5 Life lessons I learned from my burnout

January 3, 2015 marked my second year in Filipino Martial Arts. Unlike the “I breathe-think-talk-do-FMA-all- day-long” first anniversary,  this one was quiet and reflective. As some of you may know, I got tired of FMA. Some months back, I burned out bad and needed a time away.

And so, rest from FMA I did.

And you know what? Along the way I realized that, just like in everything else in life, taking a break is not bad at all. In fact, it has numerous benefits and I learned some valuable life lessons:

1. The world will continue to revolve even without you.

I’m embarrassed to admit it even to myself, but I had that secret pride in my heart and thought that my group wouldn’t be the same without me:  They’d be lonely when I don’t show up for practice. For sure they’ll miss me.

Who was I kidding? They continued to train and enjoy their sessions!

Aside from training, I was also supportive in tournaments.  I was active in the behind the scenes work like documentation, housekeeping, and food preparation. But since I was taking a break, I didn’t help during the latest tournament our group organized. I did go just to watch. And you know what? They still did well and the tournament was a success.

Note to self: Nobody’s indispensable.

2. Sometimes it takes the insight of others to make you realize a truth 

As a substitute for my FMA training, I signed up for a full marathon and joined a running group. I’m deep into training now and I can honestly say that I do like running. But last night, as hubby and I were having our usual after dinner tea, I was a bit surprised when he said “After your marathon, you should go back to FMA. It’s what you love. You were happier when you were in it.” I was a bit taken aback because he said it so bluntly. Really? Did it really show?

After some speechless moments, and feeling sort of weird and relieved at the same time, I finally declared, “You’re right, I was happier when I was in FMA.”

Sometimes you just need to hear it from others.

3. The saying “different strokes for different folks” is true

I met and talked with different athletes – runners, bikers, triathletes, judokas, fencers, archers, and even a few from other FMA styles. All of them are passionate about their sport. One simple question like “Why do you like your sport?” will lead to a long enumeration of all the good things about it. Sure, FMA is good, and I think it is one of the best martial arts/sports in the world.  But that’s for me. What I like at this point in my life, is the best sport for me. That goes for the others also. We cannot be smug and declare that ours is the best and nothing else.

4.  The right words, said at the right time soothe.

When I told my friends that I was tired of FMA, they did not shake their heads and say, “I knew that would happen…”  Instead they were encouraging and kind:

  • It’s ok. Music has intervals between notes
  • Life is a constant flow
  • Taking physical and mental breaks is good
  • Take your time
  • Fall in love with the long walk
  • Come and spend a few days at my family’s place
  • Rest
  • I also felt the same way, many times in the past

5.  Rest gives you the opportunity to go back to the drawing board

Burning out is a harsh way to learn, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But sometimes changes in behavior can only happen with strong shocks to the system. Stepping back gives the opportunity to evaluate habits and attitudes and correct what needs correcting. What comes out will be clearer and better.

And that, my friends, is a good thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Private moments before the new year

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A quick post to wish all my FMA friends a Happy New Year!

When my brother-in-law, Jon, gifted hubby and I with an overnight stay in this hotel overlooking Manila Bay, we gratefully accepted because we always like to take these last few days of the year to “think about our lives.”

To some it may be corny or silly but we like this period to contemplate about what had been and what could be, close some issues, and celebrate a lot of joys. We do it individually for the most part.

So now, in the quietness (well not really so quiet as TV chef Gordon Ramsay is cooking steak in the background), I look at photos in my ipad then read select entries in my personal journal as well as this blog. So many wonderful moments of 2014 have already slipped my conscious memory and it’s comforting to call them back for a brief visit.

Some things that are negative, I determine to let go. Go away! Good riddance! (I imagine that with a strong whack from my Arnis stick 🙂

Now, as I sip piping hot, almost-burns-my-tongue black tea,  I ask God to bless me with a new dream for 2015: to realize an aspiration, to discover a new strength, to ignite a new passion, to find new friends, to overcome a new challenge.

Before fun-loving Filipinos set off their firecrackers, I am grateful for these private moments. So nice.

The view of  the pool and the harbor from our 6th floor room
The view of the pool and the harbor from our 6th floor room

May the LORD Jesus Christ, whom I believe in and strive to follow, bless all of us as we face 2015.  Peace and joy to all of you, my friends.

Pugay!

P.S.

I leave you with a photo of our room’s mini bar.

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Of course, I had to check out the “weapons” 🙂

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I’m looking forward to the resumption of my training this January. Yes, I burned out and took a break (check out I’m tired of FMA) but now, in the words of my sister Sandi, I’m “egzoited.”

Thank you very much for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. See you next year!

 

Karambit

karambit

“What’s that, a can opener?”

“No… it’s a… neck opener, haha!”

That was an exchange between two of my arnis friends when I recently showed them my new karambit training knife.

“Well, it’s a neck opener alright… and an eye gouger, tendon cutter,  etc., etc., “ we said with a chuckle as only martial artists would considering the gory scenario.

Anyway, I got interested with karambits because my blogger friend, Fia posted hers. And then during the latest Arnis Pasindo tournament, KAMAO’s combat demonstration used karambits.

So, I ordered one from Grandmaster Rodel Dagooc. I think it’s a bit large for me but Master Cris said it’s fine for training purposes.

karambit
Full Length: 7 1/2″ Handle: 4″ Long, 3/4″ Thick Blade: 3″ Long 1/4″ Thick Materials: Aluminum ( Blade ) , Kamagong ( Handle )

Anyway, Master Cris said that karambits are similar to the curved and traditionally bigger blade, the sanggot.

He added that when he was still in Davao, they used the sanggot to harvest coconuts, cut palay, and chop banana tree trunks for pig feed.  The curved blade lessened their wrist fatigue. They usually used the foregrip and did not hook their fingers into the finger ring.  The ring was mainly for the cord they tied to the scabbard on their waist.

Anyway, how did my first day of karambit practice go? Totally enjoyable!

Here I am practicing six different grips.

Karambit grips

It felt familiar yet new. Familiar because it’s a blade and I know blades but it’s new because the curve, the two edges, and the ring allowed different technique applications.

Master Cris added a brief warning:“Be careful with the finger ring. It can prevent you from dropping your karambit but if you don’t watch out, it can also fracture your finger.”

Okay.

On with my moves…

SLASH! HOOK! PUNCH! JAB! PUNCTURE! CUT! RIP!  The karambit felt like a claw and brought out my animal instincts! Cat woman, Arnis version!

Grrrrrrrr!

Totally cool, I must say. Oh yeah!! 🙂

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Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. Pugay!

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A tree fell on my car and gave me an awesome workout

Photo credit: NASA
Typhoon Glenda 2014. NASA image by Jeff Schmaltz

The eerie howling of the wind woke me up at around 5 AM. Power was out and although all our windows were shut, it was chilly. “It’s going to be a memorable day,” hubby said (it was his birthday).

The Philippines has around twenty typhoons (tropical cyclones) a year and this year’s seventh, Typhoon Glenda (International name, Rammasun) was one of the worst to ever strike Metro Manila (sustained winds 94 miles/hour with gusts up to 116 miles/hour).

Around 6 AM, the winds intensified and banged our kitchen windows. I kept praying that the glass wouldn’t break. Hubby decided to open the shutters a bit to lessen the pressure but that meant rain entering our kitchen. I was so nervous that I decided to hole up inside our bedroom! There was nothing we could do but wait.

It took another four hours before the howling stopped. Whew!

The aftermath:

Me and my family in various areas of Metro Manila were safe. That’s the most important. I just hoped that when the national reports come in, they wouldn’t be devastating.

Anyway, we looked out to our yard and saw this:

One of the main branches of our decades-old mango tree fell…

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and hit my car!

Typhoon Glenda 2014

Hubby’s car which was parked a few feet away was spared, yay!

At first, hubby’s plan was to borrow or buy a power saw to cut all the branches, but then I remembered one training session Master Cris and the rest of  our group had.  They cut tall grass with their itak. So I thought, “With all these trees to be cut,  why not use my Eskrima training? It could turn out to be a terrific workout!”

“Go, ahead,” hubby shrugged when I told him my idea. Did I sense some amused doubt there? 🙂

Anyway, I got some old socks, cut off the ends and used them to cover my arms, just like how master Cris described what they did when he worked in the farms in Davao.

And then I hacked and hacked with all my might!

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Our neighbors came to help.

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Janet, who grew up in a farm in Tacloban knew how to wield an itak and her strikes were strong and precise. No wonder a lot of farmers are good in Eskrima!

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Good thing only my rear bumper was damaged. Hey, how did that branch get UNDER the car?  P1060579

That’s hubby, the birthday boy.P1060571

We were careful not to get bitten by these!

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We only had these tools but we accomplished a lot.

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It turned out to be a happy, awesome workout for everyone.

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The next day, hubby hired five men to finish the clearing up.

All’s well that ends well.

That was an awesome workout, I must say. 🙂

Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance.  Pugay!

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To read my post about another terrible typhoon, the worst in modern history, click here. 

 

How can we improve the state of FMA in the Philippines? The Grandmasters suggest three ways

 

Seated, from left.  Roberto Labaniego, Jerry dela Cruz, Rodel Dagooc, Sioux Glaraga, Henry Espera  Standing, from left: Rommel Tortal, Rico Acosta, Samuel Bambit Dulay, Jun Eufracio, Roger Vega, Martin Raganas Jr, Crisanto Pasindo, Dominic Guadiz, Mon Kiathson, Roger del Valle, Mio Cusi, Von Altas
The Unity Photo. Seated, from left: Roberto Labaniego, Jerry dela Cruz, Rodel Dagooc, Sioux Glaraga, Henry Espera. Standing, from left: Rommel Tortal, Rico Acosta, Samuel Bambit Dulay, Jun Eufracio, Roger Vega, Martin Raganas Jr, Crisanto Pasindo, Dominic Guadiz, Mon Kiathson, Roger del Valle, Mio Cusi, Von Altas

 

THE BACKGROUND

In August 2013, seven FMA grandmasters got together for lunch in Manila, Philippines. It was light and informal and there was no agenda except to keep in touch. (To read my article about that, click here.)

Ten months later, they gathered again along with a few more. They met in that same chicken and rice restaurant because it’s in Luneta where most of the grandmasters held their Sunday trainings.

Master Cris Pasindo, the head of our group Arnis Pasindo, was the organizer and he requested his adviser, GM Rodel Dagooc to do the inviting.

THE EVENT

Not all who were invited were able to come.

Here’s the list of those who attended, surnames alphabetically arranged.

  1. Maestro Rico Acosta (Kredo Kuntaw Kali)
  2. GM Jeremias dela Cruz (Arnis Cruzada)
  3. GM Rodel Dagooc (Dagooc Arnis System)
  4. GM Samuel Dulay (Modern Arnis Tapi-tapi)
  5. GM Henry Espera (Rapido Realismo Kali)
  6. Maestro Sioux Glaraga (Kalaki Arnis)
  7. GM Mon Kiathson (IACKFP-KMAAP)
  8. GM Bert Labaniego (LSAI/Top Labaniego)
  9. GM Martin Raganas, Jr. (Ilustrisimo)
  10. Tuhon Rommel Tortal (Pekiti-Tirsia Kali)
  11. GM Roger del Valle (del Valle System)
  12. Senior Master Roger Vega (Modern Arnis)
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From left, Grand Masters Rodel Dagooc, Bert Labaniego, and Jerry dela Cruz
Uncle and nephew: Maestro Sioux Glaraga and Tuhon  Rommel Tortal
Uncle and nephew: Maestro Sioux Glaraga and Tuhon Rommel Tortal

A few members of the Arnis Pasindo group, Mio, Von, Rowena,  Benjie, Jun, Dom, Mai, Iza, and me, were there to help out.

THE DISCUSSION

The plan was for GM Rodel to lead the discussion but maybe he was tired from training that he assigned Master Cris to do it.

So Master Cris stood up and posed a question,

How can we improve the state of FMA in the Philippines?

I thought that the question was broad and profound and I readied my pen to take down notes.

The grandmasters talked somewhat formally but were generous with their ideas. After a while, I realized that they were all saying essentially the same things:

  1. Respect each other. Each style or group has its own strengths and weaknesses.

  2. Agree on a standard so that not just anyone can give or receive a rank.

  3. Think of a plan how to implement the Arnis law. Waiting for the government or the national sports commission to act may be futile.

They then said that someone would spearhead the formation of technical committees so that things can move along. That person or group should have the will and humility to seek what is best and not try to promote their own interests.

That is the billion-dollar question.

Who?

I’m scratching my head for the answer.

THE CONCLUSION…FOR NOW

The grandmasters have given their simple but painfully challenging ideas. I guess it’s up to the younger generation to work on it.

I don’t think I can spearhead anything yet but I’ll support any genuine step. Time to have serious talks…

What are your thoughts on this?

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Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance.

F=MA

Arnis stick

Force = Mass x Acceleration. And how nice, it’s also Filipino Martial Arts!

Call me a nerd but I remembered that physics equation when I broke Master Cris’s stick this morning.

We were doing Ocho Defensa Tirada drills and I was giving my all. During the first few strikes, I saw some splinters come out of his stick and then suddenly, it broke and formed a “7”. “Na-siete!” exclaimed the boxers who were practicing near us.

I know that I’m going to break more sticks as I continue training but the first always thrills. Afterall, it just means that I’ve come a long way from my weak strikes 15 months ago. Read my blog post about that here.

Anyway,

Force=Mass x Acceleration

The force you generate is equal to the mass involved in the execution of the technique, multiplied by its acceleration.

For our purposes, mass means body weight. The way I understand it is to have much power, have the right form and technique so you can use as much of your body weight as possible and then strike very fast!

I’m flattering myself: I had good form and technique, and was very fast so I broke my master’s stick.

Well, either that or his stick was already worn and brittle, haha!

What do you think?

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Thank you for taking time to read The Deadly Dance. Pugay!

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Baguio’s BenCab museum

Bencab

A few years ago I thought that I was done with the Philippines’ summer capital. I’ve visited it many times since childhood and although the cool weather was still a pull, Burnham Park, Session Road, Camp John Hay didn’t seem to have that spark for me anymore.  “Been there, done that,” I thought.

But what do you know, hubby and I recently went up there again and surprise surprise, we had a good time! In the middle of summer its temperature was 18C (64F),  (that’s 15C cooler than in Manila), discovered the pineapple-cinnamon bread of Swiss Baker, and visited National Artist Benedicto Cabrera’s museum.

The museum houses BenCab’s own works as well as those of other Filipino masters. It also showcases the Cordillera’s culture and tradition with its collection of granary gods, lime containers, domestic arts and crafts,  and of course, my favorite, weapons!

Look.

Long spears, a shield, and axes.

Bencab museum
Are you wondering what I’m sweetly saying to hubby?

I was explaining how to cut heads.

Yes, the Igorots, as the people of Cordillera are collectively known, were very skilled warriors and some were headhunters.

So friend, you say you’re good with weapons?

Imagine yourself living in the Cordilleras a long time ago: a tribe is warring with yours. You remember the instructions your trainer gave:

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Using your long spear, wound and pin down your opponent. Then with your shield’s curved bottom, pin down your struggling victim by the neck. Cut his head off with the flat blade of your double-sided ax then skin it using the opposing sharply curved blade.

And when you’re done, put the head in this warrior’s bag, bring it home, and display it like a trophy for all the people to see.

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Gruesome, right? But awesome skills.

Well, can you imagine doing it? Can you  imagine throwing a spear with such precision that you can hit an enemy 30-feet away? Can you subdue and pin down a struggling enemy enough to cut its head off?

Awwww!

I can only begin to imagine the serious training it would take. Intense!

Well, anyway, I’m glad headhunting is a thing of the past. We do other things to kill enemies now…

Thank you for taking the time to read The Deadly Dance. Pugay!

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