Live Long and Prosper, Mr. Nimoy

We lost a cultural icon Friday morning.

ObamaNimoyIt’s should be no secret that I’m a life long Trekker from the original series through the original cast movies, the new generation spinoffs, the nextgen movies and even the controversial (among Trekkies, anyway) JJ Abrams reboot.  Leonard Nimoy and his portrayal of Mr. Spock was a part of all of them.

SpockLeaningonaRivieraCoolWhen Star Trek came along in 1966, Nimoy, an army veteran, had already been acting for 15 years, had dozens of acting credits including many memorable 50s and 60s TV series, and was teaching Method acting in his own studio.  But it is his almost 50 years of recurring roles as the half-human, half-alien Science Officer of the starship Enterprise for which he will always be remembered the best.

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Sheldon’s obsession with Nimoy/Spock is a running theme in Big Bang Theory

He was not always comfortable being so closely identified with Spock; being typecast can ruin an actor’s career. His first autobiography, in 1977, was titled, I Am Not Spock. His second, in 1995, was titled, I Am Spock.  Between the two, he made peace with the enigmatic alien he had created and would continue to portray on film until as recently as 2013.

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Nimoy appeared in a cameo in the Simpsons’ X-Files spoof episode

In addition to his perpetual portrayal of Spock, he narrated the popular “In Search Of…” TV series, directed “Three Men and a Baby” and two original cast Star Trek movies (One odd numbered, one even. Trekkers will know the significance of that.) He played Teyve on stage in “Fiddler on the Roof” and Mel Mermelstein , the man who took Holocaust deniers to court and won, in “Never Forget”. Casual fans often confused the titles of Mr. Spock and Dr. Spock but may not have realized that Dr. Nimoy held an honorary PhD. from Antioch University, his Masters Degree Alma Mater.

Nimoy wrote free verse poetry that he published along with his photography.  He also sang badly but with great enthusiasm. His “Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” is something of a cult classic combining the nerd realms of Star Trek and The Hobbit all in one vintage 60s psychedelic performance.

 

“Given the choice, if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.”

SpockLogicThe character of Spock was arguably the most complicated  of the Star Trek personalities. He was an outsider who was not quite human in a way that made us examine our own humanity. His own struggle to overcome his human half eventually brought him to the realization that, sometimes, logic alone isn’t enough.  Nimoy gave us that character and brought to life all the complexity and humanity that makes Spock a fascinating character. For that, among many things, he will be long remembered.

Leonard Nimoy
1931 – 2015
Live Long and Prosper

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Leonard Nimoy’s last Tweet just days before he passed

28 Days Until Gup Shim Sa

Arctic cold will not defeat me.
Epic snowfall will not defeat me.
Five hyung will not defeat me.
Il soo sik dae ryun will not defeat me.
Kyuck pa will not defeat me.
Getting my @#$%& patches sewn on my do bohk straight may very well defeat me…

I’m counting down the days at this point confident that, if I continue to train regularly and stay focused, I will regain my green.  My plan is simple.  I have the tools through yuk gup and am committed to sharpening them all as best as I can over the next four weeks.

The Passing of Soke John Larlee

One of my Tang Soo Do instructors posted a sad notice on Facebook a few days ago announcing that Dr. John Larlee, 10th dan Soke of Beikoku Mizu Ryu JuJitsu, had passed away at the age of 83.  I never had the privilege of meeting Soke Larlee but something about the post caught my attention.  It seems Soke Larlee was a remarkable man; instructor, Grand Master in Jujitsu, Master in Kodokan Judo and Shotokan Karate.  He was also a notable past champion competitor in Connecticut and New England.

Soke Larlee was part of the first generation of martial artists to bring the martial arts to the United States after encountering them overseas while in the military.  The American martial arts community largely owes its existence to men like him, some of whom have already passed on leaving their legacy to their students and successors.

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Active in the martial arts community until the very end, Soke Larlee was a member of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council, a prestigious and very exclusive organization of 9th and 10th degree black belts internationally recognized as Masters and Grand Masters. The photos and biography pictured on this page are from the WHFSC Grandmasters Council 2011 Compendium.

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“Bernard of Chartres used to say that we [the Moderns] are like dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants [the Ancients], and thus we are able to see more and farther than the latter. And this is not at all because of the acuteness of our sight or the stature of our body, but because we are carried aloft and elevated by the magnitude of the giants.”

Requiscat in Pace, Soke.

Training at LTSD: Refining the First Five Hyung

We spent a good deal of class last night working on refining hyung, both in performance and understanding bunkai.

Miss Zaharevich worked with me on some rough spots both my Pyang Ahn Cho Dan and Chil Sung E Lo.  I have the use of our spare room for a couple more days so I have a warm place to work on hyung at home to reinforce what was refined in class.  Hopefully it’ll stick. Master Krantz also settled my indecision over using the “squishing the midget” or “Ralph Cramden” frame in executing soo do in Pyang Ahn Cho Dan. “Ralph Cramden” it is; “and away we go!”

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A great illustration of how much is unseen in hyung (kata). Thanks for sharing this picture, Mr. Dingwell!)

Mrs. Krantz spent some time with a group of us (Walt, his lovely wife Marie, and I) talking about the bunkai of Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu.  I always find these discussions illuminating, particularly as the hyung get more complicated.  In the basic forms the techniques are pretty straightforward but I find that understanding the bunkai makes it easier to know where to apply the energy to techniques so that they don’t end up being a lot of meaningless arm waving.

 

While a dip in the hot tub after training is always a good way to wind down and soothe sore muscles and bruises, it turns out it’s also a good way to warm up for stretching.

Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 24 · Hyung: Pyang Ahn Cho Dan, Chil Sung E Lo · Leg-raises: 24 · Push-ups: 24 · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

Gup Shim Sa Rank Testing

Litchfield Tang Soo Do’s next rank test, Gup Shim Sa, will be about a month and a half from today. If I can stay on track and focused  between now and then, I should be able to regain my green.

 Gup testing will include a series of combination exercises, one-step sparring techniques, hyung, and, at the last step, a board break.  To get where I want to be in March, I’ll need to be proficient in basic hand and foot techniques, the first five hyung, and both basic and intermediate one-step sparring techniques.

  • Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu
  • Ki Cho Hyung E Bu
  • Ki Cho Hyung Sam Bu
  • Pyang Ahn Cho Dan
  • Chil Sung E Lo

beltsSome identify belt colors by season with green representing the spring which is appropriate given that the Shim Sa is scheduled just four days after the vernal equinox. If there is a time to earn the right to wear my green belt again, this is it.
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Exercise on this day: Hyung: Ki Cho Hyung Il Bu, Pyang Ahn Cho Dan, Chil Sung E Lo

Site Outage & Spambots

In case anybody noticed, the site was down since some time Tuesday.  I managed to set up the automatic bill payment for the new web hosting incorrectly and it got suspended for a few days before I realized.  That wouldn’t have happened if I were a bit more religious about posting.  As it is there are days when I did my kicks for the 20,000 but neglected to record them so they just don’t count…

On a brighter note, the site is up to 82 registered users.  Granted, every last one of them is a spambot but at least the internet acknowledges that I’m here.

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Imbolc

Before there was Groundhog Day, there was St. Bridget’s Day.
Before there was St. Bridget’s Day, there was Imbolc.

Imbolc in its original form was associated with the Gaelic goddess, Brigid in her role as a fertility goddess and heralds the onset of spring.  It was later Christianized as St. Bridget’s Day and sometimes tends to be merged with Candlemas.

Imbolc is variously associated with February 1st, the Full Moon mid-way between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, or the first blooming of blackthorn.  Customs for observing Imbolc vary among neopagans but usually include symbolic hearthfires or candles representing the return of the Sun.  The ritual of “spring cleaning” has also been associated with this holiday.

The modern association with Groundhog Day may be related to weather divination practices originally associated with Imbolc.  In Gaelic tradition, foul weather on Imbolc was a sign that winter would soon be over.


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Click here for more about “The Sacred Wheel of the Year”

Thoughts on Super Bowl XLIX

Yes, I know it makes me a bad American but I’m just not a football guy.  As a Connecticut resident I’m expected to be a Pats fan.  Okay.  Go, Pats!

The truth of it is that my only interest in the Super Bowl is the party I’m missing with my old fire department shift-mates due to the impending winter storm moving in sometime tonight.  I’m just not as cavalier about driving home in bad weather as I once was.   Even the commercials don’t hold the attraction that they once did now that they can all be watched on YouTube without needing to watch a bunch of overpaid business men spend four hours to play a one hour game to do it…

The game’s on the TV but I’ll probably use the time to catch up on my blog and to figure out what I’m going to do working from home tomorrow.  I know, “Bah, humbug”.

Everything I know about martial arts tournaments I learned watching bad karate movies

Okay so a certain pair of Tang Soo Do instructors, who shall remain nameless, have convinced me to consider entering a TSDMA interschool tournament. Naturally, when it was announced that there would be a special class session to go over tournament etiquette and explain to clueless n00bs like myself what was expected, I resolved to attend. Doing so, I meet some new people, and I made some discoveries over the course of visiting four tournament prep stations:

1) Apparently, “air bo” is not a recognized weapons form.

As a white belt, I’m technically not really even supposed to be doing weapons training yet so I’m not sure that I could even enter this category in tournament. I learned a little of the basic bo hyung with Miss Zaharevich, but not nearly enough to take to competition. For now, I’ll keep working on my “air bo” until I start real bo training in earnest when I regain my green.

2) I can break faux boards. Note to self:  Must do more of that.

I have no idea how the reusable breaking boards compare to real wood but who doesn’t love breaking stuff? Trying to focus power in a technique is one thing hitting a bag or pad; it’s something altogether different following through a real break. I stuck with a simple elbow technique but would like to try others when there is more time to experiment.

3) I can score points sparring. Just not against Ms Novicky.

Actually scoring points in a sparring match was a pleasant surprise. Particularly since it was the first time I had even put all of my sparring gear on at the same time. My first match ended with me losing but with a respectable 2-3 score. My second match was entirely one-sided. I don’t think I scored a single point. Not that I stood much chance of scoring any points on her anyway but I’m still struggling with my inhibitions about hitting a woman. In this context, that’s just wrong and disrespectful of my opponent and I have to get over it.

4) I can forget half of a basic hyung on a moment’s notice and mangle it horribly.

The hyung station was the worst. Of course, it’s the one I expected to have the least trouble with.  I was prepared to bring on my best pyang ahn cho dan.  The soo dos at the end are still a bit awkward, but there are several weeks between now and the tournament.

Problem. Apparently, white belts don’t do pyang ahn cho dan.  They’re expected to stick with one of the basic hyung; I went with ki cho hyung il bu since we’d done it in warm ups and who could possibly possibly screw it up?  This guy could. Monumentally. Hodor.

conscious-competence-learning-matrix-animation-ppt-slideThere’s a learning paradigm about consciousness and competence. Before we learn a skill, we are unconscious-incompetent; we don’t even know that we don’t know the skill.  As new learners, we learn what it is we don’t know; conscious-incompetent. With practice we reach conscious-competence; we can do the skill with effort as long as we concentrate on it.  The goal is to reach unconscious-competence; performing the skill naturally without having to concentrate on each aspect of the skill. The paradigm is cyclic as increased competence reveals subtleties that were previously hidden and can be further honed.

Today’s lesson in humility was learning how easily it is to slip back from conscious-competence to conscious-mind-boggling-incompetence when focus is lost.

5) My ninja invisibility skills do not work on Mrs. Krantz.

At the very end of the class, individuals and groups performed various hyung starting with and incredibly complex black belt hyung by Mr. Pomes the younger and wending through groups of similar belts.  I was mercifully spared doing hyung with the 7 year old, 30 pound, second and third gup orange belts and thought I might just slide by as the only white belt and the only adult below green belt. Not a chance.

In fairness, my ninja skills have had better days.  I was called up alone but given the option to have some company for support.  I’m pretty sure I could have named any hyung through chil sung e lo and that would have been acceptable at this point.  My first instinct was to try pyang ahn cho dan but I knew I had to redeem my earlier ki cho hyung il bu.

There was a certain symmetry in starting with a very complex hyung executed by a black belt and ending with the first basic hyung by a white belt and I can only hope I did it justice that time around.


Exercise on this day: Ahneso Phakuro Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Ahp Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Crunches: 20 · Hyung: Ki Cho Hyung Il Bo · Leg-raises: 20 · Push-ups: 20 · Sparring · Tollyo Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R) · Yup Cha Gi: 32 Kicks (L&R)

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