Over the hill but picking up speed

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

We met up with a couple of long-time friends. Not old friends. Not in their minds. She had retired last year and a work acquaintance asked her what it like going from 60 to 0? I am surprised my friend did not give the person a bit of smack upside of the head. She only did that figuratively.

When we retire, we still go the speed limit, or perhaps a bit faster. We are just on a nicer, less crowded highway.

Triskelion Tattoo

IMG_4408This was a piece from a couple of years ago that was published in the Globe.

 

I finally reached that age when it was time to get a tattoo. There is a fine balance between the years you can appreciate your tattoo and the years that you finally regret it. Turning 60, my years of tattoo appreciation seemed likely to exceed the years of tattoo regret. Only 10% of my age bracket, the baby boomers have a tattoo. Moving from the middle of the pig in the python, I was on the verge of being an outlier.

My spouse got her own tattoo as a 50th birthday present. A nice Celtic knot on the side of calf. I have admired her determination to show who she was and an insight into her heritage. The only thing that people could tell about my heritage was that I came from nice hair.

Getting a tattoo would reveal my inner rebel. Getting a tattoo, and a motorbike, would go hand-in-hand. My spouse did point out the error of that logic, and a tattoo was a stand-alone rebel stance and would not require a motorbike. My rebel was appropriately schooled.

What tattoo could do this, without the motorbike? Latin phrases such as carpe diem have been done to death. The best approach would be a symbol. I was looking for something that spoke to me and represented what being human was all about. No easy task since people search all their lives for personal meaning, and I was looking for something like that that could fit on my slightly increasing, soon to be decreasing body size.

In the time that it would have taken to gestate five consecutive baby elephants, I finally set upon a design. A triskelion. A three part symbol that even predates the Celts. The interesting aspect is that you can apply any meaning you want to a trinity. Past present future, mind body spirit, grande decaf latte. The last is a bit of stretch, but the symbol is multipurpose. I wanted to include my wife’s initials in between the spokes of the triskelion. My spouse smiled. My adult children mildly rolled their eyes. PDAs, parental displays of affection, are to be avoided.

The placement of a tattoo also makes a statement. Men prefer arms while woman prefer upper back and legs. Each placement makes a different statement. A facial location would make the statement that I was not happy with my present employment. A deltoid shoulder placement was more in keeping. Not too shy, not obvious at work, and would integrate well with the yoga crowd when I wore my lululemon tank top.

This was the way to show my free spirit. I copied out varioustattoo sizes and taped them to various body locations. Apparently my free spirit likes to be guided like a slow moving trolley on tracks.

After contacting my local tattoo parlor, and checking out needle safety, I had my consultation. I veered away somewhat from the artists that would otherwise have been comfortable providing prison tattoos, while in prison. I settled for a more artistic looking artist.

The fateful day arrived and I was feeling flushed and decided to walk to the tattoo parlor instead of driving. I loaded up on ibuprofen. Upon arriving, I signed the necessary forms. There was no legal jargon to pour through. A good sign. I sat down in the dental looking chair, not a good sign, and my artist explained the process. He applied the stencil and I checked the mirror. This was the one last chance to bail, but I smiled and said ‘hey, it’s exactly what I was thinking of’. This may have been true at some point, but my mind was blank. I leaned back and closed my eyes. I can just about fall asleep when getting my teeth cleaned. I decided that I should try to stay awake and become more ‘fully engaged’ in the moment. But I was more concerned about my tattoo artist. If he nodded off and didn’t move from a certain spot after a minute, I wondered if I would be left with a large black splotch. And if so, what would this very unhappy looking death balloon symbolize?

The entire process took less than 90 minutes. I had been warned that getting a tattoo was like getting scratched by a cat. My previous scratching experience was rescuing a friend’s cat from a tree. The cat was terrified, but I coaxed it to leap into my arms. Yes, mistake, scratch wise. Fortunately getting the tattoo was way less painful.

When my artist was finished I paid the balance of my account. I gave him a nice tip. Even though the experience is almost the same, countless small punctures, I don’t usually tip my lawyer or my accountant.

Afterwards, I did feel different. After thinking about the meaning of the design, I understood how people can feel that their totem, crystals and the like are channeling another power. We all like to be attached to something greater. The triskelion reminds me to work on all aspects of myself continuously, a permanent conscious guide.

I like how they worked my spouse’s Celtic initials into the design which shows how our past, present and futures are intertwined.  I have committed to things that are important and to leave aside things that are not. There is no time like the present. Why wait?

IMG_4408

Labyrinthine Tattoo

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My first, and perhaps only tattoo, used a triskillion labryrinthine type of design. I liked the notion of the three legged concept as a methaphor for life. Three basics being mind, body, spirit. Sort of a secular trinty type of approach.

I have some Irish celtic background, so this nicely captured my entire approach to life.

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/30/your-daily-word-prompt-labyrinthine-march-30-2019/

The Agile Body-3-Old style Karate

pexels-photo-356147 (4)Trying to actually hit someone can be very difficult. In this rather unsanctioned instructional class, basically anything goes. We still were on hardwood floors, so there was no grappling. Everything was a standup fight. Except for foot sweeps. Foot sweeps were ok. Unless you are the sweepee and you land hard on the floor.

One black belt came up to me and easily swept me to the side. I landed hard, got up and brushed myself off. I guess he thought that it worked so well the first time that he would do it again. In a blink of an eye I landed harder and most likely cracked a rib. Not much you can do for it in any event. Many years later my doctor took a chest x-ray and found a blackened spot on the rib. He had a name for it, but I forgot to mention where I likely got it.

But the full contact fighting experience was the most exhilarating thing I ever felt. You are completely mindful with what is going on all the time. You become aware of what your opponent might be doing. Is he inhaling, exhaling, perfectly balanced, a bit off kilter? Does he rise up when he comes in, or does he settle down a bit? Our training emphasizes not to telegraph our movements.

I always found that being calm and serene does help for defense. Your opponent has to cover a few feet before he can get to you, so this always gives an opportunity to defend and react. Karate is for defense only as they say.

Our instructor would lay out a practice katana as a line. We would then leap as far as we could in order to hit the body bag. If we managed, he would move the katana back a few more inches. Getting momentum from the back leg allowed me to leap six feet and still punch the bag. Landing hard on my heels, I developed actual bone spurs for a period of time.

But most of the time I found offence worked for me. I imagined having to leap across a chasm. Later I imaged a tiger behind me. You go that much faster using the adrenalin the body produced. This was not anger or fear but rather this was charging yourself up and discharging as fast as you can. You learn to do this without conscious thought.

After a couple of hours of contact fighting, I felt completely jazzed up from the tremendous feeling that for a period of time I had gone all out. It was exhilarating. Up to a point.

I came in hard to into another older, more experienced fighter. I may have been overly confident, but I knew that I was rather fatigued. He easily saw me coming in, just not as fast had I been a bit fresher. He sidestepped my launch and gave me a nice roundhouse punch to the side of the head. Even through the helmet, I felt completely undone. If he decided to finish me off with a second technique, I would have done nothing to stop him.

Now, Mike Tyson has a lot of issues going on, but he had it perfectly right here.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

This seems obvious, but he provides amazing insight to this kind of situation. And to any situation when you go with in something and all hell breaks loose. Whatever you were thinking just disappears and you go on instinct after that. If you have a second chance. More often than not, there is no second chance.

You realize how difficult it can be to actually hit someone that tries to evade you. If you miss, or he sidesteps, then you are likely at his mercy. I learned more by actually doing in those few months than the previous years of just constant training.

My next time at the westerns I won my division. Along with almost imperceptible notch I now have along the bridge of my nose when I was completely clocked between the eyes.

I managed to come in hard underneath to his ab region, and he came in hard overtop to my nose region. Only difference was that I pulled my punch and he didn’t. He dropped me pretty hard and I managed to crawl back to my side of the line. The head referee called it a clash. I called it taking advantage of the situation.

The good doctor came over and asked me if I wanted to continue. I said yes. I have not voluntary stopped anything I had ever started. Perhaps unwisely. The blood flowed pretty profusely during this time.

But he managed to pack my nose with a goodly pile of gauze. I retained my lead and win the match. I was told afterwards that I looked the saddest sight with that blood soaked uniform and a bit of gauze hanging from my nose. But fond memories regardless.

After that I began to wonder what other martial arts might have to teach me.

I spent a year or so learning hapkido. This is the Korean form of Japanese Aikido. My instructor spent several years instructing the Korean police force. The guy seemed ageless. His chest muscles were simply a series of muscular striations. He had no body fat or fear.

They simply taught general self-defense such as wrist locks and arm locks. Very handy if you want to immobilize someone instead of hitting them between the eyes. But they taught that too. I continue to enjoy the fighting and now the hands on grappling.

But I now have spent years working out in windowless basements, or dojos, or gymnasiums.  I start to look for something else to motivate me.

Blink

The Agile Body-2

When I started Karate at the Main Street dojo, our sole mantra was one punch, one kill. The idea being that your technique was to be so pure that you never needed more than one technique to defeat your opponent.

At the Main street dojo, we would always be encouraged to do something a bit crazier to show our dedication. We would often run around the block in our bare feet during middle of winter. Our feet would be quite swollen from the cold and it was quite a shock when our feet warmed up again.

Most often we would going back and forth across the hardwood floor. On occasion I would tear the callus off of the ball of my foot. The blood did make it easier to slide my foot across the floor. But they would generally order me off the floor and get fixed up.

I managed to strain the medial collateral ligaments of both knees. For years I couldn’t sleep on my side with my knees together.

My technique was good, but my competitions were hit and miss. I did manage to win the provincials for my division a number of times. With my left leg and left fist forward, I could easily launch myself several feet into my opponent. This usually overwhelmed them. But I did not do well in the next series of competitions of several provinces, called the Westerns.

I would launch myself at several people always stopping in time. But at this level, they never counted such a technique. I was completely stretched out and there was no indication that I was pulling my punch. You had to be close enough that you would have made contact and could have completely gone through the person had you chosen. Getting closer and closer trying to win a point just meant that I smacked into an opponent. Just lightly.

I continue my training and later that year a few of the old timer black belts got together at the main street dojo. They wanted to pull out the body armor they used to use for full contact fighting.

This was a completely new venture for me. The helmets have full face screens. The chest protectors were hard plastic. Softer material covered the shins. For hands we used the traditional bag gloves. Everyone brought their own cup, thank you very much.

For my next entry, I’ll cover off  how some of that experience went.

Still standing, so it went well enough.

Shock

 

The Agile Body

pexels-photo-356147 (4)I consider my body a temple. Not in a religious sort of way, but in a way that people gather together and exchange things. I may be actually thinking of the bazaar found outside some temples where people exchange money for goods and other services.

As a youth, I spent more time reading than I did playing sports and the like. I didn’t care much for the competitive aspect back then. When I turned 15 I finally started to approach exercise in a serious way. I did a bit of running, but I spent most of my time weightlifting or in the martial arts.

I spent a few months studying judo, but by the end of the class I usually managed a serious headache. I always seemed to have these serious debilitating throbbing headaches. Those thankfully finally stopped by the time I turned 20.

After judo, I found karate more to my liking. Most of time I went to the closest YMCA and studied there for a few years. On occasion, we would all load up to go to central dojo on Main Street. These guys seemed like the masters of old. They all had amazing speed and agility.

I am going to spend the next few days going through some of the various excercise programs.

A bit of weights, running, karate, yoga and finally biking. You have a to keep the body confused at all times.

Agile