As a kid I remember wanting to be Luke Skywalker. He had the cool laser sword, mystical Force skills, got to kiss the girl and blew up the Death Star.
Now, I’m slowly realizing how wrong I was. Han Solo is soooo much more badass than Luke.
So what if Han doesn’t have a laser sword or Force powers. Unlike Luke, Han never gets his hand cut off or find out he’s related to a mass murderer.
On top of that at the end of the trilogy Han gets the girl, saves Luke’s life twice and assists in blowing up two Death Stars. Oh, those three Tie fighters that were following Luke at the end of A New Hope, one of which had a Dark Lord of the Sith as a pilot, yeah, Han got rid of all three AND did it all without the nifty Force. Boo-to-da-YA.
What does Luke get at the end of the original trilogy? Dark Side Electrocution, a burnt Vader suit, three Jedi spirits smiling at him and creepy flashbacks of kissing his sister. Yeech.
Although it always has been Matt’s digital pride and joy, when he was still in Japan I had a hand in things. Meaning, I held the camera. Now that Matt has stepped things up, it has inspired me to take a look at what I’ve been doing – which hasn’t been much. My recovery has been harder than I thought it would be, and it’s been taking up much of my time and energy. Then of course there’s my personal life. Can’t really say much more other than it’s pretty engaging.
But thanks goes out to Matt and his seemingly boundless creative energies – I have caught the bug once more, let’s see if I can get toss my gi into the creative circle once again.
My life has been filled with wonderful friendships, adventures and mishaps – all thanks to my love for the martial arts.
These are the stories and experiences that shaped me into the person I am today. Here they are: the Kaaawa Chronicles.
From the windward side of Oahu, the scenic little town of Kaaawa sits on route to the island’s very popular North Shore. Kaaawa pops up immediately after passing Kualoa Ranch of the TV series LOST fame – filming takes place there – and the obvious “Welcome to Kaaawa” sign.
Kaaawa has one 7-11 which serves as the only gas station in town, a handful of restaurants, a tiny fire station with an even tinier post office. The rest of the town are homes stretching up from the beautiful shoreline all the way to the base of the Koolau mountain range. It is not surprising to find a large truck being dwarfed by a larger boat in every open garage.
I have a Facebook account.
I hardly spend time on it. I sign in, check my notifications and email, log on to buddypoke, grab my coin-of-the-day and sign out. While I adore my friends and family, this article nicely sums up why I don’t care much for Facebook. Although they need to add a sixth one – I don’t care much for the countless gaming profile updates (need secret incredient! declare mob war!) clogging up my wall. Sigh.
Anyway, I made a new friend on FB. Actually he’s an old friend. I’ve known him for a very long time as we attended the same church back in Hawaii.
Somehow during the course of both our lives, we looked around at the lovely tropical paradise that Hawaii is and thought a change of scenery would be good. So we left. Yea. Him to Alaska, me to Japan. Now that it’s wintertime, I realize how faulty my thinking was. I wonder if he feels the same way.
My old friend – to my great surprise – trains at Gracie Barra. He started in 2005, about the time I was training Judo in my old school’s Judo club. He’s currently a third degree blue and I think he’ll get his purple long before me.
It’s funny. Among all of the people I grew up with in Hawaii, I was the first to start training jiu-jitsu. And it’s absolutely pleasing to learn some of them taking up grappling too. We’ve all gone our separate ways and live in various parts of the world, and it’s astounding to know that the friends I made long ago are linked by a shared past and by jiu-jitsu.
Oh, and Facebook too.
After four months of visits to the clinic, where they would track my recovery, it finally dawned on me how thorough my checkups were. X-rays, blood work (in the weeks after my surgery), MRIs, weight checks, muscle readings, strict rehab exercises, physical therapy, various other types of tests; all logged down in my own Emoto Knee Clinic medical file.
It got me thinking… what if my progress in Jiu-jitsu met the same type of detailed recording as my file from knee surgery and my rehabilitation? Like my very own Jiu-jitsu Medical Chart! Quick, he needs 50ccs of armbar epinephrine – STAT! Sorry, always wanted to do that…
Not sure if I was already doing something like this with the “My Jiu-jitsu” pages I had last year. I’ve deleted them in case you were wondering. I tracked my progress in various positions, wrote about things I needed to work on, and summarized my sparring sessions with training partners better than me.
But it felt vague, like I was grasping at smoke, saying how it felt like when I sparred with so-and-so and when I was in a certain position. It wasn’t a very concrete method of tracking progress.
The thing I’ve noticed about jiu-jitsu is that while those like Saulo Ribeiro and Roy Dean are doing their best to quantify the learning progress – University Jiu-jitsu, and the Blue & Purple Belt Requirements DVDs – but the process itself is really… um… hard.
Probably because growth in jiu-jitsu is more than just sparring, more than just putting in x-amount of reps, more than just crossfiting or getting fit, and more than just memorizing or building up an arcenal of techniques.
I mean, there are jiu-jitsu blogs out there, with people far more intelligent than me – chess players, engineers, prodigies, athletes – all writing amazing analytical posts on their training. All of them trying to figure out this lovely little thing called jiu-jitsu and hopefully pass on their knowledge on to the rest of us.
I don’t know if it’s an impossible task, but I’m definitely going to track my progress like a medical chart, complete with doctor-like scribbly marks that pass for comments whenever I can.
Every great journey must begin with a simple step. This is mine. My Jiu-jitsu Comeback.
There is a chair in the Emoto Knee Clinic. The chair is bright deep blue, fully adjustable and has a four-point harness to keep its occupant in place. It also reads the muscle strength of a leg; measuring the maximum force output and muscle speed.
It’s pretty cool. I like that chair.
According to the Chair – and my left leg being the standard – during a leg extention to measure maximum strength (“Big push!” according to Aono-san my therapist), my right leg has a output of 75%. A high speed extention (“Fast push!”) has an output of 64%. In the words of Aono-san, “Not bad.”
Bending my leg is a different matter. For maximum strength, my leg performs at 53%, while for high speed it performs at 56%. Aono-san says, “Oh. Oooh! Bad, bad! No good. Bad.”
Also I still do not have full range of motion in my leg. Wait, that sounds bad, let me clerify. I’m unable to fully extend and bend my right leg under it’s own power. I have full range, I just have to work my leg to get where I want it to go to. Pulling my leg to get my ankle to touch my butt or pushing my knee down so it’s completely flat is no problem. I have one month to get my leg to do it all by itself. 右足、頑張れ！！The good news, which there is of course, is that my knee has an “acceptable” level of stability. I can now venture carefully out into the world sans my ninja knee brace. And… if I work hard enough with my rehab, I’m one month away from being able to wear a jiu-jitsu gi again and join classes! Obviously no crazy full intensity sparring from the get go but WOOHOO!
To recap: leg needs to be stronger, more flexible, and at a full range of motion. Put in the effort and it’s only one month from being “cleared” to pursue the jiu-jitsu. One month away… crazy, huh?
I’m getting super turbocharged pumped just thinking about how close I am to training again. Hee!
TJ was awarded his blue belt when he accompanied Roy Dean in wristlock/bjj seminar – one that can be seen on Art of the Wristlock DVD. And now TJ has been promoted to purple belt. Congratulations and a job well done!
There’s something about seeing people being promoted. We’re being included in a special event, privy to a significant achievement, that sense of community. And it’s definitely a source of inspiration.