success, but I can bet there are those who have. Maybe they are in the military. Maybe they are actors and stuntmen. It’s even possible that many of them are MMA fighters. They took their McDojo training and used it as a stepping stone for something better.

The only issue with McDojos I can agree with many others is the false sense of confidence one gets when learning a martial art in a low quality setting. The lower the quality of training, the less likely one is going to survive in a fight. I am glad that I got beat up in a tournament and sparring setting, but things could have gotten worse if I was involved in a street fight.

It might be a cop-out to say this, but that’s why martial arts should be used as a last resort. It is better to give the money to the mugger, run away from criminals, and be sure to avoid dangerous areas. Even if one learns a lethal martial art, there is no guarantee one can survive a dangerous encounter.

Still, to reiterate, I am still proud of my McDojo training as it gave me a unique insight in persistence and tenacity. Hypothetically speaking, getting a black belt from a substandard martial art should set me up for failure. It should have since whenever I sparred with people from better schools, I almost always got my ass kicked. It should have as I got ridiculed for my mediocre techniques. It should have as many people view Taekwondo as an ineffective martial art (which I strongly disagree).

I am proud of the setbacks as these force me to take charge of my own practice, to be mindful of my strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve my skills for the better. These setbacks compelled me to be more creative in my training to compensate for the lack that I had when I first started practicing.

In the end, my McDojo black belt paved the way for me to learn self-reliance and personal responsibility.

So for those who did not get a black belt from a McDojo and trained like an elite warrior, I have this to say to you: be grateful. Not everyone has the chance, luck, or karma to train with a master as awesome as yours and receive the valuable lessons that you possess. I get where you come from in how hard your worked for your black belt and how little people like me did, but it made you a better fighter in the long run. I still have a lot catch up on.

If you have a black belt from a McDojo, do not despair. The fact that your techniques are crappy puts you ahead of those who never learned them in the first. All you need to do is take inventory of your strengths and weaknesses and find ways to improve upon both. Read books by other teachers on how to level up your training (Loren W. Christensen is a favorite of mine, and a funny guy too!). Read up on your art and look for ways to improve your techniques. Watch videos and maybe even try cardio kickboxing. Seek out a friend and teacher who is willing to help you improve what you know . . . provided no ego is involved. Of course taking up a fitness regime helps as well.

Last, but not least, don’t kick yourself for your previous training. Not everyone has the same chances to train in the most elite schools with high level teachers. In some cases, some martial arts styles are not as widespread as others. So do the best you can with what you know and keep going.

Jiayou, Osu, Taekwon, Tang-Soo, and go for broke.

I’m back and what’s next

The traveling was a pain. The red tape getting into Canada and back into the US was a headache. All-in-all, though, I really enjoyed my vacation. I enjoyed my vacation so much that I even told my friend in Vancouver that I want to move there.

Of course, the thing about vacations is that they put me out of rhythm when it comes to self-cultivation.

For the Greatest Salesman Course, I did the readings once a day only and that was it. I am now getting myself back to the habit of doing the readings three times a day. I am also adding another 2 weeks of reading my current scroll.

Qigong is another matter. Originally I was planning to do qigong for 100 days straight to prove to myself that qigong is a good fitness system. I was practicing qigong everyday until halfway through the vacation I stopped. I have read somewhere that I need to do three days of qigong to make up for one day I missed. Since I stopped doing qigong for at least 5 days, that is at least 15 days for me to do qigong to make up the days I missed during vacation.

So why not start over?

It sucks that I didn’t do 100 days straight of qigong (yet), but I have been able to prove to myself that qigong is good and good for me. I am still surprised that I lost belly fat in the process!

This time, as I wrote before my vacation, I am going to do three different qigong sets three times a day: one I get up, during office hours, and before I sleep.

Also, I am going to meditate when I get up as well. I feel like I have been in a rut for some time and I need that meditation to help me get of out that and to see my life in a different perspective. I need new ideas to change my life and I need it pronto.

I am also getting myself back into the calisthenics workout. I don’t need it as much for weight loss or athleticism as much as I need it for the endorphins. To be brutally honest, I am getting annoyed at work almost everyday and I need a way to make myself happy before I lose control. Again , it doesn’t help that work-life balance is almost non-existent in my job.

Last, but not least, I am going to try something new. I am going to use creative visualization to send positive vibes to a work rival. Long story short, this rival hates me and I don’t know why. I do try to get along with her but she refuses to let go any and all ill-will towards me. I told her straight up that I don’t want to be her enemy, but she wants to be mine whether I want it or not. Story of my life as it’s the same with almost every other rival I deal with.

So every night before I sleep I am going to imagine that she will get a promotion with a huge raise. She will get that promotion and will move to a better city like New York or Paris with a sweet apartment for her. She will work less hours, make more money, and live that Instagram worthy lifestyle. Of course I will add an affirmation about how this or something better will manifest for her.

That I will do every night for 100 days. If somehow she does get that raise/promotion or that our workplace relationship improves then I can use this tool to deal with other people; whether I work in an American corporation or teaching English in Asia.

What I need to also address is reality. It’s great if I can do all these things everyday but I know I won’t.

Boss might schedule a meeting during the time I should be sleeping. I still have that coworker who expects me to clean up his mess. He’s getting better, but he still tells me something in the vein of “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Also, now that the weather is getting better I will probably be expected to spend more time working in the office as my coworkers will take their copious vacations. At the same time, my home and family life almost resembles a Hindi soap opera where small problems get blown out of proportion, especially during Hindu and American holidays.

So the question is what can I do about this?

My only answer is this: as long as I keep up the Greatest Salesman Course, get at least 1 qigong practice in a day, and do the creative virtualization work to help out my office rival then it should be good enough.

Until then, I just have to keep on going or as Og Mandino writes, “I will persist until I succeed.”

This Week and Next

Photo by Chait Goli on Pexels.com

As I have written on my last post, I am going to start doing qigong 3 times a day. The first qigong set I will do is the one from David Carradine which I have been doing for a little over the past month. I have mentioned before that I would occasionally do Lam Kam Chuen’s set from one of his Taiji (Tai Chi) books, that will be set number 2. Set number 3 will be this night time qigong routine from this young lady.

As per usual, I am also doing my readings for the Greatest Salesman Course. I am also reading a passage from Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong as well as the Daily Readings from the Buddha’s Words of Wisdom by Venerable Shravasti Dhammika. At the same time, I chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name as well.

And yes, I am making sure I meditate 15 minutes a day each time I wake up.

That is for this week.

Next week, I am taking a well-needed vacation and going to Vancouver and Seattle. I have a few friends I am going to visit on both sides of the US-Canadian border. What this means is that I won’t be cultivating myself as much as I would like and usually do. Not that I am complaining as one of my Canadian friends is planning a lot for us to do and I am like “F—k yeah! That’s great!”

Og Mandino writes in his book that I don’t have to keep up with the readings while on vacation. I just take my vacation and simply start where I left off when I return. The thing is, I still want to maintain some cultivation efforts while I am out. On the qigong front, it is important to never skip a day.

So on my vacation, I will do the readings at least once a day. Once I get back home I will add another week of the regular thrice daily readings. There is no way I can do qigong three times a day, but I can do that at least once a day. Also, one of my friends in Vancouver is getting into qigong so it might be a case of me trying out her set and then her trying out mine. That I am also excited about.

So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, you know why.

Thoughts on My Qigong Life, 2022年3月25日

There are four parts I want to write about. They will seem disjointed in a sense, but they are somewhat connected.

Part I

Doing the same qigong set day in and day out can be boring. That is why I have been thinking of using free weights once in awhile for variety.

I once asked my qigong teacher-consultant about this to which she advised against it. The main reason, she writes, is because of acupuncture and how my holding dumbbells will cover the laogong points on my palms. If I do qigong with weights, it’s weight training only and can’t be counted as qi training.

As much as I have disbelief in qi and acupuncture, I will respect her advice and not use weights. After all, she knows what she is talking about.

I also have been wanting to get back into conventional exercise. Yes the kind when one moves fast or exerts oneself as what many fitness enthusiasts do. Yes, I see the value of qigong and other slower workouts, but it feels good to sweat once in a while. Plus the endorphin feels great.

For some time, it seemed more feasible. My work hours have been stabilizing. The family drama has cooled down. While my sleeping is still erratic, I have been sleeping a lot better whenever I go into slumber.

Then reality has slapped me in the face again. Last weekend, I was going to start doing a calisthenics workout when I got called into a family meeting. It wasn’t a big deal but the meeting went on for awhile and I had other chores to do. A couple of days later, coworker decided to push a bunch of work on me and that caused me to stay in the office a lot longer. It did get me upset since I hardly have time during the week to do anything else. When do I read, write, play video games, watch TV, or anything else leisurely? During the weekends. In the weekdays, it’s wake up, do qigong, go to work, and then try to sleep to do it all over again. Of course, I am still doing the readings for the Greatest Salesman Course.

It seems to me that qigong is the only thing I can do and I really need to put more effort in getting a better job with better work-life balance.

One way that I decided to deal with this problem is making My Qigong Life more of a Qigong Life. I usually do qigong once a day, mainly when I wake up. I have started adding another qigong session when I get back home from work. As a way to deal with my workplace issues, and a way to turn the other cheek, I am planning to do another qigong session while at work.

Part II

One of the problems I have with my job is that coworkers sometimes like to create more work for others and I am usually the target. I had one who was a rival who tried to pile as much on me as possible and complain about how she is being overworked . . . while she leaves the office 30 minutes to an hour early while I stay 1-2 hours later. There is this one guy who used to hint that I am the laziest worker in the company and he also would leave me more work to do.

What gets to me is those two, as well as a lot of others, frequently take vacations. The dude who called me lazy took a vacation every two weeks last summer. The girl who complains of being overworked used to take a week long vacation once a month and I would be called to finish both her work and mine, this resulted in me working 60-70 hours that week.

Last summer and winter, a lot of people were taking vacations as well. That meant more time in the office for me. That was when I was feeling nothing but fatigue and ennui. Plus the weather is getting nice and there is a chance more people will take more vacations.

Thinking about all of this depressed me. I just want to go to the office, put my time in, and go home to do more important things. I sure as hell don’t want to make this job into anything more than that. Not only do I not care to move up the ladder, I don’t even want to think of my job when I am not working.

That was when I was thinking, if people want me to stay in the office for more than 8 hours, why not do so on my own terms? The worst that can happen is I get fired, but this means other people have to pick up the slack which many of them don’t want. Sure I have to get the work done, but it doesn’t really matter if I get it done in 8 hours or 12, as long as it is finished.

That was when I thought of the idea of doing a qigong session while in the office. If I am going to do a whole pile of work, I might as well do so in a relaxed manner. There is no use for me being stressed out while I am stuck in the office. I haven’t thought of what qigong set I am going to do, but once I decide I will get to it.

Another idea popped in as well. I like to read, but I hardly get a chance to do so except in the weekends. However, there is no guarantee that I can do so. Sometimes family drama manifests. Other times I am trying to catch up on some sleep. Sometimes I have chores to do that will take a huge chunk out of my day.

Again, since people at work want me to stay in the office for longer hours, why not use that time to do reading as well? My plan was to spend 45 minutes doing the work and then 15 minutes reading whatever I want.

In fact, I tried that yesterday. After every 45 minutes, I would crack open a book and do some reading.

I am glad I tried it out since made my shift go by a lot faster. Yesterday I read parts of two books on qigong and it gave me new ideas to try out to improve my practice. I also felt a lot more refreshed that I want to try reading novels as well.

Funny enough, because I committed to working 45 minutes every hour, I somehow got more productive than I usually would. I wasn’t aiming for higher productivity, but I am glad it worked out.

Speaking of which, I do plan to read up on emotional blackmail, but I am going to put it off for a couple of weeks. I have to get my taxes done, plus I have a vacation coming up. Yes, I complained about others taking vacations, but this is my only one of the year. Besides, I talked with one of my coworkers about mitigating some of the problems he would face when I am gone such as how he can get more done with less time.

Part III

I am going to be honest. As much as I talk about trying to get a new job, I have been lazy. My guess is qigong and the Greatest Salesman course both make me too relaxed and happy at the moments I do both.

This is where I am going to get angry. I am choosing to get angry so that I can get myself the energy and motivation to find better employment.

It worked before. I wrote about how I used to work with a guy named “Will” in this post and this other post. Will’s betrayal got me so angry, that it motivated me to work my ass off to get a new job in Korea. This job was also difficult to get as I had to go through many rounds of interviews, online courses, and essays. In the end it was worth it.

I am going to remember how that one coworker I wrote about in the beginning of this post piled on a bunch of work for me at the last minute, and how he was callous about it, so I push myself to find a better job so that I won’t have to deal with this BS ever again (or at least for a long time).

Part IV

I am going to start meditating every time I wake up.