1st-world disappointment: Sumo’s latest scandal.

Just wondering:

Have you ever spent your eagerly anticipated 2017 Grand Sumo Tournament catch-up marathon rooting for the one competing champion only to discover, more than halfway through the 15-day September event, that he’s since embroiled himself in a scandal that would lead to his announcement of an untimely retirement?

So have we.

It’s hard to hang onto the excitement of rooting for a guy once you know what will ensue after the event.

You don’t really know what happened, though. He may or may not have slammed a beer bottle or a champagne bottle onto the head of a fellow sumo wrestler in a bar, or he may or may not have used his bare hands. He may or may not have followed the initial assault with 20-30 additional strikes that may or may not have included an ice pick, an ashtray, a microphone, or a karaoke remote control. He may or may not have sent the guy to the hospital with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull and leaking cerebral-spinal fluid, which may or may not have been found, during imaging scans, to be indications of old injuries, rather than fresh ones… all of this occurring in the presence of other sumo wrestlers in the group, wrestlers who may or may not have had some involvement, if only verbal, in the incident.

You’re a newer fan of the sport, but you’re aware of past sumo scandals and sumo’s involvement with the Yakuza; the history of shady incidents and cover-ups in the sumo world makes it hard to know what to believe amid various conflicting reports.

So there you are, catching up on September, when you suddenly learn – in the worst of spoiler alerts – that your guy won’t be completing the upcoming November event. Instead, he’ll conclude his honorable career with a sudden exit due to scandal. You’ve only known him to be a gentleman in the sport.

Thus, the sizable hairy underbelly of the sumo world emerges and casts a shadow over your fledgling fandom.

 

(screenshot) 2017 November Grand Sumo Tournament, day 11

 

Despite sumo’s formal traditions and traditional designation as Japan’s national sport, it turns out to be just like any other combat sport – or any professional sport, for that matter.

 

BOB’s first time. (Garage Gym workout!)

First garage gym workout of fall 2017!! I tried out our new Body Opponent Bag (BOB) last Friday. We acquired it just when it got too hot for the garage this year, so I’m glad the long delay is over.

Here’s what I found out about BOB: he’s taller than I remember him to be.

Here’s what I found out about me: I’m shorter than I remember myself to be.

Which I knew, actually. That’s right, Surly Measurement Guy. I stand corrected. (Pun not intended.) The V.A. recently confirmed that you were right: I’m 5′,4″ now.

[For reference, I’m 5′,4″/114.2 lbs – weight as of yesterday]

At his shortest setting, BOB’s got a couple of inches on me. I experimented with the height differential as well as with distance.

Punches are no big deal at his height, but because of his wide base, I’ll have to take matters into my own hands to properly train elbow strikes, as they’re mostly inside-fighting techniques. As evident in the pics below, I didn’t do well with elbow strikes just standing in front of him. I’ll modify for this in the future.

The work-out: I mostly practiced upper-body strikes. I worked in a few kicks, but I didn’t really train lower-body this time. For my cardio warm-up, I ran in place, alternating sets of high knees and those jumping toe-taps (?) (whatever they’re called) on BOB’s base.

This was a 45-minute work-out. I didn’t wear shoes because the mats had been cleaned, but my feet still turned black. Eh. Desert dust… a small price to pay for living in paradise!

 

Superman punch

 

First height observation: My superman punch puts me a couple of inches in the air, so my straight-right lands almost perfectly on BOB’s face.

 

Straight right, aka cross (orthodox)

 

Straight-right (aka cross, if you’re right-handed) from standing.

 

Punch to body

 

Going for a punch to the body. Self-critique: I’d drop my stance a little lower to get my head out of the way. Most people like to hit back when you hit them. If BOB could trade punches, he’d clock me pretty easily in this position.

 

(between rounds)

 

See how I’m kind of knock-knee’d? This is why my lunges suck. I’m always trying to modify the position of my feet in order to get my form right and maximize the benefit of the exercise, but I still have a hard time with range of motion in lunges.

 

Spin punch chamber

 

I practiced some spin-strike techniques; this practice makes for a great exercise in judging distance. Here, it looks like I’m taller than BOB. Optical illusion.

 

Up elbow

 

This is ridiculous. I landed these upward elbow strikes, but you can see that I’m open to all kinds of pay-back shenanegans. BOB’s wide base keeps you from getting inside where elbows are the most useful. I’ll find a way to correct for this.

 

Back elbow chamber

 

This is slightly better; with a back elbow, it’s easier to jump in to close the distance. Back elbows are useful when you want to get out of a close situation you’re losing, though. Like when people elbow others out of the way to get through a tight crowd.

 

Standing stretch

 

I used BOB as a stretching apparatus. I stretched on the floor, too.

 

Stretching (and selfie)

 

Multi-tasking: stretching and mugging for the post-workout selfie.

 

Walking back

 

The walking-back pic. I’m still doing them, I guess!

A word about food: I used to include a post-workout food pic at the end of these posts, and once again, I forgot. There will be lots in the way of food pics this Friday, though, as I’m going to do a food-centric post.

 

SHAKA beach workout in Hawaii! Capoeira-inspired! (But still a garage gym post.)

[Edited To Add: Pidgin English ahead! The pidgin words and phrases are in italics!]

It’s Friday! Howzit?!

Essential elements in Sunday’s beach workout: sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, a partner-in-crime with a willingness to take pics, and a nephew whose photobomb game is hilariously ON. You’ll see da pictures!

Knowing that I was going to miss three workouts while in Hawaii, I intended to slip one in somewhere. When there’s a beach in front of your rented condo, no can work out anywhere else, yeah? I mean, why would you?

Neither could I help but keep it light. No to da max this time. I was on a beach in one of my favorite childhood places, on the Pacific, my favorite large body of salt water. My workout wasn’t hardcore by any means, but whatevahs. “The only bad workout is the one you didn’t do” – !

Was good fun!

There was no plan other than fo’ do da kine. A little shadow-boxing. I jumped in and went with the flow, and the flow swerved in the direction of capoeira, because, I guess, the setting invited it. You play capoeira… it’s a game, not a fight. Energetically speaking, capoeira makes more sense on the beach than anywhere, as far as I’m concerned. I didn’t train in capoeira for very long, but I loved it and still love it. I practice the techniques here and there. Why no do it more often? I should do it more often!

Anyway, enough talking story. Here are just a few pics from my mostly capoeira-inspired beach workout. You’ll notice that I mixed it up with a little Muay Thai:

 

Warming up: squats

Warming up: squats

 

Warming up: lunges

Warming up: lunges

 

Stretching

Stretching

 

Burpees

Burpees

 

Sprawl (from burpee)

Sprawl (from burpee)

 

Kick-throughs

Kick-throughs

 

Hanging loose with my nephew!

Hanging loose with my nephew!

 

Front kick chamber

Front kick chamber

 

Bencao (push kick)

Bencao (push kick)

 

Roundhouse chamber

Roundhouse chamber

 

Ginga

Ginga

 

Reaching down for an esquiva baixa (with nephew photobomb)

Reaching down for an esquiva baixa (with nephew photobomb)

 

We had other pics that showed better execution of this esquiva, but I chose this one because HELLO, epic photobomb. (Click to enlarge!)

 

Meialua de Frente (inside crescent kick)

Meialua de Frente (inside crescent kick)

 

Spinning back elbow

Spinning back elbow

 

Rapping. Okay, not really. Just goofing around.

Rapping. Okay, not really. Just goofing around.

 

Push-ups

Push-ups

 

Esquiva lateral (with nephew photobomb)

Esquiva lateral (with nephew photobomb)

 

AH hahaha!! I seriously love my nephew.

 

Aú (Capoeira cartwheel)

Aú (Capoeira cartwheel)

 

(Cringing at my form here… I should be lower, closer to the ground for this one, yeah? Gah.)

 

Resting

Resting

 

I finished the workout with a dive into the water and a 10 minute swim for a little more cardio – I like frog stroke – then floated for a minute to rest. Or, I tried to float. I don’t float well. (I sink.) Regardless, it felt fantastic! Callaghan said he likes this pic because I look like an otter. I suppose this is a compliment of some sort.

 

"Walking off" - ! [photo credit goes to my amazing nephew!]

“Walking off” – ! [photo credit goes to my amazing nephew!]

 

All pau! Mahalo for reading.

Muay Thai. (Garage Gym post!)

On Wednesday – at the very last minute – I missed the gym. I made up for it yesterday, though, in the garage, because the heat has now dropped to manageable temperatures. At 95 degrees, it was cool enough to get in a solid workout without creating a heat injury situation for myself, as almost happened last time! I did the workout in the middle of the day, too… had I done it in the morning, it would’ve been quite pleasant.

It’s been a while since I’ve trained Muay Thai, and I was really feeling it, so that’s what I did. I focused on just a few techniques, which I mostly practiced in shadow-boxing. I did work the bag a little with some kicks, punches, and spinning elbows, but not much.

So here we’ve got a whole slew of pics, because I thought I’d include some of my warm-up and stretching. Also, I included what I inhaled ate afterward. I went into the garage when I would usually be eating lunch, so I was famished!

I started with a light warm-up of jogging around the mat, then side-skipping each direction to warm up laterally. I threw hook punches while side-skipping.

 

Warming up (side-skipping)

Warming up (side-skipping)

 

Some agility work in with the warm-up… this is also a lateral exercise, alternately crossing one foot in front and behind the other while moving around the ring.

 

Agility drill

Agility drill

 

From the ground up, I warmed up my major joints in circular movements. Hip rotations are my favorite to do before any combat sport workout; the exercise loosens you up at the core, which helps loosen the whole body.

 

Hip rotations

Hip rotations

 

Next, I did a little stretching, as in, I probably only spent three minutes on it. This is not advisable… stretching is important. I’d usually spend a good 15 minutes stretching, minimum. My entire workout was only 40 minutes long, though, and only 30 of it was actual technique practice… in cooler weather, I’d do a longer workout.

 

Stretching

Stretching

 

Stretching

Stretching

 

Then I got started. I spent a minute just moving around in Muay Thai stance so I could get comfortable in the feel of it again – it really has been a while! – before starting on the techniques I wanted to practice.

 

(Muay) Thai stance

(Muay) Thai stance

 

Muay Thai stance is not the same as boxing stance. The difference starts with your hips… your hips face forward in Muay Thai (toward your opponent). You stand taller, keep your guard up higher (and it’s an open hand guard), keep your elbows out a little bit, rather than holding them in tight… and rather than standing rooted, you’re constantly moving your feet, shifting your weight (kind of like walking in place) so you can react quickly with leg techniques. You have to be able to easily lift and maneuver your front leg, especially, to check (lift your leg to guard against) low roundhouse kicks!

The techniques I worked included striking defense, like slipping…

 

Slip to the right

Slip to the right

 

…pulling back…

 

Pull back

Pull back

 

…slipping to the other side…

 

Slip to the left

Slip to the left

 

(already pretty warm at this point)

 

Changing angles

Changing angles

 

Working the teep (front push kick), which can be used in offense or defense…

 

Teep (front push kick)

Teep (front push kick)

 

Some elbow strikes… a lot of elbow strikes, actually.

This one’s the downward chop, a brutal way to get hit (this will cut you). Chambering my right elbow…

 

Downward elbow chop (set-up)

Downward elbow chop (set-up)

 

…and smashing it down.

 

Downward elbow chop

Downward elbow chop

 

Working the low roundhouse defense… this is the leg check. Also, my right hand is up in helmet guard, while my left arm guards in front with palm facing out. With your palm facing out, you can catch and grab kicks.

 

Checking (roundhouse defense)

Checking (roundhouse defense)

 

Jumping in with a flying downward elbow…

 

Flying downward elbow

Flying downward elbow

 

Not sure what was going on here; probably chambering a teep…

 

Teep chamber - ?

Teep chamber – ?

 

Front knee strike…

 

Knee strike

Knee strike

 

(working around to the back)

 

Let's do this!

Let’s do this!

 

I just threw a few kicks and strikes on the bag. This is a cross punch…

 

Cross (punch)

Cross (punch)

 

Then down to the MMA dummy for some ground and pound. I also worked elbows on that bag.

 

Ground and pound

Ground and pound

 

Here I was resting, but also taking the opportunity to work my knuckles and forearms a little bit…

 

Resting

Resting

 

That was enough! Getting up to walk back.

 

Walking back (hey, I was wiped out)

Walking back (hey, I was wiped out)

 

I have to say it again: I’m so grateful to have this gym at home. It accommodates a lot in the way of working out.

 

Keeping it on the down low. (Garage gym post!)

Because of the Labor Day holiday, our Body Combat class was cancelled on Saturday and also yesterday. This gave me a great incentive to brave the garage again. Our temperatures have cooled down to the low 100’s, and I wanted to get in at least one workout over the weekend.

I had no plan until I got in there, and then, I don’t know, I guess I saw the MMA dummy and decided to do some random ground conditioning. Maybe I was also inspired by a resurrected memory of wresting in high school when an old friend reminded me about it on Facebook the other day. Fun times!

Some of this workout was inspired by wrestling, some by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I’ve never actually studied the latter;* I used to train in Muay Thai at an MMA gym, where the schedule comprised BJJ as well as Muay Thai, so I had some exposure there. I’ve done some dabbling over the years.

In MMA, you have to deal with people trying to take you down, and you have to try to defend that and defend/escape when they’ve got you on the ground. There’s a lot of core work involved, so a workout like this is great for core strengthening. I did this workout two days ago, and by yesterday evening, my abs and obliques were super sore from top to bottom and side to side. I also feel my traps quite a bit, and, to a lesser extent, my lats. Mission accomplished!

*I’d love to get into a BJJ class somewhere. Next martial art on the list, for sure.

Without further blathering, here are a few snips from Sunday’s workout:

 

–Burpees. Lots of them. They’re a fantastic all-around, whole body conditioning exercise.

A traditional burpee involves doing a push-up from plank position. In the variation I did, the push-up is replaced with a sprawl. Rather than kicking back into plank and doing a push-up, you kick back and land with your hips down on the mat in one fluid motion. The sprawl is a technique done to defend against a shoot, which is a take-down attempt.

 

Burpee pt. 1 - Landing in sprawl

Burpee pt.1 – Landing in sprawl

 

(Didn’t realize that I got so much air until I saw this; I must have had some momentum going from touching down after a jump.)

From the sprawl, you jump your feet back in toward your hands, which are still on the ground.

 

Burpee pt. 2 - Jumping feet in

Burpee pt. 2 – Jumping feet in

 

From there, you jump straight up with your arms overhead, so your whole body is reaching upward. In this workout, I made it a jump tuck, where you curl your lower legs back toward your rear at the top of the jump.

 

Burpee pt. 3 - Leaping up

Burpee pt. 3 – Leaping up

 

Then you land and continue the steps in an endless stream of why am I doing this to myself. Those three steps done in one continuous movement equal one burpee.

–Resting.

 

Resting.

Resting.

 

–I did a few sets of shoulder rolls across the floor somewhere in here, but I didn’t capture pics of them. It’s difficult capturing shoulder roll (or any kind of roll) pics that show anything… with a cell phone camera, at least.

–This next exercise really works the core, including the glutes. From bridge position, reach up and over to the opposite side with your hips off the ground.

 

Reach-overs from bridge to the right

Reach-overs from bridge to the right

 

Reach-overs from bridge to the left

Reach-overs from bridge to the left

 

–Then I did a shrimping drill, where you’re on your back with your knees bent, pushing yourself backward with your legs and rolling over into a V shape on your side before rolling back and pushing off for the next one on the other side.* This works your core and legs. When doing it as an actual technique, it’s a hip escape.

*Apologies for the awkward description. Not my strong suit, describing exercises. THIS IS BECAUSE I’M NOT A TRAINER.

 

Shrimping drill

Shrimping drill

 

–Then I spent some time moving around the dummy, staying low while touching, grabbing, switching directions, et cetera. Just some basic grappling conditioning. This is great for lower body strength.

 

Hello, dummy!

Hello, dummy!

 

Lower body work on the MMA dummy

Lower body work on the MMA dummy

 

Maneuvering around the bag

Maneuvering around the bag

 

Switching direction

Switching direction

 

And here’s the silly but traditional walking-back pic.

 

Walking back

Walking back

 

Totally enjoyed this workout. Totally felt it the next day, and I still feel it! I think my abs and traps are shot for the week.

Functional core-training for combat sports. (Garage gym post!)

PREFACE: Body Combat was canceled on Wednesday, so I thought I’d venture into the garage to do a core-strengthening workout and document it for this category on TALC.

I say “venture into” because it’s been a while since I’ve worked out in the garage. When summer started, I hung in with the heat for as long as I could, and then I tapped out and migrated most of our dumbbells into the house.

It was over 110 degrees on Wednesday at 5:00pm, and it was even hotter in the garage. I opened the garage door halfway and left the back door open. I had a big bottle of water with ice. Still, going out there and doing anything at all was foolish.

THE DISCLAIMER: These posts always come with disclaimers (I’m not a trainer, this post is not a tutorial, etc.), and those all stand for this one, as well, but here’s one really important one that I can’t stress enough: I was reckless in working out in the garage in extreme heat. DO NOT work out in the heat!! Unless you’re doing hot yoga, relegate your workouts to a comfortable, temperature-controlled environment… especially in the desert in the summer.

THE WORKOUT: The core is the body’s center. It covers a large area, pretty much the entire torso – front, back (especially lower back), and sides – as well as the upper legs, hips, and glutes. There are probably hundreds of exercises you can do to strengthen your core, and for myself, I like to change things up frequently.

I also tend to favor exercises that are functionally useful for combat sports, and Wednesday’s core-strengthening workout was no exception.

Here’s what I decided to do:

  • Dumbbell cross crunch
  • Dumbbell bench kick-outs
  • Triangle choke leg raise
  • Reverse lunge to knee strike
  • Crunch with medicine ball throw
  • Dumbbell V-up
  • Kick-throughs
  • Plank hold (2 minutes)

–I defaulted to 8 lb dumbbells for the three dumbbell exercises, because those are the only ones left in the garage besides our 30 lb set.

–The medicine ball I use is also 8 lbs.

–Because of the heat, I only did one set of each exercise (normally I’d do three or four).

That I did this workout in a veritable oven and lived to tell about it is something of a miracle, may I add. I’m not proud of it, either. I nearly met my death by garage cremation; it would’ve been a Darwin Award.

But I’ve got these pics snipped from the workout footage, as usual.

 

1). Dumbbell cross crunch:

 

Dumbbell cross crunch

Dumbbell cross crunch

 

[I’m crunching up and twisting to the left (while punching out diagonally with the right hand) and to the right (while punching out diagonally with the left hand), keeping my non-punching hand up to guard the side of my face. This exercise is great without dumbbells, too.]

My feet are hooked under the 30 lb dumbbells for stabilization. In training gyms, we partner up and hold each other’s feet. Heavy dumbbells are a good substitute.

This works your abs, obliques (sides of the torso), shoulders, and upper back.

 

2). Dumbbell bench kick-outs:

 

Dumbbell bench kick-outs (on MMA dummy)

Dumbbell bench kick-outs (on MMA dummy)

 

[It’s a weird angle, but you can see the red dumbbell between my feet. I’m gripping the handles on the sides of the bag and stabilizing myself with my elbows with my upper body elevated while repeatedly pressing my legs forward and back from a bent position, bringing my knees as close to my body as possible each time.]

Rather than dragging our bench into the camera’s field of vision, I used the MMA dummy. This increases difficulty because the bag is round and therefore unstable.

This works the entire core.

 

3). Triangle choke leg raise:

 

Triangle choke leg raise

Triangle choke leg raise

 

[Stabilizing myself with my arms, I’m keeping my hips up off the floor while quickly switching my feet behind the opposite knee, elevating my hips further while doing the switch and clamping down with the bent top leg. I’m basically alternating my legs while pulsing up with my elevated hips each time. That’s awkward to explain. You can get the idea from the pic.]

Your butt never touches the floor.

This works the entire core, particularly the lower abs, and I also feel this a little in my upper body as I engage my shoulders to keep my arms pressed to the ground.

 

4). Reverse lunge to knee strike:

(This is a two-part exercise.)

 

Reverse lunge to knee strike (lunge - part 1)

Reverse lunge to knee strike (lunge – part 1)

 

[Part 1. I’m taking a deep step back to sink into a lunge, and I’m keeping my lower body facing forward while twisting my upper body to the opposite corner with my arms up and my hands together.]

 

Reverse lunge to knee strike (knee - part 2)

Reverse lunge to knee strike (knee – part 2)

 

[Part 2. In one explosive movement, I’m pulling my arms down diagonally across my body while pulling my rear leg up into a knee strike, pushing my hips forward to drive my knee up high. My arms end up on the outside of my knee.]

This mainly works the quadriceps (front of the thighs), glutes (butt), hip flexors, and obliques.

 

5). Crunch with medicine ball throw:

(Another two-part exercise.)

 

Medicine ball crunch (bottom)

Medicine ball crunch (bottom)

 

[Part 1. Holding a medicine (weighted) ball back behind my head, I’m crunching up as I would doing a standard crunch.]

 

Medicine ball crunch (top)

Medicine ball crunch (top)

 

[Part 2. Getting to the top of the crunch, I’m thrusting my arms straight up to explosively push the ball into the air, then catching it before lowing myself back down to the starting position.]

Again, my feet are hooked under heavy dumbbells for stabilization.

This works the entire core, plus the shoulders.

 

6). Dumbbell V-up:

 

Dumbbell V-up

Dumbbell V-up

 

[Keeping my legs straight and together, I’m raising them at the same time that I’m crunching up my upper body, holding a dumbbell in each hand and stretching my arms up toward my toes before simultaneously lowering my upper and lower body back to the floor.

This primarily works the abs and lower abs, plus shoulders.

 

7). Kick-throughs:

 

Kick-throughs

Kick-throughs

 

[From beast position (all fours), I’m quickly kicking each leg out to the opposite side, keeping my same-side hand on the floor for upper-body stabilization (my left leg is kicking, so my left hand stays on the floor.]

In this dynamic exercise, opposite limbs are coordinated in the movements. The left leg and right arm are in the air while the right leg and left arm are planted on the floor.

This works the entire core, plus upper body.

 

8). 2-minute plank hold:

 

2-minute plank hold

2-minute plank hold

 

[I’m holding a basic plank position on my forearms and the balls of my feet.]

I would normally try to hold this position for 3 minutes, but there was no way that was going to happen in the inferno that was my garage that day.

This works the entire core, plus upper body. Personally, I feel this the most in my upper legs and lower back.

 

And I’m done.

 

Done. Walking back.

Done. Walking back.

 

I had symptoms of mild heat exhaustion by the time it was over… my heart was racing, I had a slight headache, and I was slightly dizzy. My bad decision to do this workout in extreme heat could have earned me a Darwin Award!

It was a good workout, though.

Garage gym workout! (Nunchaku practice, because my ninja skills are laughable.)

My plan to do an actual garage gym post turned into a whim masquerading as a garage gym post. By that, I mean that the garage gym shenanigans pictured here actually happened in my office on the spur of the moment.

It’s a nunchaku practice session. I would normally have done it in the garage, but that day last week it was a case of why bother with the hot garage when all I’m going to do is basically stand in one place while I get reacquainted with this weapon. It made sense to do it in the air-conditioned comfort of the house; plus, I was just taking a break from writing.

So it’s not the garage… it’s my office. And it’s not a workout… it’s a practice. Still, it’s martial arts training, which many of you seem to find enjoyable to view. I’m happy to provide!

As you may know, nunchaku are a Japanese (specifically, Okinawan) weapon. Ironically, it’s the only Japanese tradition in my martial arts background, and I never got far with it, unfortunately. That I’m rusty with the nunchaku now is an understatement. I lost track of my last set of practice ‘chuks years ago and I rarely used them years before that, so I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since I’ve last engaged. I recently got this new set online.

 

Your standard 12" foam-covered practice nunchaku

Your standard 12″ foam-covered practice nunchaku

 

I set the camera/phone on the window sill, leaning it up against the glass… just as professional a set-up as in the garage! Haha.

 

Quick glance out the window before grabbing the nunchaku from the corner of my desk.

Quick glance out the window before grabbing the nunchaku from the corner of my desk.

 

My form is poor, I know. Working on it.

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

I warmed up with some basic spinning techniques, but the ‘chuks go too fast to be seen in those, so I didn’t bother picturing them here. Here’s a slow starting helicopter spin…

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

What is up with my hand?! Even transitioning into a block, that looks totally wrong.

Please pardon the hilarious expression on my face in these pics. Let’s just say it’s from concentrating so hard on not knocking myself out.

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

Also, what the hell is going on with my stance??!!!

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-Nunchaku_1

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

[**cringing**]

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

I don’t even… why am I leaning back so far??

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

Afternoon nunchaku practice

Afternoon nunchaku practice

 

If this made you laugh, then my work here is done.

So, yeah, slightly embarrassing, but there’s a reason why I’m working on this weapon again. I’ll keep practicing what I know, and I’ll learn some more.

I do have to say that the lighting in here is fantastic compared to the lighting in the garage! Natural light is the best, in my opinion, especially for a weapon like this that’s hard to capture in a recording.

UFC 196/MMA chatter (co-main events)!

I didn’t think this would be a post in and of itself. I actually wrote some new haiku I wanted to share today, but at the same time, I wanted to share my reaction to the outcomes of Saturday’s co-main events on the UFC 196 fight card in Las Vegas. Needless to say, the two things did not mix.

MMA at the top of the post loomed awkwardly over the haiku; leaving it there might have led you to expect my haiku to be about MMA (which, actually, might be a fun challenge for future haiku).

MMA after the haiku made the post look like two separate posts, which it basically was. So I separated them. UFC 196 today, Haiku 4 on Friday!

Really, though, I just wanted to briefly share my reaction to the co-main events at UFC 196.

 

 

UFC fighter Miesha Tate

UFC fighter Miesha Tate

 

Holm-Tate

(Starting with the women because this fight was my primary focus.)

You would think that a long-time Holly Holm fan would’ve been disappointed by Holm’s loss. I would have totally expected that of myself, too, so I was astonished to be thrilled – actually jubilant – for Miesha when she choked out Holly and won the belt!

My reaction didn’t surprise Callaghan, because he felt the same way.

It makes sense that I felt the way I did, though. A fan of Tate’s as well as Holm’s, I’d been happy for Tate when it was announced that she would challenge Holm for the title, especially considering how down and frustrated Tate had been when the shot against Rousey was given to Holm. Tate is talented, and she’s worked hard. She’s done her time in the octagon and more than earned that belt. In my mind, she was overdue for that belt.

(Aside: We didn’t go out to watch the fights. We stayed in and binge-watched the new season of House of Cards as I was trying to heal my vocal cords, which once again crapped out on me over the weekend. Yep – woke up on Saturday morning, no voice! You can BET I didn’t get anywhere near that fight card as I was making efforts to resist trying to talk. Later that night I jumped on Twitter to find the fight results.)

From what I’ve gathered online, the Holm-Tate fight unfolded into the extraordinary battle I was expecting. Holm and Tate are extraordinary combat athletes. With their opposite strengths, the two fought an intensely tactical fight that very nearly went the distance, right there distinguishing the match from previous bouts in the UFC’s women’s bantamweight division.

I’m pleased for Tate, and I’m not worried about Holm. Holm is a relatively fresh face in the UFC. She’s just getting started!

It’s thrilling to watch the UFC’s female ranks evolve… and evolving, they still are. Women have only fought in the UFC for four years. Thanks to Rousey storming the scene with her sensational wins, women caught the MMA world’s attention and staked out a claim of recognition and ownership in the sport for themselves. And thanks to Holm shaking things up with her upset win against Rousey, the women’s bantamweight division got a whole lot more competitive, unpredictable, and intriguing. It’s all played out beautifully, and I’m looking forward to what the future will bring! From here, starting with Tate taking the belt from Holm, anything goes.

McGregor-Diaz

I have much less to say about this fight since I don’t follow the men nearly as much as I follow the women. I can say, though, that the outcome of the McGregor-Diaz bout DID genuinely surprise me, mainly because Diaz took the fight with two weeks’ notice. He had a mere two weeks to prepare before getting into the octagon with McGregor after McGregor’s original opponent, Rafael Dos Anjos, pulled out with a broken foot! SURPRISE: Diaz, as everyone knows, choked out McGregor.

Summary: The two underdogs choked out the champs on Saturday night. The UFC 196 show in Las Vegas delivered unexpected outcomes… and I love a show when you can’t guess the ending.

Garage gym updates and Tae Kwan Do techniques!

Coming back around to the promised garage gym update! Since our initial setting-up in January last year, we’ve made a few additions to the garage to further its transition into a small but functional training space. We also cleared out the relics that came with the garage when we bought the house – old cans of paint and such.

Now we’ve got the basics: 63 square feet of mat flooring (we added a couple of rows of rubber tiles to enlarge the floor), a standing punching bag, an MMA dummy on the floor, a mirror (thanks to Craigslist), a few sets of dumbbells, and speakers (for blasting dub-step, rap, and metal during boxing and Muay Thai training, of course). It’s a great space for the two of us, but as many as four people could train in there at once. Maybe five. Maybe six, depending on what we do. It’s small, but it works.

The South Korean flag still hangs in the corner. When I go in to practice Tae Kwan Do, I’m entering a do-jang  (the Korean equivalent of the Japanese dojo). There’s no music during a Tae Kwan Do session. Because of the quiet and the concentration required, I find that it’s akin to a moving meditation practice. I feel at peace. Perhaps more than anything, the flag carries sentimental value, as my Tae Kwan Do master handed it down to me before he moved out of state years ago.

Another thing – unrelated, but useful – is that I upgraded my phone last week, so now I’m equipped with a camera that’s much better than my old one!

(I’ll be honest… I only upgraded my phone to get a new camera. I was content with the phone, itself, but I wanted to take better pictures, and I didn’t want to invest in an actual camera. I was eligible for a phone upgrade, anyway, so it worked out well.)

So, with this new phone camera, thinking of how I could show what the space can accommodate, I decided to record myself doing a Tae Kwan Do form (hyung in Korean; kata in Japanese – this is TKD, so it’s hyung). I recorded the video on Sunday afternoon and used “pause” and “the snippy tool” to get the slew of Tae Kwan Do technique selfies posted here.

But first, observe the quality difference between my old and new cameras!

Old camera (Samsung Galaxy S4):

 

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

Home gym in the garage, one year later.

 

New camera (Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge):

 

Walking up to start...

Walking up to start…

 

I clipped this shot out of the video, so I’m blurry in movement, but notice the colors! The lighting in the garage was exactly the same in both images, and as per usual, there were no digital shenanigans involved to alter the pics. I’m in love with this camera. The phone part is pretty great, too, and yes, I’m totally raving about a Korean phone in a post about Korean karate. Coincidence.

Without further rambling about cameras and phones, here are a few of the Tae Kwan Do blocks and attacks I clipped from the recorded video:

 

Horizontal front chest block

Horizontal front chest block

 

Double-fisted groin block

Double-fisted groin block

 

Stomp attack with downward block (prep)

Stomp attack with downward block (prep)

 

Back fist (prep)

Back fist (prep)

 

(My striking fist did originate from further inside, but it looks awkward at this second of transition… )

 

Jump attack (prep)

Jump attack (prep)

 

Jump attack

Jump attack

 

Block to sides

Block to sides

 

Left hand groin attack (pull at the end of the technique)

Left hand groin attack (pull at the end of the technique)

 

Finished.

Finished.

 

Note that my feet are slightly too far apart in that finish.  I saw ALL of my mistakes while watching the video and pausing on the techniques, which makes the recording a valuable practice I should continue. You may see more training pics here in the future.  Just a head’s-up.

 

(walking back to stop the recording, haha)

(walking back to stop the recording, haha)

 

Anyway, our garage gym figures beautifully into my New Year’s resolution to get stronger. We’re going to add three or four sets of dumbbells to our little collection, so we’ll be able to get in some effective full-body workouts. Gotta love Play It Again Sports! We’re also going to add what we need to keep the space tolerable during the hot months.

Because “resolution” without the “re” is SOLUTION.

Like many people, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been an on-and-off cynic most of my adult life. My birthday falls five days before New Year’s Day, though, so at some point, I finally thought, Why not turn my personal one-year-older goals into resolutions? Because what are birthdays if not opportunities for introspection and decision-making to move forward with new or refreshed goals, right? Or something like that (says my inner self-help guru to myself).

“Resolution” minus the “re” is “solution,” after all… and that stands out to me. I’m a fan of solutions.

As it turns out, I do well participating in the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. It’s glorified goal-setting that could be undertaken on any random day, sure, but January 1 is as good a day as any, fanfare or no. If we don’t have the motivation to commit to a goal on any other day of the year, at least there’s that day!

“Goals” is a popular word right now, but I want to talk plainly about how there’s a difference between wanting to achieve goals and needing to achieve them. Resolutions, in my opinion, are goals that we need to achieve; we make them in order to reignite the mechanisms we have for growth, self-improvement, joie de vivre… whatever it is that we’re lacking, in whatever way it needs to manifest. Ultimate goals are things like contentment and productivity. Contentment and productivity are good. People who are content and productive are good for society, good for us all.

You might receive advice that’s actually detracting, usually coming from the hearts of well-intentioned loved ones. There’s the old “…but you have to WANT to do it,” which I think is psychobabble for “You have to feel that doing xyz is going to result in personal gratification, or it’s not worth the effort.” I don’t believe this. Some of my greater achievements in life resulted from goals that I needed to pursue, but I absolutely didn’t want to pursue them.

Quitting smoking, for instance. I smoked between the ages of 15 and 23. I only smoked for eight years, but addiction is addiction no matter how long you’ve had it.

I absolutely did not WANT to quit smoking. I loved smoking. Whenever I’d think about quitting, all I WANTED my next cigarette. When I finally committed to breaking the habit, I still didn’t want to. I did it because I knew that I needed to.

Quitting was every bit as excruciating as I thought it would be.

I quit cold turkey, and I never smoked another cigarette. That was 24 years ago. (I think I was successful in part because I suffered through the process without the aid of chemical replacements. This was pre-nicotine patch. There was nicotine gum, but I wasn’t attracted to that strategy.) Suffering for that victory, that solution to the problem of my compromised health, made me value my success even more. If at any point in my smoking cessation journey someone uttered those condescending words in my general direction – “You just have to WANT to quit!” – I would have had to bite my tongue REALLY HARD. I know why I’m quitting. It’s a decision that I made. I don’t need you to tell me that if I just WANT to quit, I’ll effortlessly break my addiction overnight and ride off on a unicorn into a field of flowers and happy little bunnies.

Overcoming addiction of any kind is never easy, no matter if someone WANTS to do it or not.

But I digress. My point is, make a resolution, for the New Year or on any other day. Think of it as going after a solution. Focus on seizing something that will change your life for the better if you capture it. You’re not just making a change (passive connotation). You’re taking action (aggressive connotation). So be aggressive in tackling your resolution. Be a New Year’s resolution badass. Go for it.

Another thing people commonly say: “Do it for yourself. If you do it for someone else, you won’t succeed.” Again, I disagree. I mean, I don’t think this is always the case.

Last year, my main New Year’s resolution was to go cruelty-free… for Ronnie James, my feline fur-child. As Callaghan and I tried desperately to save his life, I told the Wrah-Wrah that I’d make every effort to avoid purchasing and using personal care products and cosmetics made by companies who engage in animal cruelty practices. (Granted, this wasn’t difficult, as I’d already been boycotting a couple of big-name brands for years to avoid contributing to their human rights violations. Boycotting companies that test on animals wasn’t a far stretch from that.)

I did it for Ronnie James. He died five months into the year, but I’m still doing it. For him. For all animals, but first and foremost for him. And doing it for him has kept me motivated to stick to my resolution more than I would were I just “doing it for myself.” In a strange sense I can’t really explain, the act of consciously and continuously striving to remove myself from the cycle of animal suffering at human hands keeps Ronnie James alive.

This strategy of goal-planning works for me, anyway. Everyone is different, but it might work for you, too. It would be worth trying! Dedicate your resolution to someone who deeply matters to you. Make them a promise you won’t want to break, and you might find that it’s easier to stick to your efforts.

This brings me to Resolutionary Road, 2016! I have more than one resolution. Here’s my list:

1). Get more sleep on a regular basis.

2). Improve my French (conversation).

3). Commit to strength-training.

Getting more sleep was my secondary resolution in 2015. Since I failed completely, it’s at the top of my 2016 list. I really, really need to get more sleep. Here, again, is the difference between wants and needs: I don’t WANT to get more sleep. I WANT the opposite… I want more hours in the day. I want to stay up until 3:00am, because for some reason, I’m often possessed by a rush of creative energy at around 11:00pm every night, and I’m afraid that if I don’t utilize it, I’ll squander it. But more sleep is an absolute necessity for my health, so this year, I’m going to try to shut everything down at 10:00pm so I can be in bed by 10:30pm. I get up at 5:30am on weekdays, so this would give me seven hours of sleep IF I fall asleep the second my head hits the pillow. (Which never happens. But nearly seven hours of sleep would be a great improvement over the four-five hours I typically get.)

I dedicate this resolution to Mom, who always worries that I don’t sleep enough. I don’t want her to worry about me for any reason, because worrying is detrimental to her health.

For my second resolution, improving my French conversation, I simply need to speak more French. I have a bad habit of answering Callaghan in English when he speaks to me in French. The divide between my comprehension level and speaking level is now so great that it’s ridiculous! I have no excuses. I just need to speak it more; that’s the only way I’m going to improve.

I dedicate this resolution to Callaghan, obviously!

As for strength-training, I need to make that a regular part of my workout routine. I’m not weak, but I would feel better in a stronger body. Doing pull-ups in my home office doorway every once in a while isn’t sufficient, and shadow-boxing with dumbbells isn’t cutting it, either. We have heavier dumbbells, so I need to start using them.

I dedicate this resolution to Ming, my best friend who died suddenly in 2003. Ming was one of my Tae Kwan Do instructors, and as friends, we developed a brother-sister bond that made him a member of my family. Ming was an extremely talented martial arts athlete, and his work ethic in the do-jang inspires me to this day. Improving my strength so I can be a better martial artist is my tribute to him.

 

Ming and me, 1996

Ming and me, 1996

 

Happy Resolutioning, if you do it!

LUCHA LIBRE! It’s what’s for entertainment (the night before your birthday).

Lucha Libre – Mexican wrestling – has to be the most colorful and entertaining type of combat sport I know. Like all wrestlers, a luchador is an athlete and an entertainer rolled into one. Luchadores are known for wearing masks. They’re known for launching themselves into the air. Lucha Libre is hella fun to watch!

A Mexican cultural tradition, it’s natural to see Lucha Libre in Arizona. When a $5.00 ticket deal for a Lucha Libre event at a local venue hit my inbox last week, I snapped up a couple and asked Callaghan after the fact (if he wanted to go). I suspected he’d love it, so I just went for it, thinking I could justify my impulsive decision with the It’s my birthday weekend and this is what I want to do reasoning. The event was on Saturday night. My birthday was on Sunday. Luckily, Callaghan was stoked about our impromptu plans. Lucha Libre tickets five bucks each!

So we headed over to the AZ Event Center on Saturday night, and today I’m coming at you with another gazillion images. I took the interior pics from my seat and with my cell phone, as usual, so the usual disclaimer about the photo quality applies. I wanted to capture the personalities of the luchadores and the fun they were having!

 

[TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

[TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Me with Callaghan on my birthday eve at the AZ Event Center. We were tired, but... Lucha Libre!!

Me with Callaghan on my birthday eve at the AZ Event Center. We were tired, but… Lucha Libre!!

 

From Bout 1:

 

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Strolling around the audience…

 

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

From Bout 2 (Las mujeres! – female bout):

 

Bout 2 - Las mujeres! [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 – Las mujeres! [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 2 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

From Bout 3 (two Mexican dudes vs. two American dudes):

 

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 3 – Mexico duo vs. United States duo! [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Representing Mexico:

 

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Representing the United States:

 

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 3 – Mexicans in green, Americans in black shorts [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

(These two were the only Americans on the fight card.)

 

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Mr-Mexico Luchador!

 

Mr-Mexico Luchador, end of Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Mr-Mexico Luchador, end of Bout 3 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

From Bout 4 (tag teams – trios):

 

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Team 1:

 

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Team 2:

 

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 4 [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Loved these guys!

We picked up a free poster on our way out:

 

Great night of Lucha Libre! [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Great night of Lucha Libre! [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

I did capture some high-flying action shots, but with the technical limitations of the cell phone camera, they’re not great – some luchadores came out blurry, while others were straight-up unidentifiable blurs.

Okay, I’ll include a few of them, because why not! These are all from the first bout:

 

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

INCOMING!

 

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

And…

 

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 - Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Bout 1 – Action [TALC at Duelo de Dominacon LUCHA LIBRE, AZ Event Center, 2015]

Ka-BAAM.

Also, here’s a short video clip of the bout between the Mexican duo and the American duo, which Callaghan let me post on his YouTube channel:

 

 

The Americans are the ones wearing shorts. They ended up winning, by the way.

Awesome night of entertainment!

Rousey vs. Holm WTF.

I’m just going to go ahead and use this space today to ramble a bit about Ronda Rousey’s next professional rendezvous, as I’ve been having thoughts about it since I heard the news a few days ago.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-RouseyVsHolmUFC195

 

Mainly, I’m dismayed.

Like the rest of the MMA-watching world, I’ve been waiting to see who Rousey would fight following her theatrical 34-second dispatching of Bethe Carreia on August 1. Also like most of the rest of the MMA-watching world, I assumed we were in for Part III of Rousey vs. Tate. (Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino’s been calling out Rousey, but their impasse over weight seems unbudgeable for the moment.)

So I was surprised when Rousey announced who she’s planning to fight this January at UFC 195. She’ll face an opponent who’s only been dedicated to MMA for two years. An opponent who’s only fought twice in the UFC, and who only has nine fights on her MMA record, total. We’re four months and a week out from early January. Could someone so inexperienced in MMA possibly get Rousey-ready by then?

I guess anything is possible. It’s possible that we’ll see an upset on January 2. But I don’t think it’s likely.

Southpaw Holly Holm and her kickboxing/boxing career first came to my attention in 2002, when I started following women’s boxing on WBAN.com. At some point, she wrapped up kickboxing and went on to box her way around four weight classes, picking up title belts at every stop. Then, in 2013, she hung up her boxing gloves to shift her attention to MMA. That was just two years ago. I repeat for the third time, that was just two years ago.

Holm, literally “The Preacher’s Daughter” from Albuquerque, New Mexico, is an experienced boxer and a formidable opponent in that sport. She’s comfortable with the contours of the ring, and she’s technically good on her feet. But in order to stand any chance (pun intended, yes) against Ronda Rousey, she has to stay on her feet on January 2.

Because so far? I haven’t seen that Holm has any ground game to speak of, and I don’t know why the UFC is giving we MMA fans this lopsided match-up for Rousey’s next fight. I’m dismayed because of that in and of itself, and I’m also dismayed because, as I said, I’ve been following Holm’s boxing career for 13 years. I feel like I know the girl, as long-time fans do. After Holm’s tremendous, decorated and highly-esteemed boxing career, I don’t want to see her get into the octagon to be finished off in less time than it takes me to take the trash out to the alley behind my house. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to hear about it, either. Ronda Rousey? Holly Holm? In four months?

In four months, Rousey can sharpen her stand-up skills (have I mentioned that her striking coach was/is Lucia Rijker?), but Holm, the newcomer to MMA, will need years of grappling work and experience to raise her skill-set on the ground to Rousey-level proficiency. Rousey reigns on the ground. Okay, she reigns everywhere, but especially on the ground. (You know, that whole Olympic Judo thing of hers that preceded her MMA career….)

Holm needs to have a plan, and it should include honing her take-down defense between now and January. If she can keep her head, set the pace and control the fight with a highly technical boxing approach (not allowing the bout to become a brawl), and successfully ward off Rousey’s take-down attempts, then she’d have a chance. And I do believe a Holm win is a possibility. The fight will, after all, begin to Holm’s advantage… standing up.

She just has to stay standing up.

Guys, I’m a Holm fan in boxing. I’m a Rousey fan in MMA. I’m having a hard time reconciling the idea of the two of them in the octagon together. In my mind, they belong on their respective sides of the combat sports universe, where they each dominate. I’d heard Holm’s name thrown into the mix in talk about who Rousey could fight next, but I’ve never given Rousey vs. Holm a serious thought… at least not at this embryonic stage in Holm’s MMA career. It always seemed like something that could happen in the future. Is the future in four months?

“Southpaw” floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawMoviePoster

 

It seems like a long time ago that an upcoming boxing drama called Southpaw crossed our radar… or, rather, a long time since we found out that Jake Gyllenhaal, one of our favorite actors (we’ve never seen a film of his we haven’t enjoyed), would be portraying a boxer called Billy “The Great” Hope. We went online and found a photo of his Southpaw physique, and we hardly recognized him. Needless to say, we were stoked.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawJakeGyllenhaal

 

We admire Gyllenhaal because he’s consistently good, and he has a knack for choosing solid projects. He has depth. He has range. But we’d never seen his range extend into action/sports hero territory, and he’d never been an actor I’d expect to see in a gritty, testosterone-driven role such as that of Billy “The Great” Hope. Along with the rest of the world, we were eager to find out how he did. How he did was he went out and trained obsessively and developed himself the bod and the skills, and he smashed it.

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-SouthpawJakeGyllenhaal2

 

Some actors, you can see how they come to casting directors’ minds for such roles: Robert De Niro in Raging Bull, Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, Russell Crowe in Cinderlla Man, Michael Jai White in Blood and Bone, Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler, and Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter, for instance. Then you have excellent but unexpected choices, like Will Smith, who bulked up and trained to play Ali and nailed it, killing everyone’s skepticism (that marked the beginning of Smith’s action hero career, didn’t it?)… and now, Gyllenhaal, who does the same in Southpaw.

There are several ways you can describe Southpaw. It’s a fight movie, a boxing drama, a story of redemption, a vendetta movie, a come-back story… and it’s a family drama.

Here, I have to say that fight movies – especially the ones about boxing – always carry a note of sentimental value for me, so I can’t approach them unbiased. I’ve mentioned before how my fascination with boxing began in early childhood, growing up in the 70’s sitting in front of the T.V. with Dad on Saturday afternoons watching the likes of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Duran, and Hagler, and into the 80’s with Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns (not to mention Howard Cosell throughout it all) on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. Because of those intervals of bonding with Dad throughout my grade school years, I’ve loved the “the sweet science” of boxing for as long as I can remember.

Because I watched the film through the lens of some of my fondest childhood memories, I saw Southpaw as more of a family drama than as a straight-up fight movie. Southpaw is a simple story about a father-daughter relationship and how it was both shaken and healed by boxing. My own enduring affection for the sport of boxing was inspired by my father when I was a young girl of the same age as Billy Hope’s daughter. Unsurprisingly, I found the drama of that relationship to be the most inspired theme in the film.

Nevertheless, Southpaw follows a standard fight-movie formula; fortunately, it does its thing exceptionally well. It transcends the mundanity of its story with great acting and all the technical trimmings of the film-making craft. Neither Callaghan nor I had trouble forgiving the film its baldly formulaic plot, because if you turn it upside down, you can see that the formula works in Southpaw’s favor in some ways. It relieves the film of obligations to be fresh, and it opens up space for the characters and conflicts to develop. It’s telling an old story rife with clichés, and the refreshing part is seeing it done so well.

Family drama aspect aside, Southpaw’s boxing scenes are beautifully filmed and keenly impactful, and we found ourselves on edge even if we could predict the outcome of the bouts. Much of the movie is painful to watch. Southpaw is relentless, a film that needs no time to find its footing, gliding into its rhythm right from the outset. I’d love to watch Southpaw contend for Academy awards, and I think it could, considering the talent that infuses it: Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer); actors such as Forest Whitaker and Rachel McAdams, and, of course, Gyllenhaal. Then there’s the music by James Horner (the film was dedicated to his memory) and Eminem’s contribution of four songs, including “Phenomenal” and “Kings Never Die”… and the fact that the film was brought to us courtesy of the Weinstein Company.

Of all his memorable quotes, Muhammad Ali is perhaps most famous for proclaiming that he’d “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” and that’s what Southpaw does. It floats along on its easy, predictable plot, but in the end, it’s a knock-out.

Body Combat was cancelled on Wednesday. Here’s what I learned.

My passion is martial arts and combat sports. It’s the only reason I go to the gym, as I found out on Wednesday after work when we got there and discovered that Body Combat had been cancelled (due to a misfortune that befell our instructor. Thank goodness she’s okay! That’s the only important thing, of course).

There were other choices. Another group fitness class was scheduled to start within the hour, and another class after that… not to mention the tiny detail of the gym, itself, full of weights, weight machines and cardio equipment.

Callaghan works out with weights two or three times a week on the regular, so he was game to stay for some lifting. On the other hand, he had design work to do at home, so he was also fine with heading out to get an early start on that.

On my part, all I could think was, which combat sports gyms have sessions scheduled for now, and what are their walk-in rates?

Presented with the conundrum without warning, I was surprised to find that I had ZERO interest in doing anything at the actual gym, even though I’ve been going around saying I’d like to find time to lift weights. It’s not like I don’t enjoy lifting weights, either. I do… or, I did. In the past, I’d spent years dedicated to strength-training. But I’m not doing it now, and I couldn’t see how the benefit of doing it one, random time could outweigh the benefit of getting home to my furbabies, a bowl of popcorn mixed with salty pumpkin seeds, and the latest episode of The Whispers, as mediocre a series as we’re finding it to be.

I wasn’t keen on doing straight-up cardio, either. Without being committed to a regular-gym regimen, even the idea of spending 30 minutes or an hour on a piece of cardio equipment bored me. I knew I’d be bored, too, because that was the situation before we discovered Body Combat… I’d go to the gym with Callaghan and force myself to walk on the treadmill, my mind lagging miles behind and scattered in all directions like a fragmented weight tied to my legs with many lengths of rope.

What I’m getting at here is the crux of the issue: Goals, and, driving that, Passion. I used to be passionate about strength-training at the gym, and working out on cardio machines had been a part of that picture, so I enjoyed it. There was a time in my life that I lived for all of that.

Anything I do at home is ancillary to martial/fighting arts. Push-ups (which I did do when we got home on Wednesday night), pull-ups, stretch kicks, ab-work, shadow-boxing, bag-work, even working with the dumbbells that we have – in my mind, it’s all a part of the same thing, which is not weight-lifting, even if the dumbbell part technically is.

 

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I'm walking down the hall, haha!

This pull-up bar in the door-frame of my home office is a great way to keep from getting bored while I’m walking down the hall, haha!

 

Having a goal is a driving force, and passion works as the fuel that gets you there. You could have passion without goals, and, I suppose, goals without passion, but more often than not, they go together.

For me, getting in shape again (after years of sitting on my butt) was a by-product of indulging my passion for martial arts and combat sports. My sense of purpose in Body Combat is about making sure my muscles remember everything, and maintaining the shape I’m in isn’t a vanity-driven objective… it’s a stay-in-fighting-condition one. Likewise, when I walk to work, my purpose is to get to my job, not to “work out,” even though that mile and a half brisk walk does constitute a workout.

It’s how you look at it. Fitness is a mental game.

What I realized on Wednesday night is that these days, I don’t go to the gym to “work out.” Maybe I will again in the future, but for now, I’m going for the joy of doing what I love. This is what I’d suggest to anyone wondering how to go from sedentary to active when the thought of working out leaves you cold: Find a physical activity you love, or at least enjoy. Bowling, dancing, hiking, tennis, swimming, whatever it may be… go for it, and suddenly, that is what you’re doing to be good to your body. Rather than “working out,” you’re engaging in something you love. Psych yourself out. Improved fitness levels will be the icing on the guilt-free cake.

Vehement boxing gloves – cruelty-free to animals, but not necessarily to your opponent!

As many of you know, I’ve been steadily working on switching over to cruelty-free cosmetics and other such products, as this was my primary New Year’s resolution for 2015. I also resumed my vegan eating habits back in April, which didn’t involve much of a change, as the only animal product I was consuming was a little dairy here and there. After three years, I’m finally back to my pre-France lifestyle, and I feel physically fantastic! Although I’m still floundering in the sleep department (a secondary-though-not-less-important New Year’s resolution was to “get more sleep” – still working on that one), I’m enjoying much more energy now.

After making the cruelty-free commitment with my personal care products and returning to 100% vegetarianism (aka dietary veganism), it made sense to extend the latter choice in the direction of classical veganism, beginning with examining the materials of the things I use and wear. I found that there were a few leather items left in my life at that point, the main one being out in the garage: my pair of boxing gloves. My boxing gloves were made of leather. I started researching to find an alternative. I only felt a little bit guilty springing for some new boxing gloves when a). I’m in financial recovery mode (from Ronnie James’ medical ordeal), and b). I had a beautiful, fairly new pair already (given to me for my birthday last December). But I’m passionate about animals, passionate about combat sports, passionate about my New Year’s resolution, and, before he died, I promised Ronnie James that I’d re-dedicate myself to our favorite cause.

Some of you might be thinking, But Kristi! Boxing gloves are made for hitting people. Why worry about hurting animals in the making of something intended to cause pain to others? I know it seems counter-intuitive. I know. But engaging in combat sports with adult human beings who know they’re going to get hit is not the same thing as taking something cruelly from non-consenting beings. I’m just going to leave my reasoning at that brief statement and get right to the point:

I stumbled upon Vehement, a company that makes boxing gloves, MMA gear and other combat sports equipment and apparel. This is all they do, and they do it very well… without harming animals, humans, or the environment.

 

"Sustainable." "Vegan." "Sweatshop free." What the label doesn't say, but could: "HARDCORE" and "KICK-ASS."

“Sustainable.” “Vegan.” “Sweatshop free.” What the label doesn’t say, but could: “HARDCORE” and “KICK-ASS.”

 

Vehement is a German company, but their international shipping rates are reasonable ($13.00 to the States), and the combat sports gear they make is extremely well-engineered and on point. When you go to their web site, you’ll find a statement that reads:

DESTROY YOUR ENEMIES, NOT YOUR PLANET.

Our hand sewn, sweatshop-free fight gear is made of 100% Battleskin™, an extremely advanced artificial leather: sustainable, durable and vegan. We won several awards for our innovative boxing gloves, MMA gloves and shin guards.

The Wolfheart X2 gloves that I purchased (I chose 12 oz) are a superb all-purpose pair of boxing gloves. Also, did I mention that this conscientious company’s logo is a beautiful wolf face? This is because Vehement shares their profits with the Wolf Conservation Center NY (WCC). That’s right… when you purchase gear from Vehement, you’re contributing to a great cause! From the Wolf Conservation Center NY site:

The WCC’s mission is to promote wolf conservation by teaching about wolves, their relationship to the environment, and the human role in protecting their future. The WCC accomplishes this mission through onsite and offsite education programs emphasizing wolf biology, the ecological benefits of wolves and other large predators, and the current status of wolf recovery in the United States.

 

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

Vehement Wolfheart X2 all-purpose boxing gloves (12 oz)

 

I love the design and fit of Vehement's Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

I love the design and fit of Vehement’s Wolfheart X2 boxing gloves.

 

Vehement sells hand wraps, shin guards, MMA gloves and two types of boxing gloves, as well as clothing and water bottles. If you or someone you know is interested in combat sports gear, I highly recommend this company! Check them out, explore the goods and read their blog posts and announcements: http://vhmnt.com/

In case you’re short on time, I’m pasting in this description of the gloves that I got:

 

thatasianlookingchick.com-VehementWebSiteText

 

I’m extremely happy with the fit, feel and performance of these vegan boxing gloves. I honestly can’t say enough about these gloves – they’re simply the best boxing gloves I’ve ever had (and I’ve owned pairs from both Title and Everlast). Two Battleskin-encased thumbs up!

[NOTE: This post is not sponsored by Vehement]

Gym Rats: There’s a new poster child for calves-training in town.

It’s surprising how a simple virus can change your body in just a few days.

When I concern myself with my weight at all, I look at it through the lens of the combat sports weight class system. I just prefer to view my body as a tool, as in, what can my body do for me? Could I defend myself using my own body? From this perspective, I dropped from the Jr. Bantam class to Jr. Flyweight within a week, just from being sick. What’s more, I’ve been eating normally for five days now, and I’m still in Jr. Fly. Is this just my new weight class? Should I start re-imagining my fantasy opponents?

But returning to the questions What can my body do for me? Could I defend myself using my own body?  I’ve got my goals set for 2015: I want to make my body stronger, and I want it to be better-versed on the ground. I’ll try to find a place in my schedule for some kind of strength-training, as well as for some basic submission training and practice. I feel like I need to work on the basics. Also, getting stronger will get me my lost poundage back, I’m sure.

Callaghan’s been mapping out his training goals for 2015, too. I’d known that he was borderline obsessed with the whole process, but I didn’t realize to what extent until we were at the movie theatre a couple of weeks ago. Actually, it was on my birthday. We were standing in the lobby when I noticed that he was distracted as I was talking to him.

“Sorry,” he said when he noticed me noticing. “I was mesmerized.” Naturally, I turned to look at the object of his attention. The only thing I saw was this promotional display:

 

thatasianlookingchick-spongebobmovie

 

It took a few seconds.

“SpongeBob?”

“His physique,” Callaghan explained.

I looked at the display again. Then I started laughing. Then I started taking pictures. Because Callaghan was too “mesmerized” by SpongeBob SquarePants to pay attention to what I’d been saying, and come on, how many people can say that about their partners? My husband wasn’t listening to me because he was mesmerized by SpongeBob’s physique.

Later, downloading the pics onto my laptop, something caught my eye as I flipped through them. I looked closer, and suddenly, it all make sense! There it was in all its glory… Callaghan’s biggest gym pet peeve:

 

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP LEG DAY, SPONGEBOB.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU SKIP LEG DAY, SPONGEBOB.

 

Callaghan must have been looking at the proportion of SpongeBob’s legs – especially his calves – to the rest of his body!

I was gleeful with my discovery. I went back to him with the pics.

“Were you mesmerized by SpongeBob’s non-existent calves?” I asked.

“Yeah.”

“Or were you just mesmerized by his ripped upper body?”

“I was mesmerized by his non-existent calves. Actually, no, I was mesmerized by his ripped upper body. I didn’t even see his calves!”

Okay, well. Whatever. All I have to say is, once again, my partner is weirder than yours.

And SpongeBob SquarePants is now the official poster child for not skipping leg day… especially calves!

You want to know what mesmerized me over the holidays? Iggy Azalea performing “Fancy” with Charli XCX on New Year’s Eve:

 

 

How’s that for random?

Addicted to Fear? (PTSD post.)

Q: What happens when you watch the American Horror Story: Freak Show premiere and the first two episodes of Stalker all on the same night?

A: The next time you’re alone in the house, ALL THE LITTLE NOISES will cause you to jump and imagine that the most terrifying clown you’ve ever seen is creeping around your windows.

And, if you’re kind of warped, like me, you’ll love it.

Twisty the Clown

Twisty the Clown

Fear is a mysterious emotion. It can be taught, or it can be intuitive. It can be provoked by things we perceive with our own senses, or by others’ senses. Fear as a response to external stimuli real or imagined can also be unpredictable.

Twisty the MURDER Clown, that is.

Twisty the MURDER Clown, that is.

I have phobias, meaning that I experience irrational fear in response to specific things. I also have PTSD, meaning that I have a few known “triggers” floating around in a deep lake of more inexplicable, unknown causes of panic. The resulting inner havoc is predictable even if its cause is not… it’s the familiar old Armageddon of panic and stress boiling in my core, rippling outward through my body like a fire spreading through a house. It feels like I’m being consumed. Sometimes, it even feels like I’m going to die, or like I have to die. I actually take medication for this. Throw in the by-product of clinical depression just to balance it out, and there you have the main reason I live for my body combat classes at the gym three days a week. I enjoy them because they’re amazing, yes, but I also need them for medical reasons. Intense physical training on a regular basis helps my brain chemistry better than anything.

So it’s a mystery to me why, when a former boyfriend introduced me to the creepy PlayStation game Silent Hill (the only video game I’d played since the ‘80’s), I quickly became addicted and couldn’t wait for darkness to fall every night so I could huddle in the shadowy corner of the bed with all the lights out, trembling and listening to the discreet yet horrifying sound of snow crunching beneath my feet (leave it to developers of Japanese horror to make the sound of snow horrifying) as I walked through the abandoned town in search of my daughter. You would think the eerie sense of being watched and the unpredictable sightings and attacks would have sent me into PTSD Armageddon, but instead, I found myself craving more.

It’s odd, this thing about the horror genre in pop culture. If scary movies, television shows, books or games manage to provoke fear or stir up the creep factor even a little bit, which very few of them can do, by the way – my favorites are the ones that can – I just twitch a little and then run back for more. Yet, the sight of a sewer roach encases me in fear and leaves me traumatized for days. Why is that?

I would venture to guess that the PTSD lurks behind this incongruity. Fear strikes, and in that moment of skyrocketing adrenaline, I’m instantaneously alert and on edge. Maybe, in some perverse way, I love it because it makes me feel alive… alert, alive and ready to act, and when this response comes in the wake of stimuli that I know is fictional, I can just enjoy the rush. There’s no real-world threat in fiction. (A roach is not a formidable threat, but it is real.) Maybe I’ve become a “fight or flight” response junkie, though I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I’m addicted to adrenaline, a phenomenon that some people apparently experience. For me, in the case of creepy movies and T.V. shows and books, maybe I’m more just hyper-intrigued by the fear of the unknown, and of the (horrifying) possibilities. Neither am I sure that there’s much of a difference between this kind of fear addiction and the kind of garden-variety thrill-seeking that leads people to go bungee-jumping (I am not a thrill-seeker of the bungee-jumping variety). Whatever the case, I find the psychology of fear to be fascinating. Fear is terror-provoking, thrilling, necessary and fun. What emotion other than love covers all of that?

My affection for the horror genre pre-dates my PTSD, so perhaps that’s significant, as well.

I also think that it’s my PTSD that drives me through whatever martial/fighting arts training I’m doing, especially when my energy stores are low, though I’d loved combat sports long before the PTSD, too. In high school, I was the girl who demanded that the P.E. faculty allow girls to take wrestling, because that was what I wanted to do, and I was outraged that only boys could take it. (In the end, they acquiesced, but only because I got other girls to sign my petition, indicating that they would take it with me. We were only allowed to wrestle under the stipulation that we’d wrestle each other, rather than the boys. Haha!) (I don’t think that anyone was surprised when I joined the Army after that.)

On the tail of that tangent, let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Halloween is just two weeks away. I’m beside myself with glee. We’re in a house now, which means that we get to give candy out to trick-or-treaters. I wonder how many American Horror Story Twisty the Clowns we’ll find on our doorstep Halloween night? I can’t wait to find out!

Happy Friday, All!

What I’m Digging Right Now – August Favorites

August was interesting. It brought death, storm destruction, unpleasant dental work and a diagnosis of asthma for the Ronnie James. It also brought much in the way of good times, a new home and a new job for Callaghan.

At work, the fall semester started, and my Monday that week was epic: I started it first thing in the morning at home by spilling a full, large mug of coffee all over myself, the couch, the floor and the inside of my bag, which was sitting (open, of course) on the floor. How to start your day! Bathe in hot coffee! Such literal, caffeinated ablutions sanitize the early-morning mind. That’s how I saw it. Too bad about the almond milk, though.

Coffee scent still wafts out of my bag every time I open it. It’s not a terrible thing.

On that note, let’s start with entertainment!

 

1). The Killing (T.V. series)

 

thatasianlookingchick.cm-the-killing-season-4-poster

 

Netflix released the fourth and final season of The Killing on August first, and we greedily absorbed it all in two days. It’s over now, and we’re sad about that, but I’ll tell you what… rarely has the final episode of a series felt so satisfying.

I think I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating: we’re hard-pressed to explain how The Killing’s Linden and Holder endeared themselves to us so completely.  Our favorite aspect of watching the series was witnessing the development of these characters and their partnership over the arc of the four seasons, but in fact, we loved everything about it. We found the haunting crime drama to be intriguing and masterfully-paced. The city of Seattle was depicted as mostly rainy and gray, and it seemed to be cast as a character in and of itself to gorgeous effect, veiled more in lyricism than grunge. The actors’ performances were exceptional. The plotlines for each of the seasons kept us quietly on edge. We enjoyed seasons one, two and four the most, but each season built on the last while revolving around unique plotlines (with the exception of season two, which was part two of the opening season’s storyline). Overall, we would say that The Killing is a brilliant and underrated series.

This brings to mind an incident that occurred in the store the other day: I was approached by a guy who wanted to know whether we had cable at home (evidently he worked for a cable company), and when I said no, he asked why not. I answered, “Because Netflix.” He was annoyed (maybe because I laughed, which was probably rude, now that I think about it) and pretty much stalked away with a black cloud over his head. At least we didn’t upset him more by telling him about the other internet resources we use for watching all kinds of movies and T.V. series!

 

2). Rage in the Cage (August 9, 2014).

 

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

Rage in the Cage at the Celebrity Theatre was good times!

 

It’d been too long since I’d attended a combat sports event at the Celebrity Theatre, so when our friend and Body Combat instructor said that she could get us a good deal on tickets because she was going to be working the event as a ring card girl, we gladly seized the opportunity. Not only was it fun to see Izzy at the event (it was like a preview of her participation in the natural physique competition she ended up dominating at the end of the month!), but the fights provided rock-solid entertainment. It was awesome to see that two of the night’s winners hailed from Arizona Combat Sports, the gym where I’d trained in Muay Thai back in its earlier days. The next Rage in the Cage event is in October, and we’re looking forward to it!

 

3). White peaches.

 

The white peaches have been so good, we haven't been able to get enough.

The white peaches have been so good, we haven’t been able to get enough.

 

We devoured white peaches all month… the ones at our favorite Fry’s were fabulous (maybe they still are), and we couldn’t get enough of them! You know how it is when you bite deeply into a piece of fruit and it’s just so satisfying on every level? It’s like that with these peaches. They’re sweet, fragrant, juicy and dense. For me, nothing signals or defines summer as convincingly as certain stone fruits – peaches, cherries, apricots and plums.

 

4). Vegan donuts at Whole Foods.

 

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

Why?! And why do they have to be so good?

 

Leave it to our favorite Whole Paycheck Foods store to start stocking their bakery with vegan donuts. There’s nothing healthy about these deep fried, refined carb- and sugar-loaded delectables; “vegan” isn’t necessarily synonymous with “healthy,” and treats like these donuts are a great case in point. I feel a bit sheepish admitting that I’ve eaten something like five of them since I discovered them just a few weeks ago. Now I need to develop a will power specific to these donuts. Or not.

 

5). Little Ranch House in the Desert.

We’ve been in our new house for two days, and we all love it! We feel like we’re home, and all the space is a wonderful novelty for the kitties. We adopted them from a small apartment in France, and they’ve lived in nothing but equally small spaces up until this move. It’s been funny watching them here… it’s like, they have so much space, they don’t know where to go first. The bed is still their headquarters of choice, though.

 

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

Day One in the new house: Ronnie James purring in contentment on our bed.

 

6). Framed “Not Cal” decal.

 

NOT CAL in a frame!

NOT CAL in a frame!

 

I finally got this second NOT CAL decal framed! I put it in my new home office, of course. I love it.

 

7). göt2b Guardian Angel Gloss Finish Flat Iron Balm.

 

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don't use heat.

The hair product that guards against heat even when you don’t use heat.

 

This is good stuff. I picked this up in August thinking that I would start using my straight-iron again, but I discovered that I like what it does just by itself, as a leave-in treatment on dry hair. It adds a little something (I don’t even know what, really) that I like to my hair.

 

8). Manifesto (perfume).

 

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

Manifesto, the way to end the summer.

 

In August, I started wearing “Manifesto,” which caught my eye because of its name. It amused me because of the Unibomber. (Not that I in any way condone, support or agree with the Unibomber and his activities, mind you. Just… you know. Manifesto.) Then, of course, there was the fragrance, itself! Made by Yves St. Laurent, it’s lovely with its body of white flowers, woods and vanilla. I think it bridges the summer and fall gorgeously.

(I wear perfume strictly for myself, by the way… because I like it, and because of what it evokes for me. I wore fragrance long before I ever wore makeup. It’s a personal thing.)

 

9). Paws jewelry.

 

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael's. (Photo from instagram.)

Favorite impulse buy of the month: paws jewelry from Michael’s. (Photo from instagram.)

 

We were on an errand at Michael’s when I saw this cheap little set of costume jewelry. Paws. They were near a Halloween-themed display, so they may have been a part of that, which would make sense… I’m more prone to impulse-buying when Halloween things are out than any other time of the year.

 

This brings us to Ronnie James’ and Nounours’ “Favorites” pick for August!

 

10). Feliway.

 

A Feliway'd Nounours on the eve of our move.

A Feliway’d Nounours on the eve of our move.

 

Feliway is a product consisting of synthetic feline pheromones – undetectable by humans – emitted by a plug-in device similar to a plug-in air freshener. Our vet prescribed it to Ronnie James as a part of his treatment plan for anxiety, which was aggravating his asthma and causing him to over-groom himself. It works, and it works really well! Feliway mellows kitties like nothing I’ve ever seen before. We had the first one in our bedroom in the apartment before we moved, and now, in the house, we have an additional one – so, one in the living room, and another in our bedroom. Kitty bliss. =)

 

That wraps up my “little things” favorites list for August. Welcome, September!