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Sunday, May 16, 2004 

Week four: learning

It's so nice to feel muscles that had gone slack firm up again. And kindly step out of the gutter. I'm speaking about obliques, pecs and the rest.

Sunday I was still feeling under the weather from Jer's No Pants Party, so I only worked on footwork and flexibility.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday were calisthenics and cardio.

Monday I did the upper and lower body routines twice each. Wednesday I did them three times each. Friday I did each routine once. But this time I did each exercise until failure. And cracked fifty on the padded knuckle pushups.

For cardio I introduced the jumprope. Not the relaxed broken rhythm of children at play as they swing their entire arms in great circles. The steady rhythm of a boxer. Wrists stationary at your hips, feet rising just enough off the ground for the rope to swing underneath. It's a great workout.

Monday I brought out the stopwatch, doing twenty seconds with the rope and twenty seconds of rest. Repeated over and over for about three minutes. It was a pain in the ass to keep resetting the timer. Wednesday I did it again, for a little longer. Friday I left the stopwatch inside and just listened to my body, working the rope until it felt right to stop and resting until I got my pulse back under control. A helluva lot more fun that way.

As I write this, my resting heart rate is 64 beats per minute.

Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday were Kempo drills. Haven't taken the time to hang the bloody heavy bag yet, but made do without. Made it to thirteen knuckle pushups on the hardwood before the pain stopped me.

I'm pushing myself more now and am starting to find and correct minute problems with technique that weren't apparent at lower levels of effort.

On Thursday I started introducing more classical techniques for variety.

Saturday I spent mostly on katas. A kata is an old method of training. It is a highly choreagraphed routine in which the practitioner fights off a series of imaginary adversaries. The katas of a style preserve all the techniques of that style. While brutal, when performed properly they are also beautiful.

I was very frustrated to confirm that I can remember a mere handful of the katas I could once perform flawlessly. I'll have to search through my files for my notes.

I seem to have reached a plateau on the flexibility front. About halfway through the week I realized I was pushing too hard when stretching, trying to progress too quickly. After each session I wasn't feeling right. Tight and sore rather than loose and relaxed. I eased off a little and have spent the sessions since relearning how to relax and breathe properly during a stretch. It's helped.

Diet and sleep are about the same. Diet is good, sleep is not. I need to be firm about getting to bed at a decent hour.

My knee hasn't bothered me in days. The old exercises I found last week seem to be helping.