moving about. learning Chinese, practicing Tai Ji Quan, doing Qi Gong, or simply going out running. resisting the monkey impulses.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Who are those madmen? ... and subconcious development.

When I go to one of my departments for a meeting, I often bump into Peter, who bumps back with his xing yi, or more likely his ba gua. We had a nice meeting room with a bit of space today, so indulged in a bit of three-quarter speed sparring/push hands after the meeting. Hence the what-are-they-doing-mummy noises from new members of the admin team.

Regular readers will know that I'm feeling under the weather, so I deliberately wanted to keep things low key. Peter is much more practiced at his favoured styles than I am with my taiji, so it's usually a struggle for me to properly resist his attacks. And pointless to try and use strength anyway. I found that my being not "up for it" I was better defended. By not resisting (Grrrr!), but calmly moving around (OK then let's see what you do next) and keeping some sort of contact and letting the tactics flow from the form, I was able to maintain more of a viable position. Occasionally I could unsettle Peter's root (bastard keeps walking around!) or plant a token strike or kick. Calmly, as if doing something mundane yet tricky like folding an envelope in a strong wind, rather than fighting as if it were important for life or honour. At present that seems to be the way for me to keep proper attention to root and form over the natural (yet flawed) reflexes associated with someone else invading my space.

This was a great improvement on last time, six weeks ago. It's not that I've been doing masses of tactical work or push hands (though I've done a bit). It's more that the subconcious has been working away, doing its thing: processing little inputs from past lessons, putting pieces together, speeding up transitions, making new connections.

I think this is such an important component of learning, and highly underrated or disregarded by Western teachers in many fields. At the said university department, one of the agenda items has been proposal (not from any of us I should add) to shorten 10-week courses to 5 weeks, but doubling the intensity. There were allegedly some good administrative reasons for this, but the basic premise seems to rest on a false equation. The number of hours formally studying is one parameter, but the number of times the head hits the pillow during a course is another very important one.

Brains have to simmer sometime, they can't always be boiled.

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SOAS group photo

SOAS group photo
SOAS group photo,
originally uploaded by Drift Words.
Here's some of our SOAS class. Last class before the summer, so farewell until next time. Thanks to our patient teacher, Wang Jin (centre).

It's not clear who's going to do what next term. Like I'm wanting to go back to UCL Language Centre as it's more likely to dovetail with work, and others are going off to do other things.

To round off the term, we did a nice little test paper. Reading comprehension and listening was straightforward enough, grammar not so good. Mostly multiple choice, pick the right word to insert in a sentence. All in Han zi, apart from the rubrics. We then a chance to go over the proper answers, so we know what we are good at. As well as what remains to be studied again.

I had a splitting headache after this for some reason.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Doctor 1

On 13 Jul 2006, at 15:38, xxx wrote:

Did the quack have any useful pronouncement to make on the diagnosis / prognosis front?

What do you expect?

Nothing obvious, and the web-footed one scratched his head rather. Seemed interested in the Story of the Intervals, but thought that it wasn't likely that the heart could be made to feel bad just through vigourous use. Clearly I wasn't having a heart attack or bronchitis, nor should I be at risk given my fine physique and athleticism. I should have told him about conditions deep in the UCL knowledge mines. Could be related to a virus he conceded. (note for exam board: Rather short on clear models and explanation of background theory so I'm giving him extra time to submit in full). He could have proposed a stress-test (get wired up, then bash treadmill while they faff around doing data acquisition) but opted for blood test. That's next Friday, before breakfast. Before!!

I anticipate a summer of queuing for the Royal Surrey car park.

Had I been on BUPA I would have been tested both ways by now, I bet, and writing this from a charming wifi-enabled room staffed by glitzy nymphs in white boots.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Overdoing it?

I should know better, what with my colleague being having been on a heart-surgery rollercoster, and who is now spending hours in sofa-ville, recovering.

The running was going fairly well, which is to say uneventful, until just now. The countryside has been lovely in the sun, and I'd been scampering about it 2-3 times a week. Mostly steady-paced running, usually with the same partner.

This Friday, we decided on Intervals, and round a field/cricket pitch nearby. I've done plenty of 2-minute fast sessions round there before, so I know the procedure pretty well.

DSC00497 DSC09898.JPG DSC00499

Now, you know when you do hard sessions, you usually hold something back? Well I do, anyway, not being temperamentally suited to the make-yourself-puke school of training. This time, having been complemented on my apparent speed (M travels a lot, and was jet-legged, hence 10 s behind), I progressively started to pile on the pressure at each repetition, knocking seconds off the watch each time. " 加油!" you might say. On the last but two reps, I started fairly steadily and was pumping all out for the last 50 yards. On the penultimate rep, I went for it with 120 yards to go. Can't. Talk. On the last one, I pretty much went for it from the beginning. These reps were all in the 1:45 area. Hey not bad. Nice jog home, shower, out for a curry in the evening.

You know when you eat loads, hot food especially, you can get uncomfy in the night? Well it wasn't that. Or had I bruised a rib? We occasionally practice push hands at home, but not with any striking, so it wasn't that. It was more like a soreness inside. Ouch. Sleeping on the other side didn't help. In the morning, the discomfort was still there, associated with a particular organ in the left side of the chest. It would exaggerating to call it pain. Is it possible to red-line a heart, bending the valves? Is it serious? Will it get better by itself?

Saturday was pretty normal, shopping and stuff. World Cup was completely unexciting, about from That Headbutt (Zinedine may have a future as a martial artist?). Lack of excitement is good. Low heartrate is good. I felt OK, but was still aware of Something Different. I cried off the Long Sunday Run, and flopped about at home. Flopped about at the office yesterday.

Today, I trekked through London to get to said colleague's place (two trains and a tube each way, which means about 3 miles of walking). I really felt as if my legs were in a different mode. Not heavy, but prevented from swiftness. It was rather an effort to get about. Normally I bound up stairs two at a time, but today there seemed to be a limit to my rate of progress. I was quite happy to bumble about in third gear. Or just to Sit Down.

Clearly something knows I need to take it easy. I'm going to check with my GP tomorrow. Meanwhile, no more running for a while.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mixing it up

Formosa Niejia's been freaking me out with his intensity and acronyms. BJJ: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? IMA: Internal Martial Arts, obvyusslee. What else? NHB: No Holds Barred. All getting scary for this monkey. He's even got a favourite MMA bout: sheesh who are these guys? Ahh: Cook Ding sorts me out with this post.