Some insights into my Bagua frustrations

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ever since I started Bagua, or at least a couple of months in, I have always felt that I am only doing a small portion of what I can. I always feel as though I should be going deeper. There is this feeling of frustration because I can’t make my body and self do what I feel it should be doing. It’s sort of hard to explain… With something like running I know the things I need are go faster, run for longer, run up hills… but with Bagua I can’t figure out or put a finger on what it is I’m missing. Yet I can feel and sense it. Does this make any sense? This above all else has been my main source of frustration. Yes of course I have one hell of a time memorizing stuff, and my body isn’t physically up to par yet, but if it were only those two things, well I would know that with more practice I’ll get there. The odd thing is, I don’t get that with Zhaquan, but perhaps that is because I have only covered the purely physical aspects of Zhaquan, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something of the internal aspect that seems so elusive with the Bagua? It feels as though I get it a tiny bit, but so much is missing. It also seems as though practicing a LOT didn’t seem to do it, or perhaps it is just that Bagua is so big, that it needs a LOT of practice ;). It is as if you were to hike up the Grouse Grind, see the 1/4 mark, then the half way mark, then the 1/4 mark again, then no signs for the next 3 hours… then a sign written in some other language.

On the otherhand though, if it was just as simple as run faster, run longer, go up more hills… I doubt it would intrigue me half as much ;).

Resistance to Bagua

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I have come up with this new idea, based on other things I have heard about Bagua training. See I’ve been having fun with this resistance tubing for my rotator cuff injury, and I got to thinking….. what about using resistance tubing for the Bagua palms! Then I got to further thinking, what if I used stronger resistance tubing tied between my legs while circle walking! So I of course had to try it out. Pretty neat. The walking part was fun since I had to engage my core more to make it work, since I had it set to strong resistance for walking. I also tried each of the 8 palms with the tubing wrapped around my back, or shoulders. It is a lot easier to imagine the push down, or out, or up force with the tubing. What I wonder is if it will actually give my tendons the right sort of workout I’m after. My fitness trainer says that it works on the tendons and ligaments and makes you stronger… so I’m hoping. Well at the very least it’s keeping me amused long enough to keep my circle walking practice up, which is really the most important thing.

I also saw these devices people use when running to increase their sprint takeoff speed. They either have a friend hold an attached strap and pull backwards, or they attach this large contraption behind them. Why not just use a sandbag or 50lb kettlebell attached to a belt? The California Bagua people used something which pulled them backwards when circle walking so they would have to resist more, and they found it affective. However the resistance tube tied to each ankle sure does seem to provide a lot of resistance for forward stepping, and the price is right at $2 per foot.

I think perhaps this sort of experimentation will stick to at home where no one can see me instead of outdoors.

Only 18 more days until I run up a mountain!

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Yikes, that is coming up quickly, and no I’m not ready :(. I may have been ready if I wasn’t set back by 17 days due to this horrid flu. But fortunately there is my backup plan, walk it if I have to! I did attend the training session last night. You would not beleive the leg wobble! There was no doubt that I was still heavily affected by said flu :(. Fortunately everyone was very patient with my hacking and coughing, and having to take an emergency bathroom break off to the side of the trail. Btw, I don’t recommend running when you have the flu! Beleive it or not though, I actually feel much better today than yesterday! So obviously I’m getting better. I’m quite happy that the training didn’t make the flu worse, I must be on the road to recovery.

But the race in 18 days; I’m quite nervous! It will take ME about 5-6 hours. It takes most people 3 hours (whatever), but hey as long as I finish it all is good. Now I just have to make sure I finish. You see the Grouse Grind is 1/3 of this race. YOu know, that hike where I feel like I’m going to keel over and die when I finish it? Yeah, well this time I will run for an hour or two before and after the grind! Well after I will likely be walking or staggering though ;). The good news is, there are nachos at the top of the mountain after the race! I will just keep thinking of those nachos after the grind. OK just need to get rid of the flu so I can start doing the Grind a couple of times per week.

Odd training considering…

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So martial arts is something we are supposed to put 100% effort in and practice every single day for an hour or 2 (at least). However, we only got to one to two hour or so long classes per week, and that is it! No technical support outside of classes, no other contact with the teacher (well unless one word reply txt msgs count), and no other contact with the other students. This just doesn’t seem right to me somehow. This seems more like going to a college class than practicing a lifelong practice that I’m supposed to be devoted and dedicated to. That is how martial arts is taught 99% of the time though. It just seems odd to me. Take ANY other activity and it is quite different. Take running for example, with running, everyone goes out for dinner, or other outings after class or on off days. With the metaphysical teachings I do, it is regular question and answer contact with the teacher, many days per week. I guess some martial arts are like this as well, I know my one Aikido class was like this, yet others are not. It just seems odd to me.

Yes I still dream of 2-3 hour long classes 5 days per week ;). However this is just not going to happen I have realized (unless I take up Aikido), so martial arts is ending up being more of the hobby instead of at the forefront. I think with martial arts, it’s only the top students who end up with that much training and question/answer time. However in other disciplines it is all students…

I will stop griping about Bagua one day ;).

Bagua class only once or twice per week sucks!

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Right now it’s not even that much, but I mean in general when my shoulder works and I don’t have the flu. Somehow it works out just fine for everyone else, but I would just love more Bagua with other people. Yes I know the most important part is my at home practice; that is OK that can be done before and after class. Everytime I have class I show up half an hour to an hour early to get some extra practice in anyways. But the partner work, it would be awesome to have more of it, and more teaching! While it really was unfair to the teachers, the thing I loved most about training with more than one person was the 4-5 days per week of Bagua training! I really miss that aspect. When I was practicing Aikido, we could train 6 days per week if we wanted, it was awesome! Also I think the more external styles train several days per week. I really do wish there was that aspect with Bagua. I know that both John and some of Yang’s other students got to train 7 days per week all day if they wanted. That would be my dream. Unfortunately I don’t think anyone trains like that anymore. Well I guess it leaves all this other free time for things like running, hiking, the Grouse Grind, traveling, bicycling and so forth.

Getting a litle better

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Walked 30 blocks yesterday, so I must be getting better. I don’t feel nearly as much like I’m going to keel over and die now :).

Why doesn’t Bagua cure colds/flu?

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On day 10 now, bleck. I circle walked for about half an hour per day while out of town. Aside from that I did some teaching and some napping and some eating. It is odd how when you are sick circle walking feels like it takes more out of me than running. At least I was able to get some in.

Did some running and some Baguaing

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Ever run a couple of kilimeters and it feels like a half marathon? Well try running when you aren’t quite yet over your cold. Of course John had to one up me and inform me he always runs when he has a cold. Google informed me, via some running magazine, that it is advisable to still run (if you want) if the cold is above the throat. If however the cold/flue is below the throat and it’s a chest problem, to not run. I mostly took their advice. Now why my legs hurt like HELL after taking 3 days off of all activities (accept a personal training session or two), I have no idea! Isn’t your body supposed to stop hurting when you take rest days? It’s as if mine is instead pissed off that I’m not keeping it busy enough or something

Supplements!

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So having chrones, I’ve found that getting out of bed most days is difficult enough, let alone doing something like circle walking, running, hiking or bikeriding for an hour! Needless to say I make sure to have all the help I can get! 😉 Well all the legal (in my country) help anyways lol. Also since I have been exercising my entire life (with only a few years off for that shitty bedrest episode), I have also experimented with various supplements when I was in good health.

I use some stuff for just day to day functionality (fuck this being trapped in bed shit), others for more strength (you wouldn’t believe the loss in strength and muscle after 5 years of bedrest),and others for making a workout last longer. I have no idea if your average person needs supplements or not,or your average person over 40. From what I recall your average person in their 20’s doesn’t unless the crohns is particularly bad that month. Anyways, here’s my list of what I have found works for me. No I don’t recommend any of these for anyone else since you aren’t me, and your body hasn’t had the workup to it time mine has. If you do go and take a supplement, at least do adequate research first, and I mean from sources which are not actively selling the supplement you wish to take!

1. Argenine/ornithine combo. Awesome stuff! Yes it does help strength and help build muscle! It’s technically not legal in Canada, or at least wasn’t a few years ago. However the fact you can find it in plain view on the shelves of some stores, or with a quick web search makes me wonder… I don’t take enough to have the whole growth hormone benefit that many people take it for, since I am not currently comfortable with that much experimentation, but many folks do take it for that as well. Hell you can just get pure growth hormone or deer antler fuzz if you want to go that route. Can’t find where I put that bag of deer antler fuzz though :(. Btw, if you are a woman and are concerned about your arms looking like they have any muscle, uhm might want to avoid these two, well or avoid lifting anything while taking these two.

2. Liquid multivitmin. Hell yeah! Basically we pretty much poop out most of the vitamin pills we take. Capsules are much better for this, but in pill form, good luck with absorption. Due to the crohns I don’t really digest or absorb vitamins from food as much as I should, so liquid multis are essential. Btw, most liquid multis suck and don’t have enough of anything in them to make it even worth it. Do your research if you are going to bother with this. On a side note, you won’t find any locally in Vancouver. There is also good multi powder if you look around.

3. Whey protein powder. With crohns I need extra protein. With the fact I run lots (for me) I need extra protein. There are a variety of other reasons as well. I actually find that the whey protein mixtures work better for me then eating meat! Yes really. I know meat has more protein, but it isn’t as readily available, and can often be quite fatty. I find that two scoops of protein powder daily works very well for me for more energy in my workouts. I have used pure whey powder which is good, but I find the quality mixes even better. If you go this route, get advice from a store which specializes in such things, since quite honestly most suck.

Speaking of protein powders which suck, I find that Vega is one of the worst products out there, especially considering that they are DOUBLE the price of the other ones! Literally double when you look into how many servings are in their containers. I have found that they tend to work about half as well, if not less! Perhaps they are OK for someone who is sedentary, or who really really cannot have dairy, but that is about it. Most of the whey protein powders these days have the lactose taken out, so they are fine if you have lactose intolerance. How that guy runs marathons on his vega protein powder stuff is beyond me! On a side note the NOW brand (I think it is) sells the exact same protein powder combo for half the price, if you want to go vegan.

However, me being far from vegan (been there done that), has ordered some beef based protein powder from the US. I look forward to trying it out and seeing how it works for me. I only ordered a couple of lbs of it to see how it goes. I think this might be a better option than eating lotsa steaks!

4. Gaurana! Now this is how I cheat :). I got sick of not being able to function during an entire martial arts class and started looking into things to help with this. I found the good4u drinks and they worked really well, but are a bit uhm, expensive. I then found pills which contain the same ingredients for half the price. Guarana and caffeine basically. There are other sports drinks to help with energy, however I prefer to avoid ones like red bull and the like unless I’m really desperate and it isn’t exercise based. The red bull did work very well in Albania though when I was first starting my running. I think they live on that stuff over there. However, the red bull is useless in the fact of that you have a major crash a few hours later. The guarana doesn’t have the crash affect for me. I tend to take it more for daily being able to get out of bed and function then specifically workouts though. When it’s time for a few hours of an intense workout, I will either add more guarana, or take other stuff (mentioned below). I see the good4u is MMA endorsed, ah I see why they can keep going for hours now… well either good4u or the steroids ;).

5. Other amino acids. There are many which are said to help strength and the workout and so forth. Unfortunately I think I need some for memory, as I can’t seem to remember to take them before bed! I will talk more about them after I have taken some of them regularly for a few months, instead of off an on. Does my poor memory with taking my amino acids count as “cycling”?

6. ECA stack. Hey I said legal in MY country ;). Not my fault if the american government is more particular. NOT something to take if you have any stress problems whatsoever! I tried this when under a high degree of stress and had chest pains (not heart related I checked, but still freaked me out). However taken them when under no stress at all was just fine. You can’t take them long term though, or it’ll screw up your body. People cycle these for fat loss. While it didn’t help me with fat loss at all (!!), boy did it help with energy though! I purposefully didn’t go into details since I don’t actually recommend this one.

7. BCAAs! I should have put these much much higher up on the list. These are so awesome, and I wish I had discovered them years back! Fortunately they are naturally just sitting there in my protein powders, as well as meat. These are the recovery aminos! They really do make a difference. I think if anyone takes even one supplement to help with their workouts, this should be the one, well OK the 3. These help your muscles and body to recover. So basically, any workout over 2 hours, and if you don’t get some BCAAs in within half an hour,and your body starts to use your muscle, instead of fat, to repair itself! Well there is also some recommendations which deal with carbs too, but I tend to not consume many carbs. I use BCAA powder, so I know for a fact I’m getting as much as I want. I mix my own recovery drinks. Unfortunately BCAA powder takes horrid! Chocolate barely masks it! It is worth it though, as I feel waaaaay better after a long strenuous workout when I down some BCAAs. Basically I mix together my protein powder with BCAAs for my post workout drink. However recently I have heard about amino acids competing with each other, so apparently more research is needed. I’m fortunate enough to have a supplement expert (with a degree even) as a fitness trainer… so I will be quizzing him much more thoroughly on amino acids which don’t play well together.

8. Eight hours of sleep per night! Is more important than one thinks! The ultramarathon folks say to be able to run for more hours in the day, simply sleep even more than 8 hours and you will be fine. This is the best recovery formula of all! Fortunately I’m good at this one, even if it takes a couple of tries throughout the night!

9. Carrot juice and raw nuts. Food in general is OK, but doesn’t seem to do more than keep you living… for those of us who have trouble digesting food that is. However, carrot juice and raw nuts are the exception to this. I’m sure there are other exceptions, but I have not found them to be all that noticeable. Everyone tells me more green veggies, which unfortunately i can’t really digest any of. Spinach does seem to help a bit though. If I were more ambitious I would have spinach juice everyday!

10. No-shotgun. Now this one, it is for special occasions only! 🙂 I say special occasions because well I can only do so much to my body without having long term affects I figure. Also, I don’t want my body to get used to it, then not have it as a backup option. It doesn’t help much for energy (well unless taken on top of something else), but it does help with the muscles and body being able to simply go for longer. This is awesome for those 3-4 hour workouts! I find that after 4 hours though it starts to wear off. On the otherhand, I’m going to start experimenting with creatine, since I think that is the main thing they put in it to reduce muscle fatigue, and to keep you going for ever and ever and ever… I just have to figure out how to consume 15 glasses of water per day, as well as figure out how to reduce the water retention that I hear comes along with it. I will be doing some studies using no-shotgun vs just creatine and see how they compare, especially considering pure creatine is much less expensive ;). I have to wait until I’m over the chest cold though as I don’t like to push my body too much when sick… well I mean too much more then say the Grouse Grind, but you know what I mean lol. I did spend 3 days in bed after to make up for it!

I will add others as I’m more sure of how well they work or not work. I also need to figure out my carb sources, as I prefer to avoid all grains for the most part. Presently I only eat grains once per week and/or before/after a 3 hour or more intense workout (marathon). I don’t really feel the need for them with anything less then 3 hours, even though the experts say 2 hours.

I thought about Bagua a lot today…

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I thought about running some too. Does this count as training? Aw c’mon, I’m sure it counts on some internet forums ;). I walked 6 blocks today. Cashews were acquired. Much slacking was accomplished. I have coughed so much over the past few days I have extremely sore abdominal muscles! Does coughing count as an ab workout? How about the 5 minute coughing fit I had on the bus? I’m really surprised I didn’t get the seat all to myself after that, more just worried people asking if I was ok lol. I didn’t go to my how to run up mountains training session tonight as that would have made the cold waaaaaay worse! It was a rather boring day, since I was also too ill to work. Tomorrow is a training session and lasagna, so it will be MUCH more exciting!

So my fitness trainer says one month before I’m able to use my arm for martial arts (or swimming or tennis) again. He says 3 months before my fitness level is at normal levels. I feel he may be a bit optimistic on the second one, but you never know! 🙂 I really do look forward to seeing these sorts of results.