Greatest Salesman Month 4 Report

I just finished Month 4 of the Greatest Salesman Course by Og Mandino. I am glad that I finished this month as quick as I did. Last “month” went on for 2 months to make up for the times I skipped/slept through the thrice daily readings.

For the most part, nothing really remarkable happened during this time. That was until I got a reply to a job application, which I wrote about here, and failed miserably, which I wrote about there.

Another interesting event was that I got a Facebook message from this head teacher in the last school I taught in Thailand. In her roundabout way, she was wondering if I can go back to teach at her school. That did make me happy as I liked the school, I liked the kids, and I also loved the teachers’ quarters. That time I didn’t live in an apartment, I lived in a one bedroom house!

I didn’t accept her offer, though. The head teacher likes me and loves how diligent I am in my work. Unfortunately, she loves my diligence so much that she made me do extra tasks. I had to help her out with administration work. I also had to play mediator between her and my rival, “Bosco”. I had to convey her orders to Bosco because he wouldn’t listen to her and he thought he was above school policy. Last, but not least, she metaphorically twisted my arm to stay after school to teach her and her coworkers’ children to improve their English. Why? Because she caught me studying Thai. If I didn’t study Thai, she would not have me work extra hours teaching the teachers’ kids.

While I had a couple of false starts on the job hunt, I like to think of these two incidences as signs that my life is changing and that I am going somewhere. Again, nothing is more frustrating than trying to make my resume have a nice format and craft a cover letter only to receive no reply when I send them both. Insofar, this gives me motivation to apply to more jobs.

I also wrote on this post that I am not going to work out like an athlete or a martial artist and stick to a more minimalist approach. I workout 3 minutes twice a day, do a 5 minute qigong routine twice a day, and a seated stretch workout at least once. So far, I am surprised how much my life improved. It’s not much, but a little goes a long way. I will write more of this in 7-10 days.

The main message of this month’s essay/scroll is “I am nature’s greatest miracle.”

Of course, nowadays this sounds a bit weird as people on the internet call each other a “special snowflake” as an insult. I have met too many people who are entitled narcissists and I can understand why this insult exists. At the same time, though, self-belief is something needed for one to strike out and find one’s fortunes. One has to believe that s/he has the potential to do well and s/he will be able to overcome any obstacles that s/he will encounter.

There is a lot to unpack here, so maybe I will write more on my thoughts of this later . . . .if possible.

Starting tomorrow, Month 5!

The picture above is Vishnu in his 4th avatar Narasimha. I like to refer to him as the Hindu Lion-Man for obvious reasons, although Lion-Man is not really an accurate term and I will explain why later. As a kid I liked the story. As an adult, I loved it more.

Here is the summary.

After years of penance and prayers, a god appeared before King Hiranyakashipu to grant the king a wish. The king wished that no human, animal, nor god can kill him and that he could not be killed on heaven or Earth to which the god complied. After getting his wish, the king then declared himself a god and that other ones will be worshiped but him. Everyone in the kingdom complied, except his son Prahlada (who I think is the real star of the story). Prahlada insists that his father is not a real god and that everyone is better off worshiping Vishnu and/or Shiva.

Due to his son’s disobedience, the king tried to kill his kid in many ways, including trying to burn him alive. Yet, despite all his attempts, Prahlada still lived. The king finally decided to confront his son and tried to get the kid to change his mind one last time. Prahlada told the king that there is no way the king can become a god since the gods are every where. The king then asked, “Is there a god in that pillar?” Prahlada said, “Yup.”

The king then broke the pillar and out came Narasimha. The Lion-Man destroyed the palace like a rock star gone wild. After that, Narasimha put the king on his lap and then tore the king apart with his nails and his fangs. Why did the king die despite his powers? Well Narasimha is not a god, animal, or human being—he is all three. The king was on Narasimha’s lap, so the king was not on heaven nor on Earth.

Here is a cartoon version in English. Here is the scene from a movie I watched as a kid depicting the Lion-Man wreaking havoc.

As a kid, I enjoyed this movie and story as much as anyone who enjoyed Godzilla destroying Tokyo. It was the climax of a somewhat preachy tale of staying true to one’s religion.

The only thought that comes to mind about this avatar is that this is a morality tale about arrogance.

Whatever gifts we have, whether they are developed by ourselves or given by a god, we should never abuse them in any which way we would like. If we use our talents to harm and put down other people, someday those gifts of ours will turn out to be a curse.

As a guy who has seen arrogant martial artists and spiritual masters, I am often reminded of this story and how arrogance sets oneself up for failure.

It is always a good thing to be humble.

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

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. . . . 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.

Me-a Cope-ah

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About a week ago, I was on Cloud 9 once I received an email from this company to take an aptitude test before I can get an interview. 3 days ago I took the test and failed really hard which bummed me about. Yesterday, though, I am feeling much better from the experience.

As you may or may not know, I am currently studying the Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino which requires reading a certain essay/scroll three times a day for 30 days before switching to the next scroll.

One of the passage that I read for my current scroll states this:

“I have been given eyes to see and a mind to think and now I know a great secret of life for I perceive, at last, that all my problems, discouragements, and heartaches are, in truth, great opportunities in disguise. I will no longer be fooled by the garments they wear for mine eyes are open. I will look beyond the cloth and I will not be deceived.”

I know that just because I failed in getting that dream job, I shouldn’t feel sorry for myself. I should learn from my mistakes and move on. If there are no mistakes for me to learn from, or if I can’t learn from them at all, I should move on anyways.

Here are some thoughts that come to mind:

Perhaps I dodged a bullet

As we all know about jobs, they will never advertise themselves as being horrible places to work or that everyone is miserable there. They all like to act like everyone is 110% satisfied there and that everything is hunky-dory. The thing is, of course, sometimes the most advertised workplaces are a nightmare and that some people don’t speak up out of fear for being fired or that NDA clause they signed in the contract.

I don’t know for certain if the job that rejected me is a horrible place to work, but there is that possibility. What if the company frowns upon having a life or hobby outside of work? What if talking about one’s own fitness goals or Youtube hustle gets that person in trouble? In my current job, there is a guy who believes that we are not allowed to think about anything but the job and our industry even if we are not on the clock. Thankfully, he’s not in charge or else my office would be a lot worse.

What if my competency of my work doesn’t matter and that the best way for me to get ahead is to schmooze (or sleep with) the boss? I have a friend with an MBA and a lot of experience worked his ass off at a company and expanded the business only to have a new guy get hired to become VP because that dude was the CEO’s college friend.

Plus, I don’t like wearing suits. Sure I might look handsome, but those things are uncomfortable. You would think with all these advances in fashion technology that someone can design a comfortable, but nice looking suit. But no, they have to be too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. I like things casual.

This also reminds me of 3 articles I have read from Reader’s Digest about Human Resource Officers and how judgmental and slimy there are. Some of them would try to skirt the law in order to deny someone a job or get someone fired. 1 article I read was on print, the other two are here and here.

I should still be appreciative at how far I got

Nothing is worse than sending a resume and not hearing from the job. If my resume shows that I don’t have the experience and education for a job, that’s one thing. Sometimes there are other superficial reasons. I was told that my resume looks too old-fashioned, but I have yet to find out how to make it all snazzy. No snazzy resume means no interview.

There is a phenomena in which people getting rejected for having a non-Anglo name, especially by people who have a stereotypical “Black sounding” one. I am not a Black guy, but I am Indian-American with a very Indian name. A couple times, I have had people tell me “Sorry, we cannot sponsor your visa.” Yes, I was born and raised in America but some people still see me as an immigrant.

While it’s easier for me to get a job teaching English in Asia, I also get rejected because of my skin color. As I am to post a photo of myself with my resume, I’ve had jobs in Asia tell me that I’m not qualified due to my brown skin.

I make these points because this time, I had a chance to prove myself (un)worthy of the job. Instead of my resume disappearing in the Internet ether, someone actually took the time to look at my CV and then gave a challenge.

Better to be proven unfit for a job than to be assumed as someone who can’t hack it.

The aptitude test did teach me something

As I went through the test, I came to realize how weak my math skills are. I know I can’t do math as well as I did in high school, but I never realized how much my math skills deteriorated since then. That’s why I bought a couple of math books and saved a few videos on my bookmarks to refresh and hopefully improve myself in that area.

Mathematics is a valuable skill. Even if I don’t get another job like the one I applied for, at the very least I can use my newfound math skills to improve other areas of life such as finance. If I am stuck in my current job, perhaps my newfound math skills could help me advance far enough that I might be comfortable staying in the same job.

Today I watched an old video of Scott Flansburg, aka The Human Calculator, who gives a lot of useful tips in doing basic arithmetic in large numbers by using one’s brain only. It’s quite a fascinating watch.

History’s greatest people were the biggest losers

A lot of people who achieved success did so after many failures. Abraham Lincoln lost many elections before finally becoming the President of the United States. George Washington is revered in the US as a great military leader, but he was quite mediocre when he was a British officer fighting the in the Seven Year’s War. Colonel Sanders had a long history of screwing up before starting his business of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

My favorite “failure” is Edgar Rice Burroughs. He got fired from every job he worked in and was so much of a failure that his wife left him with the kids to care for. He was basically at the end of his line. He then decided to write a novel which got published. After that, he spent his time writing other adventure and science fiction novels such as the Tarzan and John Carter of Mars series, both became very popular in the early 20th century. Speaking of which, I love the first three of the John Carter books. While he couldn’t expand on the Mars series except for a few comic strips, he made money expanding on the Tarzan series with comic strips, movies, and movie serials.

So the lesson that I must learn is to keep trying until I can’t try anymore. 

Once the weekend ends and I am done relaxing, I am going to start anew with my quest for better employment.

Well that sucked . . .

Last post I wrote about how after applying to many positions in this Bangkok-based company, I was finally given the chance to take an aptitude test. I was feeling good about this as this was the chance for me to get back to Thailand. I thought about all the places I want to revisit, such where I used to work, the people I wanted to see and the places I have yet to go.

After work, I sat down in front of my computer, logged on to my email, and then took the test.

I bombed.

I thought the test would be a combination of an IQ and LSAT test. One of the links I was provided showed me an LSAT type of question. I’m no lawyer or former law student, but I find them doable. No, instead, these involved statistics. One question was like “In 1999 Zimbabwe had $30 million in GDP and the GDP of each head was $450. What was the total population of employed citizens if 60% of the population makes up the workforce?”

Yeah, I knew I was in way over my head.

I took the test and let the recruiter know that I completed it. She has yet to reply, but I can already figure out the response. I may not be able to track the value of the Euro in relation to the Lao Kip, but I can already figure that I would not be asked for the first round of interviews.

I already knew that this was a possibility. I was even prepared for this to happen and that I should appreciate that I made it this far. Yet here I am, feeling bummed out and like a loser.

Maybe I am going through a chemical imbalance. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I am going to take time to rest and to grieve. After that, I will double my efforts to get that English teaching job in Taiwan and also still apply for those multinational firms at the same time.

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.

Change in plans, 4/23/2022

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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.

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. 

How’s it going 3/9/2022


I know my last post on racism is not the most comfortable thing to read, but the uncomfortable truth is that racism exists. It’s not something I like to talk about, but it is a thing in our lives. Also, how is it I can talk about Buddhism and not address the issues in our society? The whole point of studying Buddhism is to learn how to deal with such problems. All too often, many people who practice and study Buddhism delve into metaphysics and forget that even the Buddha himself eschewed that type of talk.

In fact, there was a story in the Malunkyaputta Sutta in which a monk named Malunkyaputta expressed his dissatisfaction of the Buddha and his teachings. The Buddha asked why and his student went on saying that the Buddha never taught him things like how did life begin, how was the world created, will it be destroyed, and other esoteric questions. The Buddha bluntly told the student that he was not interested in those questions. The Buddha was more interested in understanding the sufferings of our daily existence and how to transcend them.

To this I agree and this is one aspect I love about Theravada teachings over the Mahayana. Metaphysical debates are fine, but in the end all of the teachings of Buddhism should gear towards how to deal with life’s problems. We have relationship problems, problems at work, problems at home or with family, problems with money, problems with our mind, and so on. Racism is one of those problems and, unfortunately, is rarely spoken about in the Buddhist community. I can go on talking about some of the racists issues I have seen over the years, but this would require a longer discussion.

Speaking of my own problems . . . .

I have to admit, that when I wrote about certain people as being toxic White saviors, that perhaps I am seeing things in not the most correct angle and maybe race doesn’t have anything to do with our dynamic. However, I cannot say for certain. At the moment, I will keep the appellation as it is since they did talk to me the way British colonials talked to Indians centuries before; as in how it is unfortunate that we Indians are born as Indians and raised in our backwards Indian ways, that we need the British to civilize us and abandon our culture.

Again, I must emphasize that I don’t think all White people are like this and there are always bad examples in every race. If anything, I feel fortunate that I have friends from different races and ethnic backgrounds as it made life more interesting and fun. Having friends from all walks of life truly makes the world my oyster.

For that matter, I don’t think all British people back then looked down upon us. Hell, there were more than a few who got into Hindu philosophy and yoga before it was cool.

Now that I have wrestled with this revelation of the past conflicts I had with certain people, I am going to do something about it.

This week, I am still writing the signs of what to look out for in terms of someone with a toxic savior complex.

Next week, I plan to restart and actually finish the book Emotional Blackmail by Dr. Susan Forward so that I have the strategies I need to deal with controlling people.

As much as that realization of the problem angered me it has given me a sense of peace. Before then, whenever I got mistreated by certain individuals I was always told it was my fault. Either I was too diffident or too confident. Either I was a nice guy or I come off as too cocksure. Either I am too compliant or that I stand out too much. Ultimately, it has less to do with me and more to do with them. That took a lot of pressure off of me.

I believe very strongly that everyone has the right to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm themselves or others and doesn’t disturb other people. For example, I don’t go around punching others because it harms other people. I don’t play music too loud as it disturbs others. However, if I am in bus and sitting alone doing silent meditation and someone else complains, that’s their issue since I am not bothering anyone.

(Funny enough, that did happen. I was sitting alone in the third row of the bus and the person sat all the way at the end. Yet despite me not making any noise and sitting far from her, she complained constantly of my meditation even though she could simply ignore me and talk to her friends.)

Furthermore, as per Og Mandino’s instructions from last month, every time I think about those with a savior complex who tried to control my every move, I think to myself “__________, I love you.” In Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong’s book, Polishing the Diamond, he advises to say something like “I wish _______________ finds his/her Buddha-nature, so that s/he can serve the Dharma well. Barwon [or perhaps Sadhu?]!”

I am doing that. It is helping me take the edge off of the anger, but I still have to examine how those people acted and read up on how to prevent further manipulation.

Or as someone in the internet once said, “Do no harm, but take no shit.”